Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Merry Christmas. Baby, Please Come Home.
I learned a long time ago that posting on Christmas Eve is a fool's errand. I'll get about three clicks on this.
But here we go!
This year it's just Jamie and me for Christmas Eve. While my family lives in town, it's too complicated with kids involved to co-quarantine with the other folks who live here. So, my brother and his family are with my parents having a very traditional sort of Christmas Eve and morning. My brother and the kids swung by today to drop off some gifts, and I got to see the wee ones go bananas in the front yard for a bit and we got to wish them a Merry Christmas. We'll Zoom tomorrow, so that's okay.
Tonight we'll Zoom with Jamie's family and tomorrow Jamie's Dad will zip up from San Marcos for a bit so he can collect his Turkey dinner from us and to be festive for a while.
Tonight: tamales and queso. I bought those red and green tortilla chips from HEB. Jamie had to be up at the crack of dark for dialysis, so she's shutting down early. But I figure we'll squeeze in part of A Christmas Story tonight (we already watched the new Star Trek). Also, thank the little baby Jesus for Netflix's selection of Yuletide firelog videos - that's making some nice filler while I do this.
But - hey.
It's been a hell of a year with the pandemic and the crazy "president" and the general f'd up state of the world. A few things have gotten me through this. There's Jamie, of course, who is a champ and listens to my insane ranting. There's family who check in on us. Scout, who makes sure I'm getting out and about.
And there's y'all. Who are out there reading the posts, listening to podcasts, making podcasts, and joining in on Watch Parties. You kids are the absolute best.
Also: booze. Booze has helped a LOT.
Up above is Ms. Darlene Love, who performed the greatest of the modern Christmas music staples and set the stage for the moody Christmas music I generally prefer (although the Kylie Minogue Christmas album is a banger). May the spirit of Darlene Love get you through the evening. And may we all work toward a Christmas where we can be with loved ones next year.
Wonder Watch: Wonder Woman (2017)
Viewing: No idea
Director: Patty Jenkins
Every time I rewatch Wonder Woman (2017), I'm stunned at the complexity and completeness of the character arc for Diana in the film. But here, at the end of 2020, how much Diana's illusions and how she deals with them being shattered, resonates.
From the first time I saw this movie, I know I've been saying it's one of the only superhero films to actually understand what a superhero is and what they do. It's something comics themselves have forgotten as the writers have fallen into the traps of Hollywood script rules - and the movie itself does, in fact, play with those same rules. But as a character, Diana is pure. She's not out for revenge against someone who performed an injury of some sort upon her or a loved one. She's outraged at the world of man and what they allow to occur - saying there's nothing that can be done.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Hallmark Watch: Christmas at Dollywood (2019)
|Dolly's outfit needs more sequins|
Format: Hallmark Channel on DVR
Director: Michael Robison
Arguably, no one involved with this movie knows how anything works in real life and everyone but Danica McKellar's character should be fired. And Dolly, of course, should always be held blameless.
We've watched a lot of parts of Hallmark movies this year, but watched almost none from start to finish - but when a movie promises to serve up Dolly in prime, post 2000 incarnation of Dolly as glamorous wise songstress and embodiment of goodness - I'm in. I have, in fact, watched a good chunk of "The Coat of Many Colors" movie and everything.
Monday, December 21, 2020
PODCAST: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover w/ Jamie and Ryan
Director: Shane Black
Jamie and Ryan talk the 2005 neo-noir by Shane Black and starring RDJ jr. and Val Kilmer. We hadn't seen it and were heartily surprised by the film - a noir murder mystery sort of thing with a lot of classic detective pulpy roots as both text and plot.
The Signal Watch PodCast · 133: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005) - Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 w/ Jamie and Ryan
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Intro and Titles - John Ottman
Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
"It's a Wonderful Signal Watch: A Christmas Parable" - we did a 4 minute Xmas Sketch
Holiday Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Format: Amazon Streaming (but it's also on Disney+ now)
Viewing: ha ha ha...
Director: George Seaton
If Miracle on 34th Street isn't part of your personal Christmas canon, I don't even know, man.
Noir Watch: Tomorrow is Another Day (1951)
Format: Noir Alley on TCM
Director: Felix E. Feist
I watched this film once before and did a brief write-up, so I won't belabor the points there. Instead, I'll dwell on how there's always multiple reasons to watch a movie, starting with "is it any good?" and "was the story worth it?" And, yes, and yes.
Watching Tomorrow is Another Day (1951) again, I found it seems to intersect at a lot of places in cinema and cinema history. It's not breaking ground, but it does feel like 1951 is a particular time and place in what we're talking about, and the aesthetics of how that story is done. And - it's helped along by the plot element of the basic set-up.
Steve Cochrane - who is becoming a personal fave - has just been released from prison after killing someone when he was still a teenager. Now in his early 30's, he doesn't really know anything about post-Depression America. Or how to function as an adult in society. He's basically a 15 year old kid in a grown-up's body wandering the streets of post-War America with no context for anything from a 1950's era car with power windows to how to get a job.
One of the curious aspects of watching movies from the 1920's - 1960's is getting used to the wardrobes, ideas and fashions of each era - and getting your head around what the 50's looked like compared to the 1930's, and that can all bleed together in hats and suits in black and white. But here it's a plot point to know the hat of 1951 is not the hat of 1935, and the cut of the suit is different (those of us who grew up in the 80's know our 1990's suit from our 2020 suit).
For us sitting in 2020, who are staring at the taxi dancer sequence with wonder - this movie may have the most straight-forward presentation of what was going on in these places that doesn't assume a lot of audience knowledge (as Cochrane's character tries to sort it out).
But the film also sits on the edge of the 1940's. The urban portions, where Cochrane heads to NYC, feel like any movie from 1944-1950 (and miles away from the NYC of Sweet Smell of Success in 1957). It's still dime-a-dance girls and tenement apartments. But the back third of the film where Cochrane and Ruth Roman join seasonal workers picking lettuce - feels almost pre-war. It's not the picture of post-war prosperity that we tend to think of, but which does show up in films like Border Incident and Thieves' Highway. The hand-to-mouth existence of anyone wasn't always shown - but here it's a reminder of the struggles of a lot of America that the movies never really sought to show once the war came along.
It's not the way anyone really intended you watch the film, but every once in a while the structure or story of a film of the era can be a window into the period in ways that weren't necessarily intended, but wtill jump out at a modern viewer.
I did like 95% of the movie again - but, man, that ending.
Happy birthday, Audrey Totter
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