Thursday, April 12, 2018
PODCAST: NathanC and Ryan talk Disney's curious 1980s - "The Black Hole", "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "Never Cry Wolf"
Nathan Cone joins us to discuss what the heck was going on at Disney in the 1970's and 80's that led to The Black Hole, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Never Cry Wolf. It's a fun ride full of Disney history and rife with 80's-ness!
On Google Play:
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Decade: 1980's (oh, so 1980's)
We all have our favorite Bond movie. SimonUK decides to die on the hill of "License to Kill" as Ryan hears him out. It's the 1989 "Bond goes rogue and goes after a Central American drug lord" Bond movie you've probably never seen and the second and final Timothy Dalton as our 00-agent.
Click here to Google Play
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Monday, April 2, 2018
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I work from home these days (yes, you are right, it is freakin' weird, man) and I generally take about 50 minutes for lunch each day. That's, it turns out, enough time to catch part of two episodes of The Nanny* or the 12:00 news/ ambulance chaser commercials.
Over the years, few shows have been as consistently recommended to me by trusted sources as much as Freaks and Geeks. The show was a primetime hour-long dramedy that aired for eighteen episodes around 99' - 00', which is why I didn't watch it at the time. I was just very busy and not watching much primetime TV during that era.
Well, I have now spent my lunch hour and a few evenings watching it, so stop telling me what to do.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Viewing: Fifth or Sixth
Format: Alamo Drafthouse/ Village
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Viewing: Seventh or Eighth
Format: Shout Factory BluRay
Join SimonUK and I as we ponder some cult favorites of the 1980's! And, boy howdy, do we go all over the map on this one. But, mostly, we stay on task.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Format: DVD at my house
Viewing: oh, probably the 7th or 8th
(this one is Safe for Work!) SimonUK - a genuine British person - joins Ryan for a View to a Kill (1985), Moore's final Bond. It may not be the best Bond, or even a good Bond, but it's a fun Bond. We'd like to say we stick to the topic at hand, but we end up covering a wide range of all things Bond, and - at one point - diverge into Gremlins.
These things happen.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Prior Blade Runner posts:
January 9, 2016 - film watch
September 16, 2016 - novel
January 6, 2008 - DITMTLOD
SOME SPOILERS BELOW:
Like a lot of people of my generation, Blade Runner is one of my favorite films. To expect objectivity regarding the film at this point is a difficult request as I cannot separate the film's actual merits from the impact it had upon me when I first watched the film circa 1988 and deepening appreciation over time.
In a recent comment, Fantomenos asked what the last band was that I related to on a deeply personal level, where I felt they were speaking straight to me (I dodged the question), and I think movies operate much the same way. I will simply never feel quite the same way about a movie now as I did in high school. Whatever openness I had to experience during that period of development is a maze of decades of other movies, cynicism and life experience.
At this point, I've watched Blade Runner dozens of times. I know the beats, the characters, the dialog. And so do you, most likely. I can talk about things explicit and implicit to the film's story, talk about the production of the movie and tell you about seeing a Spinner and Rachael's dress in Seattle. I'm aware it's likely part of how I became interested in cinema noir, film design, and remains the high water mark for movies about AI, in my opinion.
If Star Wars had created a totally immersive universe through design, sound, music, character and themes - a fairy tale universe in which I would have been happy to jump into, Blade Runner provided a similar experience with a dystopia in which everything seemed to fall out of the current culture, in which I could draw a line from our current lives to how we might reach this world of constant rain, stratified social classes, surreal landscapes of mega-structures and ubiquitous advertising (some of it beautiful). And, no, despite the Rachaels, I would not want to live in the world of Blade Runner. The world of this movie is the world of the end of humanity.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Well, it's that time of the year, and we're watching movies about monsters and murders and transdimensional-psychotic states brought on by a rich cocktail of hallucinogens.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Happy 30th Anniversary to Star Trek: The Next Generation!
First of all, I wasn't looking forward to a reboot of Star Trek when this show aired. I sort of thought of Star Trek as Kirk and his pals cruising around space in their cool car, getting into scrapes. This was not going to be that.
Boy howdy, do I remember being 12 and showing up at school the next day and me and my fellow nerd friends standing around trying to make heads or tails of what we'd just watched. We knew we liked Data, Riker, Tasha Yar and Geordi. But what was up with that kid? And why wasn't the Klingon phasering and stabbing everything in sight? And, of course, the notion of Counselor Troi was a lot for a 12 year old to get their head around. And why was the Captain not a brash, emotional young man? He seemed so old... (he was, of course, only about 47, just a few years older than I am now).
But eventually I got sucked in, and by the time I got to college, one of the few posters I brought with me for my dorm room wall was a poster-sized portrait of Captain Picard that I woke up to every morning.
Mostly I watched the show in nightly reruns in syndication, catching them out of order in a way that TV could never withstand today. And, since I was living with other people during college, if I didn't catch a reference to something from a prior episode or Star Trek mythology, often someone could fill in a gap who had seen those episodes.
Man, we *all* watched this show back then. Where watching the original series still carried the whiff of nerdiness to it, the seeming omnipresence of ST:TNG made it kind of okay, and while not everyone was super into the mythology, people mostly knew who the cast were and whatnot.
The show can be intensely uneven, everyone has things they like about it and things they don't just because of the sheer sprawl of the cast and show (I have mixed feelings about the holodeck stuff). But the good outweighed the bad to a massive degree.
I can intellectualize issues with the show, and while I continue to watch the show from time to time, I've never returned to it in any systematic way. Mostly I'll catch an episode or two on BBC or streaming. But, yeah, I still enjoy it quite a bit, even if its a clunker of an episode (but what do you want? They had around 180 episodes. Not everything is going to be gold.).
The show underwent a lot of changes over the years, with cast coming and going, plot threads and characters continuing, growing, changing, revealing themselves in episodic bits. The Trek universe expanded into new edges of the universe and contracted (lots of guest appearances by TOS cast members).
Some of you may have enjoyed Star Trek: The Experience in Vegas, and if you did not, I'm very sorry. But in addition to a recreation of Quark's from DS9, the experience also included a recreation of the bridge of the NCC-1701D, down to the last detail. And not a person who found themself on that bridge did get something of a shiver.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Original Leaguer JimD challenged me to post something related to the 30th Anniversary of something to do with the band White Snake. I don't know what it was. I suppose probably the arrival of their big album, the name of which I cannot recall (I looked it up. It's "Whitesnake". Those clever bastards.).
But I owned the tape.
What the kids who think they know about the 1980's misunderstand is that in 1987, the music scene was not all Depeche Mode and LL Cool J. It was lots and lots and lots of "hair bands", Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Gloria Estefan. But, wow, were there a lot of hair bands. Like, all @#$%ing day long on the MTV, it was a bunch of guys with terrible, teased hair.
I was never much one for Motley Crue or whatever, and I really wasn't into: White Lion, Great White, or even White Snake.
But in that Year of Our Lord, 1987, what White Snake had that nobody else had: Tawny Kitaen
Monday, August 7, 2017
We watched a lot of television this year, and in our reduced content mode, we haven't talked about the usual favorites - so just assume we enjoyed both Fargo and The Americans.*
Way back in high school I recall coming home one afternoon and somewhere between TaleSpin and The KareBear rolling into the driveway/ me starting homework, I was flipping channels when I stumbled upon an edition of Family Feud in which the new-ish World Championship Wrestling league was squaring off against a league I'd never heard of - G.L.O.W., or, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
As colorful as the fellows from the WCW were, I was shocked to find out that there was an all-women's wrestling league and I had never heard of it.
I was never *that* into wrestling. As a very young kid I was part of the wave that saw Hulk Hogan and JYD and Jake "The Snake" Roberts rise to stardom on Saturday broadcasts, but I'd moved on fairly quickly, watching WWF only occasionally. But when I was 14, for some reason Steanso, his pal Lee and myself jumped in Lee's car and drove downtown and watched the show - and, man, live - wrestling is @#$%ing bonkers. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The next year we also attended a taping of an episode or two of regular WWF and NBC's Saturday Night's "Main Event", which was neat just because we saw all the flagship wrestlers of the era. Yeah, I've seen Hulk Hogan from the 13th row.
But... that was kind of it.
Needless to say, by age 15 or so, the notion of lady wrestlers held some appeal. And, as I watched what turned out to be a week's worth of episodes, the ladies of GLOW seemed way (waaaaaaay) crazier (and, honestly, smarter) than their male counterparts over the the WCW.
But I don't think GLOW ever aired anywhere I lived, either when I'd just previously lived in Austin, or when I moved to Houston between 9th and 10th grades. Texas, especially before, say, 10 years ago, was a place where you find strip clubs the size of a warehouse, but there was also a church on every corner - the net result that TV stations probably decided it wasn't worth the letters and complaints from folks getting the vapors from witnessing ladies in high cut leotards jumping off turnstyles. Believe me, I would have watched the living hell out of that show. (edit: Steven has written in to tell me he recalls seeing GLOW air in Houston circa 1987. I was living in Austin at the time.)
Consequently, I've always had a deep-seeded curiosity about GLOW, but was unable to turn up much the few times I thought to Google it.
Of course, when Netflix announced it was putting out a show about GLOW featuring no less than Alison Brie, heck, yeah, I was in.
Sunday, July 30, 2017
It didn't occur to me that smoking was something that would become something people forgot to know how to do, let alone show on film. The early 00's saw the end of smoking in film and as an acceptable habit for white urban and suburban middle-classes as well as a sign of rebellion or cool in film and television. So when smoking - something that makes total sense for your 1989-era spies to be doing - becomes something they don't look like they know how to do, and your movie can't quite figure out that drawing attention to smoking (unless you're David Lynch) is antithetical to cool, anyway, you become somehow less cool than had you never tried in the first place.
Somewhere in the plot-drenched Atomic Blonde (2017) there's a deeply smart movie fully capable of keeping an audience used to cookie-cutter plots on its toes. This movie also features one of the more ground-breaking action sequences you'll see in any movie this summer, merging the seamless combat sequences of Marvel's Daredevil show with the manic life or death choreography of one of the better Jason Bourne films - and it may be worth the price of admission just for that set-piece alone.
Unfortunately, it's a movie that relies of the same @#$%ing MacGuffin of most spy/ espionage films of the past 20 years - someone has a list of all the covert agents and our hero has to get it back before blah blah blah - while also trying to lift from Le Carre's moral DMZ of Cold War Berlin, and maybe trying to riff on Bowie and other late 20th Century musician's leaning on Berlin as a sort of crucible of self. But that is giving someone's sexy spy actioner more credit than it's due, at least in presentation rather than intention.
The end result is an overly long movie which seems to believe it's delivering on style while dropping the ball on what 1989 looked like, fails to develop any characters - up to and including our lead - and lets James McAvoy run around looking like a Brad Pitt character a decade early. But don't worry - someone went to Spotify and filtered for "'80's" and applied period-specific pop songs with a Zack Snyder-esque penchant for making the song so on-the-nose you start thinking about the mechanics of how this movie got made.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Monday 7/17 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of RoboCop. It's no secret that we here at The Signal Watch are fans of the 1987 sci-fi cyborg opus, and, so, over the weekend, we watched the movie for 476th time.
The first time we caught RoboCop, it was at a one-screen, old-fashioned movie house in Ishpeming, Michigan, when we were on our annual visit to see the grandparents in the summer of 1987, and - for whatever reason - my mom decided we needed to not spend another evening pounding soda in my grandparent's living room, and, instead, pound soda out of the house.
We alerted my mom to the idea that the movie was Rated-R, but the KareBear and Admiral were fairly liberal about this sort of thing, and in the era of Arnie, if my dad wanted to watch the latest Rated-R action releases, he was watching them with us, so we were getting pretty well desensitized to violence in movies, is what I guess I'm accidentally saying.*
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Like most kids of my generation, I grew up with Wonder Woman as the default "superhero for girls". Sure, DC had a wide array of female characters, but a lot of "team" concepts aimed at boys included 1 or maybe 2 girls on the team no matter how big the roster got (see: GI Joe). And on Super Friends, Wonder Woman was the all-purpose female character who was not Jayna of The Wonder Twins of Wendy of Super Marv and Wendy (ahhh, the 70's).
|but at least they gave WW two villains from her rogues gallery|
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Thursday night we had nothing queued on the DVR, the Cubs weren't playing and I was pondering what we might put on the tube when Jamie said "Why don't we watch Commando?"
I immediately ran over and began trying to remove the Jamie-disguise from whomever was pretending to be my wife, but eventually it was revealed that, no, it was her, and she didn't care what we watched. She had seen my recently purchased Commando BluRay collecting dust on the shelf for months, earnestly waiting a viewing, and - as she loves me, some times she takes pity on me.
Now, if you know me, you know of my ironic/ totally not-at-all ironic love for Commando (1985), an early-ish Arnie picture that was part of what catapulted him to superstar status that would reach peak popularity around 1992.
In the harsh light of reviewing this movie in 2017, the movie probably seems positively camp. While it certainly has some gags and Arnie-isms, it was never intended as a yuck fest - but Arnie was part of a wave of a certain kind of action movie that wasn't afraid of a sense of humor. And I can easily watch it as a straight action movie of workmanlike success, just as I can enjoy the movie for the truly bizarre specimen and reflection of a certain mentality in mid-80's actioners that it is. OR I can enjoy it as the Platonic Ideal of 80's Action Movies/ Movies in General.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Last weekend Turner Classic Movies' Saturday night programming block "TCM Underground" showed Thrashin', a 1986 movie about skate boarding. So, of course I set the 'ol DVR.
No, this is not Gleaming the Cube - which I've never seen, and came along 3 years later.
Most of the marketing for Thrashin' I was aware of came in the form of an ad or two appearing in my comics at the time. So, check the backs of your 1986-era comics to see if you, too, have a back-cover ad for this opus.