Thursday, April 18, 2019
Format: Alamo Mueller
Stuart's flight was canceled, grounding him in Austin til tomorrow and I was planning to see Hellboy (2019) at 7:20 with SimonUK, so world's collided this evening as SimonUK and Stuart met, sat on either side of me and then both proudly announced their fealty for director Neil Marshall. Truly, these two dudes are two peas in a pod.
So - yeah, I'd heard Hellboy was supposed to be terrible, which is a good place to set your gauge when watching the movie. It both earns the bad reviews and maybe defies them a bit.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Honestly, if you'd told me 20 years ago that in 2018 there would be so much superhero stuff on TV and at the movies I wouldn't blink to miss a Teen Titans tv show, let alone a movie (and, indeed, that Teen Titans would be a household word), I think you would have blown my 1998 mind.
So, I don't watch Teen Titans Go! 95% because I only have so many hours in a day. When the film of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) came out, I was busy and just didn't see it, but everyone was telling me it was great, so I picked it up "on-sale" via Amazon Streaming (thanks for the tip, Stuart).
Yeah! It's weird, super fun stuff. Kid safe, but wonderfully absurd for the adults - it's just amazing how the movie works on two different levels in virtually every scene and with every line. When the kids who saw it now return to it in a few years, I think they'll be genuinely surprised at what WB and DC signed off on here - it all feels like one long in-joke for comics fans, paired with the absurdities of comics AND the superhero movie boom, playing as a moral lesson the movie explicitly does not care about (giving us the best/ most honest ending I've seen in a kiddie cartoon in a while).
Anyway - I totally dug it. And cannot believe this gem exists.
Kudos to the Teen Titans Go! voice cast - that is some A+work. And to the celebrity voices who dropped in, like Nic Cage as Superman.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
We've essentially not only just *not* made any progress on how we deal with our border with our Southern neighbor since the release of this film in 1949, but we're now actively and intentionally worse about how all of this works.
Border Incident (1949) follows law enforcement working together from both the Mexican and American governments, seeking not to punish the braceros crossing illegally so much as to stop the exploitation and criminal behavior of the coyotes, who use the undocumented status of their victims to exploit them for terribly low wages, awful living conditions and potentially violent treatment.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Format: HBO Go
A few years back I recall reading about Theranos, the "disruptive" tech company getting into the ultra-sexy field of phlebotomy. The articles were fawning, talking about a young genius inventor out in Silicon Valley who had dropped out of school to start a tech company that was going to change... something. The article was a little vague on how smaller blood draws were the biggest thing since sliced bread, but it insisted - no, really, this is it, and we all need to get excited about the company, Theranos, and - really - the head of the company, Elizabeth Holmes - a prodigy who apes the fashion sense of Steve Jobs and who dropped out of Stanford as an undergrad to pursue her vision.
I wanted to check my biases on age and gender, shrug a bit at someone cosplaying Steve Jobs, and admit I don't really know much about phlebotoy other than watching a whole lotta blood draws when Jamie has been in the hospital. Which is: a lot.
At the same time...
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Format: Alamo South Lamar
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight, during which Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reached the moon and during which Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to ever walk the surface of our satellite.
This evening, JuanD, Jamie and I hit the local cinema to take in the spectacle that is Apollo 11 (2019), and if you can tear yourself away from whatever new shows got dumped on Hulu and Netflix on Friday, I'm going to go ahead and recommend you give this movie a go.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
You know how sometimes you hear about the premise of a movie and you write the whole thing in your head in about 5 seconds? I mean, I'm often wrong, and I find that really nice, but other times the movie wraps and you say "that is exactly what I thought it was going to be" And even that isn't all bad. But that's more or less why I never bothered seeing this film, and, here we are, and I am reporting out that D.O.A. (1949) was more or less exactly what I expected it was going to be.
A fun ride, yes, and... no - I didn't guess every twist and turn (who could?), but "sounds like a dude running around trying to figure stuff out as he tries to beat the clock" - done in one, mi amigos. What I wasn't anticipating was the weird tone of the film which, alone, kind of makes it worth a peek.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
PODCAST! "Captain Marvel" (2019) - Jamie, The Dug, K and Ryan and a Not Quite Chronological Countdown
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Jamie's brother and sister-in-law were in town, and we all saw the screen debut of Marvel's cosmic-type Avenger. Join Jamie, The Dug, K and Ryan as we share our "first reaction" takes on what happens the 90's collide with aliens, space faring adventure, Annette Benning, and Marvel's first female lead (it's about time, y'all).
Captain Marvel Theme - Pinar Toprak, Captain Marvel OST
Become a Patron!
Avengers Chronological Countdown
Sunday, March 3, 2019
Format: MST3K on Netflix
This movie is a bizarre mess with no story. Now, sometimes MST3K cuts these movies for time, so its possible we lost some key moments or elements on the floor, but... I don't think so.
The MST3K episode DOES feature an astonishing musical number lifting music from The Music Man. The current crew has really hit their stride. And - there's a Kim Cattrall callback.
But, yeah, it's a bunch of unmotivated special FX and a cast that I can't not talk about.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
This movie is exactly (exactly) what you think it's going to be. That's not a knock, it's just a statement.
It's weird. I feel like Paul Feig would do really well managing a network TV comedy. It seems better suited to his sense of humor where he could have fun with characters than trying to cram in an actual story in 90-120 minutes.
This was part of my "I have a cold, so let's just watch some inconsequential stuff" viewing from Friday night, and it fit the bill.
Friday, March 1, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
No write up. I'm a bit under the weather, but I really enjoyed it. And I can't believe Disney went off-script with their own IP to that degree. A lot of good stuff. And, of course, Vanellope's song - just brilliant.
Late Edit: Our own NathanC wrote a great review over at the TPR site, so go check that out.
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Format: Austin Film Society
Viewing: second/ first
Thanks to some good pals my first year of college, I started watching Jackie Chan movies. Unfortunately, lo these many years later, because I watched many of them in the space of one academic year, I have no idea which is which, what I have seen and what I haven't. The conversation usually went more like "There's a Jackie Chan movie playing at The Hogg Auditorium. We're going after dinner." "Okay."
It turned out I had seen Police Story, but not Police Story 2 - but I have, in the past, seen Police Story 3: Supercop. Which was not part of the double-bill at the Austin Film Society that SimonUK and I attended.
But, yeah, like all of you, when I first saw his movies, I loved everything about Jackie - his sense of humor, his incredible stunts, his loyalty to his stunt team, the fact he wrote, directed and starred in his movies, and that he even sang his own theme songs. And, yeah, you can see the influence of the comedy greats in Jackie - if you love Buster Keaton or Chaplain, you should like Jackie's movies.
If the movies have a weakness, imho, it's that they often can't quite settle on tone. That said, by the end of Police Story, the shift from goofy antics and wacky set-pieces to wanting to see the bad guys get punched just real, real hard is more than earned.
Chan's energy is just different from anyone else in cinema. He's got the finesse of Bruce Lee, but - instead of Lee's eye of the storm focused energy, ready to unleash, he sort of is the storm.
Maggie Cheung plays May in both films, Jackie's long-suffering girlfriend, and she has some terrific comedic bits and really takes some hits for the team doing her own stunts.
The plot is some boiler-plate 1980's cop-movie stuff, and that's okay. It's all a skeleton upon which to hang cool action scenes and showcase the work of Jackie and his crew.
I dunno. I really like Police Story, maybe the second one a bit less, but they're both hugely watchable movies. I just found Police Story 3: Supercop on Amazon, so I'm going to watch it ASAP. It has Michelle Yeoh, so... you know...
Friday, February 15, 2019
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Jamie and I went out for a lovely dinner for Valentine's Day, followed by catching up on Star Trek: Discovery, and then - somehow - I wound up watching this movie, and I think for the fashion choices alone, Jamie didn't object. I thought I'd previously seen Coffy (1973) when I started it - because it's currently streaming free to Amazon Prime subscribers, and, I didn't intend to actually watch it. But I hadn't seen it and the next thing I knew I was an hour in.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
PODCAST! It's High School Musicals with "Grease" (1978) and "High School Musical" (2006) - Maxwell, Mrshl and Ryan
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: Easily my 15th or 16th, maybe more
High School Musical (2006)
Format: Amazon Streaming
Maxwell and Ryan welcome Marshall to the PodCast as they discuss "Grease" and "High School Musical", two movies that are about finding love and finding out who you are in the nightmare factory that is the American Public High School. One of these films is definitely for kids, and the other... really, not for kids, no matter what America wants to think.
Summer Nights - Grease OST - cast
We Go Together - Grease OST - cast
Grease - performed by The Signaltones
High School Movies:
Saturday, February 9, 2019
format: Amazon Prime Streaming
I recently read the David Goodis novel, which Goodis himself adapted as a screenplay for The Burglar (1957). Surprise: the book is better. An existential noir thriller that *really* piles on Goodis' weirdness with women, the book is singularly bleak piece of fiction that, honestly, would probably not work terribly well as a film (the ending would be, also, logistically unfilmable in 1957*).
The movie hits a lot of the same beats and maintains the motivations of the book, but it's just not as well fleshed out, and they clearly were worried about the audience getting lost along the way so they're more concrete in trying to state the vague mess of issues plaguing Duryea's titular burglar.
Jayne Mansfield is about as far from the Gladden on the novel as one could get in personality and build, but it does shake up the mix a bit and puts a point on the creeping sexual stress as the story shows up on the screen - it's simply different from the frail, skinny girl of the novel.
There's some terrific imagery and cinematography in the film, and pitch perfect noir-esque build of sweaty claustrophobia once the game is revealed, all of which is mind-boggling, as this was the director's first time out (Paul Wendkos, who went on to make Gidget movies!), and a DP who, really, doesn't show much on his filmography to show how he got to this point.
Honestly, I think they cut too much from the book to give the other burglars any real personality or show why Duryea's character is so wound up, but it's still basically intact, and as a B picture, it's got some good stuff going for it.
*it involves a lot of stuff of people swimming in the choppy Atlantic. Sort of.
Friday, February 8, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming (Prime)
A lot of ink got spilled and a lot of gushing occurred when Eighth Grade (2018) hit cinemas last year. And, of course, you'll note the trend that this kneecaps movies for me when I do get around to seeing them, so I won't linger on that too much, but all of the praise certainly colored how I went into the film (cheerfully, willingly, curiously!), and my reaction by the film's conclusion.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR (Noir Alley from months ago)
This is an oddball one to slot in with noir in some ways - but I think it fits. It's just sort of a weird set-up to have your antagonist of the film a Nazi war criminal.
I really don't want to say too much or give too much away - I really didn't know much going into The Stranger (1946), and if you've not yet seen it - try not to learn too much and go give it a shot.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Format: Kino Lorber BluRay
Simon and Ryan delve into Film Noir via Neo-Noir, Altman-directed entry "The Long Goodbye" (1973), an oddball of a film with a lot to offer. We explore the role of Philip Marlowe in the world of fiction, some of the mechanics of noir, and whether or not any of this actually works as a movie.
The Long Goodbye - Music by John Williams/ Lyrics by Johnny Mercer/ performed by Jack Sheldon
For more about The Signal Watch PodCast
The Signal Watch Patreon
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
It's been forever since The Incredibles came out, and I really wanted to see this one in the theater and just never found the time.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Format: DC Universe Streaming
This week is becoming Steel-tastic as we return to a version of the Steel origin source material.
In 1992, DC Comics famously killed and resurrected Superman in a triptych of narrative arcs, , first downing him with Doomsday, then keeping Superman dead for a few months before bringing him back to save the day/ Earth.
It's a very 90's-tastic comic series, and your mileage will vary as you read it now.
Reign of the Supermen (2019) kinda sorta retells the story of the second two arcs post-Death of Superman as four new beings arrive on the global scene, all claiming some bit of Superman's legacy. From back in Ye Olden Comicks Days, this is where we got Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg Superman and The Eradicator. Surprisingly, over the years, these characters have endured unlike near any others spinning out of a major event, which is a testament to the solid core concepts each character embodied and how they fit into the DCU like puzzle pieces.
Monday, January 28, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I'd certainly heard the title of Panic in the Streets (1950), but had never paid the movie much mind. It played a while back on TCM, so I loaded it up on the DVR for a later playback and am thrilled I did. The movie is often listed as noir, but... aside from some aesthetic choices, it doesn't match my definition of noir, so I'm not labeling it as such.
Directed by Elia Kazan, the movie reflects his ability to shoot on location and make it mean something. Here he exits LA and lands in New Orleans, filming along the industrial docks and twisting roads of the city, jumping from suburbs to the edges of the French Quarter. Unfortunately, as the movie was 1950, it makes the location shooting feel like that much more of a lie as you only see Black people here and there, which in no way reflects the make-up of the city.
Still, you do get an immediacy to the film with the organic locations and settings, including sounds captured along the river or on the streets.