Showing posts with label First viewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First viewing. Show all posts

Friday, June 9, 2023

Ghibli Watch: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Watched:  06/09/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Miyazaki

So, aside from a movie or two, I had never really delved into the Studio Ghibli output.  Sue me.  I love animation, but I love a lot of things, and I always thought someone would foist it upon me, and that hasn't happened.  Thus, in 2023, I finally decided to start making my way through the Ghibli output.  

It does seem silly, however, to try to add to the conversation on these much-watched, well-loved films with millions and millions of fans, and plenty of ink spilled over them.  All I'll really say is:  what an absolute delight of a movie.  I felt like I got the full Miyazaki experience on this one.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

PODCAST @ Superheroes Every Day: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Watched:  05/19/2023
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Peyton Reed

Well.  I was going to watch it eventually.  

Danny (of Superheroes Every Day) and I talk the 2023 critical kryptonite and box office disappointment that is one of Marvel's greatest missteps to date.  Join us as we pick up this particular dud and keep turning it over to figure out what worked, what didn't, and how this thing even came out of Marvel Studios.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Noir Watch: Dial 1119 (1950)

Watched:  05/24/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Gerald Mayer

I went into this film with low expectations and finished it absolutely knocked over by the script, direction and actors - not to mention the camera work, attention to costume, etc...  It's a dynamite package of a movie, and one I'd recommend for folks thinking of character detail done economically.

The movie takes place in near real-time as an escaped psychiatric patient steals a gun on a charter bus and then winds up taking a bar and its patrons hostage while things escalate outside.  It's part of the noir subgenre of hostage-dramas that probably started before The Petrified Forest, but found footing there and worked it's way into a thousand scenarios (check our Key Largo if you haven't prior).  

The cast is mostly folks who were not mainstream stars in 1950, though some became household names.  In it's way, it's an ensemble picture, and feels influenced by theater of the first half of the 20th century, not least of which is the Pulitzer prize winning Time of Your Life.  Only interrupted by a psychotic gunman.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Marvel Watch: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Watched:  05/21/2023
Format:  Theater!
Viewing:  First
Director:  James Gunn

On Friday night I watched the mostly panned Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, and on Saturday spent an ungodly amount of time discussing the film with Danny for the Superheroes Every Day podcast.  Spoiler: it wasn't my favorite movie.  And so it was that here, deep in Marvel Phase 5, that I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023).  

You'd have to listen to the podcast and read between the lines on other posts to know how I feel about Marvel these days.  It's an affection, but one that knows where we're at in the scheme of creation and the realization that what always worked will not always work, and that they're now on to properties that have always struggled within the Marvel portfolio, while still not dishing up a Fantastic Four movie that we all know is coming.

As has been largely agreed upon, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy solidified the lessons of Iron Man (and to a lesser extent, Thor) and re-positioned how Marvel designed its films into action-comedies with heart.  GotG somehow, against all odds, managed to make you care about a tree with one line of dialog, an asshole space-raccoon, a manchild with knives, a mass-murderer, and a slacker with delusions of grandeur.  Plus a redneck pirate!  The heart part was a bit surprising as we watched our leads kill a ship full of pirates, etc... Not the usual side of superheroes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Noir Watch: The File on Thelma Jordan (1950)

Watched:  05/15/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Siodmak

What's not to like?  A Hal B. Wallis production, directed by Robert Siodmak, shot by George Barnes and starring Stanwyck.  No notes.  Well done.

The movie was written by a pair of women, one on story (Marty Holland) and one on script (Ketti Frings), who understand the assignment and put together characters in trouble before the action even starts.  

Wendell Corey plays an Assistant DA, an up-and-comer, whose wife has slotted him as caretaker and figurehead but who has made him a stranger in his own home by refusing to hear him on anything, but in the sweetest and dimmest way, all wrapped up with good intentions.   Meanwhile, Stanwyck - at the end of her rope - has moved in with her elderly aunt as a companion.  The two meet under boozy circumstances, and soon strike up an affair.


Saturday, May 13, 2023

Angry Animal Watch: Cocaine Bear (2023)

Watched:  05/12/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Elizabeth Banks

EDIT: After posting, I was reminded that Banks also directed Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie's Angels. I want to thank the commenter here (Nate C!) and the one on tumblr who mentioned this. Also, a big reminder to check IMDB before I hit publish.

Sometimes a movie is exactly what you thought it was going to be, but is also what what you were *hoping* it would be, while also being *better* than what you expected.  It's a peculiar equation, but in the middle of this particular triangle of expectation vs. reality, we find Cocaine Bear (2023).

Now, Cocaine Bear is not for everyone.  I read a few reviews that were quite cross about "nothing happens, it's just a bunch of sequences".  And, sort of.  But, also, that's exactly the point.  This is a movie about the joy of a rampaging bear fucking people up.  And, frankly, if you think the *many, many* movies about people getting picked off one-by-one are deep character work with the bear/ shark/ what-have-you as merely a framework, I have some property to sell you in Arizona.  A few are, 90% of them are filling time.  Elizabeth Banks, here in her first feature directorial effort, utterly understands the assignment.  

Banks cuts out any character development to the "bare" minimum.  The bear is not a metaphor.  It is not retribution.  It is not even a force of nature, for in nature, bears do not do massive amounts of coke.  While technically "man vs. nature" is our conflict, nature has consumed massive quantities of cocaine. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

PodCast242: "Deep Rising" (1998) - An Angry (Sea) Animals PodCast! Jamie, SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  05/01/2023
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stephen Sommers

SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan head for the high seas, and think deep thoughts on things from the deep! We take a look at a forgotten late-90's gem that floats on an ocean of charm and will surprise you from all new angles. Join us as we get aboard this suspence, sci-fi horror voyage!



Main Titles - Jerry Goldsmith
The Girl from Ipanema - Walter Wanderley

Playlist - Angy Animals

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Neo-Noir Watch: The Last Seduction (1994)

Watched:  05/06/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Dahl

Well, at long last I got around to The Last Seduction (1994).  

I can see how well-meaning dopes would have cast Fiorentino in Jade on the heels of this movie, possibly trying to borrow some of the heat she brings to this film, but the two movies are worlds apart, and one is a 90's indie darling playing to a punchline, and the other is a shiny studio movie that feels like a hastily jotted-off airport-book thriller.  

The Last Seduction reads more like a Goodis novel or Jim Thompson book, with low-level crooks twisting and turning over each other and innocence is a commodity of dubious value.  Fiorentino plays a con who encourages her husband (Bill Pullman) to take part in a risky drug deal, earning a huge amount of cash.  After a bitter argument in which Pullman slaps Fiorentino, when he goes to shower, she takes the money and runs.  

Headed for Chicago, Fiorentino stops off in a small town in upstate New York, where her attorney advises her to lay-low while she runs a divorce through.  She picks up Peter Berg in a bar (who believes he's picking her up).  Berg has recently returned from Buffalo, where things didn't work out.  He's a bit bummed as he thought he was the guy who was going to get out of this one-horse town.  Now he's met someone from NYC who seems like his ticket out.

Fiorentino schemes.  A lot.  

Friday, May 5, 2023

Wrong Franchise Watch: The Fast and the Furious (1954)

Well, I finally watched a Fast and the Furious movie, but I watched the one from before F&F was cool, and absolutely not about fambily.

This movie is a Corman-produced thing about the working-est actor in Hollywood who you recognize but don't know his name (John Ireland) as a crook on the run who hijacks a very cool car that is owned and operated by the-always-a-good-idea Dorothy Malone.  He's trying to get across the border to Mexico, and a race that takes people across the border is his ticket out.

For a 1950's Corman movie, it holds together really well and when it is talky, it's all right, because Malone and Ireland are legit actors.  And Ireland was one of the directors, which is interesting (to me).  Only one of two directorial efforts.

Anyway, I watched this three months ago and forgot to mention it, so here we are.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

PodCast 241: "Jade" (1995) a Neo-Noir-Thriller-of-Doom w/ Jamie and Ryan

Watched:  04/28/2023
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing: First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  William Friedkin

Jamie and Ryan sleuth their way through a mid-90's erotic thriller and are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to both the thrills or eroticism promised. We piece together the clues and, much like the detective of this movie, just sort of aimlessly wander around trying to figure out why we're supposed to care.



Main Title - James Horner, Jade OST
End Title - James Horner, Jade OST 


Monday, May 1, 2023

Norse Watch: The Northman (2022)

Watched:  04/30/2023
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Eggers


So, I just finished listening to the audiobook of the translated Völsunga Saga, and then some pals asked if I'd yet seen The Northman (2022), and while those events were unrelated, they did dovetail.  I hadn't quite gotten to the movie despite liking the prior Eggers film I had seen and a general interest in the content.  I was aware of middling opinions of folks on the street (it's got a 64% audience reaction on RT) - with some folks also camping out in the deep like and dislike camps.  But it was a bit of a critical darling.  So, it seemed it was probably doing *something* of interest, even if it wasn't for me.

The movie does it's best to recreate a world that seems almost impossible in its brutality and viciousness, that believes in fates, and the best fate is to die (valiantly) in battle and be swept off to Valhalla by a Valkyrie.  It's a culture that sees sacking and pillaging as a vocation, and vengeance as a noble right.  And everyone is kind of aware that being a king also means being a target.  Kind of hard to believe these same people a few hundred years later would be living in countries now deemed to be some of the chillest places you can go.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

PodCast 239: "The Raid 2" - A MikeS/ Social Bobcat PodCast Episode w/ Ryan

Watched:  04/09/2023
Format:  Netflix
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Gareth Evans

The Social Bobcat is back, and this time he brought a whole case of whoop-ass. Join Ryan and MikeS as we talk about the surprisingly well-developed sequel to the 2011 film that came flying out of Indonesia like a boot to the head. In this installment, we ponder sequels that increase the scope and breadth of the original and stand-alone just fine. And somehow still manage to kick a metric ton of ass.



Prison Riot - Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi, Fajar Yuskemal, The Raid 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)  
Showdown - Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi, Fajar Yuskemal, The Raid 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 

Action Watch!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Nintendo Watch: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

I officially entered a new phase of life on Saturday when I went to see The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) with a cohort of second graders in support of my nephew's birthday.  I'm now an uncle who goes to movies he didn't select.  It's a good thing.

I am not anti video games, but I can describe my relationship to gaming as "apathetic".   The how's and why's of this phenomenon are uninteresting and best served in a dedicated blog post.  But even when we got our first Nintendo Entertainment System, I didn't have any Mario-related games.  I was spending my money on comics and tapes at the time.  Aside from a brief flirtation with a Wii and Mario Kart, never got into it.

90's Watch: Chungking Express (1994)

As Jamie and I discussed after the movie - the 90's were the wild west for cinema in the US.  Indie cinema and the *flavor* of that indie movement were a truly big deal.  It was also a rich era for a semi-mainstreaming of international cinema as the same theaters that carried those indie pics also brought in some European film and Hong Kong cinema.  I'm not saying no theaters do this anymore, but it was much more a part of your standard film scene at the time.

And if you didn't see it in theaters, you might still find the movies for rent - maybe not next to Robot Jox at Blockbuster, but in the go-go 90's Austin film rental scene, I could walk across the street from my dump of an apartment and get whatever I wanted at I Luv Video.  

But, as mentioned before, I just never picked up the films of Wong Kar-Wai.  I was too busy watching Chow Yun-Fat kick ass or whatever.  I was still a dude in my 20's.  Grant me peace.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Tarzan Watch: Greystoke - the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)

this is the most pretentious possible Tarzan poster

Watched:  04/10/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Hugh Hudson

I can only imagine what the pitch meeting was for this movie, and I can totally see how it happened.  

In 1981, Hugh Hudson had directed Chariots of Fire, a movie that was a smash hit about pasty British guys running foot races and worrying about religion.  Like, you couldn't escape the movie, which I watched on TV once when I was sick as a kid and immediately erased from my memory.  But it was a big @#$%ing deal when adults went to the cinema.  

I'm sure it's great.  But it was an unlikely hit, and won Best Picture.  Career made for somebody.

So when the director of the footrace movie comes to you and says "we're gonna do Tarzan.  But now it's a prestige costume drama about how Tarzan is, in fact, a very sad ape man.  He is not a super-human living among men, continually pursued by hot women and fighting weird alien threats and large animals.  Instead, he's a kind of skinny French guy who does stuff you've seen apes do at the zoo.  But, you know, it's quite sad" I guess you trust and give that guy a sack of cash to give it a go.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Noir Watch: Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Watched:  04/01/2023
Format:  Criterion Disc
Viewing:  First
Director:  John M. Stahl

It's funny how certain films experience a bit of trendiness within the classic film community or film noir world.  But, here's the thing, rarely is the surge of enthusiasm unearned.  

Leave Her to Heaven (1945) was buzzy a year or so ago.  I tried to watch it on the Criterion Channel but occasionally Criterion blips when I try to watch it, and I was literally watching it the day before it left and gave up.  So I took a gamble and with the recent Criterion sale picked up the BluRay.  And I am not disappointed.  Appropriate buzzing, classic film nerds.

I have zero problem with a good, dark melodrama that bleeds into early noir, and, boy howdy, is this that.  Heck, I just like a good melodrama these days.*

The movie is about a woman (Gene Tierney) who, while going to spread her father's ashes with her mother and adopted sister (Jeanne Crain), meets an author (Cornel Wilde).  All are from Boston and find they enjoy one another's company and Wilde and Tierney fall for each other even though she's engaged to a politician (Vincent Price!) - which she breaks off long distance.  

Saturday, April 1, 2023

JLC Watch: Prom Night (1980)

Watched:  03/30/2023
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Paul Lynch

We decided to watch another Jamie Lee Curtis movie for a Friday party watch.  This one is a post-Halloween JLC, when I guess folks pegged her as a scream queen.  But this is JLC, so she never really screams, she just kind of kicks ass when she's drawn into the action.

I'd not previously seen Prom Night.  When Prom Night II was meme-ing a while back, I tried to watch it first, even though the two are utterly unrelated. At that time, the movie wasn't available for some reason, but now it is, and while a career retrospective of an actor like JLC who is constantly working is difficult, why not try to check off the boxes?  

The actual plot of the movie, if you break down what it is, is really good.  I liked it.  But, man, the execution was all over the place.  Some parts were really solid, and some just dragged on when the outcome of, say, a girl chased by a killer, is never in doubt.  At this point in the slasher cycle, I assume the audiences would know that?  I dunno.  I was 5.  

The set up is that a bunch of kids are playing in an empty building in 1972 and one of the little kids, while playing a tag-like game, falls from a window to her death.  Because kids are all sociopaths, they make a pact to never tell anyone they were there and the death is supposed to be tied to a child molester who escapes.

So, there's a lot going on in the first ten minutes.  

Flash forward to 8 years later as the kids are getting ready for prom, the death of the girl remembered on the anniversary - and maybe that molester guy has returned?  

Anyway - all of that is gold, and possibly culled from the story the movie is based on.  But, man, the movie itself is kind of weird and draggy from the set up to the last 30 minutes or so, which is really pretty good.  Consequently, there's 45 minutes of the world's boringest 20-somethings posing as teens, romantic rivalries that only kinda work, a Carrie-ish riff from a meangirl, and maybe too many characters who only ever raise up to the mark of mildly interesting.  

What you can see is that JLC kind of shines in the middle of all this without doing a lot.  She's just got star power, and is projecting waves of energy, which culminates in a dance sequence at the prom (JLC can dance, apparently!) and then when she takes on the killer.  

Leslie Nielsen is in this playing a straight role as JLC's dad and the principal of the school.  I have literally no idea why he is in this.  He only seems to have been there for a few days of shooting and gets top billing.  

If the movie could have been as consistently good as the beginning and end, I'd recommend it.  I can see why they went daffy with the sequel.  This movie is, in many ways, a tragedy dressed up as a horror film, and it makes everything kind of a bummer as the thing wraps.  But it's also not a police procedural, so I can see why it works as it does with high school kids at the center and cops at the periphery.


Friday, March 31, 2023

The Play's The Thing Watch: Deathtrap (1982)

Watched:  03/28/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Sidney Lumet

We watched Deathtrap (1982) in 2 parts, watching the first 30 minutes or so the night before we wrapped it up, finishing the last hour.  In between, I made comment to some pals that you don't see many movies about plays and the theatre, especially based on plays.  There are some, but not a lot.  There's a gulf in many folk's knowledge of Broadway other than that the tickets are pretty expensive when Spamelot! comes to town, but you pay it.  I expect this is a bit different for New Yorkers or Londoners, which an overwhelmingly vast majority of us are not, so movies have to be careful and ensure folks living in the suburbs know wtf they're talking about.

Still, you can do it and get away with it.  I can't name one of the movies we kicked around that I'd seen (Noises Off!, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, Chorus Line) that I don't like.  Probably should have squeezed in Cabaret for good measure.  

And, of course, I'm a Michael Caine stan, and the co-star is Christopher Reeve.  Plus: Dyan Cannon!  

It's a movie with a small cast, with Caine on screen > 75% of the time.  Sticking to the stageplay, it mostly takes place inside a single location of an East Hamptons house - something I assume means something to people from NYC and only marginally something to folks from Austin, TX.  

It's Caine as a failing playwright of comedic thrillers, his wealthy wife Dyan Cannon, and Christopher Reeve, who has written a brilliant play on his first go.  Caine realizes he can steal the play if he bumps off Reeve and takes it, putting his own name on it.

The set-up and set allows for amazing staging with props left over from Caine's prior shows scattered around, also his vintage collection of weapons, etc... 

For a play about plays, it doesn't get too in the weeds, I think, even as it probably was making jokes I wasn't quite getting referring to the theater scene.  It also has a very tight grip on the mechanics of thrillers - as it both is a thriller and talks about thrillers, and sometimes passes through the looking glass in a single scene where it becomes clear the action is mounting even as the characters discuss mechanics as they perform them.

That is really the astounding bit.  Loved it.

It's a sort of light-chuckle comedy for the most part - that's part of the mix when you're also writing a script with the fairly serious business of murder for personal gain.  Cannon's character is a Simon character with daffy quirks you know aren't just set dressing, and tossing in a psychic with an accent is a lot, but in it's better moments the thing works splendidly.


But the last scene was... not great.  Already it's hard to deal with a thriller that requires a wacky character to have what seems to be functioning ESP.  You've just entered magic into your thriller, plus a complete lack of boundaries from a stranger in a way that feels dishonest.  

Ha ha.  Got it.  She used her abilities to suss out the situation and made a buck off the two guys bumping each other off...  it's just not narratively very satisfying.  But it also feels very much like something in 1980 people would have found cute.  And cute is a weird f'ing turn for this movie to pursue in the final minutes of run time.  

Overall, I liked the movie, but it's really weird to watch something and feel like the movie absolutely fumbled on the one yard line.  Maybe a re-watch would get me to reconsider, but I don't know how inclined I am to a re-watch.

That said, Caine is typically phenomenal Caine, Reeve is fucking great, and Dyan Cannon is an absolute delight.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

PodCast 238: "Vertical Limit" (2000) - a SimonUK Cinema Series Episode w/ Ryan

Watched:  03/19/2023
Format:  AMC ondemand
Viewing: First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Martin Campbell

Why would we watch this movie? Because it's there! SimonUK and Ryan scale a mighty wall that is this 2000-era bonafide hit that has disappeared into thin air. Join us as we cling to the rock face of pre-Google movies, leap to conclusions, and feel our lungs filling with 90's-style action! It's not the Stallone movie from like 8 years earlier! It's the other mountain movie!



Opening - James Newton Howard, Vertical Limit OST 
MacArthur Park - Richard Harris

SimonUK Cinema Series

Monday, March 20, 2023

Doc Watch: Money Shot: The Pornhub Story (2023)

Watched:  03/19/2023
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Suzanne Hillinger

This was.... fine.  

Like it or not, Pornhub was the 12th most visited site in January 2023 (as of this writing), and when people had some time off, maybe the 3rd most visited site in December 2022.  In an era where we've shattered the monoculture, it's possible Pornhub is the great denominator.

A few years ago, I listened to a podcast that discussed the history of Pornhub, how it impacted pornography distribution, how that impacted performers, etc...  I won't get into it here, but that podcast was 2017, and this doc more or less blows past *all* of that in about twenty seconds to cover more recent history.  Given the title and stated agenda of the doc, it's a wild choice.  This doc is in no way a complete history of Pornhub, it's a dissection of a specific moment for Pornhub that is already fairly well known, was covered in the press, and which receives minimal new insight into the events probed, the inner workings of Pornhub, or much else.