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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

PODCAST: High-School Halloween Watch: "Vampire Circus" (1972) and "Innocent Blood" (1992)



Watched:  09/13/2019, 09/0152019
Format:  Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Viewing: Second/ First
Decade:  1970's/ 1990's

SimonUK and I rise from the grave with two more takes on the Vampire Genre! In the first film, vampires make a killing running a circus while carrying a grudge and harassing a small European town. In the other, Italian mafia stereotypes collide with a French vampire in a 90's-tastic take on The City of Brotherly Love, and we can't figure out which sangria anyone is drinking. It's a Halloween vampire fest!





Music:
Vampire Circus Suite - David Whitaker, Vampire Circus OST
Night - Jackie Wilson, A Woman,  Lover, a Friend


Halloween 2019



Halloween 2018

Thursday, October 10, 2019

PODCAST: High-School Halloween Watch: "Carrie" (1976) and "Jennifer's Body" (2009)




Watched:  Carrie 08/11 - Jennifer's Body 08/12
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  unknown, many/ First
Decade:  1970's/ 2000's

Maxwell and Ryan double dip on Halloween films and High School films for a frighteningly festive film review! We take a look at two films where two very different high school girls both manifest powers! What do these films examine? What's tucked in there between the, uh... murders and more murders? Maxwell takes the reins and Ryan tries to keep up as we ponder a horror classic and a new cult favorite!



Music:
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
Carrie's Theme - Pino Donaggio, Carrie OST
Through the Trees - Wilding as Low Shoulder, Jennifer's Body OST

Playlist - Halloween 2019


Playlist - High School Movies





Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bette Noir Watch: The Letter (1940)



Watched:  10/01/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I am well aware of the hurricane force that is Bette Davis, but for whatever reason, I don't wind up taking enough advantage of her expansive filmography.  Sometimes I feel genuine guilt in regards to this deficiency, and - as this Davis-induced-remorse had occurred once again recently - I decided to remedy the issue by force-marching Jamie through a 90 minute movie that, frankly, I knew nothing about.

A prestige picture of sorts from pre-war Warner Bros., The Letter (1940) makes not just for an interesting time capsule, but a fascinating melodrama and noir, punctuated by Davis' terrific performance.  With a script based upon a 1927 play (and previously made into a movie during the silent era), the material of the film is well honed, a tight, taught narrative with a number of fascinating characters and smart dialog.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thriller Watch: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)




Watched:  09/30/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I tell you kids, sometimes mid-century cinematic gender roles are a real killer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Noir Watch: Nocturne (1946)


Watched:  09/30/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Look.  They can't all be winners.  And, frankly, whatever draw George Raft had at one point as a huge movie star, I just... do not get.

The pieces are there for a solid noir film, but every scene feels like it's the second take after maybe three run-throughs.  Raft is wooden in the best of circumstances, but he sort of sets the tone for everyone else, bringing down the energy around near everyone but Queenie Smith, whom Raft seems to just sit back and enjoy during their shared scenes.

The movie follows the investigation of the suicide of a well-known song composer who also happens to go through women like they're on a conveyor belt coming to his door, not bothering to learn their names and calling them all "Dolores" (which never gets resolution or meaning in the film).  Raft plays the milk-drinking cop who becomes obsessed with the idea the guy was plugged.  Lynn Bari plays the dame who maybe did it.  Who, for reasons that are not at all clear, Raft decides he's fallen for.

The titular "Nocturne" is a song written by the composer, left unfinished when he died.

That's it.  That's the movie.  Raft running around questioning people, fighting improbably with his own bosses, and having his mom do all the real detective work.

Sure, the movie looks good - RKO knew who to put behind the camera (Harry J. Wild was no slouch in my book), and there's a good idea in there somewhere about a good cop who doesn't think a suicide is just that and wants to investigate it for murder.  But at the end of the day, we don't know much about the victim, we know less about the cop's dogged motivation, and the movie tips its hand as to what's happening at the 30 minute mark.  Honestly - that's just strange.

I really, really did not like this movie, so I think I will stop writing about it now.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

PODCAST - Halloween Watch: "An American Werewolf in London" (1981)/ "Ginger Snaps" (2000) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  08/16/2019
Format:  BluRay/ DVD
Viewing:  unknown/ First
Decade:  1980's/ 2000's

It's Halloween 2019! SimonUK and Ryan kick off the spooky season with a pair of scare-tacular films about coming to grips with change. And, of course, discovering you're now kinda undead and become a blood-thirsty kill-machine when the moon is particular round. We talk new-classic An American Werewolf in London (1981) and horror-icon-contender Ginger Snaps (2000).




Music:
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
An American Werewolf in London Suite - Elmer Bernstein, An American Werewolf in London OST
Bad Moon Rising - CCR, man, Green River


Halloween 2019 Playlist



Last Year's Halloween episodes:

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Netflix Watch: Between Two Ferns - the Movie (2019)



Watched:  09/22/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I am well aware that Zach Galifianakis is not a fit to everyone's comedy palette.   I may be one of two people I know who is sad that the FX series Baskets has drawn to a conclusion (and both of those people live in this house), and while I am aware people liked him as a supporting player in The Hangover films, that hasn't necessarily translated into leading-man-comedian status after several mid-budget Hollywood films came and went. 

Not long ago, SimonUK and I were discussing the difference between American comedy and British comedy, and the conversation boiled down to "I think Americans like a trickster underdog who gets it over on a pompous bully, and Brits like a buffoon who has no idea he is his own problem."  Galifianakis's Funny or Die based web-series Between Two Ferns sits somewhere uncomfortably in the middle - Galifianakis playing a version of himself as a local basic cable public access host who somehow lands everyone from Charlize Theron to former (and then sitting) President Barack Obama.  It's punching up comedy - he's deflating any sense of self-importance a Hollywood-type might have - but doing so as a buffoon lacking any notion of the impact of his questions, and - amazingly - he's pretty irritable with his guests. 

The web series makes for a fascinating watch, partly because you can see which Hollywood folk are comfortable enough in their own skin to actually sit through one of the interviews, which can actually deliver some devastating questions (the only direction the guests seem to be given is: deadpan).  Some engage, returning the favor, others simply go blank, and it's always just a long, awkward gag. 

There's something of a story to Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) - essentially it posits that Galifiankis is a NC-based public tv host who has been picked up by Funny or Die, and coked-up CEO of FoD, Will Ferrell, sends his Hollywood pals to do the access show as a gag and to drive clicks.  A taping goes horribly wrong, but as the outcome, Ferrell sends Zach and his crew on the road to get 10 new episodes recorded in 2 weeks.  If he makes it, he gets a fancy late night talk show.

As one would assume, the film is more or less a road picture as the crew heads East to West, catching celebrity interviews along the way (Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, etc...), en route to deliver the episodes to Ferrell's desk.  So, if you like rough sketches on the road and the web-interview format of Between Two Ferns, I have some good news for you. 

The supporting cast of Jiavani Linayao, Ryan Gaul and Lauren Lapkus really are pretty hilarious, but so are a lot of the interviewees, whether it's the interview clips or the ostensible documentary footage that we're supposed to be watching.  Special hat tip to Chrissy Tiegen for her part (and, of course, John Legend).  And I hadn't seen Mary Scheer in anything in a decade, but I swear she makes the absolute f'ing most of her 2 minutes of screentime.  holy cats.

I dunno.  I thought it was hilarious, but this is a true Your Mileage May Vary film.  I assume many people do not care at all for Between Two Ferns, in which case... this isn't going to improve that for you.





Thursday, September 19, 2019

Horror Watch: Hello Mary Lou - Prom Night 2 (1987)



Watched:  09/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

I sometimes listen to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, but usually only to episodes featuring movies I've seen.  And it may be a testament to my poor choice in movie viewing that I've seen about 2/3rds of the movies the show covers.  But, I had not seen Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987), which they covered with very special guest stars, Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.

I'm not sure I share their unbridled enthusiasm for the movie, but as a post-Carrie, post Nightmare on Elm Street, mid-horro-budget Canadian horror film - I could see the charm in the movie.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Catch-Up Watch: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)


Watched:  09/11/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I wouldn't say this movie was mismarketed, exactly.  But how reviews I read described it made it sound exceedingly joyless, but interesting.  The premise held enough promise that I planned to get to it eventually, but wasn't in a mad dash to do so.  However, Jamie watched it somewhere along the line when I was off at a breakdance party or whatever I do, and informed me it was very much in my wheelhouse, and, indeed, she was correct.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) is the true story of Lee Israel, an NYC based writer of bios of celebs of bygone eras (she's working on a Fanny Brice book during the movie's circa 1991 timeframe), which don't really sell, so she tries to hold copy-editing positions, etc...  to pay the bills.  But as a caustic, misanthropic drunk, turns out holding a job can be tough. 

She becomes re-acquainted with a down-on-his luck bon vivant, played by the always-amazing Richard E. Grant (a charming drunk, here), just about the time she has some bills due (cat gets sick), and has to make some money, quick.  Through a series of small discoveries, she learns of the world of memorabilia and letter collectors, and begins forging letters supposedly penned by luminaries long since passed, including everyone from Noel Coward to Louise Brooks. 

Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and it's not exactly a revelation to see her this good - I think she's kinda brilliant as a comic actor, so seeing what she can do with a dramatic part was a "well, sure" revelation.  She's always been so specific, with undercurrents and layers of sympathy, pathos, and thoughtfulness, even in goofy stuff like The Heat (which I really enjoy, y'all), doing same but for a dramatic role makes sense.  And, it seems, the work done here by she and Grant earned them both Oscar nods.*

Because the arc of the film is fairly obvious, I'll refrain from spoilers.  Instead, I'll just tip my hat to the actual technical work, character work, and script.  Director Marielle Heller has a sparse directing and acting filmography, but seems to know how to get a performance, and I'm now doubly interested in the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Mr. Rogers biopic coming, as she's the one wearing the puffy director's pants there, too. 

I also quite liked the DP work by Brandon Trost, and almost laughed out loud seeing this is the same DP as the Crank movies, which I'll just let all of us ponder if we think we ever have someone's style nailed down. 

Anyhoo... I'm just recommending this one.  Give it a go.


*which... honestly, we should be expecting movies with these levels of performance in movies all the time, but that's reserved for TV these days.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sci-Fi Watch: Brainstorm (1983)



Watched:  09/10/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

There are a whole bunch of movies that are not the same movie that I thought were the same movie that came out between 1980 and 1987, that all have sort of meaningless names, and I thought were the same movie.  Brainstorm (1983) is one of these movies.

The thing is, I'm not even sure what is what, but these movies all had pictures of people wearing headgear or having lasers pointed at their brains and often had to do with virtual realities, walking around in people's dreams, stuff like that.  I guess.  All I know is that, from this pile, I had never seen Brainstorm despite very much remembering the box collecting dust at Video Station and Video III when I was a kid.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Gaiman Watch: Stardust (2007)



Watched:  09/06/2019
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's

I have to say - the marketing team absolutely dropped the ball advertising Stardust (2007).  I recall hearing the movie was coming, based on Gaiman that I hadn't yet read, saw the trailer and decided: eh, I'm good.

My memory of the trailer was that it looked like a doofy guy trying to woo Claire Danes in the basket of a hot air balloon or some such.  I wouldn't say I took a hard pass, but I didn't see it til 2019, so...

Very, very Neil Gaiman in character and ideas, the movie has the feel of a familiar fairy tale or legend, but spun from pieces of zeitgeisty-concepts and all new notions.  Castles, kings, pirates, magic, rights of ascension...  There's the matter-of-factness of a 19th Century story for children in the telling, which uses that semi-lecturey tone to insist "of course there's a fairy-tale land with witches.  Everyone knows this."   And whether we respond to this as adults out of nostalgia or training, I can't say - but it's a great way to frame a story. 

Kaiju Watch: Godzilla - King of the Monsters (2019)

be careful.  Even under the sea, you can step on a Lego


Watched:  09/04/2019
Format:  Google Fiber Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

In all fairness, at least two of you people warned me.

I didn't care much for 2014's Godzilla, the first in the series to relaunch Big-G from an American studio, leaping from Toho Studios to WB/ Legendary.  It didn't help that the movie was pitched as a Bryan Cranston vehicle at the height of Breaking Bad's popularity, and then removed him from the story about 1/3rd of the way in leaving us with an uninspired story about two characters who never were much beyond their wardrobe of "soldier" and "nurse".  We got Ken Watanabe in practically a walk-on role and Sally Hawkins as his sorta side-kick, but neither was given much to do but stare in awe at screens.

The movie was followed by Kong: Skull Island (2017), which I was in the minority as finding kind of boring and relying too much on Toho's take on prior renditions of King Kong rather than the 1933 original, for which I have a deep love.  I didn't find the way it "borrowed" from Apocalypse Now particularly charming or even appropriate.  The movie turned Brie Larson into a talking tank top, and if you asked me what happened in the movie to whom, I couldn't tell you.  Something something MONARCH.  But it also assembled a wild array of A and B list talent including Marvel heroes and villains taking a side-gig.  Ditching the notion that Kong would leave Skull Island in this episode, instead we're stuck with "look how many ways soldiers and scientists can die over the span of 90 minutes", which is a formula I mostly find deadly dull.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Aeroplane Watch: The Dawn Patrol (1938)


Watched:  09/01/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930s

This is, apparently, the second version of the same story.  Just this weekend Jamie and I were discussing reboots and relaunches, and I made some noise about "well, they've always remade popular stuff" and this is a pretty good example.  The first version of The Dawn Patrol from 1930, I have not seen.  This remake comes from just eight years later with a shift in casting as Elynn, Niven and Rathbone step in front of the lens.

The Dawn Patrol has curious timing - released in 1938 as the US was watching Germany roll over Europe.  It's an anti-war film, and I found the Wikipedia entry on the film a bit odd, shrugging it's shoulders and saying they were romanticizing combat aviation because of high numbers of deaths, etc... that were part of the genre but gave it kudos for showing the scars of the commanders sending out the untrained pilots.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hitch Watch: The Wrong Man (1956)



Watched:  08/21/2019
Format: TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

I had no idea what this movie was about prior to giving it a watch, so real quick:

Directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, this is based on a true story (apparently?) of a musician who goes to his insurance company to see if he can take out on a loan his wife's life insurance for some dental work, only to be identified by the clerks as the man who committed two robberies of the company in the prior 9 months or so.  The police pick him up, assuring him that if he didn't do it, there's nothing to worry about, but in a line-up, he's identified by multiple witnesses (the robber also hit a few stores) and even his handwriting sample seems to match.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Lego Watch: Lego Movie 2 - The Second Part (2019)


Watched:  08/15/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I just checked Box Office Mojo and if you want to weep for humanity, this movie made $190 million and Minions made over a billion dollars.  I think I'm beginning to understand how we reached our current state as a people.

Anyhoo...

If you haven't seen Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), it's now streaming, so now's a second chance. 

With the device revealed at the finale of the first Lego Movie, and a reasonable assumption being that we understand that the adventures of the movie are in part a kid playing with Lego and in part a kid working things out - the movie is able to play a bit more with the premise. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chandler Watch: Marlowe (1969)



Watched: 08/14/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

People take a lot of liberties when adapting Raymond Chandler novels to screen.  It's not a huge surprise.  After all, Chandler's books are winding, complicated, and don't exactly make it easy to translate Marlowe's inner-monologue or exposition in a way that's easy to cram into 90 - 120 minutes and keep the audience with you.  To this day, people complain The Big Sleep is "too complicated".

It's been a while since I read The Little Sister, I think the fifth Marlowe novel and the work upon which the studio based Marlowe (1969).   Between reading several Chandler novels in a row at that time and years inbetween, not every detail of the plot had stuck with me, but impressions of various characters remained, and as the movie unspooled, it did provide me with a roadmap and certain expectations for the film that gave me a leg up vis-a-vis following the plot and keeping up.  A glance at some contemporary reviews suggest that even Ebert and Siskel found it a bit muddled.

Still, the story sticks surprisingly close to the novel, updating some factors for 1969 that would have looked very different in the original setting of 1949.  And, I'll argue, while people feel like they've got a grip on Chandler by way of reputation, in practice his novels tend to feel like a morass of detail until the denouement.  That's part of the fun (and Hammett did same in books like The Thin Man).

Spooktacular Watch: Supernatural (1933)



Watched:  08/14/2019
Format:  Alamo S. Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's

Say what you will about Austin, but I just got home from a Tuesday 9:30 PM showing of a 1933 horror movie almost no one has seen who is currently alive, and the place was hopping.  I know this is true in other cities, but this one is mine.

For whatever reason I enjoy what the studios were up to with horror in the pre-Atomic Age films, a mix of the occult, mythical beasts, ghost stories and sometimes just creepy old houses with a Boris Karloff in them.  Supernatural (1933) would have come out on the heels of Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) in the era where not just Universal, but other studios, were getting in on the horror genre and the Hayes office wasn't yet really enforcing any codes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

MST3K Watch: Killer Fish (1979)



Watched:  08/12/2019
Format:  Netflix MST3K - The Gauntlet
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Sometimes movie stars just want to take a vacation and maybe shoot a movie while they're there.  You see it all the time in these peculiar movies that don't look very good but star people who actually cost some money - and the movie is in, say, Hawaii.  They're called "postcard movies", and the deal is usually that the star maybe asks for less because they're being put up in a really nice hotel in Maui for two months to make some romcom or whatever.  Their family comes out and they go boogie-boarding on their days off.

I kind of suspect something similar was afoot in 1979 when Killer Fish went into production.  The movie doesn't have the world's biggest stars, but in '79 Lee Majors was a pretty big deal and Karen Black was still bankable.  I imagine selling the movie as "come down to Rio de Janeiro for a couple months" was a pretty good deal.  I'd also mention, this movie was part of the short-lived Fawcett-Majors Productions, a go at producing from when Lee Majors and Farah Fawcett were Hollywood's foremost couple.  And, no, you've never heard of this movie or the other films that they produced.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Western Watch: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)



Watched:  08/11/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR from a looooong time ago
Viewing:  first
Decade:  1940's

Well.  Between this and The Lost Weekend, I picked quite the double-bill for the weekend.

I mean, I knew.  I'd rented this movie twice in college but when I'd think about what it was about, I'd never hit "play" on the ol' VCR.  And I'd recorded it a half-dozen times on the DVR and never watched it.  But this time I did.

The Ox-Bow Incident (1942) is about a small town in the old west who finds out that a local rancher has been killed, and so they pull together a posse to go track down the killers.  It's a mish-mash of local color and yahoos, rationalizing why they don't need to follow the rules, exactly, and supported by the ineptitude and slack nature of some local authority.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Wilder Watch: The Lost Weekend (1945)



The Lost Weekend (1945) is one of those movies that you always know you should watch, but when you know what it's about, it's sort of hard to get fired up to put on.  But with Billy Wilder behind the camera and with a "co-written by" credit, it did nudge me toward "okay...", and knowing it featured Ray Milland, whom I like well enough, and Howard Da Silva, whom I really like, it put it in the "yeah, I need to see that" direction.

But in the past month two things happened.  (1) I read that Wilder wrote the movie after working with Raymond Chandler to write Double Indemnity.  Chandler certainly suffered from alcohol addiction and, as it will, the addiction impacted his professional and personal life.  I'm unclear on whether Chandler was dry during Double Indemnity, but I'm also sure working with Wilder would drive him to drink.  While the two never got along, it's noteworthy that whatever he saw and respected in Chandler was mixed up with how he saw his alcoholism.  (2) Our own JimD referenced the movie and asked me when the last time was that I'd seen it, which was "never".  Mid-tweet response I decided to watch the movie this weekend.