Saturday, July 30, 2022

Happy 75th Birthday, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today marks the 75th birthday of Arnold Schwarzenegger - champion of physical culture, movie star, politician, and guy who lets hoofed animals into his house.  He's kind of everyone's weird uncle, and I respect that.

It's no secret that Arnie is one of my childhood favorite movie stars, and someone whose work I followed well into adulthood.  These days he's keeping busy with any number of acting gigs, promoting physical wellness and being an okay guy.  His occasional newsletter is always a boot in my ass to get out there and get my heart rate up, and his pointed messages to his fans about not being a heel are truly inspiring.  

I understand Arnie is a complex guy and has a checkered history.  So say we all.  But I also think he's using this chapter in his life to be the best version of himself, and I think that's worth acknowledging, too.  

Here's to Arnie!  May he curl some slices of cake today.

Here's some discussion of Schwarzenegger films we've covered on the PodCast!

Amazon Watch Party Watch: War of the Worlds (1953)

Watched:  07/29/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Byron Haskin

It's tough to beat this sci-fi classic.  And I write about it pretty often.  So I'll be brief.

Here.  Here.  Here.  and Here.  And part of why we even have a "mars" category here at The Signal Watch.  

I own a model of the Martian craft and of a Martian.  This movie is absolutely my jam.

Anyway, you can read prior posts about that, but it was indeed a lot of fun to watch the movie with other people, some of whom had seen it, and some not.  It's a high water mark of science fiction film for a reason, and I expect that won't diminish for some time.  

Even Spielberg seemed to only bounce up against this version with his 2005 version of the story.  But I think there's room for all the interpretations.  And all the movies (see:  Independence Day) that riff on it or rip it off.  

Anyway, it disappears from Amazon Prime Monday, so you have like a day or two to watch it for "free".

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Friday Watch Party: War of the Worlds (1953)

I just noticed that (a) the 1953 sci-fi classic War of the Worlds is on Amazon Prime and (b) it is leaving this weekend.  

Look - this movie hit me like a ton of bricks when I watched it in middle school for the first time.  I was genuinely scared watching the movie - shit gets bleak - and couldn't look away.  It's an astonishingly gorgeous film even as lasers are turning people to ash and scorch marks.  

But, sure, dial in and have a good time!  I've seen this thing a dozen times, and it can take whatever slings and arrows we chuck its way.  

Anyway, join us for some space invaders bringing their A Game and dumb ol' humans getting turned into vapor.  

Day:  Friday - 07/29/2022
Time:  8:30 PM Central
Service:  Amazon Prime
Cost:  $0

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren

Well, well.  Someone else has a birthday today for us to celebrate. 

Y'all put on a second party hat for my high school TV crush and prime reason I watched the all-new Saved By the Bell (which everyone but me slept on, I think, but it was waaaay better than I expected), Ms. Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, seen above - reminding you she has a very nice black coat.

Here's hoping Ms. Berkley Lauren is having a smashing birthday.

And I hope someone watched that new Saved By the Bell to see she's developed her comedy chops since the 90's and would fit well in many a new show or movie.

Happy Birthday, Hannah Waddingham

Today marks the birthday of Emmy award winning actor, singer, performer, and all-around good idea, Hannah Waddingham.  Here's hoping she has a great one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

PodCast 206: "Smallville - Part 2 of 2" - Jamie and Ryan Talk Super Television

Format:  Smallville currently streaming on Hulu

Jamie and Ryan put in another hour talking about ten seasons of watching Clark Kent go from a teen saddled with alien powers and a tendency to deceive everyone to an adult who does the same. Join us as we consider the super-task of putting out 220+ episodes of TV, finally getting to where you were planning to go and then tripping over your own feet at the last second with a lead who just seems like he never quite figured out why people were watching.



Save Me - Remy Zero 
Breathe Again - Sara Bareilles

DC TV and Movies

Monday, July 25, 2022

I Forgot To Post On This Watch: Open By Christmas (2021)

Watched:  I dunno.  Let's call it 07/10/2022
Format:  Hallmark's Christmas in July
Viewing:  First
Director:  David Weaver

I watched this for two reasons:  (1) I put it on for two seconds and then it ended and I'd just watched a whole movie and that's how Hallmark movies get you.  (2) Erica Durance was in it, which was the fuel in the fire, I guess.

Judging this movie by the current standard of Hallmark Christmas movies, it was... fine?  Good?  Let's settle on "it was okay at doing what it set out to do", which is all you can judge it on, anyway.

Not long ago, Hallmark started letting themselves make movies that weren't one of five plots, so now you kinda don't know what you're going to get.  I mean, the same bland, friction-free spirit is there.  You know everything will be okay.  But these days they've learned that's the thing, not any particular formula of story.  Thinking about it, the Vandervoort starring Hallmark pic I watched last Christmas also had two narrative threads, so maybe that's the thing?  Cast Smallville actors and two plots.  I'm calling it now.

Action Watch: The Gray Man (2022)

Watched:  07/23/2022
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Russo Bros.

So, I have not watched the Fast and the Furious movies, but I think this is that, set for my particular tastes.  Gimme some good CIA/ espionage/ assassination storylines, and some insane action and I'm pretty good.  It also doesn't hurt that I am onboard with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.  All people I enjoy watching do their thing.

I've seen some internet pouting about the movie, and to that, I say, "well, I watched this while putting down two Manhattans and it seemed amazing to me."  Like, look, I am not going to say this movie needs an Oscar for best picture, but it turned espionage movies up to 11, had some of the most complex and insane action sequences I've seen - in fact, echoing specific action sequences I thought were quite bad - and made them pretty great.  I could actually *follow* what was going on.  And I might have mentioned I'd had two Manhattans.*

I've seen some complaining about the acting, to which I say:  wat?

Like, literally, these people are doing exactly what they do in everything.  And/ or they didn't do something you wanted them to do so you're quite cross.  I'm not saying these are stellar performances, but everyone kind of does their thing.  Seeming vaguely detached is what Gosling do.  Spunky enthusiasm for whatever he's up to is what Evans do.  And de Armas is more or less exactly as she was in No Time to Die minus the slinky dress and given way, way more to do.

I don't spend a ton of time thinking about Billy Bob Thornton, because I don't have to.  He's just rock solid in everything, and this is no exception.  So, yeah, I dunno.  

If you're looking for a movie that has plenty of explosions and fist fights and knife fights and bad guys you won't mind seeing die badly, and - frankly - completely batshit action sequences that carry you along like a tidal wave - it's a fun flick.  I liked the heightened reality of the whole thing in a way I can't get into with stuff like Kingsman that feels like "oh, aren't we being naughty!".  

Anyway, I do plan to watch it again minus booze.  But I don't think I really missed much.  It's sorta nice to watch a spy movie that doesn't require a flowchart to follow.

*my Manhattan recipe is

  • two good shakes of standard bitters -  or Peychaud's, if you got it
  • two to three good shakes of orange bitters
  • two shots of Bulleitt Rye
  • one shot of Sweet Vermouth
  • one spoonful of juice from your cherries
  • two cherries
lightly stir in a mixing glass and pour into a martini glass.  Sip to ensure it's good.  It is.  Nod.  

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Happy Birthday, Lynda Carter

Happy Birthday to patron saint of The Signal Watch, Ms. Lynda Carter!

Just yesterday, I moved some stuff around and began putting all my Lynda Carter Wonder Woman stuff in one place.  I'm not done yet, so no pics.  But, as always, Ms. Carter was on my mind.  Just more so than usual.

Ms. Carter has had an extraordinarily tough year, losing both her husband and father. That's incredibly hard, and we wish her well.

But in recent months she's been active on social media and she's also released a new song, dedicated to her husband, Robert Altman.  It's a romance from Wonder Woman's POV - in both original flavor and dance remix.  And, she's set to participate in the next Wonder Woman film, which this blog endorses 1000%.  

Here's to Lynda Carter, and may she have spent the day with her family and friends.  

PodCast 205: "Smallville - Part 1 of 2" - Jamie and Ryan Talk Super Television

Format:  Smallville currently on Hulu  

Jamie and Ryan crash into 2001's hit show that wound up running for 10 seasons. It's a super discussion about the show, what it meant to viewers, how fans built a culture around the show, and what it means years later when a star of the show is less than a hero. Join us as we get through an hour of super-talk and we get past the secrets and lies!



Save Me - Remy Zero
Island In the Sun - Weezer 

DC Movies and Television

Watch Party Watch: Man's Best Friend (1993)

Watched:  07/22/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Director:  John Lafia

I saw this movie in the theater and was mostly curious about it because I had absolutely no memory of what happened in the film.  I was 18 and it was during my college winter break so I was home, so I'm pretty sure I was sober, but...  man.  Aside from one very iffy CGI shot, I had nothing.

The basic gist of the film is that the world's most negligent reporter decides to break and enter at a science-place where it turns out Lance Henriksen is doing gene-splicing to create "the ultimate guard dog".  Why?  No idea.  We're never told.  But Ally Sheedy accidentally earns some life-debt from "Max" the ultra-dog whom she spirits away (hint: never take an animal from a lab) and brings to her home.  

She lies to her live-in boyfriend about where she got the dog, and - as a reporter - if she airs any of what she's got on tape, she is absolutely going to jail.  That's B&E and larceny.  

Well, this is ostensibly a horror movie, so it turns out the dog isn't just murderous, he can climb walls or trees, swallow cats like a python and piss acid?  I remembered none of this.  But I did remember there's one shot where they do the Predator CGI shtick where he's kind of clear and then you can see him.

I'm not a *huge* fan of complaining about movies having tone problems*, but this movie has them.  It genuinely feels like a 90's kid's film at times, complete with the neigbor kid who acts like he's 45 and 13 at the same time and wears the neon colors you saw kids wearing in movies and TV in the 90's, but not in real life.  

There's kids telling fart stories that are irrelevant to anything, but then bearing witness to cat murder and simply running away lest they be implicated in the cat murder, which is probably the only honest thing in this movie.

What is impossible to determine from the film's various murders and wacky cops is whether this movie is kidding or not, or a comedy or not.  It's not funny, but you can tell someone decided this movie should be "fun", so we murder a mailman, etc..  And you have to wonder if Ally Sheedy's insane negligence and obliviousness were supposed to be funny.  Oh, also, there's the implication of dog-on-dog non-consensual sex.  Which... seems played for laughs?  Well, the mid-90's were a weird time.  

In an era of "content" and rapidly forgotten films, it's easy to forget that stuff like this was hitting cinemas on a regular basis.  We had studios like New Line - who released this movie - who were like "sci-fi killer dog?  And no one suspects?  So... like one of those trash 450 page horror novels you get at the airport?  GREEN LIGHT."  I mean, this is a $6 million movie.  There are about four sets, and the rest is spent on talent, which is kind of sweet, actually.  And they made a profit of some sort if Wikipedia is to be believed.

But, make no mistake - this movie is absolutely terrible.  

*it usually tells me more about a viewer's expectations of the way they think a movie is supposed to be versus what the movie is