Saturday, December 30, 2023

Post Christmas Watch: The Holdovers (2023)

Watched:  12/29/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Alexander Payne

A couple of folks had recommended The Holdovers (2023) to me, but I didn't have time to go when it came out back in November.   It's now streaming on Peacock (an underrated and inexpensive streaming service), so if you can sit through 4 minutes of commercials, you get a new movie to watch.

This fall, it was kind of interesting seeing the trailers for both this movie and Saltburn around the same time, as both were trying to reclaim a kind of movie I hadn't seen produced in a decade or so, and both occurring at elite (as in, rich people tend to go there) educational institutions and were period pieces.  I had less interest in Saltburn, and sort of raised an eyebrow at The Holdovers existing at all.  I didn't think these kinds of movies would never get made again, but it had been a while.

And, if I'm being honest, I was pretty sure I could guess the big strokes on both movies just by getting the trailer put in front of me.  But I'm not always looking for narrative novelty - sometimes execution is more important than seeing something twisted or different from my expectations.  One mistake I think we made coming out of the 90's was thinking putting a particularly dark twist on something could make it seem "more realistic" or "more important". *

Anyway, I really liked The Holdovers.  

Friday, December 29, 2023

Doc Watch: A Disturbance in the Force (2023)

Watched:  12/28/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak

I don't remember exactly when I became aware of the Star Wars Holiday Special.  I vaguely remember hearing Boba Fett had appeared in something on television back in the day, maybe back in high school (pre-1993), but while I was a fan of the 3 movies (and back then, there were only 3), I wasn't someone who read the books or obsessively read about the movies.  

Everything that wasn't the movies kind of didn't work out, in my opinion.  The Marvel Comics were not great, the live-action Endor movies were a weird combo of depressing and bad, and the Ewoks and Droids cartoons were oddly clunky.  

But by college I was well aware of the special existing, and its reputation.  And a couple years after college, right after Jamie and I got married, I was at Vulcan Video and they had the bootleg of the Star Wars Holiday Special on the shelf.  

We put it on, and for two, long, hours (it included the commercials) we groaned our way through the thing.  I've since seen it another time or three, at least once with Rifftrax.  

But if you're here, you're at least aware of the Special.  If not, here you go.  Behold.

Monday, December 25, 2023

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Watched:  12/23/2023
Format:  4K disc
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Adam Wingard

This is the first Monsterverse movie that finally understood why people show up for a Godzilla movie.  That seems remarkable given the money spent, audience participation in prior films, etc...  This was maybe the first one not made for the edgelord 18-24 y.o. market in mind.  

Way back in April of 2021, Godzilla enthusiast Stuart and I discussed the movie for the podcast.  I invite y'all to listen to that podcast at your leisure.

On a rewatch, and knowing what I was getting into, it's still a fun watch.  I don't know if I'd say "this is a good movie" because it's definitely YMMV territory.  It's big and ridiculous, and, arguably, there's way too much continuity in these films and not enough "hey, a new monster for Godzilla to fight".  Like, Godzilla existed over at Toho for decades and decades just showing up from time to time, and no one was trying to worry about 10,000 years of Titan history.  Godzilla just was, and everyone had to deal with it.

But when I get to see Kong slug Godzilla across the jaw while both are standing on an aircraft carrier, I almost want to stand up and salute these filmmakers for giving me the thing I did not know I needed to see in a movie, but had waited my whole life to see.  

Worst Christmas Movie of 2023: Christmas in Hollywood (2014)

no, not Matt Berry.  And, no - it's not clear who gave those awards

Watched:  12/24/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First, and, God willing, last
Director:  Some asshat

Los Angeles/ Hollywood always strikes me as one of two places in America where dreams don't just go to die, they mutate.  (The other is Las Vegas, but that's a completely different thing.)  

Folks head out west to get into the motion picture business, and find out that maybe they haven't got the talent, social skills, what-have-you to make it in movies.  Sure, you can chalk it up to luck, too, I guess.  But, also, some people are just ridiculous.  And, so, Hollywood always seems to have this weird underbelly of people looking for their shot.  And sometimes they go ahead and make their own shot happen, which - if you believe the Hollywood story - is what you've got to do.  But, I watch a lot of not-great movies, and I'm here to say, you really don't have to take that shot.  

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Watched:  12/23/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  George Seaton

We watch this movie pretty much every year, and I wasn't feeling great yesterday, so I put it on as something I could kind of half-watch.  

I hope you've seen the movie, and if you haven't, I recommend you do watch it.  It's a lovely bit of Christmas Magic in convenient movie form that doesn't rely on mid-life crises or devastating the audience in order to work, Frank Capra.  

But because the movie is so well known and I've written it up before here and here and here, that's not going to be what I write up here.  Instead, we're going to get weird.

Merry Christmas Eve from The Signal Watch

Merry Christmas, pals.  

I don't think many of you are online on Christmas Eve, and that's a good thing.  But if you are online, Jamie and I wish you the very best.   May your night be merry and bright.

One exciting bit this Christmas has been the Apple+ special, Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas.  We're Waddingham fans, and hope you are, too.  Anyway, enjoy her belting out "O, Holy Night".

And as we wrap each Christmas Eve here at The Signal Watch, please give Ms. Darlene Love a listen - this year, with Cher!