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

Sunday, February 5, 2023

80's Watch: Action Jackson (1988)




Watched:  02/04/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Craig R Baxley

Well, 13-year-old-me that wanted to see this, we did it.  We finally got around to watching Action Jackson (1988).  And what a strange, strange movie this is.  

There are moments where you think "this movie had a $5 budget" and then you think "well, there are lots of explosions and stuff."  But you also know the star here was Carl Weathers, who is charismatic and cool, but he hadn't carried a ton of stuff or big action movies.  The director is the stunt coordinator from Predator, and the film includes not just Weathers but Bill Duke as the cranky captain calling Jackson into his office and a brief appearance by Sonny Landham (Billy in Predator).  

But that's not all!  Craig T. Nelson plays the Mr. Big corporate villain, a fresh-faced Sharon Stone is his dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks wife, Vanity is our deeply complicated love interest/ MacGuffin, Tom Wilson (Biff from BTTF) is a cop,  Robert Davi gets five minutes.  But most remarkable, it's just full of "that guy!" character actors in almost every scene.  

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Gorilla at Large (1954)




Watched:  02/03/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Harmon Jones

So, to my complete surprise, I liked this movie semi-unironically.  

I found it weird that this movie starred fairly big names for the time.  Not huge stars, but knowable names and more than one of them.  It has Raymond Burr, Lee J. Cobb, a young Lee Marvin, Cameron Mitchell (before he spiraled into camp), and Anne Bancroft here to remind you she is, indeed, a very good idea.  I was not familiar with Charlotte Austin, who plays the virginal character, but who could scream like crazy and had great hair (and was in another gorilla movie in 1958 called The Bride and the Beast, penned by Ed Wood Jr.).

At around the 70% mark of the movie, I think it was Jenifer who pointed out "this is gorilla noir", and she was not wrong.  This is absolutely murder mystery noir, set against the backdrop of a carnival, with a gorilla as a character, and plenty of intrigue to go around.  The movie is knowing enough that it constantly plays with expectations, and I had no idea how this thing would wrap up until the end.  

It's also, visually, very interesting.  Shot at Nu Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach.  I thought it was the same location as Woman on the Run/ Gun Crazy and others, and was very wrong.  My takeaway is that California had some great amusement options in the 20th century.  (The Burglar was filmed in New Jersey, so I was way off there.)  But as something shot originally for 3D presentation, and in bright technicolor, it's a fascinating bit of visual cotton candy, including a dynamic scene with a mirror maze (that I'm not clear on how it was shot without showing the crew standing behind the camera, tbh).

It's not challenging the AFI Top 100 as an underserved, underseen classic, but it's *interesting*.  Including the bizarre decisions that led to the finale.  


  

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

PodCast 229: "The Addams Family" Comics, TV, Movies and More - Jamie and Ryan



Movies/ TV Watched:  
  • Addams Family (1991) 01/16/2023
  • Addams Family Values (1993)  01/17/2023
  • Addams Family (animated - 2019) 01/19/2023
  • Wednesday (2022)
  • The Addams Family (original series, 1964-1966)
Format:
  • Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Netflix
  • Addams Family (animated film)/ original series - YouTube
Viewing:
  • Addams Family/ Values - Unknown
  • Addams Family (animated) - First
Director:
  • Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Barry Sonenfeld
  • Addams Family (animated film) - Greg Tiernan/ Conrad Vernon



Join us as we get creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky, as Jamie and Ryan talk Addams Family comic strips, television, movies and more! We ponder questions of family values, romance, and what makes an ever-evolving franchise work when it passes through so many hands as new generations get involved. And what IS movie perfection, and why is it only seen in the two Addams Family films?


SoundCloud 


YouTube



Shakespeare!


Music:
The Addams Family Theme - Vic Mizzy
Addams Groove - Hammer


What is Love? Playlist




Sunday, January 22, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Zardoz (1974)




Watched:  01/20/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Boorman

So, my college pal, Robb, was a big fan of this movie, which really set the bar for me.  He's the same guy who would pitch a Saturday as "let's watch Stalker and then Bullit".   Circa 1999 or so, my brother, Steanso, and myself decided to give Zardoz (1974) a whirl, and I think we made it twenty minutes in before giving up and watching Xena or Cleopatra 2525.  

I will not say I hated or even disliked Zardoz, while acknowledging - this is not a movie for everyone.  The film contains a million concepts and ideas all crammed into one movie.  I don't think it really succeeds (for me) as story, commentary or entertainment, but it is absolutely a thing to watch for its tremendous ambition, low-budget-swing-for-the-fences approach, and unique visuals.  It's trying to do some Very Important Stuff via sci-fi, and I can't say it fails, exactly.  The ideas are interesting enough.  It's just not a movie that is amazingly fun to watch (sober).

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Doc Watch: Harlan County, USA (1976)




Watched:  01/14/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Barbara Kopple

One of the things I wonder about as The Kids have decided that labor movements are a fine idea and that they should unionize is if they're well educated on the incredibly bloody history of labor movements in the US.  I'm not recommending one path or the other (I am, but this isn't that blog) but things tend to get really dark when the operators see the minions getting organized.  

To a 20-something working at Starbucks in 2022 or 2023, it may seem like the good fight, but in the places Starbucks tends to exist, you can usually just pick up and go work somewhere else if the deal isn't what you want.  And, of course, 1972 is ancient history when old-timey things happened.  Like the events of the documentary, Harlan County, USA (1976) a film about striking coal minors in Kentucky and the various factors at play and persons involved. And it's as far removed from today's labor conversations and the way work once worked in the US as the Pullman Strike is to organizing baristas.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Watch Party Watch: The Woman in Green (1945)




Watched:  01/13/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Roy William Neill

I wasn't expecting much, and this movie delivered not much!

Nah, it was... fine.  Especially as it was only 66 minutes.  You're in, you're out.  

Once again Basil Rathbone plays Holmes to perfection, and once again Nigel Bruce is playing Watson as a complete weirdo boob, setting the stage for a thousand imitators after.

I wish I'd noticed this was a wartime film, because it would have explained why the men in this movie, minus Rathbone, are all at least sexagenarians or older.  

Women are turning up around London - murdered!  And missing a finger!  Is a new Jack the Ripper on the loose?  One with penchant for ladyfingers?  

Holmes is brought in, and suspects (as always) Moriarty.  Anyway - it's a kind of clever Moriarty ruse.  He's having the frankly pretty good looking Hillary Brooke lure rich, society men to her flat where she hypnotizes them.  Moriarty slips a finger into their pocket and when they wake up, they think maybe they murdered someone and fall for a blackmail scheme.  It's... woefully overly complex and there's a bodycount that was always going to draw too much attention.  

Anyway - it's pretty okay!  But I will say - it takes a long, long time to get to the usual Holmes sleuthing, really to the point where I wondered aloud "this is the weirdest structure for a Holmes mystery".  But once it kicks into gear, there you are.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Marilyn-Noir Watch: Don't Bother To Knock (1952)



Watched: 01/10/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

Huh.  This was not at all what I was expecting.  

Essentially a movie about post-war trauma, wrapped up in a taught 76 minute, thriller-like package, it's maybe more *real* than the well-rehearsed, twitter-friendly approaches to mental illness we'd see in a film now.  It's a thriller without a villain, even though that doesn't feel like the set-up - and the movie absolutely has empathy in spades and as a reflection of a nation on the other side of the war, doesn't really have time for your finger-wagging.

Marilyn Monroe plays a woman new to New York City, whose uncle (Elijah Cook Jr.!) - an elevator operator in a hotel - has landed her a one-night job as a babysitter for a rich couple, the husband there to collect an award for his editorials.  While they're at the ceremony, they'll have Monroe watch over their daughter.

Anne Bancroft (in one of her first roles) is the lounge singer in the hotel, and while she's tried to break up with her sometimes boyfriend in the shape of Richard Widmark playing a cocksure airline pilot, he's shown up at the hotel and is looking to ignore her plans for a split.  

Monday, January 9, 2023

Screwball Watch: Ball of Fire (1941)




Watched:  01/07/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Howard Hawks  


Skewing towards the end of the screwball cycle, Ball of Fire (1941) is an absolute g-d delight and another entry in the "yes, Stanwyck is that good" file.  

You would think the movie was made during the crush of the war as the large cast of supporting males are mostly over sixty, but also features Gary Cooper (43 here), Dana Andrews and Dan Duryea also popping up (Andrews and Duryea didn't serve for legit reasons).   Directed by Hawks with his usual flair, the script and story is by Billy Wilder in part, something I spent no small amount of time pondering while watching.  

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Neo-Noir Watch: The Driver (1978)




Watched:  01/01/2023
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Director:  Walter Hill

I'm doing some prep work as SGH and I are in talks to do a podcast on Drive from about a decade ago.  At the time Drive came out, a lot of folks said "oh, this is influenced by The Driver from 1978."  And I'd always meant to go check that movie out.  

I think it's a definitive "well, maybe kinda sorta".  They are absolutely both movies about career criminal getaway drivers in LA.  Both are neo-noir.  But this is like seeing a movie about an assassin and seeing the next movie about an assassin and saying "well, clearly these two movies are same".  

Arguably, The Driver (1978) borrows from some of those assassin movies like Le Samourai or This Gun for Hire.  Rather than a hit-man, we have a guy with no past we'll ever learn about, who has locked up his life to protect himself and perfect his chosen profession - with the mechanisms he's used to protect himself actually creating a lockbox when things go sideways.  He has no friends, no family, no name.  He simply exists to do the job. 

The movie is clever about this - no characters have names.  Everyone is a role.  The Driver (Ryan O'Neal).  The Detective (Bruce Dern at his Bruce Derniest).  The Player (Isabella Adjani).  The Connection (Ronee Blakley).  And - and this is where this film deviates wildly from Drive - the film is about the game everyone is playing, openly acknowledged.  It's the world's greatest ARG.  There's no real stakes for the cops - win or lose, it's just spending tax dollars.  But for the folks playing on the high stakes criminal side, it's jail, death or being flat broke.  

Anyway - I enjoyed it.  I'd watch it again.  It's interesting in that it's both a bit more abstracted from a straight crime film, but also has nothing in particular that it's trying to say.  It's much more about how it's presenting a concept, and I'm down with that, too.  I suspect that when this came out, that approach was saying something, in itself.  But we've got a lot of water between 2023 and 1978.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

PodCast 227: "The Sea Wolves" (1980) - A SimonUK Cinema Selection - w/ Ryan




Watched:  12/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Andrew V. McClagen




Simon and Ryan return for one last mission.... AGAIN! It's a based-on-a-true-story adventure of old dudes leaping into action for King and Country and to protect the sea-ways of the Indian Ocean from duplicitous Germans in WWII! Join our band of adventurers and let's blow some @#$% up!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
The Sea Wolves Opening Titles - Roy Budd
Precious Moments - Matt Monro 


SimonUK Cinema Series

Friday, December 30, 2022

Mystery Watch: Glass Onion (2022)




Watched:  12/29/2022
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Rian Johnson

I don't really know how to talk about this movie.  A podcast would be better.  

This was a very, very good film.  But we knew that going in, I think.  

Look, I've never seen a movie by Rian Johnson I didn't like.  His turn to becoming the cinematic Agatha Christie of the 21st Century is more than welcome in a landscape of movies that - in lieu of being about superheroes - have mistaken drudgery and being sad and/ or tortured as film for grown ups.  Sometimes you just need a clockwork mechanism of a mystery movie with deeply charismatic talent, an amazing backdrop, and a satisfying ending.  

But the movie isn't just (remarkably) well written.  It's hard to argue with the cinematography and choice of locations, which gives the movie a unique multi-level perspective.  And, of course, editing.  There are a lot of characters, a lot of parts, a non-sequential timeline and a sprawling geography to the main location.  It's a remarkable feat to see how this all still makes perfect sense.

Anyway, I'll either podcast it later or give it a go with a longer write-up.  Maybe.  

In the meantime: recommended.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas Noir: Blast of Silence (1961)




Watched:  12/24/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director (Writer, Starring):  Allen Baron

SPOILERS

There are a lot of movies about lone assassins being lonesome and weird and (spoilers) meeting their end.  It's frankly shocking how well this formula works.  Honestly, once you see "oh, this is about an assassin and it's not a major studio release?" you can swiftly follow that with  "Well, he'll die at the end."  Because there's something inevitable and inexorable about the very set-up.  If someone is selling you "noir" and it's about a hitman and the hitman isn't dead at the end, you can ring the shame bell.

So it becomes less about "what are they doing?" and more of "how are they doing it?" and - if I can ask - "what are they saying?"  

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Watch Party Watch: Holiday In Handcuffs (2006)

you will feel like Mario Lopez here once you hit "play"



Watched:  12/23/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ron Underwood

Sometimes I wish every movie came with a history of what happened from the screenplay to the final product.  Otherwise, such as in the case of Holiday in Handcuffs (2006), I - the viewer - am left wondering "what happened here?  who did this?  who did they do it for?  and why did they do that?"  

My go-to move is to assume massive fiddling went on as the movie went through development, or that there were re-shoots.  This movie is too cheap for re-shoots, so I'll go with Execs Had Ideas and it was going on Disney's "ABC Family" network, a network that has been many, many things and the catch-all for Disney product with no obvious home.

Directed by the same guy who brought us Tremors and City Slickers before sliding into Mighty Joe Young and The Adventures of Pluto Nash and eventually lots of TV, I have no idea what hand he actually had in this film.  Look, I watched all of Inhumans (twice!), which was also a product of ABC execs, and I'm still dealing with the scars of that misadventure.  I refuse to believe anyone making product for ABC networks isn't getting it from all sides.

Here's my suspicion: 

Hallmark Watch: A Glenbrooke Christmas (2020)




Watched:  12/21/2020
Format:  Hallmark?
Viewing:  First
Director:  David I. Strasser

This movie wasn't very good.  

Basic "I'm lying about who I am" plot as an heiress goes to an idyllic smalltown and falls for a fire fighter in generic Hallmark style.  The movie comes remarkably close to saying some true things about what happens when rich people start eyeing a community as the next hip place to move (they ruin it.  See: Austin), and that rich people are weird and don't relate well to non-rich people (in my experience - about 50/50.  It surfaces in subtle ways to absurd ways.).  This, of course, makes the rich person mad.  And the movie has to back pedal and say rich people are totally normal and don't fuck up the economy of middle-class towns.

The excuse-plot is that the heiress came to hear Christmas bells her parents loved, and the carillon is broken (the movie refuses to use the word carillon for mysterious reasons, and keeps describing the carillon instead.  You can teach people new words, Hallmark.).  The cost of repair is $10,000.  Not chump change.  But the hero is a millionaire many times over.  That's a write-off for her if she fixes it, but the movie refuses to let her just find a way to and over a bag of cash and instead leverages her rich pals to buy Kinkaid knock-offs from local teens.  

Discovering that (a) his new ladyfriend is a millionaire and not who she said she was, and (b) knowing that even if he got past that, she and he will have nothing in common, our firefighter reasonably calls it a day.  But she doodled him in a sketchbook, and rather than seeming creepy, he decides this means its love and he was wrong about her and the situation, and he judged her wrongly.  

Eh.  Did he, though?  In some ways, you'd really have to think "I've been dating a sociopath."  But at the same time, deciding to rush into marriage with a multi-millionaire before the endorphins clear and she thinks of a pre-nup is a baller move.   

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Grinchy Watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)




Watched:  12/16/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Ron Howard

People love this movie.  I was aware of that, but had no interest in the film when it came out. I'd read the book a lot as a kid, and I'm a purist when it comes to Chuck Jones and my enjoyment of his work.  And aside from some of the finest Looney Tunes installments, the annual TV special of How the Grinch Stole Christmas was his signature work.  As a collaborative work (Jones, Seuss, Karloff, Ravenscroft, Poddany) it's hard to top.

Director Ron Howard never saw a project he couldn't make more mediocre by running it through his Hollywoodtron-3000.  He understands the beats of movies, and deploys bombastic music and whatnot to get the audience on board as he takes them through their paces, but the movies always wind up feeling hollow and less than the sum of their parts.  Yes, I know he was funny on Arrested Development.  But I don't know how you take The Grinch and make a faux Tim Burton film that also manages to reframe the original story to such a degree that you miss the point of a children's book.

Look, part of the joke of the original Grinch book is that he's just a bastard.  No one made him that way.  We can speculate about shoe sizes and head fittings, but as far as we're concerned, he's just the local jerk who watches from afar.  He simply is.  But the original book is 64 pages, with a few sentences per page and lots of art.  The movie needs a decent runtime, and so the filmmakers (and Howard is a director, but he's also basically a producer) padded and padded and padded some more!  They padded this out til their padders were sore!

I mean, they had to pad the book for a 20-something minute cartoon version of the book.  

So - we get a backstory for the Grinch where we see maybe it's nature that the Grinch is an asshole, but also it turns out those harmless Who's in Whoville are frightened, judgy assholes who elect the worst of them to run things.  

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Binge Watch: The Binge - It's A Wonderful Binge (2022)




Watched:  12/16/2022
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jordan VanDina

Well, I was way, waaaaaaay too sober while watching this movie.  I also hadn't seen the first one.  But our Pal Paul worked on this film and I wanted to give it a go.  

First - the cast on this thing is bananas.  I believe Kaitlin Olson is one of the funniest people in anything, and this movie is not here to disabuse me of that notion.  She's good in the first act, and by the third - sublime.  Tim Meadows is a favorite in this house.  Danny Trejo!  Paul Scheer.  Nick Swardson.  Tony Cavalero AND Patty Guggenheim?  (their scenes are hysterical)  Karen Maruyama (I don't know who came up with her character, but slow clap).  

Anyway - all people I like.  

The movie's stars are Eduardo Franco (Stranger Things S4), Dexter Darden (Saved By the Bell), Connie Shi (Law & Order), and Marta Piekarz (Queer as Folk).  Young folks!  But really able to carry a film.

The movie had two strikes for me out of the gate - but those were on me.  1)  Like I say, I was stone cold sober watching the movie, and this is not that movie.  2) I did not see the first installment.  Not 100% necessary, but the movie doesn't spend much "getting to know you" time and leaps into "so how are our friends now?"

So - if you've not seen the original - the set-up is not complicated.  The Feds decided in 2027 on a total prohibition of all drugs and alcohol, but (like The Purge) one day per year it's no holds barred.  That day is called "The Binge".  In 2035, they've realized people can't handle Christmas minus a little chemical help, and so The Binge is moved to Christmas, and it's immediately and obviously a bad idea.  

One of our heroes is trying to ask for his ladyfriend's hand in marriage, the other goes on a drug-induced journey akin to It's a Wonderful Life.  I don't want to give too much away.  

Anyway - if you're looking for something to watch that's completely bananas, but not to watch with your parents or kids - it fits the bill.  We're well documented here for enjoying movies that end in total chaos, and this is that.  But it's also a really funny journey along the way, keeping things moving at a rocket pace - so even if a gag isn't a slam dunk, there's another coming in a few beats.  

Like other "@#$% is out of control" comedies like a Harold and Kumar movie, it's a hang-out movie.  You like the characters and want to spend time seeing what they're up to.  The pitch could fit with a real-time TV show, I guess, but works well for a movie with yearly installments.  But the characters - who could be obnoxious and cringey - are really good springboards for a lot of fun stuff, and the talent are likeable.  Casting young folks like this against big talents like Olson and Trejo makes for a great mix.

Anyway - you will also notice the audio is AMAZING in this movie.  Hire Paul. We need to keep him busy.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Doc Watch: Idina Menzel - Which Way to the Stage? (2022)

...i guess she found it



Watched:  12/15/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Anne McCabe/ Eric Maldin

This is a thing I watched.  I guess it's a documentary?  It's 90 minutes (which I missed when I turned it on, thinking it would be short) and that's movie length.  So here we are.

The film follows Broadway, movie, recording, etc... star Idina Menzel as she tours across the US, heading toward what the movie posits is a lifelong goal of Menzel to perform at Madison Square Garden.  The tension is a bit undercut by:  She will absolutely do this show.  And:  We see her do the same show in 30 cities before hitting NYC.  But, no, I get it.  She's a New Yorker from birth.  That's a big deal.  It's like me getting to, uh...  blog at a coffee shop in Austin?  I have no idea.  

Monday, December 12, 2022

Hallmark Holiday Watch: Lucky Christmas (2011)

for the record, I don't believe there's any snow in this movie



Watched:  12/10/2022
Format:  Peacock (apparently now carrying old Hallmark movies...)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Gary Yates

So, did I watch this 11-year-old, largely forgotten Hallmark movie because it stars Elizabeth Berkely, she of Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell fame?  

Buddy, you know I did.  

Let's get to it. 

Is the movie good?  No.  

Is it Berkley's fault?  In no way.  She's doing what she can here.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Friday Holiday Watch Party: A Christmas Melody (2015)




Watched:  12/09/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Mariah Carey (...I KNOW!)

I thought it was very strange that A Christmas Melody (2015) does not play more on Hallmark's two 24/7 Christmas movies channels.  It stars Hallmark favorite Lacey Chabert and America's Accidental Christmas Mascot, Mariah Carey, with a supporting role from the omnitalented Kathy Najimy.  I mean - seems like a winner, as far as Hallmark goes.  I was wondering if Carey had some deal that made it financially onerous for Hallmark to run the movie, or there was some extenuating circumstance.  But, no.

Friends, this movie isn't very good.  

I mean, sure, you could blame the fact they gave a whole movie to Mariah Carey to direct (no, she did direct it), but something is wrong at the script stage and it feels like 2015 was a year Hallmark's writers were still figuring out the formula and forgot to do things like give the male romantic lead any inner life so he doesn't seem creepy.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Doc Watch: Santa Camp (2022)




Watched:  12/3/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Nick Sweeney


The basic concept for Santa Camp (2022) contains all the volatility you'd expect of a movie that decides to use the familiar cultural touchstone of Santa Claus and the people who play him in malls, parades, personal appearances, etc...  to explore modern social wars and challenges of diversity and inclusivity.  

The movie clearly has a POV, but it's also one that is never stated directly by the filmmakers - this is a doc that lets people be themselves for good or ill on camera.  So, it lives in editorial choices.  Who knows what was left on the cutting room floor?  Maybe some stuff was worse?  Maybe items that were innocuous are cherry picked for context?  But when you're letting Proud Boys speak for themselves, it's hard to say how much nuance you're losing.  

Opening with a meeting of a grand council of Santa's of New England, a role and career choice for aging white men who have a very certain look, we get an idea of who has been a Santa - who embodies jolly ol' St. Nick in our physical space rather than paintings and cartoons.  To my surprise, this group of very similar older guys have already decided that maybe Santa needs more options for the public than just older, white, paunchy men, and they're in agreement that they need to start diversifying by inviting new recruits to their annual weekend retreat known as "Santa Camp".