Steven and Ryan will give you an hour and twenty-two minutes. For that time, you're theirs as they talk a fairly divisive bit of neo-noir from a curious inflection point in cinema. Join us as we put the pedal to the metal and get under the hood of a cult favorite that dares to ask if you can really hammer home an idea, and is Albert Brooks just a cut up?
Join us as we get creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky, as Jamie and Ryan talk Addams Family comic strips, television, movies and more! We ponder questions of family values, romance, and what makes an ever-evolving franchise work when it passes through so many hands as new generations get involved. And what IS movie perfection, and why is it only seen in the two Addams Family films?
This was actually the last movie I watched in 2022. I have cedar fever something fierce, so it was not really time to watch something new I'd never seen before. So in between naps, I watched a favorite.
The movie has flaws, and maybe even feels like it's part of a wave of movies that came before the Marvel-era, which makes sense. Directed by Hollywood staple Joe Johnston and with an eye toward what I'd consider the 1960's-era of WWII movies which inspired the Howling Commando comics it borrows from, it's also got a terrific old school story about a guy with a good heart and the girl who believes in him. I recall concern when the movie was being made and headed to release that Captain America was too old fashioned and not in line with the view of today - not like hip, wise-cracking Tony Stark - and that's missing the point of Cap. And the line Cap draws from what we know and acknowledge as outright evil in humanity worth fighting, and that that brand of heroism and clarity of purpose is something that absolutely makes sense in any era.
It's a Marvel villain who is truly villainous, not someone with a perspective worth considering - from the comics, I have wanted to hit the Red Skull with a sledgehammer for years before the movie, and the movie *nails it*.
The pacing of the movie is also flatly incredible. A two-hour run-time, it covers over a year of time, something other Marvel films don't ever really do, even if they include flashbacks (see: Captain Marvel). I kept trying to find a place to pause the movie to do things that needed doing, and suddenly I was looking at the flying wing and knew we were in the last twenty minutes.
And, of course, an all-star cast, which is maybe the secret-sauce to Marvel Phases 1 and 2. Sure, Chris Evans was somewhat known, and Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper unknowns here, but Tommy Lee Jones, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving? Not a bad foundation of talent to make sure the kids knew what was what. Throw in Neal McDonough as Dum-Dum and the rest of the Howling Commandos, and it's a fascinating mix.
Anyway - this movie also produced one of the longer podcasts we did early on.
I thought it was very strange that A Christmas Melody (2015) does not play more on Hallmark's two 24/7 Christmas movies channels. It stars Hallmark favorite Lacey Chabert and America's Accidental Christmas Mascot, Mariah Carey, with a supporting role from the omnitalented Kathy Najimy. I mean - seems like a winner, as far as Hallmark goes. I was wondering if Carey had some deal that made it financially onerous for Hallmark to run the movie, or there was some extenuating circumstance. But, no.
Friends, this movie isn't very good.
I mean, sure, you could blame the fact they gave a whole movie to Mariah Carey to direct (no, she did direct it), but something is wrong at the script stage and it feels like 2015 was a year Hallmark's writers were still figuring out the formula and forgot to do things like give the male romantic lead any inner life so he doesn't seem creepy.
Look, I'd seen this once back in 2012 and that was it for me, but Jamie is currently dealing with COVID, and so we're not looking for movies that are downers or super complicated at the moment.
And so it was that after approximately 45 seconds of looking, I tuned into A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011) - a movie that a mere 11 years later could never be made. It's still relatively funny, but I'm also far older than I was when the first Harold and Kumar movie hit in 2004. So, you kind of have to put yourself into the mental state of the early 00's and then the shift to adulthood that this final installment reflects.
But, yeah, its maybe the last gasp of a string of movies featuring dudes behaving badly for yuks and a pre-#MeToo worldview that impacts a lot of key punchlines. Also: baby doing drugs (this absolutely does not hold up). And, of course, the charm of a stoner comedy doesn't necessarily hold up over time for reasons so complicated and out of the scope of this blog that I don't feel like getting into it - but I'll say "aside from their musical selections, stoners are mostly deeply boring and tedious IRL."
As left and right horseshoed into overlapping end-states driven by differing concerns, the movie landscape has become a very different and more... concerned place, in a way not really seen since the early 1960's. It's not that you can't make a movie like this - no one is stopping you, but it's often not seen as something for a general audience or theatrical release. Stuff like this now feels like it's a Netflix or Hulu drop.
It is also super weird that Kumar had spent a couple years in the White House and filmed this during a sabbatical.
To wrap up Halloween 2022, Marshall and Ryan take on the more recent trilogy of sequels based upon John Carpenter's 1970's ground-breaking classic, that spanned 2018-2022. We drive relentlessly through three movies, slashing our way through narrative complexity, taking down the multitude of ideas presented, slaying any questions about what the movie is trying to do, and staring into the abyss as we try to figure out what, exactly, is staring back.
Well. Against all sense or reason, we did it. Our final episode of intense coverage of Marvel's "Inhumans" comes to lengthy conclusion as we try to figure out what is happening and why and to whom and if anyone might care. We'll ponder Rubbermaid storage on the Moon, moonquakes, and trying to use the same hallway set over and over. Let's ponder a royal family you might just want to rise up against yourself.
Oh, the Inhumanity! We reach the plodding 5th and 6th episodes, which feel like a whole lot of filler and not a lot of thriller. Once you get past realizing Dave is one hell of a right-on dude, you're in for more casual disregard for the sanctity of life, slow working drug dealers, and trying to remember Sammy is on the show. Oh, and Maximus is very, very sensitive. Mostly, the show is filling space and killing time til we can get to the final two episodes.
Danny and Ryan discuss episodes 3 and 4 of the ongoing tale of a bunch of mutant moon men kicking around Hawaii - all part of a TV series which made Marvel decide network TV was probably a terrible idea. Let alone doing it on a budget. Join us as we recount the puzzling adventures of our "heroes".
For some reason, Danny and Ryan are talking Marvel's biggest failure - the 2017 attempt at a network TV adaptation of one of Marvel's highest concepts. The show dares to ask the question "sure, that's a neat idea, but what if we eliminated everything interesting about it?" We discuss the first two episodes (of eight) of the ill-fated show, and ponder what, exactly, was going on at Marvel and ABC?
This doc felt weirdly slight, and I see now it was 80 minutes. It traces the history of film from its origins to what sorts of theaters carried schlocky, sexy, or violent films not produced by the studios.
But... it's weirdly focused on just New York and LA, forgetting these movies had audiences all over, and never curious about how they were (or were not) seen in the rest of the country. I'm not sure I buy of the main theses of the film, that the studios started making "grindhouse" movies because of the end of the vertical integration of studios and theaters that dissolved post WWII. But I would agree that eventually studios got involved with content formerly reserved for the grindhouse market. I'd just point to studios trying to differentiate from what was on TV once the Hays Code fell apart and the rating system came to be.
There are pretty good interviews, including Eddie Muller, and some creators of some classic schlock, much of which I haven't gotten around to seeing (pitching a 'Women in Cages' movie to Jamie is not as easy as one would believe). And I've never come across availability of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. But I was pleased with which ones I'd seen. I think they gave Russ Meyers and his real legacy basically no consideration, and it's weird. There's no mention of kung-fu or other genre. Instead, they seem to want to follow a thread to porn that I'm not sure works if you remember actual porn theaters existing and that was an adjacent but not entirely related thing.
In short - it's fine, but feels... debatable? Like the narratives only work if you aren't thinking too hard.
After watching and podcasting Showgirls, I believe Justin (and then Paul) suggested I watch the documentary You Don't Nomi (2019) a sort of retrospective investigating how we can view the 1995 film, seen as a catastrophe at the time of release but which has been reconsidered as a camp classic in the intervening years. The doc features multiple reviewers, entertainers and others engaging with the film. No small amount of the original film is seen as the movie leverages the idea of fair-use in investigating and transforming the source material - and so too does it liberally borrow from other films by Paul Verhoeven.
In many ways, it's like a bit of film school packed into a tidy 1:38 or whatever it was. Opinions are applied as fact, schools of thought as dogma. But almost no one speaking is in total agreement. We look at what else Verhoeven has done, we look for things he returns to, what his films say on certain topics (women! violence! seeeeeeeexxxx!) and try to draw conclusions. And with Verhoeven, the answer is often that, no, he's not making a mistake or doing something goofy, he meant something specific and it wasn't there to make you feel better or confirm your biases. All of which, were I to watch Showgirls sober, would definitely make me re-evaluate the film.
By now, I assume y'all know I'm a bit of a completionist, and I'm slowly buying the BluRays of all the movies based upon the Parker novels by Richard Stark. Most famous of these movies include Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Payback starring Mel Gibson (which I don't own because Gibson, but probably will buy used to take him out of the money chain).
If you're newer to the blog, when I traveled a lot for work, I read all 24 Parker novels and the Grofeld offshoots. The movies never match the books - writer Richard Stark (real name: Donald Westlake) was not willing to let them use the name "Parker" as he was aware that the movies would differ too much from the books, and movie people tend to miss the point of Parker. Which is 100% true. So the movies are all oddball mutations of Parker as a character and the plots of the novels - which, if done straight, would be fascinating stuff and probably spur a 1000 think pieces about following a character who is in no way a hero. He is not a badguy, but he is a bad guy.
SimonUK and Ryan relive some glory days by teaming up and trying to recapture the magic of when a man could be a man by blowing up an imaginary Central American country with a drug trade. We talk the melting pot action adventure that crosses multiple decades, revived careers, and firmly believes that Charisma Carpenter should stay off the market on your behalf even if you only check in with her quarterly and won't tell her anything about yourself. But, also, Eric Roberts has a plan that makes literally no sense but seems profitable. Like the My Pillow guy.
The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014) is the movie that precedes The Nine Kittens of Christmas, which we just watched. Some of the cast from the follow up is in this movie, like Gregory Harrison. But it's a different and oddly cheaper film than the sequel.
But it does have stars Brandon Routh and Kimberley Sustad. I can kinda see why people liked them enough that this got a sequel. The acting isn't robotic, and you can see its not just people smiling at each other like morons.
It's basically a movie about two adults as shy and dumb about romance as two middle schoolers, who are eye-@#$%ing each other for 3/4ths of the movie but, do not do anything about it until the final, Christmassy pronouncement of love.
Because TV, and especially these movies, works a certain way - there's a scene when it's just the two of them, alone in a house in which they both live, and they kiss, and then apparently time and space no longer matter, because they're then telling their confidants about the kiss in two different locations. And I'm like... so... what happened for the 12 hours or so inbetween here? You said nothing to each other? I would think you would say something to each other. Like - I get that that felt good in the edit bay, but it literally makes no sense at that point.
ANYWAY, these movies are not about making sense. They're about dumb misunderstandings. And Christmas-time romance. And picking out a tree. And talking about Christmas when I was a kid. And hitting all the beats. Plus, cats.
The movie doesn't really set up Routh's character quite the way I imagined they would based upon the sequel, which states that he has a hard time with change. I mean, maybe? But not a pathological fear of change as presented. He's adjusting to the idea of taking a girl seriously rather than having fun, but he does do it on his own.
Anyhoo... there's a couple of cute cats. And I realize now several things in the sequel were call-backs to this movie, which means the people who made the sequel were assuming we were very, very familiar with this movie (I don't think I'd watched it all the way through before).
I have to ask Producer/ Director/ Writer/ Actor Steve Franke - what is this, Steve Franke? Because our Amazon Watch Party is pretty convinced that this movie is somehow a tax write-off scam.
Look, I am second to none in adoring large, silly dogs. And this movie has two white golden retrievers as stars of the movie, and they are pretty great. It also has other dogs, a pack of alpacas or llamas (I don't know the difference), and in two insert shots, a fucking bear.
I guess this is a Christmas movie, but it's also a quest movie if your quest is two fluffy dogs just running hither and yon around fields in Texas. Also, a separate quest for the scared kid looking for his dogs. CHRISTMAS.
At some point we had the Up! Network, which was all positive vibes and Christian messaging, if memory serves. Basically Hallmark Network, but a little more toothless and less competent. During the Christmas Movie Wars of a few years back, when Hallmark was running 3 networks 24/7 from October 20th on, Lifetime was in the game, and one or two more - UP! showed up with its offerings which somehow were the Dollar Store equivalent of Hallmark Channel's Target merchandise. With both Netflix and Amazon in the game now, I'm not sure Up! is still playing, but in 2014 - they reached for the brass ring on the tiny shoulders of Lacey Chabert.
Lacey Chabert, the Queen of Nice and a Hallmark staple, was clearly shown the money by Up, who lured her in for The Tree That Saved Christmas. Which is a confusing movie.
It feels like an alien watched Hallmark movies, took random bits from them, missed some key bits, wrote a script, and then the aliens deeply underbudgeted and no one had any money after getting Chabert.
I wanted to see A Star is Born (2018) in the theater so I could get the benefit of the theatrical sound for the music and sound mix, but I didn't. My memory of the release date is pegged to a lengthy work-trip. On a terrible tip from a bus driver - I found myself in the shittiest bar in Vegas, trying to get some karaoke together with librarians, but only me and three other people showed up. That night was the first time I think I heard "Shallow" from beginning to end, and I couldn't believe the song was already an option at karaoke as the film had just been released.
Anyway, that was a very long two week business trip, and that was only one of three dozen incidents along the way (I got shingles in Salt Lake City). When I got home, Jamie had seen the movie and I decided to wait for home video. And then didn't do that, either.
I did eventually want to get to it. Aside from feeling like I should see the movie here in it's fourth iteration, I think Bradley Cooper is a very solid actor who gets dismissed because he's ridiculously handsome. And I like Lady Gaga as a performer because *gestures at everything*. Plus, I found it interesting this was Cooper's choice for a directorial debut. Which makes sense.