Showing posts with label 2020's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2020's. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2022

PODCAST 223: "The Nine Kittens Of Christmas" (2021) - a Hallmark Holiday PodCast w/ Maxwell and Ryan



Watched:  12/2/2022
Format:  Hallmark Channel 
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2020's
Director:  David Winning




Maxwell and Ryan explore the concept of Hallmark Christmas movies via a single entry. How does it reflect the formula? How does it differ? What is the formula and why? And why so many cats? So think hard about your unshakeable Christmas traditions, grab a cup of cocoa and warm up in the cheery glow of a podcast that is alight with Christmas cheer.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Jingle Bells - Jingle Cats
White Christmas - Jingle Cats


Holidays 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Hallmark Watch: A Holiday Spectacular (2022)




Watched:  11/27/2022
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Putch

It's easy to forget that before they had a cable channel and the need to fill programming 24/7, Hallmark started making movies for network television.  Back in the day, Hallmark used to deliver semi-prestige Sunday-night movies with name talent.  I don't think this happens anymore as they've moved these movies to The Hallmark Channel and the budgets have taken a hit of sorts, but the DNA of those "Hallmark Presents" movies still exists.  So, every Christmas, tucked amongst the usual low-budget fare of the Hallmark movie season, you do get a movie or three with name actors or big set pieces. 

One of this year's offerings is A Holiday Spectacular (2022), which has only two name actors, one of whom is Eve Plumb, which blew my mind, and Ann-Margret.  Ann-Margret mostly only appears in a framing sequence and probably knocked her part out in 2-3 days of shooting, but it's still a delight to see her.  

Santor Watch: The Key To Christmas (2020)

Approx. 100x more effort was put into this poster than the movie



Watched:  11/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director, Writer, Camera, Editor, Catering, Accountant, Set Decoration:  Jason Mills

Some pals seem to take exception to my practice of watching bad movies, riffing them, commenting upon them, etc...  The argument goes "someone tried, and it's not cool to make fun of them for trying".  To that I say:  if trying is your criteria, I welcome you to watch The Key to Christmas (2020).  Because that @#$% ain't happening here.

Look, I don't understand the market for ultra-cheap holiday movies.  There can't be that many Me and Doug's out there constantly looking for ways to torture each other with the worst in absolute garbage media.  Someone is out there buying the rights to these movies to distribute them with the idea that enough people will watch them that these movies will make money somehow.  I don't get the model.  I have to assume it's money laundering, tax fraud or something.  

Monday, November 28, 2022

Holiday Watch: Spirited (2022)




Watched:  11/26/2022
Format:  Apple+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Sean Anders

So, at our house, there are two very different stances on Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  To me, the book is a near-religious text and an annual reminder that one can make good on a life ill-lived, that every year is a chance for change and a reminder of how we can improve the lot of those around us.  We are a product of our lives, but at the end of the day, it's the choices we make daily that define how we impact the world.  To Jamie, it's this thing that's on at Christmas that people keep remaking as movies of varying quality.  I think both of these viewpoints are true.  

I'll need to give it another viewing, but it's possible Spirited (2022) will enter the very nichey canon of my favorite adaptations of the story, which include the George C. Scott version, the Patrick Stewart version, Muppets Christmas Carol and Scrooged.  Given the way this year's Thanksgiving has gone down, I may just be raw and in need of a boost that this movie provided, but here we are.

While I'm more than done with movies investigating the mechanics behind Santa's operations (Fred Clause and Arthur Christmas are maybe my highlight of that genre), no one had really taken on the same idea with A Christmas Carol.  And if I'm being honest with myself, I don't know if I'd put any thought into it other than it's a ghost story and this is how they work.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Fairy Tale Watch: Disenchanted (2022)





Watched:  11/24/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Adam Shankman

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. - Orson Welles

There's a lot of good in Disenchanted (2022), but it's a weird film.  Perhaps it's an unnecessary film?  

As much as I, too, wondered how Giselle - she of the cartoon kingdom - was going to adjust as a fish-out-of-water in New York, a fairy tale princess who now has to live in the Big Apple in a place with varying races, religions, opinions, illness, war, injustice...   I'm kind of wondering now - Maybe we didn't need to check in?  Maybe "happily ever after" is the ending this story needed.  After all, this movie starts to push on the edges of what it means to live happily ever after as it continues the tale of Giselle and Robert as it asks "what next?  What about ennui?  What about missing one's homeland and the way in which they were raised?  Isn't life deeply imperfect?"

I don't think it's wrong to limit the challenges of the movie to teen-angst, mean moms, commutes sucking and other suburban and relatable concerns within the control and world of your average schmo.  We have enough to deal with when it comes to the magical challenges of the film that will fill the runtime and primary concerns of the movie's A-plot.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Holmes Watch: Enola Holmes 2 (2022)





Watched:  11/14/2022
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Harry Bradbeer


One of the side-effects of streaming 99% of what I see is that movies are far less of an event.  There is no comparison between what I would do and think about en route to see Avengers: Endgame and choosing Enola Holmes 2 (2022) as prime time viewing on a Monday night.  

It is unlikely I would see a spin-off Sherlock Holmes movie on my own dime, but I did watch the first Enola Holmes, enjoyed it enough, and was game for the sequel.  Had I returned to the original and were my memories of it particularly intact?  Absolutely not.

But it is interesting to have a 2-hour option with a considerable budget, a solid cast and whatnot when the movie was never released theatrically.  It's not merely content - it is a movie into which care and love was poured.  It could have been released to screens and drawn some small box office (and I wonder sometimes if Netflix will one day partner with AMC or something and just make releases like this a thing they do as a matter of course to earn a few extra bucks).  It has actual stars.  Henry Cavill probably should have been a bigger big screen star than the DC movies and pandemic allowed, and it's time for Millie Bobby Brown to be tested as a young woman on screen. 

But those theatrical models may now be completely exploded and irrelevant.  So this is sort of the face of what movies are now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Al Watch: Weird - the Al Yankovic Story (2022)




Watched:  11/07/2022
Format:  Roku Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Eric Appel

Is this the greatest rock biopic ever made?  Or simply the greatest film ever made?

I literally have no idea how to discuss this movie.  To discuss it is to explain the joke, and explaining a joke is... a bad idea.

All I can tell you is:  watch this movie.  If you ever had any love in your heart for Al Yankovic, this feels like somehow you get the giddy chaos of Al's greatest work distilled, amplified and refracted back at you in the form of a 2 hour movie that stars Daniel Radcliffe as Al, Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento and Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna.  I've seen Radcliffe do comedy, and he's really solid.   Seeing ERW turn her considerable talent to comedy was an absolute delight.

If there's no other reason to watch the movie - and there are literally hundreds - watch the movie for the pool party at Dr. Demento's house.  

The movie never loses steam, which is just kind of what I assume will happen as comedies eventually need to trade gags for plot to have a satisfying narrative conclusion.  It never takes its foot off the gas, gripping your hand like a Thelma to the audience's Louise and heads right for the cliff.  

It's a thing of beauty.  We're lucky to have it.

Anyway, I guess I'm saying: watch this movie

So it Begins Watch: We Need a Little Christmas (2022)



Watched:  11/6/2022
Format:  Hallmark
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kevin Fair

I watched this because it stars Erica Durance, full stop.  This is an Erica Durance stan site.  

Look, if all goes well, we're going to podcast a Christmas movie or two this year and I'll talk more about Hallmark Christmas movies.  They're not something you watch or discuss individually, but watching them is a longterm investment in observing an ever-evolving living organism of Christmas cheer.  Collectively, they're something that mutates to respond to the environment and to best dominate the landscape.  Thus, talking about any individual Hallmark movie is missing the point - you have to be talking about all Hallmark Movies or none at all.  

We also will talk about what the movies are for, and how you watch them.  And this movie served that purpose pretty well this weekend.  

To that end, I had it on, I put on the movie and occasionally looked up to see what was happening as it unspooled.  I performed household tasks in need of doing  - like changing lightbulbs and cleaning and doing dishes and dealing with recycling.  I was in and out of the house during all of this, and thanks to ample commercial breaks (this was recorded off cable) and the friction-free plot that just kept happening with no real conflict to mar the story, I'm pretty sure I followed the movie just fine.  I saw a lot of great, large kitchens and Erica Durance in a wide-array of outfits.

In these films, characters always state their motives and feelings in clear terms, including "I don't know what I'm feeling".  Because these are movies about things that cause feelings.  Sadness.  Melancholy.  Stress.  But always curving toward happiness and joy derived from Christmas, new friends, and new love.  

As I say - I watched this because it stars the lovely Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on several seasons of Smallville.  Here, she's a recently widowed woman who has moved she and her young son to a new town to open a new interior design business (away from friends and family?  Now?  It doesn't all add up.).  And - showing that Hallmark movies have dared to make the formula a bit different - it's about Durance meeting a new neighbor who went through similar (or worse) experiences decades prior, and how Durance and the neighbor - played by Lynn Whitfield, who you've seen in like 15 things at least - find friendship and mutual understanding despite their lack of any differences of opinion on anything of consequence.  

The drama plays out in microbursts, which seems to be the new thing for the Hallmark movies.  There's no single issue or misunderstanding, it's more like little episodes as characters get to know each other.  It's kind of a weird style of storytelling that I can only really point to older novels or a few 80's or 90's movies to compare it to.

Yeah, a possible suitor for Durance is introduced, but the movie also knows it is *too soon* for romance to be more than a possibility by movie's end.  Thus, he's an endlessly polite and patient dude who also does the things dudes do when they hope it will get them in good with Erica Durance - like dropping all of their Christmas plans to do a 5 hour turn around trip.  It's a shocking amount of restraint in comparison to how these movies worked a decade ago.  Like I said - evolving organism.  

So it includes Hallmark staples

  1. Single Mom
  2. Kid unnaturally concerned with the feelings of adults
  3. Attempt to recreate Christmases past
  4. Weird Christmas events that don't happen in nature (Christmas camp for kids?)
  5. Local man who everyone in town adores but who is unattached
  6. Solider/ Veteran 


Saturday, October 29, 2022

PodCast 220: "Halloween Trilogy" (2018, 2021, 2022) - a Halloween PodCast w/ MRSHL and Ryan




Watched:  10/20 and 10/22/2022
Format:  HBOmax and Peacock
Viewing:   Second/ First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  David Gordon Green





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.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Halloween Theme - John Carpenter 
Halloween Ends - John Carpenter 


Halloween 2022 Playlist



All Halloween and Horror PodCasts

Thursday, October 27, 2022

PodCast 219: "Ghostbusters Afterlife" (2021) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  10/10/2022
Format:  Amazon?
Viewing: First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Jason Reitman




SimonUK and Ryan call upon the 2021 sequel to some favorites of the 1980's. It's a return to all the things you knew about Ghostbusters, but - like Star Wars, Mary Poppins, the Halloween franchise - it's a new generation and a welcome paycheck for familiar favorites! Let's spring the trap and try not to cross the beams.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Trapped - Rob Simonsen, Ghostbusters Afterlife OST 
Reconciliation - Rob Simonsen, Ghostbusters Afterlife OST 


Halloween 2022 Playlist 



All Halloween and Horror Playlist 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Marvel Hall-o-ween-Hall-o-Watch: Werewolf By Night (2022)




Watched:  10/10/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  (checks notes)  Michael Giacchino.  Huh.

This fit the dictionary definition of "fine".  I'm not mad I watched it, I wasn't against what the story was trying to do, but as pal JAL rightfully pointed out, the Marvel machinery seems to have taken over for a portion of the film, and I'm not sure it was to the movie's benefit.  

Werewolf By Night is no one's favorite thing in comics, and if I'm tracing the lineage correctly, the character (Jack Russell, which surely is someone @#$%ing about) appeared in 1972 at what I'm assuming was part of the 1970's monster explosion as classic horror became hip for kids again.  But, also, the Comics Code was no longer nun-teacher strict about rules, and things like "no vampirism, no werewolfism" were stricken from the code.  

This thing is a kind of neat experiment by Marvel - making essentially a TV special that works much in the same way we used to get both the famous kids' stuff like Charlie Brown, but also some older-skewing fare.  Werewolf By Night is maybe 45 minutes, has a more humble budget than, say, Endgame, and exists as a fun holiday treat.  But it's Marvel, so it's also opening the door to the weird and horrific corners of the Marvel U from whence we get Blade the Vampire Hunter (still in development), actual Dracula, but also fellows like Man-Thing.  

But as a 45 minute, moderately budgeted film, it's also led by a first time director in Michael Giacchino, who you know as one of the current wave of actually very talented film scorers.  Why direct?  I have no idea.  But I do think, the oddball impact is that you can see what rails Marvel clearly puts around directors as a support system and to ensure certain bits of quality are maintained.  But, in this case, I'd say that's where the film gets away from them.

The film has the vibe of someone trying to borrow from Universal horror pictures who doesn't actually know what made up the 1930's and 40's Universal cycle of horror's look and feel.  It is definitely in black and white (which some Marvel horror was in the 1970's, natch), but it lacks a certainly visual moodiness and the weight of scenes moored by cameras the weight of an automobile.  I am not insisting that anyone shoot everything in American shots for 45 minutes on grainy film, but continuous camera movement is not how Tod Browning and James Whale were shooting movies.  It lacks the expressionistic ethos or methods used in both Universal and RKO horror - ie: anyone can turn down color-gradient, not everyone knows what to do next.  

Thursday, October 6, 2022

PodCast 214: "DC League Of Super Pets" (2022) - A Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Jamie & Ryan

 


Watched:  10/02/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jared Stern and Samuel J Levine


The podcast goes to the dogs as Jamie and Ryan talk 2022's furriest super-offering. Join us as we sniff around for a take on family fun in Metropolis as Superman's lesser-known pal gets his own feature and DC/ WB tries to kick-start a lucrative super franchise for the kiddos.

SoundCloud

YouTube



DC Movies Playlist

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Everything Watch: Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)




Watched:  09/24/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Directors:  Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Look, one would really need to watch this movie 2-3 times and plan on several thousand words to really talk about Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022).  Suffice to say, this movie was very, very much in the wheelhouse for a lot of us, and if it was nominated for - and then won - awards, I might have respect for the awarding industry and begin to believe that it actually recognizes what cinema can do.

I am painfully and tragically aware that some will watch the movie and say "oh, they were trying too hard" or "that was just weird for weird's sake".  And, if that is your takeaway, I wish you well on your journey through life.  Sadly, you and I are going to view this rock we live on, and our time here, with wildly different eyes.

Everything Everywhere All at Once will be one of the films that I'm going to hold close, because we don't get them very often.  Whether you think the movie is saying something new - and, arguably, it is not - it is saying it beautifully, artfully, and humanely.  And maybe when we need it most.  

Sci-Fi and fantasy always are at their best when they are  allegories which may reflect, shift or challenge our views.  And whether we're considering response to a technological change and vast societal ripples or deeply personal stories, the closer we hew to recognizable reality, the greater the impact.  There's a reason we well up as Spock makes a sacrifice for the crew - it's a statement on the logic of serving the greater good, not on the problems of a made-up warp-core technology.  But it's a lesson forgotten again and again in comic books, television and movies, which become about the concepts and less about what it says to the audience about the world or themselves.  

SPOILERS

Friday, September 23, 2022

Comedy Watch: Out of Office (2022)




Watched:  09/10/2022
Format:  Comedy Central DVR
Viewing: First
Director: Paul Lieberstein

Not so long ago, I got my bivalent COVID booster shot, and it basically took my ass out all weekend.  At some point I'd decided to DVR the Comedy Central movie Out of Office (2022) as it seemed to have okay comedic actors in it, and you never know.  

Leslie Jones, Ken Jeong, Jay Pharaoh, Oscar Nunez, Jason Alexander, Cheri Oteri, many others, and - most important, Lily the AT&T girl herself, Milana Veyntraub.  I think we've all been pulling for Veyntraub for a while, but she never really shows up anywhere other than AT&T ads.  She was almost a Marvel at one point, but her turn as Squirrel Girl has disappeared into the bin of history.

This movie, written and directed by King of the Hill and The Office alum Paul Lieberstein, is truly a complete waste of a viewers time.  Everything is vaguely joke shaped in a way that you can imagine working if it was workshopped a bit or didn't feel like something pulled out of a Judd Apatow movie's reel of stuff that didn't even make the bloopers.  The lead (tragically Veyntraub) is breathtakingly unlikable as written, which translates to - this is just like sitting at work with your worst colleagues, not people you want to spend time with.  And, worst, it tries to find some schmaltzy closure about the friends we found along the way at the end, which is utterly unearned.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

PodCast 210: "Thor: Love And Thunder" (2022) - a Marvel Madness PodCast w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched: 09/11/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing: First
Decade: 2020's
Director:  Taika Waititi




Jamie and Ryan sit down with Marvel's return to Asgard that apparently people didn't like, and we're not exactly sure why it got the hate. Join us as we harness up the goats and take off on a journey through a movie that takes us all over and manages to really land their use of Guns n Roses.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Sweet Child of Mine - Guns'n'Roses, Appetite for Destruction 
Welcome to the Jungle - Guns'n'Roses, Appetite for Destruction 


Marvel Madness

Monday, September 5, 2022

Cage Watch: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)




Watched:  09/04/2022
Format:  Amazon?  Jamie put it on
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's

I am a fan of Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal on HBOmax, a show that is absolutely about Inception levels of reality.  It's a reality show, pushing the envelope of what is real, what is fiction, what is simply dicking around with people who expect reality to conform to certain principles and people who have made up their own reality tossed into the mix and given lead roles.

I feel like that was good training for The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022), a film - a bit like Being John Malkovich - that asks an actor of particular talent and quirkiness to engage with their own persona and perform as themselves as a central character in a movie in which everyone else is fictional, and the version of themselves is only loosely based on reality.  

For those of us old enough to have grown up on Vampire's Kiss, Leaving Las Vegas, Moonstruck, as well as Raising Arizona and Honeymoon in Vegas, Cage's late 90's turn to action-hero came as a bit of a surprise.  He was the hero of the indie film world who was out there walking tightropes, making films he was in memorable and better.  His Sailor in Lynch's Wild at Heart (paired with Dern's Lula) is still a favorite character of mine in anything.

The film is a fascinating fractal of a kaleidoscope of Cage - tracking his career in beats through the movie, which starts as a small, character-driven quirky indie feature and ends as a huge Hollywood-style actioner with an operatic happy ending in slow-mo, starring Cage as himself, of course.  

In the purest sense, it's absolutely a love letter to Cage, an actor whose post Leaving Las Vegas career I've not stuck with (Con-Air delivered my very first migraine, through I didn't know that's what it was at the time).  But one does not make it through a year of one's life and not see a Nic Cage movie.  

Structure aside, Cage is here to remind you - he's one of the most talented actors of his generation, and when he's not cashing a check, there's no one else like him on screen.  If you need an actor who can convey every range of human experience and emotion without a word, Cage is your guy.  

And I do wonder how he viewed the script, which couldn't have been written about anyone else and landed the same way, which includes whole scenes with Cage fighting with his younger, punk rock version of himself - something the younger kids won't get, but for those of us who recognize this version of Cage, it's a whole thing.  

Of course, the movie co-stars Pedro Pascal as an olive importer/ exporter who may actually be a criminal mastermind - but who is using his money to bring his favorite movie star, Nic Cage, to his villa in Majorca.  And, as it's turning out, Pascal's success in the US is not a fluke.  At the heart of the film is the unlikely friendship between Pascal and Cage as Pascal's Javi doesn't just understand Nic's filmography, there's a real kinship there.  

Meanwhile, Cage has to navigate his broken relationship with his teen daughter (I don't know if he even has a teen daughter) and ex-wife (he has several).  

I'm underselling how genuinely hilarious the film is, but it is genuinely the funniest movie I've seen this year.  I don't *think* you have to have been tracking Cage for decades to enjoy it - I've mostly not been.  But there's certainly layers upon layers if you know much about the guy.  And it's absolutely a treat to see Pascal and Cage making all of this look so easy.

Monday, August 15, 2022

2020's Watch: The Lost City (2022)




Watched:  08/14/2022
Format:  I don't actually know.  Jamie put it on.
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Two guys named Nee


Sunday night we threw on the recent Sandra Bullock/ Channing Tatum romantic adventure comedy, The Lost City (2022), as it had received a generally favorable RT score and my brain wasn't functioning, anyway.

This movie is the platonic definition of "it's fine".  It is more or less exactly what you think from the trailers, everyone appears to be having a good time, it's got fewer laughs than what you'd like but is reasonably funny, and you'll have a frictionless experience which results in forgetting you saw it in about two months.

The movie co-stars Daniell Radcliff as a somewhat mad billionaire, the lovely Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Bullock's agent, a goofing Brad Pitt as a sort of mercenary, Hector Anibal as a henchman, and Oscar Nunez providing comedy relief in a comedy?

The movie is Romancing the Stone with no edges.  

Like, I don't really know what else to say about it - someone watched Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas and said "let's do that, but different enough that copyright isn't an issue".  But it just feels like a re-write of a wildly popular movie that tries to make up for the lack of sexy sexiness with "hotness", reminding you Channing Tatum works out a lot and eats a lot of protein and Sandra Bullock is a fan of pilates and it's paying off.  

But, it's a romance novelist living out one of her own books in a vaguely Latin-American country with a jungle helped along by a hunky guy and there's a jewel to be had.  Romancing the Stone.  Everything else is just wing dings they put on it.

Por ejemplo:  There's also a dead husband storyline that feels very much like a 1990's movie that insists our lead occasionally acts, but it's also, like, a weirdly dark cloud over what's supposed to be a funny romp through the jungle.  It's made all the more confusing because no one seems to care about Bullock's dead husband or her grieving him or what seems to be clinical depression that screams "it is not funny that people are forcing her through the steps of the first act, she is a grieving widow suffering depression".  The cumulative effect was me wondering if the dead husband thing was an early or late addition to the script that didn't fit most of the rest of the script.

The movie should really just be about her figuring out her male-model doofus pal has an inner life and it's okay to bang him - something he seems up for from jump.  But he also has a weird and unwarranted relationship to the book series as a guy who probably has one photoshoot a year?

What flat out doesn't make sense - minus crippling depression - is why Bullock is kidnapped instead of paid-off and why she doesn't want to participate in Radcliffe's scheme, especially when he has unlimited resources and is willing to remove her from her tour she doesn't want to be on.  She states she was a practicing archaeologist at one point.  That seems relevant.  Like -having her just go and then realize she's in over her head is the infinitely more interesting choice. 

Pretty clearly the movie wants to be the start of a series, much like Romancing the Stone tried to do same, so we keep up with various players who will be our gang in future adventures, like Bullock's publisher, her weird friend in Oscar Nunez and Radcliffe, who will be Danny Devito in future installments. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Aliens Watch: Prey (2022)




Watched:  08/07/2022
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

I had not heard one word about Prey (2022) before my social media lit up when it dropped on Friday (two days ago).  Frankly, I ignored the chatter for half a day when I saw mention it was a Predator movie, which is not in the year 2022 that is something that gets me terribly excited.  I love Predator, but everything after in the franchise sort of exists on a sliding scale, and attempts to merge it with Aliens somehow devalued both.  

Suffice to say, I have not seen every Alien, Predator or Aliens and Predator movie over the past 35 years.  

Thus, I was inclined to ignore the movie til I heard the basic set-up and that some trusted sources generally liked it.  Some quite a bit.  

I finally watched the film this morning, and... yeah.  This is the best Predator related thing I've seen since watching Bill Duke dry-shave in a jungle.  They kept the scale manageable, they remembered we know the Predator set-up, and that the thing to do now is to make the movie have personal stakes for the lead.  They will be changed in some way by the experience, and not just because they experienced pants-eradicating terror facing an alien invasion.

Monday, July 25, 2022

I Forgot To Post On This Watch: Open By Christmas (2021)





Watched:  I dunno.  Let's call it 07/10/2022
Format:  Hallmark's Christmas in July
Viewing:  First
Director:  David Weaver

I watched this for two reasons:  (1) I put it on for two seconds and then it ended and I'd just watched a whole movie and that's how Hallmark movies get you.  (2) Erica Durance was in it, which was the fuel in the fire, I guess.

Judging this movie by the current standard of Hallmark Christmas movies, it was... fine?  Good?  Let's settle on "it was okay at doing what it set out to do", which is all you can judge it on, anyway.

Not long ago, Hallmark started letting themselves make movies that weren't one of five plots, so now you kinda don't know what you're going to get.  I mean, the same bland, friction-free spirit is there.  You know everything will be okay.  But these days they've learned that's the thing, not any particular formula of story.  Thinking about it, the Vandervoort starring Hallmark pic I watched last Christmas also had two narrative threads, so maybe that's the thing?  Cast Smallville actors and two plots.  I'm calling it now.

Action Watch: The Gray Man (2022)




Watched:  07/23/2022
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Russo Bros.

So, I have not watched the Fast and the Furious movies, but I think this is that, set for my particular tastes.  Gimme some good CIA/ espionage/ assassination storylines, and some insane action and I'm pretty good.  It also doesn't hurt that I am onboard with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.  All people I enjoy watching do their thing.

I've seen some internet pouting about the movie, and to that, I say, "well, I watched this while putting down two Manhattans and it seemed amazing to me."  Like, look, I am not going to say this movie needs an Oscar for best picture, but it turned espionage movies up to 11, had some of the most complex and insane action sequences I've seen - in fact, echoing specific action sequences I thought were quite bad - and made them pretty great.  I could actually *follow* what was going on.  And I might have mentioned I'd had two Manhattans.*

I've seen some complaining about the acting, to which I say:  wat?

Like, literally, these people are doing exactly what they do in everything.  And/ or they didn't do something you wanted them to do so you're quite cross.  I'm not saying these are stellar performances, but everyone kind of does their thing.  Seeming vaguely detached is what Gosling do.  Spunky enthusiasm for whatever he's up to is what Evans do.  And de Armas is more or less exactly as she was in No Time to Die minus the slinky dress and given way, way more to do.

I don't spend a ton of time thinking about Billy Bob Thornton, because I don't have to.  He's just rock solid in everything, and this is no exception.  So, yeah, I dunno.  

If you're looking for a movie that has plenty of explosions and fist fights and knife fights and bad guys you won't mind seeing die badly, and - frankly - completely batshit action sequences that carry you along like a tidal wave - it's a fun flick.  I liked the heightened reality of the whole thing in a way I can't get into with stuff like Kingsman that feels like "oh, aren't we being naughty!".  

Anyway, I do plan to watch it again minus booze.  But I don't think I really missed much.  It's sorta nice to watch a spy movie that doesn't require a flowchart to follow.


*my Manhattan recipe is

  • two good shakes of standard bitters -  or Peychaud's, if you got it
  • two to three good shakes of orange bitters
  • two shots of Bulleitt Rye
  • one shot of Sweet Vermouth
  • one spoonful of juice from your cherries
  • two cherries
lightly stir in a mixing glass and pour into a martini glass.  Sip to ensure it's good.  It is.  Nod.