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

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Disney Holiday Watch: Dashing Through the Snow (2023)

Watched:  11/19/2023
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Tim Story

First, the name of this movie is terrible and sounds like it was changed by Disney at some point, giving it a nonsensical, generic holiday name.  Dashing Through the Snow (2023) is not what one should name a movie filmed in a part of the American South which rarely sees snow.  And while a few flakes fall in the movie, it feels tacked on when it happens, and, of course, there is no accumulation.  Ergo: while dashing absolutely happens, no dashing occurs in or through the snow.

This is your standard family movie about a parent who does not believe in Santa, has a child who does, and, of course, Santa is real and takes them on an adventure where Dad learns to believe in Santa, Christmas, family, etc...  via shenanigans.  That this is a predictable formula feels weird, but here we are.

But that doesn't mean any movie is *bad*, it just means we have a framework, and that means it's about execution.  Written and directed by Tim Story, one of the workingest directors in Hollywood, Dashing Through the Snow brings the formula to Atlanta and casts Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges as Eddie, our skeptical dad.  He's on the outs from his wife (played by The Marvels' Teyonah Parris* and officially the tipping point for why I chose to watch this movie) who leaves his daughter with Eddie - a busy, work-aholic dad who is a mental health crisis counselor who takes the calls from the cops when someone might jump.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Marvel Watch: The Marvels (2023)

Watched:  11/09/2023
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse
Viewing:  First
Director:  Nia DaCosta

Marvel has been having some issues, of late, with quality and maintaining a fanbase.  I'm not sure why having a fanbase for sci-fi/ fantasy stuff means eventually that the absolute worst people on Earth feel like their opinions should dictate what the rest of the planet sees and what constitutes a "good" Marvel, Star Wars or whatever movie.  But I suppose it's the same reason that people think they get to tell other people they're the only *real* Americans.

I don't want to define the film Captain Marvel or TV show Ms. Marvel by the audience that manages to mix misogyny and racism into rocket fuel for social media, but I will say - in the event of this year's strike by SAG-AFTRA, it's been tough to get much in the way of promotion out there for The Marvels other than dropping trailers, and that's left a gap in the conversation those folks have filled.  It's more likely we'll see the occasional hit-piece by a major industry publication looking for clicks than Disney doing anything worthwhile to actually promote the film on their own.  We coulda really used the lead cast hitting Hot Ones and Good Morning America.

Look, I agree:  Marvel has put out too much content since Endgame, and that's had a deleterious effect on the overall quality of the material.  Even I have been asking "will this be necessary?" as I hear about each new Marvel thing still in the pipeline.  And sometimes you're watching, say, Loki Season 2, and you're thinking "I literally do not care what happens here" because something like "oh noes, the timelines will all collapse" is both meaningless, up it's own ass of the story being about itself, and insanely old hat to us aging comic nerds who've seen timelines and multiverses collapse and expand over and over for our *entire lives*.  And, yes, Superman will still get printed every month.

Movie superheroes still have to have an antagonist, and they still have to wind up in a big crescendo of a finale, but we've seen this dozens of times in the past fifteen years.  You can polish it, put a new coat of paint on it, but eventually it's someone in a slugfest with their evil opposite who has the advantage on paper (but not the heart of a hero).

So what you have left is what you can do with characters.

And that brings us to The Marvels (2023), Marvel Studios' latest offering.  

The movie has mediocre reviews and is tracking to open badly.  I haven't read the reviews, because (a) I already had tickets and was going, and (b) I kinda wanted to write this before I saw what Chris Spectacles of the Akron Observer thought of the film.*  And I didn't want this review to be me addressing the concerns of reviewers.  

I saw it in a 2/3rds full theater on opening night, and with not a child in sight.  I will say the following up top:  

First - there's no post-post-credits sequence to wait for.  Go home after the first couple of them.  This is not a trick.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

D&D Watch: Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

I don't know who that @#$%ing dragon is, because he's not in the movie

Watched:  11/07/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director(s):  John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein

Ok.  So.

Back when I was probably too young to be playing, my brother picked up the basic boxed set of Dungeons and Dragons rules in the fall of 1982.  From probably 1982 to around 1987 or so, we played the game regularly, making our way swiftly to Advanced D&D and the much more fun rule books and catalogs of monsters, spells, what-have-you that comprised D&D in the 1980's.  

We didn't so much quit playing Dungeons and Dragons as move on to other games.  Our interest in the fantasy world and complex rule systems of that game depleting as we found sci-fi games, games based on popular comic books, movies, etc...  

I could not tell you when I last played D&D itself, but I assume probably 7th grade.  And, I don't think I've touched a tabletop RPG since college.  I don't have a problem with them, but we all just sort of stopped making time for them.  Clearly I am into dork stuff that often shares retail space with RPG materials, so it's not that.  I just don't hang with people who game, I guess.

There's a lot of water under the bridge with Dungeons and Dragons itself, which has been sold and resold as a property, and now belongs to an offshoot of Hasbro.  I won't get into the history of D&D here, or why everything is stupidly complicated, but we'll just leave it at: people are complex and companies often make bad decisions.

But a curious thing happened.  

Monday, October 30, 2023

HalloWatch: Werewolf of London (1935)

Watched:  10/29/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stuart Walker

Every year, Jamie and I each carve a jack 'o lantern.  Usually we put on a movie something we've seen before, often a comedy or horror-comedy.  But this year I squeezed in one of my Halloween bucket movies for the year, but I can only say I *partially* watched this one, because I was also carving a pumpkin and then cleaning up the aftermath.

this year's effort.  Jamie's Dracula on the left, my ghoul on the right

I had just never gotten around to Werewolf of London (1935), which is a bit of a surprise even to me.  I am a fan of Lon Chaney's take on The Wolfman that would pop up 5 years later, but I never make it through the rest of the werewolf films in the box set.  I'm trying to get a picture of 1930's and 40's horror, one Halloween at a time, and have tried to watch offerings from Universal and RKO.  Also, I exist in the same world as Warren Zevon, so you'd think I'd eventually just be curious to see the damn movie.

The plot is nowhere near as tight as The Wolfman, and the performances not as punctuated.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't have anything to offer.  I liked the make-up, the transformation FX, and the general idea of the story.  

Scientists visit Tibet to find a flower they've heard only blooms in moonlight, and while securing the plant, are attacked by a werewolf.  Returned home, renowned biologist, Wilfred Glendon, begins acting anti-social and ignoring his wife (played by Bride of Frankenstein's Valerie Hobson), who just happens to have her childhood boyfriend show up at the same time.  A doctor Yogami appears and is also looking for the flower, which he says alleviates the symptoms of werewolfery.  

Anyway, mayhem ensues, the doctors both are werewolves, etc...

All in all, it's really not bad, but the lead - unlike most Universal films - doesn't really have a sympathetic motivation in the same way we see Larry Talbot - a victim of chance.  There's a dash more Jekyll and Hyde to the story than in the case of The Wolfman, but not enough to get hung up on thinking it's borrowing too heavily.   

In general, it's an okay movie.  I didn't dislike it, and will watch it again with my full attention.  A highlight was seeing Valerie Hobson in another movie shot at literally the same time as Bride of Frankenstein, but given far more to do.  She's good!  

But, yeah, I need to watch it again next year to say much more.  But I've 100% seen far worse.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

HalloWatch: X (2022)

Watched:  10/27/2023
Format:  Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ti West

A xerox of a xerox of movies you've seen before, the greatest sin of X, the 2022 horror smash, is that it's fundamentally boring.  

Look, I don't make the movies, I just watch them, and when you're drawing obvious comparisons to your own movie, in the movie, and you choose to draw the audience's attention to Psycho (which I happened to have just watched), you're soft-breaking the cardinal movie rule of not showing a better movie during your own movie.  But, yes, the movie is a slow build for literally the first hour of people making a porn film in a rustic cabin on some farmer's property in the middle of East Texas nowhere, with some light hints that something is up with the elderly owners of the farm/ ranch-land where the filming is taking place.

The problem with this, imho, is that Writer/ Director Ti West is under the impression that by borrowing Psycho's slow build and pivot, which he calls out, he's doing the same thing.  But we're 62 years on, we've all seen a lot of movies, and at this point I was looking at my watch instead of the movie when we don't get our first kill til 58 minutes into a 105 minute film.  I don't know how to tell Ti West - my man, Hitch did this 30 years into perfecting tension in movies.  This ain't that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hallo-Watch: The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Watched:  10/17/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Joe May

Well, I've seen The Invisible Man a few times and am a fan.  What I had not done is watch any of the sequels.  I thought now was maybe the time to watch another one in the series - especially as it stars a very early career Vincent Price, before he was even associated with horror.

So... this is not considered a great movie by film history.  It's... fine.  Vincent Price is clearly having a good time and is carrying most of the movie here.  

It's an excuse to try out out new Invisible Man techniques, which are mostly pretty effective, some of which is pretty great as they make good on the "what if he's seen in a fog or in the rain?" questions from the first film.  I wasn't sure how well that would work in 1940, and the answer is: surprisingly well.  Bonus:  you also get a silhouette of Vincent Price in what was likely a unitard.  

The plot is about a guy framing Price for murder, and he uses the chemicals from the first movie to get invisible, knowing madness is coming so he has to solve the crime, and he's tasked Jack Griffin's younger brother with finding an antidote while he does so.  

If the first one had any scares as well as camp, this one knows how to keep it interesting, but the fear of what a madman would do is kept to a minimum.  The film takes off - and predicts Price at his best in the coming decades - when he's given room to rant and rave as the drugs kick in, so to speak.  He's just making a meal out of his scenes and everyone else is keeping up.  

Anyway, as a Universal Horror fan, it's probably territory to check out, but won't deliver as well as other sequels.  For Vincent Price fans, it's a good look at early Price as he's also being cast as an erudite cad over in noir films.  

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Hallo-Watch: The Exorcist III (1990)

Watched:  10/15/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  William Peter Blatty

Way, way back in the 1980's my brother and I went on a spree of renting "movies you should watch" that included Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and The Exorcist.  It was... a lot for my 14-year-old self, and it was quite the impactful set of viewings as we watched the movies in pairs but over just 2 weekends.  

I can't remember which I watched with The Exorcist.  What I do remember is that there was a lightning storm while we watched it, and at some key point in the film I pushed back the curtain in the living room to look at the weather, and lightning hit nearby, making me see my own reflection in the glass, and I about wet myself.

The movie worked.  I won't say The Exorcist is my favorite horror film, I've only seen it twice.  But I get why it's held in such high regard and in no way do I dispute those arguments.  

Following that viewing, I was told "nah, the sequels are bad, and don't watch them", so I did not.  But this last month with the release of Exorcist: The Believer, aficionados popped out of the woodwork to discuss the franchise, and it seemed that folks were in agreement that The Exorcist III, based on the novel Legion by Exorcist novelist and screenwriter William Peter Blatty - and written and directed by same, was a slam dunk.

Again, I'm hard pressed to disagree.

Hallo-Watch: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Watched:  10/12/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Tobe Hooper

I was in no rush to watch the sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but JAL informed me that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 takes place during Texas/ OU Weekend, and, well, that's a thing around these parts.  

When I started college in the 1990's, my family did not pay any attention to UT football or tradition, and so I was unaware of what was then called The Red River Shootout, when the University of Texas and Oklahoma University football teams meet half-way in Dallas for their annual, early October game at the Cotton Bowl.  So I was very confused when, half-way through my first semester, campus emptied out as folks went to Dallas or otherwise disappeared during the day on a game day.*

Anyway - none of that is relevant except that the film starts on the Thursday or Friday night prior to the game as two dumb-ass frat guys, headed from Austin to Dallas for a weekend of debauchery, run afoul of Leatherface and family on the road (the scene is filmed in scenic Bastrop, using what is now a pedestrian bridge).   

I feel for Tobe Hooper.  He was never really wired to work within the studio-system, but that he did in order to get this movie made.  A glance at Wikipedia tells me that the studio did the thing of hiring the guy who made Texas Chainsaw Massacre, saw the glossless, raw movie that it was, and said "yes, but what if we didn't do that".  Hooper's response seems to have been "well, but what if we did, though?" and he took the dark comedy elements of the first film and made them wackier.  I mean, at the end of the day, this is a horror comedy, which was something I didn't really grok a month ago.

Moving from a farm house in the sticks to an abandoned roadside attraction made from dilapidated Quonset huts that's somehow subterranean? and a radio station, this one replays some of the greatest hits and amps things up for comedic effect.   We learn that maybe Leatherface is just a lonely heart, and Dennis Hopper is in this movie, but they had to have only had him for about a week.  Man, Hopper would sign up for *anything*.  

The star of the movie is Caroline Williams, playing Vanita "Stretch" Brock, a radio DJ who takes the call from the two frat-dudes as they get chain-sawed.  She gets involved in the investigation, agreeing to play bait as she replays the tape, which draws the family out of hiding.  

As I've commented elsewhere, I have come to appreciate that horror fans will embrace an actor and give them a whole career if that person wins them over in a role, and you will not be surprised to learn that Caroline Williams has been working steadily since this film in and out of horror.

Anyway, the shock was not that of the first film, but it's not a throw-away sequel.  It's a solid follow-up, even if the tone is wildly different.  Who knew you could do that with a movie about a family that has really figured out a solid chili recipe?

*it is a reasonable assumption that Univ. of Texas' main rival is Texas A&M University, but it's arguable that UT thinks of OU as our main rival and Texas A&M as the annoying relation who lives down the road.  Texas Tech *thinks* they're UT's rival, but we don't think about them much at all.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

PodCast 255: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) - Halloween 2023 w/ JAL and Ryan

Watched:  09/30/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Tobe Hooper

JAL and Ryan get a little off the beaten path in their homestate of Texas, The Friendship State. It's rural roads, roadtrips and tasty BarBQ all the way down as they make new pals and learn the importance of family.



Halloween and Horror - all films playlist

Hallo-Watch: No One Will Save You (2023)

Watched:  10/10/2023
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Director:  Brian Duffield

There's a type of movie that I call a Roller Coaster film.  I don't think this is a common term, I think I made it up, but who knows?  Maybe I stole it from somewhere and forgot.  I use the term to refer to movies that offer a visceral experience on a first viewing, often something you likely can't repeat on a second viewing.

These movies rely on a lot of sheer thrill and pacing more than plotting or character exploration.  They'll insert some tidbits and whatnot as the movie progresses so it's got something of a story, but you're there for the experience, not to learn a little moral homily.  One of my favorites of this type of film was seeing Gravity in 3D.  That was awesome on the big screen with stuff flying everywhere, and I'll never watch it again as I'll never see it in 3D again.  I'd also point to the Crank movies as rocket rides.  There's a lot of examples, and I'm sure you can point to a few.

No One Will Save You (2023) is absolutely a Roller Coaster movie, but I might rewatch it some time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Watched:  10/09/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Florey

I'd heard Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) mentioned a lot as part of Universal's early offerings in their Dracula and Frankenstein adjacent period.  It's considered part of that first wave and thus foundational as horror was being created on the fly for talkies.  Lugosi had turned down the part of the monster in Frankenstein and was looking for actory roles, and up popped this adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe tale.

Carl Laemmle, who ran Universal at the time, didn't actually think much of horror, so basing his movies on known literature probably eased his conscience a bit.

Poe's original short story is credited as the first modern detective story.  The lead, Dupin, uses logic and reason to deduce what occurred, not something common to the literary world in most stories of the time.  This form of detective fiction would quickly become mastered by others, and you get Sherlock Holmes and how we think of a *lot* of modern fiction - pretty much anything with a central mystery.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Hallo-Watch: The Dog Who Saved Halloween (2011)

Watched:  10/07/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First and Last
Director: i don't care

Here's a thing I didn't know until last night:  for all the complaints about the connected universe of Marvel movies, there's been a universe of movies out there that live somewhere just below the Air Bud/ Buddies franchise and just above the world of movies like A Talking Cat !?!.   This franchise stars the brother of Kevin James (who, before I realized he actually is the brother of Kevin James referred to him as "Dollar Store Kevin James") and a yellow lab that doesn't really wise-crack so much as just say shit to fill awkward spaces.  

At the end of the movie, it was agreed:  despite having seen movies like Santa With Muscles, Bailey the Christmas Hero and innumerable other absolute pieces of shit movies - this one was just offensively bad and maybe one of the worst.  And Dug, K, Jamie and I curate bad movies.

It's hard to say what makes a bad movie. We can all have a chuckle at a misfire that shoots too high and misses, or is just misguided (see: Cats).  And I know some folks find it distasteful to enjoy the swing-and-a-miss of a no-budget movie that just wasn't ever going to work (see: most of MST3K's fodder).  And I appreciate the bottom-feeders of the Hollywood ecosystem who have found a way to generate money by making absolute trash they clearly shot over 3-5 days, making it up as they went along, and being savvy enough to make something someone will accidentally pay to see (see: Santa's Summer House).

But this movie seems somehow even more cynical.  It's depending on parents to see the formula of Holiday + Talking Animal, covered by everyone from Disney to fly-by-night sometimes soft-pornographers, and leaving their kid in front of the TV without caring at all what plays on screen in a post Air Bud/ Buddies world. 

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Disney's Haunted Mansion (2023)

Watched:  10/05/2023
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Justin Simien

So, like many-a-product of the second half of the 20th century, I have a fondness for the Disney Parks and, especially, The Haunted Mansion ride.  I can easily recall my first time on the thing, sometime around 4th grade, and riding in a "doombuggy" with The Admiral and having a grand old time (core memory, as the kids say).  Since, I've been to Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom, and have no preference for which is which.  Both have excellent Haunted Mansion rides.  So, yeah, I'm predisposed on this IP.

Following the crazy success of making a story and movie around the ride and putting it in theaters with Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney tried to do this again a few ways.  Though, I have no idea how there is not a Space Mountain movie  I mean, come on.  But they did previously try a different Haunted Mansion movie starring no less than Eddie Murphy, and that movie did - fine at the box office.  It is exactly what you think a 2003 attempt at such a thing might be.  I think.  At least the first fifteen minutes is utterly predictable, unfunny and I didn't make it further than those first fifteen minutes before giving up.  But this post isn't about that movie.

There's also a 2021 Disney+ direct Muppets Haunted Mansion thing, which is cute and understands the ride and Halloween, plus Muppet humor.  And it has Taraji P. Henson, so it has my vote.  

Hope for box office springs eternal, and while Disney only made, like, $180 million on the first movie, meaning it wasn't the massive, unbelievable success of Johnny Depp playing Keith Richards in a hat, they decided to go again for 2023.  And, friends, Disney's Haunted Mansion (2023) absolutely tanked.  It made only $114 million on a budget much higher that that.  And that difference you're noticing between the 2003 and 2023 box office does not account for inflation.  So, yeah.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

PodCast 254: "Day Of The Dead" (1985) - Halloween 2023 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  08/16/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  George Romero

SimonUK and Ryan are back from the grave and have holed up to bring you their take on the third of the Romero zombie trilogy. We ponder cave-dwelling, budget alterations, and who you want to throw in with when things go south.



Day of the Dead Main Titles - John Harrison

Signal Watch Halloween and Horror Playlist

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Pre-Code Watch: Thirteen Women (1932)

Watched:  10/01/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Archainbaud

So, I became aware of this movie via the You Must Remember This podcast during an episode discussing the ill-fated Peg Entwistle, the actress who famously threw herself from the H in the "Hollywood" sign when her career stalled.  I was also aware this was one of several pre-Thin Man films in which Myrna Loy (praise be her name) appears as an Asian character/ person of mixed heritage.*

It's a tight hour-long movie, and more thriller than horror, although there's quasi/ possibly supernatural elements.  

The movie was only semi-available for a while, then in the Internet Archive and other places in pieces, but now it's at Criterion and looks and sounds terrific.

Here's your story:  a group of former sorority pals are still in touch, writing chain letters (this is 1932 and facebook is not a thing).  At some point, one of them decided to start reaching out to a famed Yogi/ Swami to get her horoscope, and suggested all of the girls do the same.  But as the horoscopes trickle in, they predict death and chaos.  We see one of the girls, a sister-act circus acrobat, learn someone will die in her act, and she immediately drops her sister to her death, and goes mad.  Entwistle's characters kills her husband with a knife, I believe, and she's out of her only performance well before the half-way mark.

As more members of the friend circle are picked off, we learn there's a mysterious and exotic beauty (Myrna Loy) paired with the Swami, but she's pulling the strings using some form of hypnosis.

It's a fascinating, exploitative film relying on an absurd premise and set-up.  featuring a largely female cast - thrusting Irene Dunne into the lead as a widower who is neither overly skeptical nor biting on the power of the stars hook, line and sinker.  It's also kind of sexy in that pre-Code manner of suggesting lots of sex off-screen as Loy's character bewitches dudes who are useful to her.  

The only real mystery is the "why" of the murders and chaos.  And, as it turns out, we never really, fully find out.  But it seems the sorority had been responsible for making Loy's life hell at the school, and forced her to leave after working and scraping to get in and afford it.  A "half-caste", she's half "Hindu" and half-Anglo, and fits in with neither.  Although the movie's most eye-poppingly racist moment isn't the reveal that the women we've been so worried about were maybe terrible people in college.  It's when the cop helping them out describes Loy's character's ethnicity.  

The movie's brief run-time means we don't get to all 13 women, but that would probably feel repetitive as a film, anyway.  It also gets to the point and wraps up within seconds.  

Anyway - it's a product of it's time, but could be remade now with no problem.  

I looked into the book it's based on, and it sounds like an absolutely crazy ride.  I may check it out.

*this is Pre-Code, but nonetheless, implying or indicating romantic or sexual relations between people of different ethnicities was frowned upon (I know) unless the actors were both white and one was playing a different race (I KNOW).  It's part of how you wind up decades later with John Wayne as Ghengis Khan

Saturday, September 30, 2023

MST3K/ Cattrall Watch: City Limits (1984)

Watched:  09/29/2023
Format:  MST3K on YouTube (keep circulating the tapes?)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Someone, I'm sure

In my quest to catch the entirety of the Kim Cattrall filmography without it becoming a thing, I finally got around to the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (S5:E3) in which Joel and the Bots watch the 1984 sci-fi opus City Limits.  

You will guess from the fact it is not just an episode of MST3K, but from observing that a 1984 movie made its way to MST3K in 8 years that maybe this was not a movie that was in high demand, perhaps due to the fact it's a low-budget mess of a movie.

Weirdly, the movie features a number of known humans, begging the question:  what was happening in 1984 for each of these people?

The movie features:
  • James Earl Jones
  • Rae Dawn Chong (on the poster above)
  • John Stockwell (the guy from Christine and Top Gun)
  • Dean Devlin for some reason
  • John Diehl (many things, including Miami Vice)
  • and, of course, Kim Cattrall
  • And Robby Benson who was in stuff I've never actually seen
It feels like the movie happened to be a way station for actors on their way up or down.  I won't guess further as to whom was heading up or down, but you can do the math.  It's mostly weird to watch yet another 1980's no-budget post-apocalyptic movie but you actually recognize half the cast.

Anyway - I won't even really get into what it is or is about.  Because Jamie and I had to piece together what was happening in a pause-the-movie moment about 2/3rds of the way through.

This movie is now famous mostly for spawning the Kim Cattrall bit on MST3K as someone on staff (I assume Trace Beauliue) was clearly a fellow appreciator of the actor.  

It does help if you've seen Mannequin.  I mean, not just to appreciate the sketch, but in life in general.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

TLDR Watch: Babylon (2022)

Watched:  09/15/2023
Format: Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Damien Chazelle


I was aware of several things going into Babylon (2022).  

It's an original story (of sorts) about the late Silent Era of the film industry and beyond.  It's clearly referencing Kenneth Anger's infamous, and not super-accurate, book, Hollywood Babylon, which I have not read, but I did listen to a whole season of You Must Remember this, which covered the subject matter and sought to split fact from legend.

I won't get into the book here, but it's a recounting of possibly/ maybe/ probably-not/ absolutely-not true stories from the era during which the film industry moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast and went kinda bonkers.  Sex, death, drugs, mayhem, etc... followed.  

If you have a casual interest in Hollywood history, even without specific stories to recall, you could be well aware of this era, of meteoric rises and cataclysmic falls of actors and behind-the-camera talent.  It makes today's tabloid stuff look like middle-school melodrama.  And, because Hollywood loves a good story, especially one that sounds true, they've been passed down, year after year until Anger codified them in his book.  And now we have a nice little package that I remember hearing bits and pieces of in college and whatnot.

Going into the movie, I was also aware that the movie was at least three hours.  It was all fictional but referenced the real world of Hollywood from about 1927-1935 or so, and that no one seemed to like the movie all that much.   It had a $110+ million budget, and did poorly at the box office.

Having had now seen the movie, it's a three hour movie that is beautifully shot and acted.  The design is... interesting.  

But it feels so weirdly derivative, the story is delivered by bullet point, and it seems so surprised by things that seem obvious on their face here in the 2020's, that by the film's end - 3 hours later, I have no clue what Chazelle was trying to say or why he wanted to say it.  

If this movie is for a broad audience, it feels too specific in what it's covering while filling in no details to give them the full picture of the era while also taking a very, very long time to get to the point with his storylines, while still not making you ever care about the characters.  

If this movie is for film history buffs, someone with my cursory knowledge is clearly going to wind up with so many questions, their hand will involuntarily raise repeatedly throughout the film.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

PodCast 252 A & B: "The Flash" (2023) - Earth1 and Earth2 Editions! - Stuart and Ryan talk comic movies

Watched:  09/02/2023
Format:  Max  
Viewing: First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Andrés Muschietti

Special Note:  We had a whole adventure where we thought we'd lost the first recording of the podcast.  After purchasing a new computer and recording a second version, we learned we actually had recovered the unprocessed files from the first try.  So, as everything these days is about multiverses, especially The Flash, we're offering both versions.

Stuart and Ryan race toward the end of the DCEU as we know it, with this long-in-development, long-delayed, long-discussed movie about a guy who runs pretty quickly, if you look closely. Join Stuart and Ryan as they ponder what wound up as another string of disappointments in DC's long string of disappointing people. And you'll believe a man can quit.

Stuart and Ryan race back in time to correct the mistakes of the past! Believing all is lost, they must save the day/ podcast and make sure the world knows all about their Flash opinions! Because these two, unlike Barry Allen, do not see giving up as the best solution.


Earth1 Version

Earth2 Version


Earth1 Version

Earth2 Version

Are You Actively Eating That Candy Bar? - Benjamin Wallfisch
Into the Singularity - Benjamin Wallfisch

DC Movies and Television Playlist

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Noir Watch: The Secret Fury (1950)

Watched:  09/05/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Mel Ferrer

What a weird, weird movie.  

And not *good* weird.  

The movie features the great Claudette Colbert and Signal Watch fave Robert Ryan, but the story itself is a mess, leaning almost to camp.  

Part crime drama, all melodrama, The Secret Fury (1950) follows a society woman (Colbert) moments from saying I do to her beau (Ryan) when someone DOES say "I object", claiming Colbert is already married.  To her knowledge, Colbert has never been married, but when multiple witnesses claim she was married - and not that long ago - she now believes she may have gone mad, losing time.

The very premise, however, makes no sense and is based on the notion that people really get married after knowing each other for about 8 hours, which was quite the Hollywood trope for the first 70 years or so.  And it also assumes Colbert wouldn't see whomever murdered someone right before her eyes.  And that Ryan's character would make a completely unbuyable decision to leave Colbert alone with a strange man claiming to be her husband.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Vamp Watch: Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Watched:  09/04/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jess Franco

If the 1970's brought us anything in cinema, it was sexy vampires.  I mean, there's no shortage before.  Ask me about Brides of Dracula.  But by the time we got to the 1970's, we had moved into a weird twilight zone of art film/ exploitation film/ horror film where nudity was rampant and sex was not just implied in knowing cut-aways.

As far as I know, of the Jess Franco movies, I'd only ever seen Vampyros Lesbos.  And, somewhat (in)famously, Franco was one of the foremost purveyors of cheap, wandering "horror" films that bordered on a Cinemax late-night entry and what cable would play on weekends in the 1980's while also absolutely existing as in-no-way-scary horror films.

The movie is one of five directed by Franco in 1972 alone.  Whatever the market was, it was quantity over quality, and I suspect few scenes were actually scripted or anyone really did much to prep for the movies after getting a set of fangs, a Dracula cape and a location.  The movie uses a lot of 1970's film language, from racking focus into a scene (usually onto some natural object) and lots of lingering shots of people walking and not saying much.