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

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Noir Watch: The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945)



Watched:  01/15/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR (Noir Alley)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Siodmak

I'd been wanting to see this one for a while, so I'm glad it came on Noir Alley.  Directed by Robert Siodmak (one of those names that means this should be, minimum, pretty good), starring George Sanders, Ella Raines and Geraldine Fitzgerald and - a more recent interest - produced by Joan Harrison - it had a lot of elements that made it worth at least a look.

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) centers on a man aging into permanent bachelorhood as he pays the way for and cares for his two sisters - one a widow and the other an invalid.  The family fortune disappeared in the Depression, leaving the siblings scraping by in the rambling house that is a reminder of better times.  "Uncle Harry" (Sanders) meets a co-worker in from New York (Ella Raines) and the two spark an interest.  

However, one of the sisters isn't quite ready to let Harry go.  And things get weird.

The movie was made at the tail end of WWII (released pretty much the weekend after VJ Day), so it's got some similarities to other WWII-era films in that the cast is female-centric and the dashing male lead is George Sanders.  It takes place in limited spaces (based on a play, so there's that) and overall feels initimate and somewhat scaled down.

It's as easy to call this a melodrama as a noir, but I can see why Joan Harrison would have been interested in the script.  The characters are interesting and imperfect - no one (not even Raines) is a saint, and there's some genuine weirdness going on that goes beyond just sisterly affection.*  But, at the same time, Raines' character feels shockingly direct regarding her interest in Harry - she's no coy young lady, even when asked specifically to play that role.

As I thought - direction and performances were terrific, Sanders is in great form, and Geraldine Fitzgerald is note perfect.  But despite the actual warning not to spoil the ending they literally tag onto the end of the movie, I'll say:  the studio enforced ending that led to Harrison's parting with Universal and Siodmak shooting the bird at the studio is... awful.  The movie builds and builds to something absolutely mind-scrambling, and then... we get this cheesy ending.  But, you know, when they were wrapping this thing up, we were still fighting in Japan.  I get that maybe they wanted something that wasn't so depressing.

So, it makes it hard to actually recommend the movie.  It's a solid film right until, literally, the last minute, and then everything falls apart.  Did not like.

During the intro and outro, Eddie was joined by scholar Christina Lane - who has too many credentials for me to get into here - but she's an accomplished film academic.  I just picked up Lane's book on Joan Harrison and plan to crack it this weekend.  So - while I've seen a lot of Harrison's movies over the years, I'm looking forward to reading about the actual woman who made them happen (I also recently picked up Phantom Lady on BluRay and keep intending to show it to Jamie, and then I forget).


*that lady in the negligee is not the romantic subject of the film

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fran├žaise Regarder: Amelie (2001)




Watched:  01/13/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming - CBS All Access
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I think if I'd seen this when it came out, I would have been in my 20's, the techniques used would feel fresher, the gnome thing would not yet have been co-opted by a travel company and become a well know spokesperson, and I would have also walked out of the cinema dazed and delighted, feeling like I'd seen *something*.  Alas, now I am old, and my heart turned to stone.  The whimsy of youth is not what it was, nor the CGI of yesteryear.  

Amelie (2001) is very, very cute.  I bare it no ill will - it sets out to do a thing - a sort of almost magical realism thing - and incorporate CGI and other visual effects to give us picture-book insight into what the characters are going through.  And, in a very weird way, it's like a better version of some goofy 90's stuff like The Butcher's Wife where a particular person in a neighborhood makes all of the kooky characters go through a change before that character goes through a change themselves and we all learn a lesson about love/art/being silly.  You also get similar characters in, say, Batteries Not Included*, but no magical fairy girl to make it all happen.

The movie is not about falling in love.  Like most movies that pitch themselves that way, it's a movie about infatuation that kinda works out.  And that's okay - there's a place for that.  THAT it does very well.  It's two whack jobs circling each other until they finally collide.  Not my cup of tea, but it didn't fail.

It's genuinely better than most of the "neighborhood" movies in technique, ideas, visuals, etc...  but I just didn't really ever care about anyone on the screen.  Including Amelie.  And we are supposed to adore Amelie.  And, at age 26, I would have been *very* into a lovely girl with a Louise Brooks bob and who was demonstrably, cripplingly quirky.  Now...  eh.  

And, per the movie, I need a little bit more than a well edited beginning where they're literally telling as much as they're showing.  At the end of the day, you're telling a story or stories, and, aside from Amelie's father, I didn't get any sense of *closure* with the other characters.  Things happen, yeah - but we have whole storylines started that don't really go anywhere.  It feels like glimpses of anecdotes you never quite get to hear completed.  We spend so much time setting them up, and then... 

That said - I know people are bananas for this movie, so I'm missing something.  


*which has little mechanical aliens and is just adorable

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Evil Brain from Outer Space




Watched:  01/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's 

So...  this movie starts off weird as hell, which I salute, then goes to goofy fun and TONS of action.  All of which I salute.  

Apparently this is the third in a series of Japanese kids movies about a fellow name of "Starman" who hails from "The Emerald Planet" and is here to save humanity from interplanetary threats via kicking ass and taking names.  He doesn't have a secret identity, even though he changes from his work-a-day coat and tie into a pretty terrific super ensemble that has a kicky antenna and "not a cape" attached to his arms for added flair.

The effects are better than you figure, the stunts out of this world, and while the movie makes little sense, at least it moves fast and is cool as hell.

Count me as a convert to this whole Starman scene.

Oh, and, yes, there's an evil brain.  from outer space.

 



Thursday, January 7, 2021

Trek Watch: Star Trek - Nemesis (2002)




Watched:  01/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stuart Baird

So, this movie wasn't very good.

To be clear - all my favorite ST:TNG people are back (even Wesley Crusher), and they're all good.  The movie even co-stars a very young Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman and good ol' Dina Meyer.   But.  The very premise doesn't make a lot of sense, it weirdly includes what amounts to a rape scene of Troi (handled in the most ham-fisted and traumatizing way possible) which comes from nowhere and is seemingly there only to motivate Troi in the final reel to play Space Ouija Board to find the baddies.*  

But, yeah, Star Trek: Nemesis is about off-brand Romulans and a clone of Captain Picard (Hardy) picking a fight with Picard by planting an early-model of Data on a nearby planet.  They seem to have a modestly large-sized ship that, for reasons I was not clear on, will somehow overtake all of Earth's defenses if the Enterprise crew doesn't stop them.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Christmas Noir Watch: Cover-Up (1949)




Watched:  12/23/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Alfred E. Green

An insurance detective comes to a small town to look into the apparent suicide of a wealthy man with a considerable settlement coming to the benficiaries.  Arriving in town, he finds everyone hated the guy, it sure looks like murder, and everyone - including the foxy young lady he met on the bus on the way in, are in on a cover-up.  Thus, the name of the movie.

Stars William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe.

The ending is weird and super chipper.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

PODCAST: "Wonder Woman 1984" - a Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Stuart, Jamie and Ryan

spoiler: the movie was not released in October

Watched:  12/25/2020
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade: 2020's
Director:  Patty Jenkins


Our elite team of nerds comes together to discuss the hottest ticket on HBOmax and at the cinema. Is she a wonder? Has the world been waiting for her? We try to step inside the characters as we ponder what the film did and why, and, does it work? If you WISH someone could get to the bottom of this film - look no further! We're in our satin tights fighting for the right answers! 
Themyscira - Hans Zimmer, Wonder Woman 1984 Soundtrack

Pixar Watch: Soul (2020)




Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Pete DocterKemp Powers

I believe we're going to try to do a podcast on this one, so everyone sit tight.  

But, yes, very good.  Recommended.


Monday, December 28, 2020

Watching the Detectives: The Nice Guys (2016)




Watched:  12/28/2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Shane Black

This was exactly the movie I needed this evening.  

I dunno what to say about it.  Somehow Shane Black made a movie that managed to utterly surprise in every scene, was absolutely wrong, and absolutely hilarious.  Had a killer soundtrack, featured Keith David and gave Kim Basinger stuff to do.  

I am not sure liking this movie this much makes me a good person, but there we are.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

That Was a Movie Watch: Salome's Last Dance (1988)




Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

So...  I'm always on the hunt for something new to watch with folks during Friday Night Watch Parties.  For some reason unknown to me, Salome's Last Dance (1988) popped up as a suggestion from Amazon, and after reading the description - roughly: Oscar Wilde attends a production of his banned play performed in a brothel - I was like "huh, no idea.  Let's look."  

I got maybe 45 seconds in and saw "Directed by Ken Russell", and know more about Russell's reputation than his actual work, which is always at least *interesting* if you've seen Altered States, Lair of the White Worm or even Tommy.  So - I gave it a whirl.

Holiday Watch Party Watch: We're No Angels (1955)




Watched: 12/22/2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Michael Curtiz

In general I think of Michael Curtiz as one of the most versatile and best directors of the Studio Era of Hollywood.  This is not the movie I'd use as Exhibit A for that argument.  

I don't really get it.  This movie is well liked and features a cast of solid, well-known actors (I *do* include Aldo Ray in that statement.  I like Nightfall).  But it has a very, very strange pacing - like, a snail's pace - is not immediately or obviously terribly *funny*.  And, yeah, it's a comedy.  It's listed by AFI as one of the 500 funniest movies ever made, so...  what the hell do I know?  

But, yeah, it's about three Devil's Island prisoners (Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov) who hide out in a shop/ home owned by Joan Bennett and Leo G. Carroll - and, along the way - wind up helping out the shop and solving all of their problems.  

I do feel less crazy as I was not the only one watching the movie and I don't think any of us were fans of the thing.  

I dunno, maybe none of us were in the mood or something - but I think something about the stageyness of the production - that they seemed to pace it as a play they hadn't quite figured out the timing for - just really impacted the watchability.

All that said - it did have one of the darkest/ most leaning on gallows humor endings to a movie I can think of from this period, and maybe that has a great deal to do with how it's been received.  No idea.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hallmark Watch: Christmas at Dollywood (2019)

Dolly's outfit needs more sequins



Watched:  12/18/2020
Format:  Hallmark Channel on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Michael Robison

Arguably, no one involved with this movie knows how anything works in real life and everyone but Danica McKellar's character should be fired.  And Dolly, of course, should always be held blameless.

We've watched a lot of parts of Hallmark movies this year, but watched almost none from start to finish - but when a movie promises to serve up Dolly in prime, post 2000 incarnation of Dolly as glamorous wise songstress and embodiment of goodness - I'm in.  I have, in fact, watched a good chunk of "The Coat of Many Colors" movie and everything.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Blood Beat (1983)

 


Watched:  12/11/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

Sometimes you watch a movie that is so off the rails, the batshit-ness gains its own power.  

I *think* I basically get what occurred during Bloodbeat (aka: Blood Beat) (1983), but I am willing to hear any interpretation of events which unfold in the film.  

A woman living in rural Wisconsin welcomes home her kids from college for Christmas.  Her son has brought his girlfriend, unannounced.  NBD, but the mom is also on the skids with her rednecky live-in boyfriend, and she's a painter and psychic.  Sort of.  And she gets a weird vibe from the girlfriend.  

The girlfriend also hits a psychic tripwire upon arriving, so... They all go hunting.  The girlfriend does not like.

A samurai ghost shows up when the girlfriend is sexually aroused.  And the sister seems unable to get an outfit together that makes any sense.

Anyway - the samurai ghost kills the neighbors who try to put too many things on a waterbed.  

There's a psychic battle, stock footage of nuclear blasts, and some light nudity.  It all feels like a one off issue of X-Men circa 1984.

I genuinely enjoyed this thing.  DIdn't know where it was going from moment to moment, and was both just confusing and concrete enough to stick with for the 90 minute runtime.  Not a technical marvel, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Watch Party Watch: "I, The Jury" (1953)




Watched:  12/8/2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Harry Essex

There was a time before Mickey Spillane was a name everyone kind of knew, and before Mike Hammer books had been adapted by major studios.  I, the Jury is one of the first Hammer books, released in 1947.  This poverty row movie adaptation came out in 1953 - and it really isn't like anything else coming out at the time.  

Yeah, the acting in this film wasn't going to threaten the usual Oscar contenders, and at first blush, there's a lot of what you might have seen in a Marlowe mystery - but (a) this case starts personal and finishes even more so for our detective, and (b) this detective is going to punch his way through the mystery.  

Where Marlowe tries to keep his cool, often over the top of rage whichs pills over, Hammer starts at a ten and goes up from there.  When your mystery starts with a dead best friend and you're on the trail through a bunch of weirdos - any of whom could have done it - I guess I can see how you'd be testy.  

Star Biff Elliot who plays Hammer is a curious choice.  He's not the stringest actor and his decision to go "angry" in every scene means that there's nowhere to go, really.  He blasts into the frame the first time we see him, and barges into every room thereafter  - so we don't ever really see him in any other state.  And anger is an easy go-to for actors, but it's hard to maintain.

The rest of the cast is actually pretty solid.  Peggie Castle as a love interest/ psychologist and Margaret Sheridan as Velda are both pretty great.  And Frances Osborne - who I'd only seen elsewhere in Murder By Contract - was very good as the mourning girlfriend of the murder victim.  

I discussed Spillane's semi-controversial place in crime-fiction, and this movie doesn't do much to dismiss the notion.  It's got as gritty a crime and violence angle, adjacent to overt sexuality as anything I can think of from this era - but still coded deeply enough that it was going to fly past the censors.  But, man, that ending is something else for the era.

The film was shot by John Alton, who always makes any picture look far better than it has a right to look - and I'd argue this movie had a huge impact on Frank Miller and his Sin City look and feel, from the deep shadow and windy mystery to the cinch in Hammer's raincoat.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Noir (on Ice!) Watch: Suspense (1946)




Watched:  12/7/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Frank Tuttle

Jamie is not averse to noir, but I watch most of these by myself.  However, when I pitched her "it's a noir with figure skating as a key component", she was in.  She loves her some figure skating.

This is the third Belita-starring film shown on TCM's Noir Alley - and I'd guess the last.  She just didn't make many movies, let alone moody crime films.  I totally get why Eddie seems to have a soft spot for her - she's not exactly a powerhouse actress, but she does have a certain charm stemming from her own surprise at being in movies.

I'm mostly familiar with the King Brothers - producers on this one - from their movie Gun Crazy, part of my personal canon.   This was a follow up, and Monogram (who I mostly think of as having sets that look like high school play sets) upped the budget and talent.  Barry Sullivan stars as a hoodlum who lucks his way into a low level job at an ice-capades-type-show, and then parlays that into swiftly moving up the ranks as an ideas man - so they keep the ice show fresh and bring people back.

I mean - his big idea is a sort of oval full of swords that any film masters' student would have a field day figuring the Freudian messaging of, and doesn't seem like something any insurance company would okay - but whatevs.  Because Belita actually DOES the jump between the swords.  

Anyway, she's the wife of the older, mustachioed boss, and of course she feels an attraction to Barry Sullivan (because the script says to - he's not exactly Mitchum).  

Death, gunplay, avalanches, a cute dog and more figure skting figure in.  Plus, a scheming ex girlfriend and Eugene Pallette, the best Grumpy Gus in movies.  

It wasn't anything earth shattering, but I was pretty okay with it.  It can be hard to find a noir that Jamie wants to sit through, and I did it!  She was A-OK with this one.  But I don't think it will be easy finding more with ice skating.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Disney+ Watch: Godmothered (2020)




Watched:  12/6/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Sharon Maguire

Definitely a "fun for the whole family" all-ages offering from Disney+, Godmothered (2020) has a semi-complicated set-up that melts into a fairly standard magical comedy, but which I think more or less works, even if it's not exactly ground-breaking.

Apparently Fairy Godmothers come from The Motherland, a mystical realm where fairies train for seemingly centuries before being sent out on assignment.  But the trick is - no one has asked for help from a Fairy Godmother in centuries, and there's only really been one new fairy to sign up for the gig in the past few decades. And so - they're maybe going to shut it all down (the Motherland is run by Jane Curtain, who appears to be having fun).

PODCAST: "Anna and the Apocalypse" (2017) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  11/21/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  John McPhail


SimonUK and Ryan have a holly jolly time biting into the 2017 multi-genre cult fave that has them singing and dancing in the aisles. Join us for a yuletide discussion of a newer film that might just be the Christmas treat you're looking for - it's a real slay ride. 
Christmas Means Nothing Without You - Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly 
Hollywood Ending - Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly 
 
Xmas Genre Xrossover Playlist

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Christmas Watch: Christmas Chronicles 2




Watched:  12/5/2020
Format: Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade: 2020's
Director:  Christopher Columbus

Look, I polished off at least 3/4ths of a bottle of wine while watching this, but it seemed great at the time - both the wine and the movie.

Stuart had vouched for the first Christmas Chronicles back in 2018, and it was genuinely much better than I figured.  Kurt Russell as Santa is just a good idea.  The Christmas Chronicles 2  ups the budget, expands the concepts, and adds Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus.  And, again, it just works.  I'll refer you to the link above for what I think this series does that makes it a cut above 90% of the "Santa" genre of movies of the past 20 years or so.*  

This installment, of what I assume will be a once per two years thing for a while, sees Kate Pierce from the first movie in Cancun with her mom and brother from the first film.  Mom is now dating Tyrese Gibson, who flew everyone down - but Kate has understandable feelings about (a) not being home for Christmas and (b) fears of Mom forgetting Dad (who had passed before the first movie).  Now, the set-up on this one is... a bit wonky.  I don't see even the drunkest parents leaving their under-18 kids alone in Mexico for 24 hours, especially one as sensitive as Tyrese's son, Jack.  

But an elf-gone-bad has set the whole thing up, and he hi-jacks Kate and Jack to the North Pole so he can use them as a distraction to get into Santa's Village and EXACT ELF REVENGE.

The movie splits into Jack learning he can be courageous (he's a bit of a wiener at the film's outset), and works through Kate's far more complex situation with the power of Christmas multiplied by the power of time travel.

This film builds on the terrific design from the first film - giving us a wider view into Santa's village and the workshops contained therein.  I dig the scale and decision to roughly ground things - the elves (which look like Finnish Magwai) kind of scuttling around everywhere, but not living inside cupcakes or anything.  It looks weirdly practical, and I very much enjoyed the "let me check my biases" moment as the kids ask why the village isn't named after Mrs. Claus, credited with the design of the town.

Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus is, honestly, as much of a kick as Russell as Santa.  It does not hurt to have two people with decades of cohabitation together playing a couple of several hundred years, but Hawn's sunny disposition and capacity for indicating depths with a glance is well served here in telling the adult audience a lot that might be going over the kid audience's heads.  

The kid actors aren't threatening anyone to nab Oscar nomination slots, but Columbus is no slouch when handling kids, and between a good script and getting the most out of his kid actors, he manages to also let Kate have moments of growth and insight - non-verbally!  She, like, listens and processes and does not have to say out loud what she's learning at each step.  

But, yeah, this isn't a heavy drama or anything.  There's plenty of goofy good stuff.  You can't go wrong with Darlene Love showing up to join in the requisite Santa musical number (I think Jamie heard me gasp when she first appeared for what I assumed was a cameo).  

It's just weird how far we lower the bar for Christmas content that anything remotely competent (this *is* Chris Columbus, who brought us Harry Potter, Home Alone, etc...) and isn't just indicating what they would like to convey, but actually delivering those messages like a real movie comes off like Avengers: Endgame.  

PS:  I found the flying hyenas delightful




*I do like Fred Claus more than you'd figure

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Christmas Watch Party Watch: Christmas Twister/ F6 Twister (2012)




watched:  12/4/2020
format:  Amazon Watch Party
viewing:  first
decade: 2010's
director:  Peter Sullivan

Woof.

This is the most insanely lazy movie I've seen in a while.  Like, it's one of those where you're watching and thinking "literally nothing in this movie is how that thing works".  Not how tornadoes work, meteorology, news reporting, children, school, architecture, accents, clouds, pregnancy, smoke, basements, emergency situations, college, glasses or Ft. Worth.  Or, in fact, Christmas.  

Like - why?  How did this script get written?  Was it by someone amazingly dumb?  Were they kidding and no jokes landed?  I just don't get it.  I am not an expert in ANY of the topics above, but I do live on earth, and I have a sense of memory of events and observations.

I really can't spend energy on this.  They didn't.  

But I did like Deb, the news producer.  


Friday, December 4, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Yellowbeard (1983)




Watched: 11/01/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First(ish)
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Mel Damski

I may have seen parts of this as a kid.  I vaguely remember it being on cable during one of the sporadic windows during which my parents would get HBO, see we were watching something very much like Yellowbeard (1983) and then pull the HBO subscription again for a year before they forgot and did it again.

Look, I appreciate that we all bring something to these Amazon Watch Parties, and Jenifer had fond memories of watching this as a kid - and I have a vague memory that told me I'd seen it - but I don't think I ever had.  Nothing looked familiar.  But this is not a much loved movie by critics, the 1983 audience or the folks in it.  If you want a hint - there are very famous, beloved people in this and yet no one talks about this movie.  So.  But they did get to hang out in Acapulco and make a movie - and this seems to have landed them a massive, all-star cast that should have been a hit just by default.

Graham Chapman.  Peter Boyle.  Cheech & Chong.  Marty Feldman. Madeline Kahn. James Mason.  Eric Idle. John Cleese.  Kenneth Mars.  Michael Hordern.  Susannah York. Nigel Planer. And a bunch I'm forgetting.  But, yeah, you have all these people sharing the screen, but the movie seems like they have no idea what is happening or how a movie works.

Anyhoo... I bet they had fun in Acapulco.  But, a weirdly not good movie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Day of the Triffids




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1963
Director:  Steve SekelyFreddie Francis

I forgot to write this up in September, and now it's too late.