Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Friday Watch Party: Birdemic 3 - Sea Eagle




Look, we all know what this means.  But we're doing it anyway.

I can promise you nothing but confusion, tears, rage, and some low-grade long-term trauma.  But I think it's important we do this.  Everything up to this point has been a training for this moment, really.  Now is when we prove our mettle.

Day:  Friday 02/10
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon
Cost:  $4

CLICK HERE TO BEAR WITNESS TO A BUCKETLOAD OF INCONVENIENT TRUTHS
(link live 10 minutes prior to show)


Monday, February 6, 2023

PodCast 231: "Black Adam" (2022) - a Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Stuart and Ryan


Watched: 01/28/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Jaume Collet-Serra




Stuart and Ryan see a red door and they want it painted Black Adam! It's a DC movie, so you know that means there's a few dozen missteps to discuss, starting with picking a villain as our hero and carrying through to WB letting Dwayne Johnson think he now runs DC. It's one of those films where the most interesting thing about it is everything around the movie.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Black Adam Theme - Lorne Balfe
Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones


DC Comics Movies and TV

00's Rewatch: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)




Watched:  02/04/2023
Format:  Apple+
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Wes Anderson

It may be that the truest line of dialog, clunky as it sounded at the time, to ever be put into a movie was in The Dark Knight.  You either die a hero live long enough to see yourself become the villain.  And if my former life on twitter taught me anything, it's that the next generation of people who were not there at the time are going to come along and not understand the world or context into which a film was delivered.  That's not their fault, but to assume that something like The Royal Tenenbaums arrives into theaters and now Wes Anderson is considered a faultless filmmaker who will enjoy a career of deeply specific filmmaking and be dubbed a key filmmaker was not a guarantee.  

Even then not everyone loved Anderson's mannered, structured take that drew attention to the film as a film, as a chaptered storybook.  And that's fine.  Not everything is to everyone's taste.  

Sunday, February 5, 2023

80's Watch: Action Jackson (1988)




Watched:  02/04/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Craig R Baxley

Well, 13-year-old-me that wanted to see this, we did it.  We finally got around to watching Action Jackson (1988).  And what a strange, strange movie this is.  

There are moments where you think "this movie had a $5 budget" and then you think "well, there are lots of explosions and stuff."  But you also know the star here was Carl Weathers, who is charismatic and cool, but he hadn't carried a ton of stuff or big action movies.  The director is the stunt coordinator from Predator, and the film includes not just Weathers but Bill Duke as the cranky captain calling Jackson into his office and a brief appearance by Sonny Landham (Billy in Predator).  

But that's not all!  Craig T. Nelson plays the Mr. Big corporate villain, a fresh-faced Sharon Stone is his dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks wife, Vanity is our deeply complicated love interest/ MacGuffin, Tom Wilson (Biff from BTTF) is a cop,  Robert Davi gets five minutes.  But most remarkable, it's just full of "that guy!" character actors in almost every scene.  

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Gorilla at Large (1954)




Watched:  02/03/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Harmon Jones

So, to my complete surprise, I liked this movie semi-unironically.  

I found it weird that this movie starred fairly big names for the time.  Not huge stars, but knowable names and more than one of them.  It has Raymond Burr, Lee J. Cobb, a young Lee Marvin, Cameron Mitchell (before he spiraled into camp), and Anne Bancroft here to remind you she is, indeed, a very good idea.  I was not familiar with Charlotte Austin, who plays the virginal character, but who could scream like crazy and had great hair (and was in another gorilla movie in 1958 called The Bride and the Beast, penned by Ed Wood Jr.).

At around the 70% mark of the movie, I think it was Jenifer who pointed out "this is gorilla noir", and she was not wrong.  This is absolutely murder mystery noir, set against the backdrop of a carnival, with a gorilla as a character, and plenty of intrigue to go around.  The movie is knowing enough that it constantly plays with expectations, and I had no idea how this thing would wrap up until the end.  

It's also, visually, very interesting.  Shot at Nu Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach.  I thought it was the same location as Woman on the Run/ Gun Crazy and others, and was very wrong.  My takeaway is that California had some great amusement options in the 20th century.  (The Burglar was filmed in New Jersey, so I was way off there.)  But as something shot originally for 3D presentation, and in bright technicolor, it's a fascinating bit of visual cotton candy, including a dynamic scene with a mirror maze (that I'm not clear on how it was shot without showing the crew standing behind the camera, tbh).

It's not challenging the AFI Top 100 as an underserved, underseen classic, but it's *interesting*.  Including the bizarre decisions that led to the finale.  


  

Friday, February 3, 2023

I Guess I Watched That Watch: Mannequin (1987)

Photoshop is hard, y'all



Watched:  02/02/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Michael Gottleib

Well.  I somehow watched Mannequin (1987) Thursday evening.  

As the day drew to a close and we were figuring out life after our ice storm here, I sat down to do some things and was like "ha ha!  Mannequin is on HBOmax!" and the next thing I knew, I was watching department store art director and bon vivant, Hollywood, knock over bumbling security guards with a firehose (that's the end of the movie, gang).

Observations:

1)  this movie recognizes the reality and divinity of the Egyptian pantheon, and I was wondering how that would play a role for the characters, but it's just not a factor except when their fulfilling wishes.  What does it mean to realize that Osiris is out there granting boons?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Friday Watch Party: Gorilla at Large






reminder:  you can always see what we're up to each week by clicking on the Watch Party tab or seeing what's up by checking under the "Interaction" label.  



Friends, this may be the most exciting title for a movie I've ever seen in my whole g-d life.  

I was pretty thrilled with just the name, but then I saw it stars Anne Bancroft, Raymond Burr, Lee J Cobb and Cameron (Space Mutiny) Mitchell, and, y'all, I done lost my mind when I noted an appearance by none other than Lee @#$%ing Marvin.

Do I know anything about this movie?  I do not.  But how can we go wrong with a gorilla, a circus, and Lee J Cobb?

Day:  Friday 02/03/2023
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Cost:  $4


link live 10 minutes prior to showtime




PodCast 230: "Jaws 3-D" (1983) - An Angry Animal Movie w/ Jamie, SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  01/22/2023
Format:  AMazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980s
Director:  Joe Alves




Jamie, SimonUK and Ryan go back in the water - at Sea World! It's been 40 years since this 3D film hit theaters, so what better way to watch it than in 2D with 1/10th the excitement of the original, and 2x the co-contributors?!! It's a sequel that doesn't care what made the first one work, but it raises the stakes, finds a sunnier locale, adds sharks, half-heartedly continues the saga of the Brody family, and defies biology and physics to bring you excitement and terror!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Jaws 3 Main Title Theme - Alan Parker 


Angry Animals Playlist

Cindy Williams Merges With The Infinite




Cindy Williams, who played Shirley on the popular sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has passed.  

It seems her passing must have been sudden as just last week I saw an ad for Williams' one-woman show, Me, Myself and Shirley, which was coming to Austin.  

Williams was a staple of 70's and 80's television, and a star of George Lucas' breakthrough hit, American Graffiti.  Williams appeared in the great Coppola film The Conversation, as well as countless movies and shows over the years.



Monday, January 30, 2023

Lisa Loring Merges With The Infinite



Lisa Loring, who most famously played Wednesday Addams on The Addams Family from 1964-1966, has passed.  

Like many child actors, Loring's post-Addams Family life was complex, dipping in and out of the spotlight from time to time, through tabloids and media appearances.   And, like many celebrities of retro media, Loring had made a career out of the fan shows and convention circuit.  She did act in TV and film, keeping mostly to guest starring roles and smaller films.

Remarkably, Loring really did grow up to somewhat resemble Carolyn Jones.  So, whomever from casting picked her out in 1964, well done.

Loring is survived by her two daughters.

Here's to the original Wednesday cutting a rug.


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Watch Party Watch: The Amazing Mr. X (1948)




Watched:  01/27/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Bernard Vorhaus (sp?)


This is "moral relativism, the movie".  Not often do you see a movie where you're straight up unclear why you should care about anyone in the film, but this is it.  If you believe women should be helpless dummies, I guess you can pick the two rich, guileless sisters who are shown to mostly be cotton-brained marks through 90 minutes of film, and who discuss their long history of what easy targets they've been, but when your hero of the third reel is the guy who has been outmaneuvered by the even shittier guy in the movie... woof.

These characters kind of all deserve each other.  

I dunno.  The version we watched for free on Amazon Prime was a very, very rough, dark print that hadn't been touched since being put away probably in 1949.  John Alton was the DP, and there's some gorgeous John Alton stuff in this movie that was unfortunately dimmed by time.  I will pay to see this again in a restored version just for the photography.

I was willing to see this movie immediately because it co-starred Cathy O'Donnell, who is fantastic in They Live By Night, Side Street and The Best Years of Our Lives, but here she's mostly asked to be a simp and whine a lot, and...  it's fine, but it's thankless.  Playing a gullible dummy isn't a good look for anyone.

I know Lynn Bari less.  She's in Nocturne, which is a fine film, but that's the only place I've seen her.  And while the picture was blurry and dark, she's, how does one say?  fun to watch.  

The plot is that two rich sisters live in a Manderlay like mansion on an ocean cliff.  Two years prior, Lynn Bari's husband died in a fiery car crash.  She's both mourning him and about to be engaged to a too-practical attorney.  Her sister, O'Donnell, is a character type we'd start seeing a lot in this era- the teen or young woman who is certain in her belief she's smarter and wiser than everyone around them.  

Well, Lynn is being set up by her housekeeper (who is playing a Swedish maid) and her partner, the shady Alexis (the titular Mr. X, I guess), and they basically do the spiritualism bit on her, convincing her he's magic and there are ghosts.  

The movie goes to great pains to show us how the shenanigans of a seance work, and do the job of showing us how a complex spook show convinces both sisters (O'Donnell's character predictably wants to be on Mr. X).  But, lo, and behold, the dead husband shows up as NOT dead, and begins blackmailing our scammer into partnering.  

And, honestly, the pragmatic attorney does kind of blow.  Mr. X is played by character actor Turhan Bey, who was a wildly prolific talent, but who didn't really star in much other than this movie and The Mummy's Tomb.  The film's third-reel decision to have him grow a conscience seems... iffy.  He's dedicated his whole life to scamming.  And I think there's probably a good movie in that idea, but this isn't it.

Anyway, I actually enjoyed watching the film in part due to Alton, the two female leads, and because it's completely bonkers.  Is it a good movie?  Not particularly.  But it's a great late-late-show kind of movie that deserves a better print than what we saw.



Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Friday Watch Party : The Amazing Mr. X



housekeeping note!  HEY.  We've added a "Watch Party" tab to the main menu.  If you ever wonder what's up with the next Watch Party and can't immediately find a link, click on the "Watch Party" option.

So, I'm told The Amazing Mr. X is being shown at this year's Noir City in Oakland.  By K, who works in Oakland.  I guess she knows.  

Anyway, I ain't against anything with THIS poster, and it has Cathy O'Donnell, who is great.

Let's watch this thing. 

Day:  01/27/2023
Time:  8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Cost:  Free for Amazon Prime members

(link live 10 minutes before show)


PodCast 229: "The Addams Family" Comics, TV, Movies and More - Jamie and Ryan



Movies/ TV Watched:  
  • Addams Family (1991) 01/16/2023
  • Addams Family Values (1993)  01/17/2023
  • Addams Family (animated - 2019) 01/19/2023
  • Wednesday (2022)
  • The Addams Family (original series, 1964-1966)
Format:
  • Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Netflix
  • Addams Family (animated film)/ original series - YouTube
Viewing:
  • Addams Family/ Values - Unknown
  • Addams Family (animated) - First
Director:
  • Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Barry Sonenfeld
  • Addams Family (animated film) - Greg Tiernan/ Conrad Vernon



Join us as we get creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky, as Jamie and Ryan talk Addams Family comic strips, television, movies and more! We ponder questions of family values, romance, and what makes an ever-evolving franchise work when it passes through so many hands as new generations get involved. And what IS movie perfection, and why is it only seen in the two Addams Family films?


SoundCloud 


YouTube



Shakespeare!


Music:
The Addams Family Theme - Vic Mizzy
Addams Groove - Hammer


What is Love? Playlist




Monday, January 23, 2023

Screwball Watch: Libeled Lady (1936)




Watched:  01/23/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jack Conway

You can do worse than a movie with Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow.  But our male leads are Spencer Tracy and William Powell.  So.  

A newspaper accidentally runs a badly sourced story about a rich young woman (Loy), claiming she carried on with a married man, but it's not accurate.  Tracy is attempting to marry Harlow, but the emergency (threats of libel and slander suits) pulls him away from his own wedding.  Looking to find a way to get the $5 million lawsuit dropped, he employs scoundrel William Powell to set Loy up for a fall in front of cameras and make her lawsuit moot.  

There's nothing I don't like about the movie.  It's brilliantly conceived, acted and it's hysterical, careening from one sequence to another.  It's top tier talent making the most of a great set-up.  





Sunday, January 22, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Zardoz (1974)




Watched:  01/20/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Boorman

So, my college pal, Robb, was a big fan of this movie, which really set the bar for me.  He's the same guy who would pitch a Saturday as "let's watch Stalker and then Bullit".   Circa 1999 or so, my brother, Steanso, and myself decided to give Zardoz (1974) a whirl, and I think we made it twenty minutes in before giving up and watching Xena or Cleopatra 2525.  

I will not say I hated or even disliked Zardoz, while acknowledging - this is not a movie for everyone.  The film contains a million concepts and ideas all crammed into one movie.  I don't think it really succeeds (for me) as story, commentary or entertainment, but it is absolutely a thing to watch for its tremendous ambition, low-budget-swing-for-the-fences approach, and unique visuals.  It's trying to do some Very Important Stuff via sci-fi, and I can't say it fails, exactly.  The ideas are interesting enough.  It's just not a movie that is amazingly fun to watch (sober).

Friday, January 20, 2023

Friday Watch Party: ZARDOZ (1974)



I've never seen Zardoz beyond the first 20 minutes, and so now I'm going to watch it.  We're ALL going to watch it.  

Here's all you need to know:  

I would kill for 1/200th of the confidence it takes to say "yes, put me on film in that"



Anyway, I am told the movie occurs in 2023, which is now.  So, put on your red diaper and hurt-me boots, and let's watch this thing.

Day:  Friday, 01/20/2023
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon
Cost:  $4, and a small bit of your sanity


(link live 10 minutes before show)

BEHOLD!  The trailer.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Happy Birthday to American Royalty, Dolly Parton



Best birthday wishes to America's reigning queen

80's Watch: Running Scared (1986)




Watched:  01/17/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Peter Hyams


Running Scared (1986) was a movie I remember watching a bunch during the window when we had whatever movie channel carried it in the late 1980's, which is the last time I watched the film.   I haven't really missed it, but it kept coming up thanks to the power of Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom".  And, Jamie had never seen it and got tired of me saying "yeah, we could watch that some time."  So, we did.

I have no idea how the movie was considered when I was a kid.  I'm not looking up reviews or box office now.  As a middle-schooler, of course I loved loose cannon, wise-cracking cops who get to shoot guns, get into shenanigans and are repeatedly shown to be right.  As an adult, this is a movie about wise-cracking cops repeatedly abusing their authority, engaging in police brutality, tampering with evidence, getting witnesses and stoolies killed, stealing from the evidence locker, refusing to follow basic procedure, and never having to explain major shoot outs and acts of violence.  It is wiiiiiild.  This was what we wanted to watch in the 1980's.

The film is also constantly asking "so, this isn't racist, right?"  But, man, we sure had no problem showing the only Latinos in a movie as crooks or aiding crooks.  

To say it hasn't aged well is an understatement.

The basic plot is that Chicago's loosest of loose cannon cops are made to take vacation after stepping on the toes of a different vice sting (and establishing our villain in Jimmy Smits).   They've always been "shoot first and ask questions later" guys about their own safety and that of the the greater Chicagoland area.   But while in Key West, apparently landing women way out of their league, they impulsively buy a bar and plan to retire in 30 days.  As short-timers, they suddenly realize they could get shot and die.  Thus the title.  But it doesn't really effect the plot more than, like, twice.      

The movie is pitched as an action-comedy, but is short on both.  It's a long movie, and it didn't really need to be because it's a movie that doesn't really have anything interesting to say, and is a basic "cops catch drug kingpin" film that was being churned out every week back in the 1980's.*  

It's not that it's not funny at all.  It's sorta funny, but it basically feels like bits of improv more than any focused effort to be a comedy.  The violence is sporadic and feels out of whack from the mugging Crystal and Hines are up to, so when they get super serious at the end of the film, you're kinda-like "you two dipshits have been yukking it up and putting the entire city of Chicago in danger every twenty minutes this whole movie, and now you're concerned?"

Crystal does his familiar stuff from the era, Hines is charming.  We're told both are more physically appealing than I would guess they are.  And it's a reminder that roles for women in 1986 were mostly to stand around and shake heads at the antics of our heroes.  It also has Joe Pantoliano, Dan Hedaya (of course), Jon Gries, Larry Hankin, and probably other 80's and 90's faces you might enjoy.

I didn't hate it, but it's more interesting as a dated artifact of a bygone era than as a good movie.  I dunno.  Maybe I'll watch it again in another 33 years.

But, hey, it's fun to see the Chicago of the 1980's that isn't in the Hughes-filmed mini-mansion North Side suburbs.



*I always found it peculiar that coked-up producers were making so many movies about stopping cocaine.  That would be like me making a movie about stopping a cheese-monger.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

PodCast 228: "Terminator 3" (2003) - A Movies of Doom/ ArnieFest/ SimonUK Cinema Selection w/ Ryan




Watched:  01/08/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Jonathan Mostow




Si and Ryan are doomed to a fate they can't escape, It's time for more robots from the future. Kind of dumb robots, but robots nonetheless. It's the first post-Cameron sequel and maybe it cooked too long or something. But it has its good spots! But. Anyway.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Terminator 3 Theme - Marco Beltrami

Terminator Posts and PodCasts:




Simon UK Cinema Series




Arnie Fest Playlist

Monday, January 16, 2023

Shatner Watch: Star Trek II and Shatner in Austin

 

O Captain!  My Captain!



Watched:  01/15/2023
Format:  uhhhh....  we watched the movie on a screen and then Shatner was there!  Right in front of us!
Viewing:  Movie - 1,000th, Shatner - First
Director:  Nicholas Meyer/ No one tells Bill what to do


I won't comment too much on the actual movie of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).  It was watching the movie with a 1000 people in an symphony hall.  Correction - watching it with 1000 Trekkies and Trekkers.  Both you and I have seen this movie dozens of times.  I will say this - it's easy to forget what Kirstie Alley was like on the big screen, but she certainly was a presence (RIP and good golly).  And, of course, seeing the ship-to-ship combat on the big screen is always a pleasure and needs to be more of what Star Trek does when it's not Strange New Worlds-ing.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

90's Watch: Slacker (1990)




Watched:  01/15/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Richard Linklater

I'm pretty sure I saw Slacker during a limited run in summer of 1990 in Houston.  Apparently wide release occurred in 1991, but I know I saw it in 1990.  So.  The film was part of the dawn of the indie film movement that would define film over the next decade.  In some minute ways, it also opened the door to Austin, TX as a cool, hep city - which is a designation which will eventually fuck up a city beyond all recognition, which is where we're at today with the Capitol City.

But in the summer of 1990, just moved from Austin to Spring, TX, somehow my brother and I talked our mom into driving us downtown Houston from our suburban enclave to see the movie.  To say "art film" is not my mom's bag is putting it mildly (it's more of a "what are you talking?" than an angry aversion), but she knew she'd see familiar sights as the movie was shot around the central core of Austin as it was then, and heard the movie was a comedy.  So.  We loaded into the GMC conversion van and made our way downtown.  I believe film-participant and former Butthole Surfers drummer Teresa Taylor (RIP) was in the audience with us, but could never be sure.

Doc Watch: Harlan County, USA (1976)




Watched:  01/14/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Barbara Kopple

One of the things I wonder about as The Kids have decided that labor movements are a fine idea and that they should unionize is if they're well educated on the incredibly bloody history of labor movements in the US.  I'm not recommending one path or the other (I am, but this isn't that blog) but things tend to get really dark when the operators see the minions getting organized.  

To a 20-something working at Starbucks in 2022 or 2023, it may seem like the good fight, but in the places Starbucks tends to exist, you can usually just pick up and go work somewhere else if the deal isn't what you want.  And, of course, 1972 is ancient history when old-timey things happened.  Like the events of the documentary, Harlan County, USA (1976) a film about striking coal minors in Kentucky and the various factors at play and persons involved. And it's as far removed from today's labor conversations and the way work once worked in the US as the Pullman Strike is to organizing baristas.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Watch Party Watch: The Woman in Green (1945)




Watched:  01/13/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Roy William Neill

I wasn't expecting much, and this movie delivered not much!

Nah, it was... fine.  Especially as it was only 66 minutes.  You're in, you're out.  

Once again Basil Rathbone plays Holmes to perfection, and once again Nigel Bruce is playing Watson as a complete weirdo boob, setting the stage for a thousand imitators after.

I wish I'd noticed this was a wartime film, because it would have explained why the men in this movie, minus Rathbone, are all at least sexagenarians or older.  

Women are turning up around London - murdered!  And missing a finger!  Is a new Jack the Ripper on the loose?  One with penchant for ladyfingers?  

Holmes is brought in, and suspects (as always) Moriarty.  Anyway - it's a kind of clever Moriarty ruse.  He's having the frankly pretty good looking Hillary Brooke lure rich, society men to her flat where she hypnotizes them.  Moriarty slips a finger into their pocket and when they wake up, they think maybe they murdered someone and fall for a blackmail scheme.  It's... woefully overly complex and there's a bodycount that was always going to draw too much attention.  

Anyway - it's pretty okay!  But I will say - it takes a long, long time to get to the usual Holmes sleuthing, really to the point where I wondered aloud "this is the weirdest structure for a Holmes mystery".  But once it kicks into gear, there you are.


Friday, January 13, 2023

Friday Watch Party: The Woman In Green




We don't want to fall too far off pace, so on Friday we'll watch a Sherlock Holmes movie.  Because I like Sherlock and you can't stop me.  There are three women listed, I don't know who they are, and which will look swell in green (in black and white).  

I assume there's a mystery.  This is Sherlock Holmes.  But we're really here for Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.  And mysteries.  And the *idea* of "green".  

Day:  FRIDAY THE 13th (of January, 2023)
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Rain-Soaked Coast
Service:  Amazon
Cost:  Free if you have Prime

(link ready 10 minutes before showtime)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Marilyn-Noir Watch: Don't Bother To Knock (1952)



Watched: 01/10/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

Huh.  This was not at all what I was expecting.  

Essentially a movie about post-war trauma, wrapped up in a taught 76 minute, thriller-like package, it's maybe more *real* than the well-rehearsed, twitter-friendly approaches to mental illness we'd see in a film now.  It's a thriller without a villain, even though that doesn't feel like the set-up - and the movie absolutely has empathy in spades and as a reflection of a nation on the other side of the war, doesn't really have time for your finger-wagging.

Marilyn Monroe plays a woman new to New York City, whose uncle (Elijah Cook Jr.!) - an elevator operator in a hotel - has landed her a one-night job as a babysitter for a rich couple, the husband there to collect an award for his editorials.  While they're at the ceremony, they'll have Monroe watch over their daughter.

Anne Bancroft (in one of her first roles) is the lounge singer in the hotel, and while she's tried to break up with her sometimes boyfriend in the shape of Richard Widmark playing a cocksure airline pilot, he's shown up at the hotel and is looking to ignore her plans for a split.  

Monday, January 9, 2023

Screwball Watch: Ball of Fire (1941)




Watched:  01/07/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Howard Hawks  


Skewing towards the end of the screwball cycle, Ball of Fire (1941) is an absolute g-d delight and another entry in the "yes, Stanwyck is that good" file.  

You would think the movie was made during the crush of the war as the large cast of supporting males are mostly over sixty, but also features Gary Cooper (43 here), Dana Andrews and Dan Duryea also popping up (Andrews and Duryea didn't serve for legit reasons).   Directed by Hawks with his usual flair, the script and story is by Billy Wilder in part, something I spent no small amount of time pondering while watching.  

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Super Watch: Superman - The Movie (1978 - theatrical cut)




Watched:  01/06/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  1,000,000th
Director:  Richard Donner

Superman: The Movie (1978) is the movie I've seen most of any film, enough so that I have it pretty well memorized.  At this point, I'd hesitate to say how many times I've seen the movie, but it's dozens and dozens of times.  At least 7 in the theater.  Intentionally, I haven't watched it much the past few years.  I mean, I'm trying to watch new-to-me movies, I can replay any scene in my head any time, I know the beats and jokes, and cool elements and emotions in every scene.  But I also know the plot holes, the mistakes, the dated issues with the film, where that's-a-doll, that's-how-that-shot-was-done, etc...  I even look for where extras were at a difference walking pace in various shots.  

What's probably most notable to modern film audiences is that a movie that plays it mostly straight for an hour has a hard jump in the second half to a far wackier vision of the world it establishes, moving from sci-fi epic to American Rockwell-esque pastoral to a cosmic sci-fi fantasy.  And then...  Metropolis, with hustling big-city folk, fast talking journalists, and Otis bumbling along.  And for the next 90 minutes, the movie is a mix of romance, screwball, camp and heroism.  There's something oddly Broadway-ish about that back 90 minutes - I mean, doesn't Miss Tessmacher seem like she needs an "I Want" song?  Because Lois gets one in spoken-word.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Neo-Noir Watch: The Driver (1978)




Watched:  01/01/2023
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Director:  Walter Hill

I'm doing some prep work as SGH and I are in talks to do a podcast on Drive from about a decade ago.  At the time Drive came out, a lot of folks said "oh, this is influenced by The Driver from 1978."  And I'd always meant to go check that movie out.  

I think it's a definitive "well, maybe kinda sorta".  They are absolutely both movies about career criminal getaway drivers in LA.  Both are neo-noir.  But this is like seeing a movie about an assassin and seeing the next movie about an assassin and saying "well, clearly these two movies are same".  

Arguably, The Driver (1978) borrows from some of those assassin movies like Le Samourai or This Gun for Hire.  Rather than a hit-man, we have a guy with no past we'll ever learn about, who has locked up his life to protect himself and perfect his chosen profession - with the mechanisms he's used to protect himself actually creating a lockbox when things go sideways.  He has no friends, no family, no name.  He simply exists to do the job. 

The movie is clever about this - no characters have names.  Everyone is a role.  The Driver (Ryan O'Neal).  The Detective (Bruce Dern at his Bruce Derniest).  The Player (Isabella Adjani).  The Connection (Ronee Blakley).  And - and this is where this film deviates wildly from Drive - the film is about the game everyone is playing, openly acknowledged.  It's the world's greatest ARG.  There's no real stakes for the cops - win or lose, it's just spending tax dollars.  But for the folks playing on the high stakes criminal side, it's jail, death or being flat broke.  

Anyway - I enjoyed it.  I'd watch it again.  It's interesting in that it's both a bit more abstracted from a straight crime film, but also has nothing in particular that it's trying to say.  It's much more about how it's presenting a concept, and I'm down with that, too.  I suspect that when this came out, that approach was saying something, in itself.  But we've got a lot of water between 2023 and 1978.

Friday, January 6, 2023

My Opinions on 2022 Movies!



This is not an end-of-the-year list.  This is just a thing you are reading.  I watched 190 movies, and scanning the list as I was running numbers for 2022, these are movies I jotted down as remarkable one way or another.  

You are welcome to argue with me in the comments, I guess.  It may lead to me thinking you're a dumb-dumb, so go ahead and roll those dice.  

So, let's talk bad movies first.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Television in 2022




Hoo-Boy.  Did we watch a lot of TV in 2022.

This list is in no way comprehensive.  I started a lot of series, watched 1-3 episodes and then bailed.  Those aren't listed here.  Watching an episode of Seinfeld on TBS, also not listed.  So its basically series I watched the season from start-to-finish.  What's shocking is how hard it is to remember what I watched when I have to surf across services to figure out what I watched.  So, I probably left off a few shows.  

It doesn't include one-hour specials, shark docs, and other time-fillers.  

Look, I don't do a lot of Important Dramas.  I don't do puzzle-box shows.  I am sure you will find your favorite show missing.  Tough noogies.  That's how we roll.  What are you gonna do, come over here and make me watch stuff?  NO DICE.

Most Watched Thing

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Astronaut Walter Cunningham Merges With The Infinite





Cunningham was key to the success of the Apollo missions, and after his tenure as an Astronaut, went on to support myriad technology and space-related ventures and was a prominent supporter of NASA and Houstonian.



Movies 2022 By the Numbers




For the most part, I use this blog to just keep track of the movies I've watched and jot down some thoughts on them.  There's no real reason for it, but I do it.  The PodCast is a lovely bit of product of this habit, and my desire to spend time chatting with pals.  

Since I have the blog, every year for the past few years I've logged how many movies I've watched, and looked at a few stats.  I'm not sure it's of any particular interest to anyone but myself, but there you have it.  

As always, you're welcome to review the spreadsheet yourself.  

So...  how many movies did we watch?


Total Number of Movies Watched

Monday, January 2, 2023

Doc/ Review Watch: That's Entertainment (1974)




Watched:  12/31/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jack Haley Jr.

I'm not clear on where this first showed - I guess wide release?  It has a box office take listed, so I guess it was put out in theaters.  Which is pretty wild.  The movie is essentially a review/ clip show of MGM musicals and the greatest generator of a punchlist for movie nerds I can think of.  

What's even wilder is that the movie was released as a 50th Anniversary celebration of MGM - and we're about 50 years from the release of this film.  Time.  It does roll on.  

The film is hosted by an array of folks who were still living and vibrant, from Frank Sinatra to Bing Crosby to Elizabeth Taylor to a Mickey Rooney (who'll de damned if he's gonna shoot in the sun and manages the worst lighting you'll see in a major release as he wanders down a tree-lined sidewalk).  But it's all a celebration of what made the movie musical great - and it makes a stunning case for the idea.  Spectacle, talent, artistry and a bit of hokum all combine in an electric mix across about 100 clips supporting the thesis and the arguments presented for the musical. 

Clips cover everything from the Depression-era Busby Berkley opuses to Andy Hardy films to Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller and of course Fred and Ginger (and Fred and Cyd).  And a reminder that the most insane Hollywood may have ever gone was staging Esther Williams movies.  It's impossible to imagine happening in the past 40 years.  

1974 - the year of release - is an interesting inflection point.  Liza Minnelli appears to remind you she's the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli and that she just won an Oscar for a musical.  It's the promise of a new generation taking on musicals, which may have seemed possible in '74.  But, clearly, that's not what happened.  Sure, these days we get one or two a year, and most Disney cartoons are musicals for all intents and purposes, but as much as westerns would fade, musicals became a novelty.  And, frankly, it seems like people my age feel weirdly threatened by musicals that don't start as Broadway shows.*

Trotting out the old guard is a fine idea for a retrospective, but in 1974, there's no home video.  They weren't going to re-release 45 years of musicals, I don't think.  So what was this for?  One last hurrah and a trip down memory lane?  The stars walk the now clearly dilapidated sets, around a decaying MGM lot, and I have to ask "why?"  Why would MGM show their own sets in such a state of disrepair?  I don't know what happened to MGM in the 1960's, but the story of MGM by the 1980's was about purchases, mergers, real estate sales...  the company had gone from being a force of nature to a has-been.  Even today, MGM seems to exist to put out Bond movies and not a whole lot else.  If this film hoped to push people to clamor for musicals, I guess - not so much.

That said, it's a stunning reminder of what Hollywood - at least MGM - did on the regular to deliver wildly imaginative productions, the kind of talent they had on staff, and what movies can do.  And maybe what we lost when the 1970's taught us to rely on "realism" in film, or at least pivoted us to space epics for our visions of flights of fancy.  

Clearly Broadway tells us there's still an audience for musicals, and you do wonder - with today's techniques - what would an Esther Williams film look like?  Who could star in it?  Can an audience sit for a tap number?  Do people still get swept up in ballroom dancing by the best, or just when it's a reality show with D-level stars trotted out for two minute numbers and people pretending to be judges?

And, honestly, even TCM doesn't play musicals like it used to.  I'm sure the numbers track better to other kinds of films for whatever reason, but it would be nice to have some play of those big spectacle flicks.

MGM produced enough of these musicals that it spawned several sequels - That's Entertainment 2 and 3, as well as That's Dancing.  So clearly they were making some money off of these things.  


*I will never get the hostility to La-La Land

Sunday, January 1, 2023

PodCast 227: "The Sea Wolves" (1980) - A SimonUK Cinema Selection - w/ Ryan




Watched:  12/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Andrew V. McClagen




Simon and Ryan return for one last mission.... AGAIN! It's a based-on-a-true-story adventure of old dudes leaping into action for King and Country and to protect the sea-ways of the Indian Ocean from duplicitous Germans in WWII! Join our band of adventurers and let's blow some @#$% up!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
The Sea Wolves Opening Titles - Roy Budd
Precious Moments - Matt Monro 


SimonUK Cinema Series

Marvel Watch: Captain America - The First Avenger (2011)





Watched:  12/31/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  ha ha....  no idea
Director:  Joe Johnston

This was actually the last movie I watched in 2022.  I have cedar fever something fierce, so it was not really time to watch something new I'd never seen before.  So in between naps, I watched a favorite.

The movie has flaws, and maybe even feels like it's part of a wave of movies that came before the Marvel-era, which makes sense.  Directed by Hollywood staple Joe Johnston and with an eye toward what I'd consider the 1960's-era of WWII movies which inspired the Howling Commando comics it borrows from, it's also got a terrific old school story about a guy with a good heart and the girl who believes in him.  I recall concern when the movie was being made and headed to release that Captain America was too old fashioned and not in line with the view of today - not like hip, wise-cracking Tony Stark - and that's missing the point of Cap.  And the line Cap draws from what we know and acknowledge as outright evil in humanity worth fighting, and that that brand of heroism and clarity of purpose is something that absolutely makes sense in any era.

It's a Marvel villain who is truly villainous, not someone with a perspective worth considering - from the comics, I have wanted to hit the Red Skull with a sledgehammer for years before the movie, and the movie *nails it*.  

The pacing of the movie is also flatly incredible.  A two-hour run-time, it covers over a year of time, something other Marvel films don't ever really do, even if they include flashbacks (see: Captain Marvel).  I kept trying to find a place to pause the movie to do things that needed doing, and suddenly I was looking at the flying wing and knew we were in the last twenty minutes.  

And, of course, an all-star cast, which is maybe the secret-sauce to Marvel Phases 1 and 2.  Sure, Chris Evans was somewhat known, and Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper unknowns here, but Tommy Lee Jones, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving?  Not a bad foundation of talent to make sure the kids knew what was what.  Throw in Neal McDonough as Dum-Dum and the rest of the Howling Commandos, and it's a fascinating mix.  

Anyway - this movie also produced one of the longer podcasts we did early on.