Sunday, August 30, 2020
Director: Tom Ford
A lot of the coverage of the release of this film was that it was directed by Tom Ford, a fashion designer - which is an interesting idea. One would assume a fashion designer has an eye for visuals, lifestyle cues, wardrobe and staging. And - arguably, Ford delivers on all of these things.
He's cast beautiful people and dressed them well. He's hired some beautiful people and dressed them down. And, of course, there's the opening sequence which casts some (let's be honest) not gorgeous people and dressed them not at all. For Ford - this is a hellish horror, absurd and tasteless, open to interpretation and meaningless, so awful its funny. And knowingly hard to look at. And... is, at best, a very small building block of what is arguably his point with the film, and set me to thinking about what and who a Tom Ford is and how that would set them for empathy and sympathy with characters in a story.
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Director: Don Hahn
Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected. I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2.
And, of course, then the release of Hamilton. I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*
But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing. There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.
The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway.
It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head. And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc.
I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).
For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing.
*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store. I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager... really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Viewing: Third or Fourth
Director: James Gunn
For more ways to listen
It's Family Issues in Spaaaaaace! Join Jamie and Ryan as we consider the second installment in the unlikeliest of the Marvel movie sub-franchises! After a ragtag bunch of misfits comes together, what's next? And what makes this series different from other Marvel films? It's all here! Check it out!
The Signal Watch PodCast · 111: "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" Avengers Countdown 15 w/ Jamie & Ryan
Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Bertie, Bert
I walked into this with zero expectations, pretty sure it was a Troop Beverly Hills sort of thing, but it's a smart, sweet movie with a sort of indie feel I haven't seen in a movie in a while. But, in a weird way, for kids with storylines the adults will get even if the kids watching the movie don't quite get what the adults are saying to each other.
It's the rare movie about underdogs that is kinda actually pretty realistic about underdogs, as well as how kids can expect the world to want to keep them that way. You will likely laugh, you may get a bit weepy.
Anyway - why isn't Viola Davis on Mt. Rushmore yet?
Thursday, July 9, 2020
PODCAST: 110 - "King Kong" 1933, 1976, 2005 & "KIng Kong Lives" (1985) and "Kong: Skull Island" (2017)
King Kong (1976)
Viewing: No idea
Director: John Guillermin
Kong Lives (1985)
Director: John Guillermin
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
King Kong (2005)
Director: Peter Jackson
King Kong (1933)
Viewing: no idea
Director: Merian C. Cooper
It's King Kong-a-Palooza as we take on 5 movies about one big monkey. Stuart joins in as we talk about the modern mythology of King Kong, what the story tells us, and what it tells us about ourselves that we retell the story every few decades. We reflect on man, ape, mysterious islands, mystery in general, and fame as we ponder the various takes. Join us as we discuss 1933, 1976, 2005 "King Kong" installments, as well as "King Kong Lives" and the recent entry "Kong: Skull Island".
The Signal Watch PodCast · 110: "King Kong" 1933, 1976, 2005, "King Kong Lives" & "Skull Island" w/ Stuart & Ryan
King Kong Main Theme (1933) - by Max Steiner
King Kong Opening Theme (1976) - by John Barry
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Viewing: No idea
Directors: Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman
I feel like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) found its audience on home video that it didn't quite find at the theater, which makes me wonder how the coming sequel will do. I will say - I am delighted that the movie is finding the bigger audience it deserves and I'm still disappointed in Sony for failing to push the movie harder when it was coming out. Especially because - as much as I like the movie, it's just something to see on the big screen. I feel like a lot of people I've talked to who watched it on their screens aren't quite getting it because they aren't able to "see" the movie the same way and see how every frame and every detail is next level work.
Maybe when theaters re-open and there's nothing new to show, Sony can re-release S:ItSV. If they do, go see it on the biggest screen you can find.
At some point in the past year I mentioned wanting to show this movie to my dad, and he was just sort of confused (it happens. He was not expecting a Spidey rec.). But, man, this movie does such a phenomenal job of catching what it is to be in those early years of high school where you're figuring things out, and your parents are looking in from the outside as you come into yourself and find your people.
One of these days.
Anyway - in these days of challenge and change, I'm glad Jamie thought to put it on. Anyone can wear the mask.
Monday, May 18, 2020
Viewing: Unknown - maybe 4th?
Director: Sam Mendes
More ways to listen.
We talk a favorite of the entire Bond franchise - "Skyfall"! It's not just a perfect Adele song, it's also a movie! Daniel Craig and Dame Judith Dench protect Mother England and tangle with Javier Bardem! There's a komodo dragon! There's a mysterious island! There's a chase through tunnels! A jail cell with no toilet! Join Simon UK and Ryan as we sort through the film that was better than the films immediately before and after.
Bond Theme - Monty Norman
Skyfall - Adele
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
As it starred neither apes nor robots, I was never a watcher of the original 21 Jump Street when it was on TV. I knew roughly what it was about, but I don't believe I've ever seen an episode. Between this fact and the massive pile of comedy remakes that had been hitting since the mid-90's Brady Bunch revival, I was in no particular rush to see this movie.
But, then I learned it was a Lord & Miller movie and gave it a shot. All in all, an ideal Friday-night comedy with enough Lord & Miller stuff to make it really work. The cast is great (special shout out to Ellie Kemper) and there's a ton of really good stuff packed into 90 minutes, even with some pretty pat "high school kids sure are different now!" stuff that's a little hard to buy with only 7 years passed since our heroes supposedly graduated high school.
Pretty clearly there was a lot more shot, as a few things are referred to and it looks like some unused stuff wound up in the credits. Which makes me reflect on the assignment of Lord & Miller to the Solo Star Wars movie, and their eventual firing. What did Disney think they were getting, again?
Anyway, the movie is exactly what you think it is, maybe funnier than you'd guess.
Format: Amazon Streaming HBO
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Look, the secret life of boys on the verge of teenhood is hard to capture. The last time I remember thinking anyone got it was parts of Boyhood and Stand By Me. It's the last time you're friends with kids who you might not have all that much in common with before you hit middle and high school and become more yourself.
Good Boys (2019) doesn't avoid that idea, but it does show the potty mouthed, sheltered dopes boys are at around age 12, with confused ideas about masculinity, an overpowering need to demonstrate their worldiness and maturity, and one foot firmly on the side of kid-hood and one foot on the side of becoming a teen. In short, you're a @#$%ing mess.
I don't want to overthink what is a "well, this worked very well at least the first time, but maybe not so well on the second once the shock and surprise value is lowered" comedy, but this movie was, indeed, funny. And I can just imagine all the explaining parents and those on set had to do with the kids (if they did any at all) about half the things in the movie.
Anyway, writing about what is and is not funny and everyone's sense of humor is all over the place, but some of this felt very familiar, indeed, from a certain age (about 5th grade). A quick glance at Metacritic is pretty much a roadmap of how this movie just isn't going to land with everyone. Some seem to think it's just being outrageous and that's bad. Others seem to have a, shall we say, interestingly sociopathic idea of what *would* have been funny. I will say, regarding one flavor of complaint I read - it doesn't hurt to know that one of the laws of comedy is stupid repetition. Or, in fact, if you repeat something, it just gets funnier. Sort of the way that if you keep doing something, it just increases the comedy value.
But, that's the thing with comedies. I looked at Amazon to see what was on there, and, man, are there a lot of 90 minute movies out there that just look painful to watch. And a lot of it is - I have no idea what world the filmmakers are living in where they thought "yes, let's make this movie and, from coast to coast, a lot of people will find this hilarious". Like, sometimes you're just funny to your friends.
Anyhoo... this is a very Rated-R movie, so do not watch with the kids.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Format: Tweet-a-long on Amazon Prime
Director: Tonjia Atomic
I don't know. I don't know what I expected.
Somehow a return to "Manos"- The Hands of Fate, the 1966 zero-budget horror indie out of El Paso, TX, which had neither synced sound nor coherent narrative, and arrived in 2018'ish as a shot-on-video-but-not-great-video and featured simply too much dialog - was kinda just right.
Manos Returns (2018) features - and I want to get this out there, because I missed this prior to watching - the original actor who played The Master and the former little girl who played Debbie, now a grown lady-person still playing Debbie! Take that, David Lynch and your 25 years later!
Much like the original, I don't understand the movie or what it is trying to do. At times it seems like it wants to be a parody, and at other times, a straight sequel with some enhancements thanks to the power of video editing. There's genuinely more story to this movie, but with similar outcomes. And more red bras. Lots of red bras.
I dunno. I didn't *not* enjoy seeing the movie, and it is definitely a worthy successor to Manos, whatever that means. But, you know, beware something striving to be a sequel to Manos.
BTW - seeing this also told me there's a mini-market of Manos ancillary media being produced. Debbie is going on to make a TV series, there's a Rise of Torgo movie out there, too. And seemingly other things. Anyway, proceed with due caution.
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Jack Bennett
I forgot to write this up a month ago when I watched it. A really fun doc on a great movie, and with terrific participation from darn near everyone who was in it or worked on it. And, as always, Sigourney Weaver is the coolest.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming Tweet-a-Long
Director: Brendan Steere
It was amazing.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Format: Hulu Streaming
Director: Olivia Wilde
I'd had a few trusted sources go to the mat for this one and been interested in seeing it when it was out, but... didn't. A few blunt points on the movie: in many ways, this movie is very, very familiar as a high school comedy about privileged kids and has a lot in common with movies that get routinely dismissed as dumb comedies.
But, sometimes it's about the execution.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Viewing: fourth. fifth? I don't know.
For Jamie's birthday she wanted to watch Avengers: Endgame (2019), one of her favorite recent movies - even if spring of 2019 now seems like it occurred several decades ago.
In a time when we're in lockdown, watching a movie about a group of people reeling in the face of loss, disaster, tragedy and personal failure that impacted a universe is a hell of a thing.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Jamie and Ryan delve into the multiverse of madness that is the 2016 Marvel entry, "Doctor Strange". It's no one's favorite Avengers film, but it's got some interesting stuff and absolutely pushes us forward toward what would become Infinity War. It's a hero who may be a bit of a jerk, but he's got some neat special FX.
Doctor Strange Main Theme - Michael Giacchino, Doctor Strange OST
Avengers Chronological Countdown
Friday, March 20, 2020
It's a neo-noir! Join JAL and Ryan as we delve into a modern mystery thriller full of twists and turns in the world of Hollywood-pointed Los Angeles! There's murder, suspects and a personal assistant on the run, languidly pursued by no less than John Cho! Join us as we talk the world and rules of noir and doing it without pointing out that you're doing noir!
Gemini - Keegan DeWitt, Gemini OST
Noir Watch Playlist:
Monday, March 16, 2020
One of my favorites from last year, I went ahead and picked this up on BluRay.
And, you know what, I think I continue to like this movie more every time I watch it.
Frozen 2 is a funny thing to like as a near 45 year old dude. I'm used to picking up an action figure or whatnot when I like an Avengers movie. Heck, I have an Ant-Man and The Wasp t-shirt. But, you know, as much as I don't care what cashiers think when I'm buying my usual dumb stuff, there's not much Frozen 2 stuff I thought would make sense for *me*. So, I bought the BluRay. And the extras are really excellent. So, heads-up if you have a chance to watch them. It's fascinating to see how story is developed at Disney these days.
But do feel free to point me at Frozen II plastic stuff I can own that is not, like, an Elsa wig or 12" doll.
Anyway, refer to my last write-up on this.
And, frankly, I find this scene amazing.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
We take a break from Bond to look at a sort of surreal spy adventure, also from Jolly Olde England! It's "Kingsman", the 2014 action adventure with some exciting stuff, a decidedly hard-R rating, a dash of "Moonraker" and how to climb the social ladder in London through grit, street smarts, parkour, and a penchant for looking good in a suit! Plus, Samuel L. Jackson chewing the scenery in a role he's about 35 years too old to play.
Manners Maketh the Man - Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson, Kingsman: The Secret Service OST