Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Director: Okihiro Yoneda
So, this movie was insane.
Rebirth of Mothra/ Mothra Returns (1996) arrived with those kind of groovy Godzilla films where they were re-doing the earlier movies in a 90's context, and decided to expand the franchise with some Mothra solo flix. It just happened to be directed by a second unit director who maybe wasn't quite ready for his own picture?
The first half has this weird vibe like an American kids movies of the late 80's - squabbling parents, a bratty younger sister maybe? But then enter the Twins/ The Faeries from prior Mothra appearances. And they HAVE NAMES. (Mona and Lora. Who figured?) They also have a gothed out sister who went evil who rides around on a tiny dragon.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Director: Kensho Yamashita
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) is maybe not the best entry in the series, but it does have a NASA official reviewing footage of the inside of a space craft that has some damage from an exterior source before exploding and says "it must have been a huge monster". Look, science is just different in a world with Mothras and whatnot.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Director: Ron Underwood
No, I'd never seen Tremors (1990), and it's just one of those gaps that happened for no reason. I always assumed it was exactly what it turned out to be, which is something I am not against and often enjoy if you catch me in the right mood. And, hey, yes, it was exactly that movie. And that's okay!
It fits neatly in with a lot of movies from the era, while also being generally better acted and produced with, frankly, amazing practical effects. Good stuff and an entry-level horror I might show a kid.
I have nothing to add to anything about this movie except that I am joining my voice to the chorus that believes this is the prequel to Dune. Fan theories! Totally a legit way to watch movies!
KAIJU WATCH: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah - Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) AND Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II
Watched: 04/19/2020/ 04/20/2020
Viewing: First/ Firstish
Decade: 2000's/ 1990's
Director: Shusuke Kaneko/ Takao Okawara
I am unsure what I'd heard about Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) as a particular entry in the G-franchise, but it *seems* to be pretty popular. Godzilla v MechaGodzilla II (1993) may be marginally popular with kaiju fans. Arguably, GMAOA is aimed at an older crowd, and harkens back to the existential threat of Godzilla as first presented in 1954. GvMGII seems aimed at a younger crowd, but still works pretty well.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming and tweet-along
Director: Russell MulCahy
I dunno. I still like this movie. It's a mess, but it wasn't what I was expecting when I saw it the first time, and while I would, one day, love a ahrd-edged anti-hero version of The Shadow to make it to TV or the big screen, this very-90's take on the character is okay for what it is, in my book. But I am well aware, when I went to go see stuff like this back in the day, the bar was so low, you had to dig for it.
When I first started getting *into* comics I found out you could get, for free, something called the Bud Plant catalog, which offered up stuff you weren't going to find on the Piggly Wiggly spinner rack, and they had sections dedicated to the pulp characters like The Shadow and The Spirit. The art I saw for The Shadow made The Punisher look tame by comparison (the work was Mike Kaluta's Shadow).
I didn't know, at the time, how far back The Shadow went - originally appearing as the voice of a nameless narrator on a crime fiction radio program in the 1920's, and eventually becoming a character in his own right, making the move to short stories and novellas, comics, movie serials, and more. There's zero question that he's part of the inspiration for Batman. And Orson Welles cut his teeth on a Shadow radio show.
But I'm not sure 1994 movie audiences who were there for action-figure-spawning movies were ready for the complicated world of The Shadow. So, things got really, really streamlined and the movie feels like a set-up so they can get on to sequels where more things happen. Which is usually a mistake. And while the movie did fine, it didn't do Batman numbers, and that was the end of that for everybody.
The movie certainly feels the way too many comics projects wound up in the aftermath of Batman in 1989. The look of the film seems to borrow a lot from Burton and Co., and they even try to replicate some Danny Elfman. Fortunately, I think Baldwin finds his own path to Lamont Cranston (if he's not actually Kent Allard, but let's not quibble), and it's hard to complain about the cast beyond teh fairly broad performances of the kinda all-star cast of John Lone, Jonathan Winters, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Penelope Ann Miller and more.
And, it's kind of fun. Baldwin's take on Cranston isn't exactly camp, but more of a battle of wits where he can't help but be a smart ass. Which, you know, he *is* a guy who laughs while in life or death situations. Not that I think there's deep character stuff going on here, but it's not a flawed performance. But it does give for some questions as to what everyone involved thought this movie was as it was being produced. It's kinda brutal in some parts even as they will have incredibly jokey parts in the next shot.
Anyway - We watched it and tweeted it! You should have been there.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Watched: 04/06 and 04/07/2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: Third? Second?
Director: David Carson/ Jonathan Frakes
I still remember walking out of Star Trek: Generations (1994) and roughly saying "what the @#$% was that?"
A cheap looking movie with a singularly ridiculous end for one of my childhood fictional heroes, and a ludicrous A plot that went nowhere, meshed with a B plot that only Data got to experience. It genuinely just felt like a very expensive episode or three of the series that spawned it - but not even a particularly brilliant episode or arc.
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Viewing: Second or third
Back in the 90's, in an era where not every movie needed to kick-start a franchise or go for Oscar gold, sometimes you'd just have an entertaining movie.
It's been years since I last saw The Thomas Crown Affair remake from 1999, then 31 years after the release of the original - which I didn't see until the last ten years, but I recalled liking the 1999 edition, even if I did not feel like I needed to have it in my DVD collection. Stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are charismatic and effortless in their parts, the story isn't a mind-bender, but engaging, and the supporting cast - while distinctly 90's-ish in stance and dialog, works well around our leads.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
It was a miracle I even got out of this five hour movie alive.
Way, way back in the 1990's, I saw this movie the first time - I believe - between my junior and senior year of high school. My vague memory of the film was that it was known for two things - it was a movie directed by the same guy who did Wings of Desire (which I'd never seen), and for the soundtrack full of musicians both huge and indie (back when that meant something in particular). Ads appeared in Spin and/ or Rolling Stone for the OST, which read as a mixtape from a pal with particular but good taste (Now That's What I Call College Rock vol. 1!).
Sunday, December 29, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Decade: So, so 1990's
Prepping for New Year's Eve, AmyC and Ryan return to the indie film scene of the 1990's when Tarantino could do no wrong and Miramax was the hottest game in movies. But what if they decided to Voltron their talent into a single, unimpeachably delightful and quirky movie made up of four separate segments by four separate auteurs? It'd be great, right? ...right?
Vertigogo - Combustible Edison, Four Rooms OST
Monday, December 23, 2019
We've all seen this movie, and the weirdest part to me is still that they got Michael Caine to sing and (kinda?) dance.
I like it, too. It's probably as safe a bet as you've got for introducing your kids to the notion of A Christmas Carol, which they might as well get to know at some point. But it is genuinely a sweet movie, even if not my favorite adaptation of the book (the George C. Scott version is incredible, the Patrick Stewart version surprisingly moving, and I'm always in the bag for Scrooged).
But, hey, you get penguins ice skating, some great muppet-eering, and Paul Williams providing excellent musical numbers. The sets are absolutely mind-boggling, and the "let's put a ton of Muppets on the screen" approach totally pays off.
Anyhoo, I'm a fan.
Sunday, December 15, 2019
PODCAST: "Long Kiss Goodnight" (1996) w/ SimonUK, Jamie and Yours Truly! It's a Holiday Adjacent Special!
Format: Streaming - Amazon
The Signal Watch hearts Geena Davis. And here she is! In a movie that takes place at Christmas - because it's written by Shane Black. SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan talk this mid-90's actioner that predates Jason Bourne movies but post-dates the Bourne books about a secret assassin recovering her memory as the baddies movie in.
Long Kiss Goodnight Intro - Alan Silvestri, Long Kiss Goodnight OST
Signal Watch Holidays 2019:
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Decade: oh, so 1990's
(NSFW) Maxwell and Ryan review 1999's indie darling, "Go", a movie which absolutely occurs maybe at Christmas, borrows the "Pulp Fiction" narrative structure and shines a light on shenanigans occurring in the greater LA area for hip young people.
Gangster Trippin - Fatboy Slim, Go OST
To All The Lovely Ladies - Goldo, Go OST
Signal Watch Holidays 2019:
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Format: TV broadcast on ABC
This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.
Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years. As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious. I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies. I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.
Friday, October 25, 2019
Viewing: no idea
I'm not sure Addams Family Values (1993) is actually better than the original, but one could make the argument. It certainly finds things that worked in the first film and builds on them, and finds new environs in which to put at least the kids. And the villain of the piece, such as she is, works incredibly well.*
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Format: Paramount Theater - Austin
Viewing: ha ha ha... oh, mercy
Last night Simon and I went to see Bruce Campbell host a screening of Army of Darkness (1992) at the Paramount Theater here in Austin, TX.
Like so many of us who have stumbled across Army of Darkness and Evil Dead over the years, the movie left a "kill the dinosaurs" type of impact on 17-year-old Ryan's psyche when he saw this movie in the theater. Maybe a post for another time, but there's a not insubstantial part of my young-adult years where this movie was part of the lingua franca of my people, and it's one I quoted so much, I've forgotten that some of my personal verbal ticks came from this movie.
The movie holds up incredibly well, and Bruce Campbell may actually have the best Q&A skills I've ever seen. He's heard every question 1000x before, and he doesn't actually play along as "the nice guy" celebrity. He kinda let people know "that's a dumb question". And, man, they really were about 80% dumb questions. But he got paid, so what does he care?
Anyway, Bruce is charming as all hell, and it was a fun night out at the picture shows.
Saturday, October 19, 2019
I am unsure how The Addams Family movies are considered by my own generation or succeeding generations. They tend to get play on basic cable and I think most people saw them at least once.
In 1991, a 16 year old me saw this movie and it checked off a whole lotta boxes. And, you know, over the years, that hasn't changed in the slightest - in fact, now I get a few more references, a few more gags, and as I don't watch it all that often - the movie hasn't ever gotten stale.
I almost used this movie and its sequel for my "What is Love?" podcast (which I guess I'm not going to do) - after all, who is more in love than Gomez and Morticia Addams? Years into a marriage that's produced two children and with their loving family all around them, that's some very public amore going on between our parental units.
And, of course, in 1991, I'm not sure what else was out there with quite as gleeful gallows humor for the whole family. I certainly found it a delight then, and I'd hope that folks are still sharing this movie with their kids.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Watched: 09/13/2019, 09/0152019
Format: Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Viewing: Second/ First
Decade: 1970's/ 1990's
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SimonUK and I rise from the grave with two more takes on the Vampire Genre! In the first film, vampires make a killing running a circus while carrying a grudge and harassing a small European town. In the other, Italian mafia stereotypes collide with a French vampire in a 90's-tastic take on The City of Brotherly Love, and we can't figure out which sangria anyone is drinking. It's a Halloween vampire fest!
Vampire Circus Suite - David Whitaker, Vampire Circus OST
Night - Jackie Wilson, A Woman, a Lover, a Friend
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
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Just a couple of 40-something dudes, sitting around contemplating the nature of a woman's desire, the qualifications for feminist film, symbology and visual storytelling, and what's a woman to do when you find yourself in New Zealand in 1852 and married to a dud?
The Heart Asks Pleasure First - Michael Nyman, The Piano OST
Playlist - "What is Love?":
Sunday, June 9, 2019
I really didn't know what to expect when DC announced their second show in their DC Universe app exclusive line-up would be Doom Patrol. From the pictures shared, the comics would be roughly based on the late 1980's/ early-90's-era Grant Morrison-penned (with art by Richard Case, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna, John Nyberg, Carlos Garzon) comics. But with a slightly different line-up, what with Rita Farr there front and center.
My initial exposure to Doom Patrol as a team was via issue #1 of this series - Morrison had come on in the mid-30's - written by Paul Kupperberg. Frankly, I'd been completely enamored with the first couple of issues (long since disappeared from my collection, even before The Purge). It was so weird and dark and uncomfortable - starting at a point where people were assembling, talking about a team that had preceded them had died. Badly. Somehow it felt more adult and frank than the way X-Men never seemed to quite exit high school.