Sunday, July 3, 2022

Return to Smallville - Seasons 6 and 7 - So, So, Soapy

MOVE, Clark!  You're clearly in the way.


Jamie is piloting this ship, and we're now well into territory when I wasn't really watching the show beyond checking in to see what they did with Cyborg, etc..   She's far more familiar with this window of Smallville, and she really didn't want to much most of these two seasons.  

Revenge Watch: Lady Snowblood (1973)



Watched:  07/02/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Toshiya Fujita

Oh.  My God.  @#$% yes.

As a rule, I don't personally believe in revenge.  But if you're gonna do it, might as well come at it with ice in your veins and a sword hidden on your person. 

Is there anything I didn't like about this movie?  No.  Is there anything I liked about it?  Everything.

Watch immediately.  Recommended.


Saturday, July 2, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Princess of Mars (2009)




Watched:  07/01/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000s
Director:  Don't care

In it's way, Edgar Rice Burrough's novel A Princess of Mars is maybe the most important book of the 20th Century that you've never read.  Published in 1912 as a serialized adventure, it laid the groundwork for 20th and 21st Century science fiction and fantasy of a certain swashbuckling flavor.  You do not get to Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Dune or Star Wars without the book.

It's had two adaptations that I know of - this one by SyFy Channel's unholy love child, The Asylum, and then the billion dollar dud from Disney, which I quite like as it's own thing.  

This movie had two things going for it:  
1)  A book beloved by 12 year olds that should have been a slam dunk to adapt, even for The Asylum
2)  Traci Lords

I am here to report that Traci Lords is a force even (especially?) when she's standing in the middle of a smoking crater of where a film was supposed to be.  All told, if you came to see Traci Lords, there's not really enough, but is there ever enough Traci Lords?

The movie was... bad.  Absolutely handicapped not just by a slim budget but by what they chose to excise from the book, what they added in, and then 79 minutes of the 90 minute run time all telling and zero showing.  Which is a really fucking dumb way to use your money when it comes to retelling A Princess of Mars.  

Not actually a set pic.  This is just Traci Lords on a Thursday.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Friday Watch Party: A Princess of Mars



I love the novel A Princess of Mars, by Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs.   It's some bat-shit sci-fi-fantasy that's wildly imaginative, weird, violent and romantic in the way that would have deeply satisfied me at age 13.

A while back (2012), Disney had its famous catastrophe with John Carter, a several hundred million dollar adaptation of the book(s).  But that book is out of copyright, and three years before that bomb hit the screen, our friends at The Asylum, grabbed Antonio Sabato Jr. and someone we don't talk about nearly enough, Traci Lords, and they went out to the Vasquez Rocks and made a movie.       

I've only seen about thirty minutes of this back in 2009, but it always stuck with me.  And not just because it features Traci Lords.  I felt like, hey - this is them kinda trying.  It's still The Asylum, so, you know, it's got it's quirks. 

  • Day:  Friday July 1
  • Time:  8:30 Central
  • Service:  Amazon
  • Cost:  $2

Friday - Click Here to Leap Into Adventure


Happy Birthday, Debbie Harry




Today is the birthday of Debbie Harry, Queen of Pop Punk.  

I'm a Blondie fan and a Debbie Harry fan.  That's all I have to say about that lest I start to wax rhapsodic.  

She's the absolute best.










Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Return to Smallville - Season 5 - In Which I've Just Had It



Arrival - Brainiac's ship arrives, along with a few Zod-folk.  Clark loses his powers, hooks up with Lana
Mortal - Some guys escape from Belle Reve and decide to make their name by taking out Clark Kent, who is an urban legend at Belle Reve.  
Hidden - a former classmate of Chloe and Clark takes over a nuclear missile silo? and decides to dust Smallville to get rid of meteor freaks.
Aqua - we watched the first six minutes or so of this one before I remembered this episode is very bad and everything you need to see (YMMV) is in the pre-credits sequence
Thirst - vampires at Metropolis U
Exposed - Lois is a stripper
Reckoning - I'd never seen this one.  It's where Clark tells Lana, things go well until they go very, very bad.  It was actually like an episode of grown-up TV.
Vessel - Cliffhanger Season Finale where Lex becomes Zod and Clark gets tossed into the Phantom Zone.


So I really was thinking about a few overarching things in these episodes.  

"Smallville's" Clark Kent Bares No Resemblance to Superman In Other Media

Trying Not To Be Dead: I Had a Colonoscopy




If you remember the League of Melbotis blog that was the original blog before The Signal Watch, you've watched me age from a bright-eyed young man in his twenties (we are looking down the barrel of our 20th anniversary blogging in 2023, people), to the part where I'm now going in for the routine maintenance of a man in middle-age.

I don't talk about health too much, I think, but I believe in preventative maintenance as much as possible in the form of basic heart health and annual check-ups.  I also am extremely quick to call a doctor to get some pills as soon as I think I have whatever is going around.  I am not one to tough it out - I want to get back on the road to health as soon as possible.  

So - put all of that together, and I am 47, and it was time for me to make sure I was good when it came to colon cancer, a highly treatable form of cancer if you're able to catch it early enough.  

Sunday, June 26, 2022

PodCast 202: "Hudson Hawk" (1991) - a 90's Reconsideration PodCast w/ MRSHL and Ryan



Watched:  06/25/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Michael Lehmann




Marshall and Ryan look into one of the worst reviewed, most notorious movies of the 1990's! We're looking at what they did, what critics and the public were sort of expecting at the time, where it went wrong and where it surprised us. Join us as we steal a bit of time and ponder an artifact that might turn movie lead into gold!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Swinging on a Star - Bruce Willis 
Side by Side - Bruce Willis & Danny Aiello




Saturday, June 25, 2022

Watch Party Watch: His Kind of Woman (1951)



Watched:  06/24/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Third?
Director:  John Farrow

In celebration of Jane Russel's 101st birthday and enduring foxiness, we watched His Kind of Woman (1951) for our Friday watch party.  

I was aware this movie was weird and goofy, coming out of the Howard Hughes-era RKO studio where things seemed more dictated by Hughes' whims and libido than proven formula,  But until you watch a movie with a bunch of other people and you're responsible for what you're all watching - that's when you go from "yeah, this is kind of wacky" to "wow, this movie is bonkers".  

I'm aware that classic film folks turn their nose up at this movie, but they are wrong.  This is a movie that has everything, and it makes me laugh consistently throughout.  If you want serious, dark film noir, keep walking, because this thing has songs, Mitchum just swinging his dick everywhere, Vincent Price showing the moxie he'd bring to his horror career, and Jane Russell just being as Jane Russell-y as all get out (that's decidedly a feature).  

I had forgotten Raymond Burr was our big bad, and that Charles McGraw had shown up as a heavy.  Anyway, I can't think of a lot against the movie except that the last ten minutes goes on for 25.  Like - there's just way too much climax in this movie and it doesn't include Russell, and that is math I can't get behind.

Anyway, here's to the birthday girl.  Here's hoping she's having a great time wherever she is out there.



Return to Smallville - Season 4

Move, Clark.  You're in the way.


Well.  We finally got to Lois.  

We also finally got to the season where Smallville went from teen-romance to "they're 18 now, so it shall be SEXY".  

It's also the season where I didn't watch everything.  

Season 4 episodes we watched:  
  • Crusade - the one where Lois arrives and Clark returns from null-space with his memories wiped clean and he flies on camera to get a plot device MacGuffin stone that will do whatever it's gonna do when he collects all three.
  • Transference - the one where Lionel Luthor Freaky Fridays with Clark
  • Spell - the one where 17th Century witches Freaky Friday with Chloe, Lana and Lois
  • Spirit - the one where a Mean Girl ghost possesses/ Freaky Fridays the cast, Martha is hilarious, Chloe wins prom queen, and Lois looks smashing in a pink gown she has for some reason
  • Blank - the one where Clark loses all his memories and Chloe has to lead him around for the day
  • Commencement - the one where Clark and Chloe graduate, Jor-El is a parent who just doesn't understand, Lex is betrayed by everyone in his life, and then a meteor shower falls on Smallville.  Again.

Look, doing "they aren't themselves" is cheaper than actual make-up or special FX, and it also gives the actors something else to do, which seems fun for them.  See Annette O'Toole's version of a Mean Girl in Spirit.  Fantastic stuff.  But if what you wanted was Welling somehow more wooden, boy, have I got some episodes lined up for YOU.

But like "mind control" in prior seasons, amnesia and possession get old fast as plots when you watch them back-to-back.  It's mostly just waiting for the characters to resume their normal lives and *never mention it again*.  

By the way, I was absolutely wrong that heat vision would not come back tied to boners.  It came up twice in just the few episodes we watched.  I mean, fine.  I'm not above a good boner joke.

Mercifully, by skipping so many episodes, we missed a lot of Clark/ Lana drama.  16 years ago when these episodes aired, I was exhausted/ bored by the show leaning so hard into their drama, and stunned then and now at the writers room's utter inability to give us a reason to root for them or care while utterly centering on those characters.  

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Watch Party: His Kind of Woman - celebrate Jane Russell's 101st!


This week is Jane Russell's 101st birthday.  Let's celebrate with a movie that lets Jane do all the things she does best!  A little singing, some acting, some hanging out with Robert Mitchum, and definitely wearing dresses.

Anyway - if you like Robert Mitchum (and you should) and Vincent Price (who you definitely should like) and want to see mystery, romance, exotic locales, amazing wardrobe, Mitchum's super chill delivery, Russell's rad confidence and Price just Pricing it up...  this is a great Friday night flick!

Day:  Friday 06/24/2022
Time:  8:30 PM
Service:  Amazon Prime
Cost:  $3

Join us!  Link will be live 10 minutes before showtime.


Let's chill out with the birthday girl and her pal


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Happy Belated Birthday to Erica Durance, "Smallville"'s Lois Lane


Yesterday, June 21, marked the birthday of Erica Durance, Canadian actor, who played Lois Lane for seven seasons on TV's Smallville.  From her first appearance, she had the part down pat, and while I was an inconsistent viewer over the years, Durance remained a highlight and did a lot to elevate the show during some turbulent seasons.

She has several other TV series and a variety of movies under her belt, but has returned to the Super-media world as Alura, mother of Kara Zor-El on TV's Supergirl (yeah, I know, she's like maybe 9 years older than Melissa Benoist, but live-action depictions of Superman media often insist Kryptonian women age well).  

I am already planning an Erica Durance watch-party this Christmas, so get prepared to get merry.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

101st Anniversary of Jane Russell Existing



One-hundred-one years ago today, Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell joined us on this weird orb flinging through the otherwise uncaring cosmos.  Her arrival and subsequent Jane Russell-ness was and remains a sign that maybe the universe isn't the meaningless void one might otherwise assume.  

Russell is still generally well remembered by the public, if for no other reason for most folks as a co-star in the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  But Russell was a major star in her own right.  She's a natural in front of the camera, a talented comedic and dramatic actress, can sing and dance, and was game for all sorts of scripts.  Paired with Robert Mitchum in a few films, she's met her equal and acting partner - I highly recommend the ill-titled His Kind of Woman, which is just a hell of a movie, and then move on to Macao.  

I'd highly recommend you check out her work some time.  
 



Return to Smallville: Seasons 2 and 3

These people all hate each other but will only talk to each other



It's kinda kooky keeping on with our Smallville rewatch.  We're now past the few episodes we watched for Season 1, and moved from Season 2 (episodes:  Heat, Lineage, Rush, Rosetta) and all the way through Season 3 (episodes to date: Shattered, Delete, Truth, Covenant).  I'm not picking episodes, I'm just bearing witness.

It's amazing what a weird, weird show Smallville became in the course of three seasons.  

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Vegas Watch: Viva Las Vegas (1964)




Watched:  06/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Sidney

Confession:  I thought I had seen an Elvis movie all the way through, but looking at The King's IMDB profile, I hadn't. I've seen others in part (Blue Hawaii, Roustabout, etc..), but am not overly keen on jukebox musicals with a book thinner than a pamphlet.  However, Viva Las Vegas (1964) is kind of the high water mark for these kinds of films, and it co-stars perennial favorite, Ann-Margret.  

Part tourist boosterism for America's playland, part romantic comedy, and all boppin' musical, the film is about 85 minutes of rocket-sled plotting paired with Go-Go dancing, while absolutely nothing happens, and we basically watch plot points used a million times over by '64 to tell the story of Elvis and Ann-Margret falling in love.  And in the last ten minutes of the film, we suddenly have a massive bodycount.  Did not see that coming.

Did I like the film?  Yes.  It's charming, dumb and cute.  Ann-Margret is something else.  Was the film good?  By conventional standards, its a mess.  But it was intended to get teens out to cinemas, promote Ann-Margret and Elvis and sell some records, and by that standard it's Citizen Kane.  

Picture stolen from Jenifer's blog, but you can see Garr in white and Basil's backside in red



Sidenote - Teri Garr is briefly in the movie as a background dancer, and you can see how she got pulled out of the chorus for a leading position.  Also: I heard Toni Basil is in the movie, and you cannot miss her when she's on screen for maybe 4 seconds.




But, yeah, basically Elvis plays a would-be race car driver who is in Vegas to drop off his car for a big road rally before heading off to LA to pick up the new motor.  He meets, immediately, an Italian Count who is the definition of Frenemy, and Ann-Margret, who is a pool manager/ swimming teacher.  Trying to find Ann-Margret, Elvis and the Count go on an ogling expedition of the showgirl shows across Vegas, so, you too, can fill your spank bank and have an idea of what you can objectify for a few bucks if you come to Vegas.  Eventually Elvis finds Ann-Margret, they begin to date (having enormous fun with money we're told Elvis doesn't have), but she doesn't want him to race lest he crash.  So they kind of break up.  But then he goes to race, and she helps.   It makes no sense, as nothing in the movie makes any sense.   And then they show the race, and it's a reminder of how terrifyingly dangerous racing was in mid-Century America and how far we've come in not thinking motor sports should end in death.  

Anyway, it is exactly what I was expecting, except for the scene where Elvis hangs out with a bunch of drunk Texans and it suddenly feels like a documentary or how-to video about how to deal with drunk Texans that is accurate to this day.




Friday, June 17, 2022

Emergency Friday Watch Party: Viva Las Vegas

 


What's 90 minutes and contains as much Ann-Margret shimmying as a movie can handle?  More Elvis being charming as hell than a movie should contain?

That's right, we're emergency watching Viva Las Vegas.  

  • Day:  TODAY 06/17/2022
  • Time:  8:30 PM
  • Service:  Amazon Prime

SHIMMY WITH US BY CLICKING HERE  


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tim Sale Merges With The Infinite




Comics artist and illustrator Tim Sale has passed.  




Sale's work was singular, unmistakable, and reminded an industry what could be done with a certain minimalism if you knew how to capture the essence of character in gesture, expression and motion in a line.  He volleyed between Marvel and DC for a good bit, but I believe I remember learning of his work through Haunted Knight and then the superlative Long Halloween.  

His work at Marvel provided a depth to characters with whom we're all familiar on multiple series, such as Daredevil: Yellow and Spider-Man: Blue.  

As a Superman reader, it's hard not to point to the defining work of A Superman For All Seasons, a new chapter to the life of a young Man of Steel finding his place in the world.  It's a beautiful comic with a deeply sympathetic take on Superman that you simply wanted to comfort as he sought his place in the world.











Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Return to "Smallville"



It's a fascinating thing to return to a show 20 years later.  For the kids, Smallville debuted when I was about 26 and would have watched pretty much anything that was comic-book related, but was aggressively obsessed with all things Superman - an obsession which started roughly five or six years prior and continues to this day in a toned-down sort of way.  It will sound weird to new comics readers now, but arriving at Superman around the age of 20 or 21 was late for a comics nerd as I'd been reading comics for a decade with no particular interest in The Man of Steel.  But, a confluence of comics that spoke to me where I lived featuring Superman* began trickling out in the mid to late 90's, and that, paired with the WB's Superman: The Animated Series, turned the tide.

At the time of show's debut, I wasn't much of a TV watcher - as in, I didn't make time for television, but I did watch a lot of films.  That said - I'd followed X-Files til right about at this point (when I gave up on the program), but had not been a person to obsess over a particular show, otherwise.  Well, maybe Seinfeld, Simpsons and some Babylon 5.  And lest we forget, Chef!.  No Buffy, Angel or whatever else for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ida Watch: The Man I Love (1947)




Watched:  06/13/2022
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Raoul Walsh

Cubs were in weather delay, so I put on The Man I Love (1947) so that I might continue on my Ida journey.  

Ida Lupino had previously starred in High Sierra for director Raoul Walsh, and he must have known he had about four choices in Hollywood to pull off the part of Petey Brown (my new favorite character name in anything, ever), and by 1947, Crawford and Stanwyck were not going to sell the age Petey needed to be in relation to all the other members of her family.  

There's a lot of reasons to like this movie, but not least because Ida Lupino is in fabulous gowns and other outfits.  She's... well cared for on this movie in some ways (she also apparently suffered from legit exhaustion on the movie, which makes me think in other ways, she was run ragged), with gorgeous lighting, hair and make-up in every scene.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

PodCast 201: "Daredevil" (2003) - A Marvel Madness Episode w/ Danny Horn & Ryan




Watched:  06/09/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Mark Steven Johnson




Danny and Ryan break a Signal Watch record, talking about a movie for longer than the run-time of that movie. Because when it comes to 2003's superhero offering, we need to take this to court and then give it the beatdown. We're jumping off skyscrapers of logic and throwing billy clubs of criticism as we echo-locate what it's all about.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Daredevil Theme - Graeme Revell
Guardian Devil - Graeme Revell


Marvel Madness Playlist

Watch Party Watch: Streets of Fire (1984)




Watched:  06/10/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Walter Hill

Sooner or later I was going to make the Friday Watch Party Gang watch this movie, and indeed, I did.  

Reactions were, at best, mixed.  

The last time I watched this movie, I was ill and Jamie and I recorded a very iffy podcast that required some follow up when I was feeling better.



Noir Watch: The Killer is Loose (1956)




Watched:  06/10/2022
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  Second
Director:   Budd Boetticher

This movie is here to put the lie to the 1950's being a more innocent time.  It's dark and brutal and feels like a gritty novella of the era (which should also tell you that if you think the 1950's were what you saw on TV re-runs, you're a remarkable idiot).  This film mostly made it past censors as near as I can tell because the antagonist as the Hays Office would have seen it gets shot to hell in the final reel.  But that's missing the drifting shades of gray of *everyone* in the movie, including and especially out lead cop.

I watched this one about seven years ago, and it's interesting to return to films I haven't seen much now that I know the actors and noir a bit better.  I have a better feel for Joseph Cotten, Wendell Corey, Rhonda Fleming*, Alan Hale Jr., and even Virginia Christine.  

Anyway - it's a good ticking time bomb of a movie.  Wendell Corey plays a bank employee who seems to be trying to thwart a robbery, but the cops figure out he's involved.  When they come for him, Joseph Cotten accidentally kills his wife.  Seeing Cotten's wife, Rhonda Fleming, at his trial, he vows revenge in the form of murdering Fleming.  

He escapes (via murder) an honor farm and he begins his pursuit.  Fleming and Cotten battle over what it means to be a cop's wife and what she's going through worrying about him constantly and what he feels is his duty.  In a curious turn for the era, the movie refuses to give us an answer if either of them are right.  But as a potential target, it really brings the debate to a boil.

Give this one a shot some time.  It's a quick watch, but gets the job done.  And you'll never look at Wendell Corey the same again.



*I mean, let us be honest - I tend to say "okay" if a movie has Rhonda Fleming, and this one does.  



Saturday, June 11, 2022

Judy Garland at 100



June 10th marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frances Ethel Gumm, who we all know as Judy Garland.  

Garland was a star from almost the time she could walk, and was a performer of stage and screen until her untimely passing just 12 days after her 47th birthday.  I am now older than Judy Garland ever was.

I would be very curious to know what the average person on the street thought of Garland during the 1940's til her death.  To put it mildly, her life was tumultuous.  And I am sure the movie magazines and gossip columns covered that, but most people couldn't have known much about her issues at work and at home.  She simply had to have been a given - she had been on screen since before The Wizard of Oz, and even if she disappeared for a while, she always seemed to return, whether it was television or stage shows.  

But the studios seemed literally cruel to her, in ways that anyone should share with their starry-eyed kids considering a career in show-biz, both in front of and behind the lens.  But in the end, though she's been gone for almost 53 years, she's still a draw, whether it's folks tuning in for Easter Parade or Meet Me in St. Louis or The Harvey Girls or Wizard of Oz.  A few people can name directors or studio chiefs, but folks will still stop to see what Garland is doing on screen.  

I don't know if it's a triumph or a tragedy.  But you also can't imagine movies without her.




Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Streets of Fire



It's a Rock & Roll Fable!

I can't and won't try to explain Streets of Fire, a not-a-musical that acts like one, produced by Joel Silver and lensed by action-director Walter Hill.

But... Join us for motorcycles, rock n' roll, crazy dialog, a fantasy make-believe-land of mid-century America that's weirdly violent, boroughs that each have their own musical theme, and which has no obvious sources of economy other than rockin' out, and a major, major gang problem!

If you dig the music of Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler), a weirdly cast Rick Moranis, and a 19 year old Diane Lane playing 27 or so - this is the movie for YOU.

Day:  Friday - 06/10/2022
Time:  8:30 PM Central, 6:30 PM Pacific
Service:  Amazon Prime
Cost:  $4



31 Years Ago: Superstition




I've been informed that Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Superstition" dropped 31 years ago today.  

Here's a pair of favorite tracks

 


Julee Cruise Merges With The Infinite




Vocalist and musician Julee Cruise has passed.  

Cruise is well known to fans of Twin Peaks, and is one of the signature sounds of the aural landscape of the show.  She released solo work as well as standing in for Cindy with the B-52's during tours.

She was s unique and rich talent, and she'll be missed.


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Doc Watch: Closed For Storm (2020)





Watched:  06/07/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jake Williams


While I've been sick, I've been watching some urban explorer videos and whatnot, and one of the videos I was watching pitched a full documentary the team had put together about the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans.  It's one thing to make a YouTube video with some footage of derelict buildings and combine it with found images and video, and whatever history you can piece together from the internet (which is often shockingly in-depth), so I was curious to see what a full doc looked like when these same folks put in some doc-style labor.  

Closed for Storm (2020) is a solid feature-length-ish effort.  Like the short-form videos by the same team, it chronicles the intentions, financial big movements that impacted the development of the facility, the actual use of the facility, and the factors that led to the decline.  In prior shorter videos, those factors are usually directly economic paired with bad luck and one or two other things, forseeable and otherwise.

Closed for Storm has to grapple with 2005's hurricane Katrina and the impact on New Orleans and the rise and abrupt end to Six Flags New Orleans.  It documents the bizarre purgatory of the property as it sits, rotting more every year, no one making any moves to level the place or do something with it.  The film winds up being a microcosm of the well-documented perfect storm that is Louisiana politics, callowness of big business, economic disparity in action, and the undealt with trauma of a region

As a micro-budget production by folks doing their best, not all of the film feels as polished as it could be.  I was expecting as much.  But it shows promise for the filmmakers if they can continue to elevate this core concept of using something as crazy as an abandoned theme park as a story telling device to illustrate how shit kinda really works/ doesn't work.  

Unlike Astroworld, which was apparently simply financially failing (news to me), Six Flags New Orleans was lost to the storm and given up on by new owners of Six Flags.  From 2005 to the release of this film, the city of New Orleans, never famous for its decision-making, has left the remains of the park to simply rot, rejecting all proposals.  And if you've ever sat through a bureaucratic process like an RFQ proposal, you know there's intense disinterest and misunderstanding by the persons involved.  So, instead of having literally anything else there, the park has just rotted.

Interviews include attendees, former employees, and the folks trying to find ways to revive the property.  Everyone is deeply sincere, and it's a layer to the usual "why it failed" and "urban explorer" videos you see all over YouTube.  We're not just guessing, the video is talking to people who were there, who lost jobs and who saw a good thing for the community abandoned rather than rebuilt, like so much of New Orleans.  But it seems they couldn't get any of the city-folks who so cavalierly dismiss the park year after year.

If I felt like one major point roughly implied, but not directly stated:  the kinds of people who are making decisions about the future of the amusement park shown in the video are not the kind of people who would give one much thought.  I'm not saying they need to be amusement park nerds, but.  They strike me as the sorts of folks who can take days of vacation and jump on a jet and go to Disney if they want to see an amusement park, or go skiing or do whatever.  But vast parts of the population can't afford to and don't do those things.  In a city like New Orleans, which is largely aimed at adult entertainment or expensive pro sports, an amusement park is no small thing.   

Anyway - I hope these folks keep working on their films.  It feels like there's a lot here to consider, and using specific examples of entertainment properties and resorts is fascinating way to consider economic and cultural forces.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Comedy Watch: Senior Year (2022)




Watched:  06/06/2022
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Alex Hardcastle

So, it's impossible to talk about this movie and just talk about the movie.  

First, let's get it out of the way - this is a movie that was never, ever intended for me.  So proceed with caution.

Second - this is the first I've seen of Rebel Wilson in a while, and, yes, she's worked hard to reduce, as we once said.  She always looked terrific, and she continues to do so (that is not her actual body in the poster above, which is weird).  Rebel Wilson is all about the eyes and smile, and so long as those don't change, we're good.*

Third - we may now discuss the plot, which opens the can of worms.  

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Noir Watch: My Name is Julia Ross (1945)




Watched:  06/04/2022
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Joseph H. Lewis

I'd had this one burning a hole in my DVR and it seemed like a good way to kill the 90 minutes before I planned to go to bed.  It was actually a B movie in the traditional sense - only 65 minutes or something - so it really fit the bill.   

The plot is whackadoodle and I loved the set up.  Rich-ish jerks go about recruiting a young woman into a job as a secretary, then abscond with her and gaslight her, telling her "no, you're not Julia Ross.  You're Mrs. Hughes" (ie: the wife of the guy she thought was her employer) "and you're crazy.  Sometimes you get these kooky thoughts you're someone else."

Place spunky woman in gothic mansion on a seaside cliff, add paranoia, gaslighting and dickery, and you have a groovy movie.  And, man, is it a cast of FACES.  George Macready, May Whitty, Anita Sharp-Bolster, and even Joy Harington.  Our star is Nina Foch, with whom I'm not terribly well acquainted, but she's terrific.  

Anyway - I'm kinda shocked of the two movies I watched last night, this was the one that had me the most jazzed.


Mystery Watch: Death on the Nile (2022)



Watched:  06/04/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Kenneth Branagh

I have not read any Agatha Christie, which seems like a really stupid blind spot for me to have, but here we are.  I have also not watched Poirot mysteries on PBS and I haven't watched the older versions of these same stories.  I assumed I'd get to them, and I haven't.  Life is short and I mostly waste it.  I did watch the prior movie starring director/ star/ producer Kenneth Branagh, Murder on the Orient Express, and I thought, as a movie, it was pretty solid. Nothing to win awards, but accomplished what it wanted to do.

But as I have COVID and I was trying to figure out how well my brain was working, seeing if I could follow a Poirot mystery seemed like a good idea.  And the answer is - I could follow it!

I 10,000% suspect that this movie is just the bare bones of the original novel, which I am not looking up to check, as I should read the book at some point and I don't want to ruin it. 

This one had a few things going against it.  

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Well, I have the COVID




Did some socializing on Monday and on Thursday received the alert that one of the people I'd been socializing with had become sick and subsequently tested positive for COVID.  

I'm not shocked.  I figured these latest mutations were so transmissible, I'd eventually get it unless I continued to live like a hermit as we did for 2020.  We're careful-ish.  No movies, no restaurants.  I wear a mask in and out at work and shut the door behind me when I have to go in.  But, you know, when people can't keep their hands off bats, I guess. 

But, yeah, I tested positive Friday morning - not feeling great then and the coughing starting - and tried to work but by 1:30 hung it up.  I had a telemedicine appointment at 2:20 and got prescribed Paxlovid.  Normally I'm all about FDA testing, but I'd very much like to knock this thing out and not incur long COVID.  

Last night I ran an un-fun fever, but that broke after I went to sleep.  This morning, I'm coughing, runny nose and very run down.  If I have a fever, it's so low it's not an issue.

I'd argue my sense of taste is diminished but not gone.   I could taste the HEB Fruit and Grain bar I ate.  But my coffee, tragically, isn't the flavor wonderland I normally enjoy.  

I expect between the meds, the mild impact I'm hearing reported and experiencing, and good care, I'll be okay.  Jamie has tested negative and seems fine.  She was mostly stressed yesterday watching me just stare at The Meg as it played on TNT (that's about where I was around 8:00).  But she's also had her 4th shot, and even if she technically has COVID right now (and she hasn't tested positive) then there's a strong argument for getting your booster.  Of the two people we saw Monday, one of them also has not tested positive.  So.

The real kick in the shins is that I had planned to go to get a booster next weekend, but my timing was off.  I had stuff to do this weekend and didn't want to be down for a day dealing with any post-shot side-effects.  (sad trombone)

Look, I'm aware of the death toll of this virus and I'm not taking it lightly.  The world wide impact of the virus is well known and I don't need to tell it to you here.  But I'm also pretty sure my Tuesday I'll be right as rain.  

Y'all be careful out there.  This thing is still floating around.  And we're all going to need to hard-ponder our new normal.  

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Too Much TV - What Shows I've Been Watching




We had just finished up a few shows, but TV now knows most of us don't actually want to go outside on Memorial Day, and so... it was decreed, a bunch of new stuff would hit around this time.

What we're watching:

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Joan Watch: Flamingo Road (1949)




Watched:  05/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  2nd?  3rd?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Michael Curtiz

I remembered really liking this movie, but not many plot details.  What I really recall was that this was that age of post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford when she was having a second or third wind in Hollywood and back at the center of movies.  

This one would be a fabulous bit of film for a good old-fashioned "gender in cinema" student paper, with a tough-as-nails female lead who still has to navigate the mid-20th Century gender and sexual politics and the less-than-ideal male figures around her.  Not to mention the presentation of other women in the film who do not have the benefit of being Joan Crawford.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Flamingo Road



I don't really care what this movie is about.  It stars Joan Crawford in her bangin' mid-40's, Sydney @#$%ing Greenstreet and Austin native Zachary Scott.  I mean, if you can't like that, we are not friends.

But, if you've not seen it - Flamingo Road is a grimy melodrama in the American South.  





Watch along tonight!

Day:  Friday - 05/27/2022
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon
Cost:  $3

link live 10 minutes before showtime!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ray Liotta Merges With the Infinite


Ray Liotta, actor, has passed.  He'll be remembered most for his outstanding performance in Goodfellas and his iconic performance in Field of Dreams, but he was terrific in literally everything I saw him in.  


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Ida Watch: Out of the Fog (1941)




Watched:  05/24/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:   1940's
Director:  Anatole Litvak

Well, Jamie likes Ida Lupino, so it's never a huge fight when I declare "I'm gonna watch an Ida Lupino movie" which does, in fact, happen around here.  And right now Criterion Channel had a handful of options, most of which I've seen but a few I hadn't.  Tonight's choice was Out of the Fog from 1941.  

The film feels distinctly pre-war in content, a stage-like acting style derived from 30's-era norms plus - I assume - a desire to replicate the energy and pacing of source material from several of the players.  It's a tight 85 minutes of melodrama that feels like a mix of the socially conscious theater of the 1940's and some light crime.  

It also stars John Garfield (who is typically John Garfield excellent), Thomas Mitchell, Eddie Albert and a handful of other familiar faces and just faces.  

Garfield and Lupino out on the town

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Krull (1983)





Watched:  05/20/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: 1980's
Director: Peter Yates

Even as a kid, I had no real affinity for Krull (1983).  It arrived as part of the fantasy movie blitz of the 1980's, and I didn't see it in the theater.  The trailer had some interesting imagery, but I just didn't watch it.  At some kid's birthday, I watched the Fire Mares part of the movie, said internally "what the @#$% is this?", but wasn't super interested.  But, as a kid with time on his hands and a VCR, eventually I watched the film.  However, most of my memories of the story itself are from a comic book adaptation I picked up somewhere.  I think we only bought the first issue.  

About 16 years ago, Columbia House was in its death throes and had moved into DVD's.  I gave it a whirl and picked up 11 DVDs for $11 or whatever, and among my pickings was Krull.  Jamie and I tried to watch it, and I decided "this is boring" and we didn't try again.   On a rewatch, I am not sure why we thought it was boring.  It's not.  That's not really the crime to which the movie could be held accountable.

In fact, it's a very, very pretty movie.  The sets are immaculate and gigantic.  The exteriors are all over Europe in lovely pastoral settings.  There's some truly fantastic visual stuff happening, and in a lot of ways, the movie is genuinely well-directed when it slows down to have a beat or two.  The director, Peter Yates, is no slouch and did one of my favorite new-to-me films from the past few years, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which could not be more different if Yates had physically been trying to get as far away from that movie as possible.

But, real talk, they kinda forgot to give anyone but the asshole wizard any personality beyond the thinnest layers atop an archetype.  It's weird.  There's an exposition guy who tells the "prince" what to do.  The price is princely (read:  nice but dim), and the wise old man is wise.  The stoic cyclops is stoic.  Perhaps because the actor cannot see and therefore cannot move.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

PodCast 200: "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984) - Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ SGHarms and Ryan




Watched:  05/21/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown/ First for Extended Version
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Sergio Leone




Steven returns to the podcast to talk one of Ryan's canon films, and one of Leone's last. It's an epic length podcast for an epic-length film, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Join us as we talk about what works, what doesn't, the challenges of the film, and what it all means.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Deborah's Theme - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST
Once Upon a Time in America - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST


Signal Watch Canon