Friday, January 10, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
This movie never states that it's based on real events - but once it's underway, it's very specific to the point where I finally had to check to see if the character portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the film existed. Spoiler - He did!
But. Half of this movie is real and half is made up, and I am just, honestly, confused why they made this choice - except that I basically get the decision from an optics, casting and audience standpoint. The film swaps out one of the two people who made the real-life trip with a fictional female balloon pilot (Felicity Jones) who is overcoming serious and dramatic baggage tied to ballooning. All of which is made up. Even as she performs feats to save their lives that the real pilot was forced to do. But here, it's someone else.
But, again, the scientist in the film was real and really did go up in a balloon, but with a less-surprising male balloonist.
I honestly have no idea what I just watched, is what I guess I'm saying. I've read articles that are more reflective of my "yes, I understand why they did it, but..." perspective, and others that are really surprisingly blase about "facts" and "what occurred" and seem to think that's some old fashioned thinking and casually suggest if you are questioning the choice, you are both racist and sexist.
Look - I get that "based on a true story" movies change facts all the time, combine people into single characters, etc... - and, honestly, it's part of why I often avoid Hollywood's interpretation of history. But they generally don't swap out one of two main characters with a completely fictional person.
So - I have no idea what I just watched. It was okay. But I tend to think history is hard enough to get a grip on without making up fictional characters in their lives as seemingly major players. So, next time you ask me if I've seen a movie based on a true story and I kinda shrug and say "nope". You now know why.
I watched this just before Togo, which was also based on true events and changed quite a bit, but the basic facts were generally adhered to.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
This isn't a comprehensive list of what I watched in 2019. Like the movies list, it doesn't include all the partially watched Hallmark movies. It also doesn't include local and global news (some of us still watch the news). It doesn't include Seinfeld and The Nanny reruns. Nor shows I watched part of and gave up on. I may have even missed entire series in here. I don't really track TV watching or I'd probably have to have a moment of self-reflection. It doesn't include the hours and hours and hours of baseball, soccer, volleyball, and football I'll watch in a given year (with hundreds of hours of baseball to account for as I probably watched 60-70 games last year. Go Cubs!).
But when I sat down to think about what I'd watched, this was what came to mind:
Sunday, January 5, 2020
SimonUK and Ryan were already standing around the kitchen talking about "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker", so they turned on a microphone and recorded themselves. What follows is a semi-incoherent conversation by two 40-something guys pondering the final installment of a decades-spanning storyline.
Fanfare and Prologue - John Williams, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker OST
Ewok Celebration - Meco, some 45 I had a as a kid
Friday, January 3, 2020
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Format: HBO Streaming
A while back our own PaulT - who does many things in the film and TV industry - worked on a documentary called Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops (2019). I believe he was a/ the sound mixer on the film, which - in documentary land - is no small feat. Especially when you're talking police situations, moving cars, and open classrooms. So, hats off to Paul.
The movie is currently streaming on HBO, and, if you get a chance, give it some time. The movie follows two police officers from the San Antonio Police Department's Mental Health Unit at work and in their lives.
Monday, December 30, 2019
I don't know that I need to write up Tangled (2010). But here's what I think:
This movie is a letter of permission for some young women to realize that maybe their relationship with their parents is kinda toxic.
By that I do not mean that all young women have a toxic relationship with their moms, but dang... there is a reason that this movie ends with a young woman cutting off her girlish long locks as she severs her relationship with the woman who has been gaslighting her and filling her head with bad ideas for her entire life. And I think we've all sorta known that young woman who went to college, realized maybe the world was not the place she'd been taught, and wound up shaving their head by second semester.
There is some phenomenal character animation in this movie in the classic Disney tradition - I mean, Maximus is a frikkin' delight - and I really enjoy the number by all the tough-guys singing about their dreams. The new stuff was in the effects - sure - but the movement and camera work in the movie is kinda breathtaking when you watch Rapunzel zipping around like Spider-Man on her own hair. They really make the space inside the tower work, as well as in the construction-site sequence.
But, yeah, this movie is going to hold up for a very, very long time as it works with timeless themes, for both Rapunzel and Flynn, and the animation may look marginally dated by Frozen II standards, but I'll argue the Disney styling will keep it fresh for decades.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Format: Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
(Our most NSFW episode yet!) We hit the Alamo Drafthouse, settled in and ordered up some cocktails, for we were watching "CATS" - the adaptation of the 1980's musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber! Join us in a Day Drinking the Movies episode as we discuss 2019's favorite (and deserving!) movie punching bag - with special guests Doug and K!
Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats - Cast, Cats OST
Memory - Jennifer Hudson, Cats OST
Sunday, December 22, 2019
It's a Signal Watch Stocking Stuffer! SimonUK and Ryan watched the 2010 Finnish sorta-horror import "Rare Exports" (2010), all about Santa maybe not being the fun-loving fellow who drops down chimneys to drop off presents, and maybe more a bit of "hold my beer, Krampus".
Holiday 2019 Playlist
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
I'm not writing this up. I might podcast on it at some point, but I don't feel like a first viewing of this movie is quite enough to give it a thorough thinking-through.
Thanks to a very special secret pal who secured me tickets dead center of the theater! My seat was shaking during the last reel of the movie. It was awesome.
I will say this: I thought Anthony Daniels was fan-freakin'-tastic in this episode, as always, and I wished for way more C3PO over the course of the movie.
I'll get around to doing something at some point, but, for now - acknowledging that I'd seen it.
Also - here's me outside the theater.
|crazily, the two Jedi thought I didn't want them in the picture. They looked rad as hell!|
Friday, December 20, 2019
I still like Force Awakens both in spite of and due to its many flaws. It's a good level of goofy, and has a few great bits that supersede a lot of the clunkiness and retreading of New Hope.
I genuinely liked the characters a lot in this film, and cared about what happened to them. The lightsaber flying into Rey's hand is the Star Wars stuff that gives me chills. As was Finn lighting it up to protect his friend.
It has it's fair share of issues, but overall - I liked it as an adult - and as a kid, I think this movie would have hit me where I lived. I'm still wow'ed by how close to the plotting of Episode IV it hews (unnecessarily!), but I do appreciate the differences.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
|The amazing Elizabeth Mitchell, partially blocked by some guy|
Format: Hallmark Channel, baby!
Mostly I don't write up the Hallmark Christmas movies that I watch, because I don't really watch them. I put them on and do other things, how I'll sometimes watch a 4 hour baseball game on a Saturday or Sunday. You do some work or check email or talk on chat to someone while the movie is on. And when you do look up, it's mostly a game of Hallmark movie bingo, teasing out what the new formula themes are this year (military, servicepeople - mostly men, and veterans have been big the past two years).
But The Christmas Club (2019) was one of the more expensive version of the formula, where they'd hired actors you may have seen somewhere before rather than the usual "who is that?" stars of other than Hallmark movies, assembled from spare parts found in a vat of pumpkin spice, Coach purses, bedazzled iPhones, Lululemons and Uggs.
Monday, December 2, 2019
Jamie came out of right field and asked if I wanted to live-blog a Netflix Christmas movie with she and her pal, Angel. Well, of course I did, it looked terrible. But I figured this whole deal was more Jamie's thing than your usual Signal Watch programming, so she should also write up the movie. So, without further ado...
- your host, Ryan
Last weekend, to kick off the holidays, Ryan and I (mostly Ryan) Christmassed up the house and then capped it off with a viewing of the Netflix Hallmark-style movie, The Knight Before Christmas (2019). Joined by my overseas friend Angel (hi, Angel!), we took to Twitter and made it a three person live-blogging extravaganza.
Woof. I don’t know that my expectations for this film were sky high, but I was honestly disappointed in Netflix. I’ve seen some decent original content there recently, and they’re not bad with romantic comedies. With the Hallmark channel turning into a holiday movie factory churning out cookie cutter romantic fluff, I felt that Netflix should be able to take a slightly higher concept plot, more money and talent, and produce something at least slightly entertaining. Silly me. It felt exactly like they took a discarded Hallmark movie and threw in some time travel to attract attention, then did nothing with it.
Friday, November 29, 2019
Format: Alamo S. Lamar
I have a feeling Rian Johnson is going to be, with this movie, one of those directors twitter decides they need to prove they think is overrated. He hasn't made that many movies, seems pretty lucky to have done what he's been able to do (if you ignore how he scraped to get Brick made), and hasn't ever delivered exactly what people are expecting when they show up at the theater - up to and including The Last Jedi.
Monday, November 25, 2019
Format: Netflix Original
Back in college my pal Shoemaker would wait til we were about four drinks in and then I'd turn around he'd have put Dolemite movies on, and so I vaguely remembered them from the heyday of the mid 1990's. Between being four drinks in, not focusing on the movies and the passage of 2.5 decades, sadly, my memory of the movies was vague at best.
Bad kung-fu, stilted acting and gratuitous nudity were more or less what registered and stuck with me. And, I never did listen to any Rudy Ray Moore records, just saw images of the covers. I like blue humor as much as the next guy, I just never made the time.
When I heard Dolemite Is My Name (2019) was coming out, I decided to revisit the original film. And, if you follow this blog closely, you'll note that there's no post for Dolemite from this year. Because, honestly, it's a movie you should be watching with other people. Watching it by yourself just feels kinda weird. It is a *bad* movie, but it is a fun bad movie that asks to be talked over and discussed as it goes along. And, yeah, my memories of bad kung-fu, stilted acting and gratuitous nudity were verified. Way to go, 1990's brain cells!
Friday, November 22, 2019
I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time. I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.
Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat. I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked. It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms... That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).
Monday, November 18, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
It's odd how little we talk about cinematography. Of course we discuss actors and dialog. FX are a big topic. We talk about soundtracks and directors. When we're feeling like showing some insidery-type knowledge about film, we'll talk editors. But I'm not sure we always notice the names of the people who actually sit behind the camera, working out the actual look of a movie, which, as we're not listening to radio or watching a play, seems kinda key.
From composition to placement to depth of focus to lighting to movement of perspective... and probably 9 or 10 other factors I'm not thinking of, what we see in a movie is defined by someone who thought about every shot (in theory). Sometimes it draws attention to itself, but more than 95% of the time, when we talk about a movie, we seamlessly discuss story and how we felt, basing it on any of those factors above, but how often do we discuss what the camera did? Or where it was placed?
Monday, November 11, 2019
Decade: 1970's/ 2010's
If asked to compile a list of the greatest popular American singers of the 20th Century, I'd assume Aretha Franklin would make the top few - if not the number one slot - for much of the US populace.
We lost Franklin in 2018, and it's unclear who can begin to fill her role in the zeitgeist, but maybe it's too soon, and maybe we don't need to. Maybe she was a singular talent.
Shot in 1972 and unreleased until the last 12 months or so, Amazing Grace (2019) is an attempt by Sydney Pollack to record and capture the experience of Franklin recording a live Gospel album at a church in Los Angeles over the course of two nights. Backed by a local choir and supported by the Reverend James Cleveland, Franklin takes to the pulpit and - as one would expect - nails every song before her.
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Look, I'm on the record going to the mat for the first two Terminator movies. And way, way less so for T3 and whatever the Christian Bale one was called. And I never saw Genisys. I did like the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Look, this is one of the most written about movies of the past decade. I'm not really sure I have anything new to add. But I finally saw it, and it was very good. Frankly, it was exactly what I was expecting from seeing the trailers, and I only was marginally off in two guesses I made while watching the film. Still, it's an ambitious film and an uncomfortable film, and I can see why Peele is Hollywood's favorite new director.
Amazon Streaming is including the alternate/ original ending of the film, and, frankly, I think they should have kept that as the final word, but no one is asking me.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Of late, if someone is going to mention a television show to you, it often comes with a wild look in their eye I recall occurring most elsewhere when my glance would occasionally meet that of the Hare Krishnas who used to roam The Drag in the 1990's.
One does not "enjoy" a show anymore, they area devotee. They advocate for it. They seek converts.
So, lately, has it been with Fleabag, the short-seasoned show from England that, as was discussed at my house over the weekend, on paper, does not at all sound like my cup of tea. Self-immolating, possibly alcoholic and definitely caustic young woman behaves badly, who runs up against the people she loves, and who love her, with poor results. And does it whilst literally winking at the camera.
I mean, sure, fine, but is there at least a robot she drinks with? Then we might have something.