Saturday, January 6, 2024

New Years Watch: Royal New Year's Eve (2017)

Watched:  01/05/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Monika Mitchell
Select:  Amazon Watch Party group decision

We had folks kind of scattered around Friday evening when K asked if we were doing a watch party, and so we quickly threw together a movie selection with Jamie's family.  So, this was our first watch party that was attended by my father-in-law, who absolutely got what we're up to and joined in.  

Turns out, there are, in fact, Hallmark New Year's movies, and Royal New Year's Eve (2017) is absolutely one of them.  

The movie takes place in the days just prior to Christmas and til midnight on NYE, as a general assistant/ secretary/ gopher at a New York-based fashion magazine meets the prince from a small, apparently very wealthy European country, who is having Christmas and New Year's in New York for some reason, staying in a mansion with his intended - but not official - fiancĂ©e (Hayley Sales).  

The set-up is absolute madness.  The magazine Our Hero works for is hosting an NYE party for the Prince (ok, fair enough) - and it's a charity fundraiser.  But there's also the expectation that the Prince (Mad Men's Sam Page) will propose at midnight to his lady friend, as that's some sort of royal tradition?  But somehow no one has really talked about this behind the scenes yet, despite the fact this proposal would be very public?  And historic for the unnamed country?  

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Signal Watch Presents: Top Movies of 2023

It's always hard to structure this particular post.  

It's not like you should care about what I liked or didn't like, and certainly the people who made these movies shouldn't care.  And, in fact, some of them are probably dead, and I don't need ghosts holding a grudge if I dump on their movie.

So, let's do what we did last year and start with the disappointments and then get to the good stuff.  

Now, I don't talk about every movie I saw.  We're not going to talk about how It's a Wonderful Life is a fantastic movie, for example.  We're limiting this to stuff we saw for the first time this year.

Full caveats:  This is just my personal opinion on what I managed to watch in 2023.  It's also very true that I didn't see that many new releases this year, including many popular favorites.  I discuss what I meant to see, but didn't yet get to see, in this post.  

On with the show.

Did Not Like

Television with The Signal Watch - 2023

So, this isn't really a television blog.  But we did watch a lot of TV this last year.  

I can't really remember everything we watched in 2023, and certainly Jamie will immediately identify some gaps, but I wanted to give it a go and list out shows we watched a full season, to the best of my recollection. 

Now, in general I don't hate-watch television, so if I watched the thing, it means I enjoyed it.  Probably.  There's a notable exception here.  And one thing I was ready to quit on, but Jamie seemed into it, so I stayed with it.  

So, what shows did we watch?

Thursday, January 4, 2024

2023: Movies By the Numbers

editor's note:

2023 was not a year in which I watched a lot of movies.  Well, maybe more than some people, but definitely less than other people.  And so it goes.  

Inspired by pal NathanC, I've been not just blogging movies, but now I do a whole list thing every year, and you can see everything I watched in a single spreadsheet.  

In 2023, I watched 172 movies.  

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

WB Animation Watch: Scooby-Doo and Krypto, Too! (2023)

Watched:  01/02/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Cecilia Aranovich
Select:  Me

It's not to say Scooby-Doo and Krypto, Too! (2023) is particularly good - it has issues.  But it was better than I figured, which is possibly damning with faint praise.  Look, I'm just not a huge fan of Scooby-Doo, which is hurtful to Scooby-Doo fans, but here we are.  But I do find myself checking out some Scoob from time-to-time as they do these guest-starring movies, like the recent one with Elvira.  

As a DC Comics nut, it has a lot to love.  There's deep cut jokes exploiting a breadth of DC comics and animation history.  You'll maybe recognize bits from cartoons and movies, and you'll see items like Kandor.  Lex Luthor is a really funny supporting character here.  No notes.  I laughed.

Of course I'm a Krypto the Superdog fan, and he's in the movie, but he doesn't talk - which, look, Krypto hasn't had so much as thought-bubble in the comics since the 1970's.  But that's a bit limiting for a show with other talking dogs.  So it kinda sorta works, but.  Maybe a bit confusing?  Still, I'm just happy to see Krypto, so bonus points.

As an animation fan, it has some challenges.  My Scooby-Doo was made in the 1960's - 1980's, by the cheapest animation house outside of Filmation, so this looks like Star Wars by comparison.  But my in-house Scooby-Doo expert has assured me that they've done better by Mystery, Inc. in recent years, so I'll just agree with that.  But for someone expecting Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? style art and maybe Challenge of the Superfriends, it's... fine.  Really, it looks like the art in DC's Scooby-Doo and Batman comics that I pick up once in a blue moon if Krypto or someone shows up.   

There's some funny bits in the movie - there was a Velma's glasses bit that kills.  And I liked some of the gags about, like, the valet at the Hall of Justice.  But some of the old, worn out gags from Scooby-Doo are no fresher in 2024 than they were in 1984.  And there was no gag they couldn't stretch until you were like "I get it.  Enough."

And that included the finale "fight" that went on what seemed as long as any DC superhero movie ending - ie: way past the point where it wore out its welcome.  Which may have been a gag unto itself.  And, of course, any DC fan worth their salt could telegraph the ending twist.

I did have a couple of moments watching this cartoon that made me just sort of stare at DC over the past twenty years or so and want to ask "why do you make it so hard when this is so simple?"  Like, DC needs a Superfriends cartoon, or some version of the Justice League on Max or Cartoon Network, aimed at kids.  I know they have some marketing research that tells them "this is for people between 16 and 24", but that is *nonsense*.  They haven't even tried since I was in middle school.  And I'm old now.*

And seeing all the villains piled on Metropolis, which is treated as a gag, also made me realize why I don't give a shit about most DC events in the comics.   They aren't just the straight up Legion of Doom vs. Justice League match-up that wouldn't just feel like some wank-fest that will be meaningless to most readers.  

If they can make DC Comics work better in a Scooby-Doo cartoon - where the characters don't even really appear - than in most DC media, it may be time for a rethink.

*say what you will, but the 00's-era Justice League cartoon was airing at 7:00 at night.  That was not aimed at kids.  And they buried Justice League Action, which was great, at like 6:00 AM.  It was insane.

G Watch: King Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

my boi Rodan did not make the poster?

Watched:  01/02/2024
Format:  Pluto/ Max
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Ishiro Honda
Select:  Me

Okay.  So, Austin is in allergy season, and cedar pollen is at an all-time high.  This is one of my major allergies, which makes my life miserable for a few days every year.  

This is that day.  I won't get into it, but it was very bad, indeed.  Ended up at the doctor.

I came home, took the meds I'd been given, and fell asleep sitting up on the couch with Rodan on the TV.  Because I have Pluto, it means I have the Godzilla network that shows nothing but Toho movies.  When I woke up again, Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster (1964) had come on.  Pluto works just like how you remember cable working before Tivo - you can't control it, it's just streaming by.  And has commercials.  

But, all the Godzilla movies from the Showa Era are on Criterion and on Max so, I jumped over there so I could skip over the commercials.  

Look, this movie is absolutely bonkers.  In all the good ways.  If you were to show a kid a fun Godzilla movie, this one is up there.  It's got political intrigue with a country that dresses in 16th-Century collars for no reason.  It's got Venusians possessing people.  It's got the Faeries.  Also: stars  Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan while introducing King Ghidorah/ Monster Zero/ Astro Monster - the biggest jerkstore commodity in all of monsterdom!

As Godzilla movies go, this one sets a high bar with lots of monster action and a human story that's easy to follow and somewhat impacts the outcome of the monster stuff.  Plus, our male hero has amazingly good hair (the women always do in these movies, so no notes there).  

Monday, January 1, 2024

Final Movie of 2023: Top Secret! (1984)

Watched:  12/31/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  ZAZ

For New Year's Eve, we had a small family dinner at Steanso's place and then set off those fire-free noise makers you can get at Target or the grocery store.  But his kids have elementary school kid bedtimes, so we mercifully departed around 8:00.  Minutes after walking in the door, Jamie had foregone my plan to watch whatever countdown trash was on TV and found Top Secret! (1984) on TCM.  And, dammit people, when Top Secret! is on, you watch it.  I think Gen X will largely agree with me on this.

Somehow Top Secret! doesn't have the same level of fame as Airplane or The Naked Gun, and that's a shame, because it's easily just as funny (I won't say funnier).   And it's just as quotable as the other films.  Heck, when I'm talking to colleagues from other lands, in reference to the US, I *always* drop  "You'd really like America. We've got the Liberty Bell, Disneyland on both coasts. It's happening!"  . To blank stares.  But I do it.

Anyway, maybe The Kids(tm) wouldn't like it because they didn't grow up on WWII movies, but I don't think it's necessary.  You basically get what they're doing.  And nothing beats a cow in rubber boots.

Like all good comedies, it's the absolute straight-faced delivery that saves it, and Val Kilmer's sincerity in the role is amazing.  But so is everyone.  Including Omar Sharif, Peter Cushing, Christopher Villiers, and countless familiar faces from the era.  I really like Lucy Gutteridge in this movie, but lady decided to hang it up around 1990 and that was it.  

Minute-for-minute, it's delivering amazing gags in every scene.  Visual, conceptual, sound bits...  it's absolutely nuts.  If nothing else, you have to appreciate the jokes-per-second ratio.

Anyway, everyone has their favorite bits.  I like the confession of love as they're parachuting and the wee singing horse.  But there's no right answer.  

Me in AI

I put just my name into the AI Image Generator on Pixlr, and these are the four images I got back.  I'm as confused as anyone about the results, but here we are.




well, this one may be accurate

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Happy New Years Eve

Julie Adams making 70 years ago seem like a nifty idea

Happy New Year's Eve, pals!  We know a lot happened in 2023, and are wishing you an amazing 2024.  

I have no words of wisdom nor end-of-year thoughts.  I guess: don't blow your fingers off with fireworks.  Take a Lyft.

AFAIK, we're doing the blogging thing again in 2024.  See you there.