Friday, February 10, 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

(link live 10 minutes prior to show)

Happy Birthday, Laura Dern


Today is Laura Dern's birthday.  Everyone take a beat to mentally celebrate Laura Dern.

90's Watch: Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead (1991)

Watched:  02/09/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stephen Herek

Sometimes a movie goes off the rails so fast and so hard, feels cynically produced on top of that, that it's hard not to just get mad, fold your arms and complain til the credits roll.  For the past 32 years, I'd successfully not seen Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991), which came out when I was 16 and was working through my Gen-X feelings of rejecting things I felt were marketed at me - but specifically at a very dumb version of me the people selling me stuff mostly took to be an idiot.

In 1991, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead was *heavily* sold at teen audiences with ads on MTV and elsewhere running seemingly non-stop.  Certainly I saw  trailers before other movies.  And you always knew:  if the movie looks like this, and they're advertising it this hard, it's because it sucks and they need to get people in before word spreads.  

There was a long tail of 1980's-style comedy into the 1990's, enough so that it probably deserves its own niche, but this movie feels like a 1987 release more than something that would hit at the same time as Home Alone

The pitch is this:  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Period Noir Watch: Hangover Square (1945)

Watched:  02/08/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Brahm

Really dug this film.  What could have been a hokey set-up is carried off without a hitch, all pistons firing on this one.  From performances of a great cast, to a score that's woven in and far more than incidental, there's astounding camera work and lighting, amazing sets, etc...  and a story that has nuance, but a clear through-line.

Honestly, I prioritized the film because it starred Linda Darnell and Laird Cregar, who I appreciate for every different reasons.  But even with the strong assemblage of parts, the film felt like it 

Laird Cregar and Linda Darnell get cozy in a cab

The basic story is: 

Musical Watch: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

the movie that posits: women love being abducted and held against their will

Watched:  02/07/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First (and possibly last)
Director:  Stanley Donen

Holy cats, y'all.

I...  I don't even know where to start.  There's so, so many angles to this thing, so I'll try and capture my thoughts as best I can.  

I want to be very clear - Until this film, I (perhaps wrongly) believed I'm *pretty good* at contextualizing the cultural differences between our social norms and mores and those of yesteryear.  I may even be able to do period-piece stuff made in prior decades, trying to grok what the people of 1954 found charming about frontier life.  

In general, I can see a film and say "yes, I understand that there were ways that we viewed gender/ race/ manners/ religion/ etc..  that no longer reflect how we'd likely feel now" and I can go on with my life.

But.  Y'all.  I am adrift.  

My take-away is that the current interest in this film by classic film buffs is rubber-necking, ironic appreciation, or just outright hate-watching.  Or not!  Classic film buffs are an unruly bunch.  In its release year, this movie was very successful, financially and critically.  So I don't know anything about mankind anymore.

I've now seen the movie, and will only watch it again if it's my opportunity to bring the madness to the people.  

Some thoughts:

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Awards Watch: Tár (2022)

Watched:  02/04/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Todd Field

I knew very little about Tár (2022) when I put the film on.  During it's initial limited release, the movie received resounding critical acclaim, but has since had dismal box office.  That alone is worth studying - box office can only tell us so much. Maybe it will pick up as a streaming offering.  I had actually wanted to see it on the big screen and with better sound, but the runtime and this week's weather made it far easier to just watch at home - so I may be the demographic theaters are panicking about.  We're fine with these movies, but we also are okay with waiting a couple of months to just watch them from our couches.

In the end, I'm not sure I'm entirely sold on the movie, regarding Cate Blanchett's as EGOT composer, conductor, writer, etc... Lydia Tár.  I'll need to think about it some more.  

The film exists squarely in worlds with which I have no familiarity - the world of symphonies, of composition, of Berlin and New York, of the small world of classical music with it's all too rare stars.  It should all seem very far away, and at times - it does.  This could have been a movie about a writer of books, or a movie star or nearly anything else.  But the choice is intentional.  This is an alien world, recognized to require excellence just to get in the door.  We can't imagine what it takes to excel, how one walks through space when one has been chosen to lead the world's best symphonies.  What they do during the day, how all of this works.  

That said - the movie doesn't obfuscate what is occurring - and it's a testament to the writing, directing and performances that this world and its arcane (archaic?) rules are so clear.  And that system running up against extremely modern concerns and calls for responsibility.

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.



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 KnightYou either die a hero or 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.