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

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Neo-Noir Watch: The Limey (1999)



Watched:  05/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Steven Soderbergh

This is a catch-up watch, one of about ten crime movies from this era I didn't see because life is not always what it should be. 

Anyway, I was so distracted, I didn't know who was in the cast or that this was a Soderbergh movie - and I like Soderbergh movies.  All I knew was "Terence Stamp tearing shit up for 90 minutes".  And, indeed, that is true.  But, The Limey (1999) also features Peter Fonda, the perpetually underutilized Lesley Ann Warren, Luis Guzman, and an uncredited but terrific Bill Duke.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

Noir Watch: I Love Trouble (1948)




Watched:  05/12/2021
Format:  TCM Film Fest
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:   S. Sylvan Simon

I'd actually had a bit of trouble tracking down I Love Trouble (1948), a film I'd seen often referenced in writing about noir, but it just never crossed my path.  I've seen reference to the film being lost for a few decades, but TCM was able to air it as part of the 2021 TCMFF.  Honestly - the print is not great, but I've seen worse.  

The plot itself is a windy murder mystery and from the same school as a Chandler mystery, but with more than a hint of Hammett.  The cast is headlined by Franchot Tone, a guy who was a bug movie star at one point, but I tend to know as "that guy who was married to Joan Crawford in the 1930's"*.  

I absolutely cannot talk about the plot without spoiling the movie - other than it's very much a quality gumshoe caper with all the trimmings.  Tone as our shamus is actually rock solid here.  I liked what he did as "Stuart Bailey" - an enjoyable riff on a familiar sort of tune, and playing the fast-talking PI with the moral code working his way through the underbelly of society.  

He's joined by a bunch of actors you've likely never heard of - although noiristas will remember Janis Carter from Night Editor, Adele Jergens from Armored Car Robbery, Glenda Farrell from Little Caesar, Steven Geray from Gilda, and Tom Powers from... everything.  

I'd love to see this one again sometime to enjoy watching it work rather than keeping up with details of the mystery.  



*I mean, well done sir

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Space Truckers (1996)


 

Watched:  05/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First (complete viewing)
Decade:  oh, so 1990's
Director:  Stuart Gordon

Way back around 2001 or 2002, one day I noticed a movie called Space Truckers (1996) was showing on HBO.  If you've been hanging around this blog since 2003, then you know:  I immediately tuned over and caught something like 30 minutes of it.

I was shocked to see name actors Stephen Dorff, Dennis Hopper and Debi Mazar in what appeared to be a mid-budget sci-fi comedy that I'd never heard of, galivanting around space in a long-haul space-truck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Watch Party Watch: The Apple (1980) - @#$% this movie




Watched:  05/07/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First (and last)
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Menahem Golan

Well, I've now seen The Apple (1980), the sci-fi, near-future dystopian musical religious and political allegory.  And while watching, this is roughly how I felt:

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Doc Watch: The Last Blockbuster (2020)




Watched:  05/08/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's


This one was kind of weird.  And this post is mostly about how much I hated Blockbuster and didn't care when it folded.

Look, by the time Blockbuster Video went out of business, I'd intentionally not gone of my own free will into a Blockbuster in 10 years and had pretty much broken with Blockbuster as far back as the mid 1990's.  

So, a feature length doc talking about the death of Blockbuster as some sort of tragedy that was just an accident but something we all loved?  I was pausing the movie and making Jamie listen to me as I debated the film's non-stop nostalgia and love of the corporate behemoth, which - starting in the summer of 1994, I saw as actually very bad for movies when I tried to rent Breakfast at Tiffany's and (a) the clerk had never heard of it, and (b) looked it up and explained to me they used to have it, but they got rid of it.  But they did have 45 copies of Pauly Shore in Son In Law.  

Like, you don't have to be a snob to find that a little sad.

Neo-Noir Watch: The Grifters (1990)




Watched:  05/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Stephen Frears

Just in time for Mother's Day I finally (finally!) watched the 1990 film, The Grifters.

SPOILERS

Monday, May 3, 2021

Animation Watch: The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)


Watched:  05/01/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Michael RiandaJeff Rowe 

I'm not going to bother writing this up.  Another terrific Lord & Miller produced animation with a terrific voice cast.  Hysterical, moving, gorgeously animated...  very glad this is out there.  

But I figure everyone with a Netflix account will have seen it, so just go nuts on your own on this one.

I don't have kids, and I got this one.  I imagine a lot of you parents were choking back some feelings watching this one.

International Watch: The Handmaiden (2016)




Watched:  05/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Chan-wook Park

Look, this movie is impossible to discuss without spoilers - so, look out

SPOILERS

Saturday, May 1, 2021

2010's Watch: Everybody Wants Some (2016)




Watched:  04/28/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Richard Linklater

I remember the trailers for Everybody Wants Some (2016) were almost confusing.  They made no argument for why anyone should get off their ass and get to the theater to see the movie - a film about a bunch of baseball players at the fictional East Texas State University, kind of screwing around, and...  

It seemed the ads almost counted on a knowledge of how Linklater's other movies worked, and counted on you wanting more with different characters.  But in 2016, an all-male cast of dudes acting like dudes seemed almost tone-deaf, and the population who would be nostalgic for the college years circa 1980 was mostly home watching Downton Abbey.  

Honestly, the first fifteen minutes or so - I wasn't sure I was on board.  It *is* an all-male cast being dudes.  I'd like to say college dudes are not that crass, but some sure are, and the things you let slide... 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Voodoo Woman (1957)




Watched:  04/26/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward L. Cahn

So, Voodoo Woman (1957) is a low-budget picture released through API that's more or less a jungle horror adventure aimed at teens, I think.  

The plot gives us the ruthless Marilyn (Marla English) who wants GOLD in the jungle, I think.  Anyway, she dupes a local barkeep into funding her as she talks her would-be boyfriend (Lance Fuller) into going out there, along with a hired guide/ tough guy (Touch Connors).  But - whoops - they're headed for a village where voodoo magic is melding with mad science as colonialist scientician Dr. Roland Gerard (Tom Conway) is working with local tribes people who perform voodoo to (a) prove you can transform a person into a sort of Voodoo Monster, and (b) use science to keep them in that state.

I won't bother you with more details.  It's a movie that is rigidly against more than three set-ups per scene, doesn't make much sense, but has both an AMAZING monster suit for the titular Voodoo Woman and Marla English is terrific as the scheming evil-lady at the center of the picture.  

Go in expecting a movie-serial-level production and you'll be fine!  

Monday, April 26, 2021

Art House Watch: In the Mood for Love (2000)




Watched:  04/25/2021
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Wong Kar-wai

Still processing this movie.  Stunning.

Clearly Hong Kong based and created melodramas are a bit out of my wheelhouse, but there's much here to admire, from the cinematography to the restrained, lovely performances of Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung.  

I've been meaning to take in some Wong Kar-Wai movies for... about 25 years.  Well worth the wait.  I admit what triggered me to take a look was that Tony Leung will be in Shang-Chi, and I remembered "oh, yeah...  some Wong Kar-Wait stuff is on the Criterion Channel right now..."

Anyway, will definitely watch again.  Lovely, and I wish I'd seen it on the big screen.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Super Watch: Thunder Force (2021)




Watched:  04/24/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Ben Falcone

Look, this movie is exactly what it looks like and exactly what you expect.  It feels like it fell out of the 1990's in a lot of ways, but is totally fine.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Doc Watch: Dangerous Days - Making Blade Runner (2007)




Watched:  04/21/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's

For, really, the hardcore Blade Runner fan, Dangerous Days (2007) tries to put the documentary treatment to much of the same ground as Paul Sammon's book, Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner.*  It's definitely its own thing, and they cover different but overlapping territories.  There's participation from darn near everyone - and who knows who they left on the cutting room floor.

But, yeah, from coffee shop conversations about "you should adapt this novel" to "huh, looks like we made a cultural juggernaut", and everything inbetween, it's an expansive view of not just the vision and why's and wherefore's of this very special film, but a look at the machinery of movie-making that's only got one layer of gloss.  25 years after the fact, people are more generous with each other, even if you do wind up with conflicting versions of events here and there.  

Worth it for the behind-the-scenes looks as much as the interviews, but... just know as I did not when I started the doc - it's 3.5 hours.  Break it up into a 2 or more viewings.  It has handy chapter sections, so feel free to turn it off and come back.  




Coincidentally, this is the first book I ever purchased through Amazon.  

Friday, April 23, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Yog - Monster from Space/ The Space Amoeba (1970)




Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Ishirō Honda

This movie is not about an amoeba from space.  

I don't remember anyone calling the thing that does show up "Yog".  

It is about a sort of pile of glowing animated dots from space.  But that's not really an amoeba, is it, movie?

The blob of lights keeps infesting local beach creatures which turns them into rampaging kaiju, which creates a hard time for our friends who want to build a hotel on a remote island.  

Anyway, it's a lot of quality nonsense.  

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Maniac Watch: Maniac (1980)




Watched:  04/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Lustig


One of the interesting things about horror is that it can be used to give an actor a showcase who might not otherwise get one.  Joe Spinell is not a name with which a ton of people are familiar, although he had appeared in two Rocky films. I knew him from his star turn as the villain in Starcrash.  

Spinell was in a ton of stuff, but mostly not in leading roles, and mostly played a heavy.  Maybe not the greatest way to stretch one's acting resume.  But in 1980 he was part of the creative team that wrote and created Maniac, the movie of which he is the star (but let's agree it's weird to call him a protagonist, even if he is, kinda sorta).  He created an opportunity, and he really made the most of it.

JAL recommended the film, and I'd been putting it off, but it seemed like good counter-programming to The Beautician and the Beast.  Anyhoo... I get why JAL suggested it, and I did, in fact "like" it, which is a curious thing to say about a movie where a guy kills a whole bunch of people over 90 minutes.

I'm going to recommend the movie as a terrific/ whacko character study, a truly grisly horror movie (I did not watch with Jamie), and having a hell of an ending.  

Plus, it briefly co-stars Signal Watch fave, Caroline Munro!  Just sorta being Caroline Munro - but as a photographer!  

see!  There she is!  



Anyway - no spoilers.  But if you like the grittiness of, say, Basketcase, this movie is for you.

Watch Party Watch: The Beautician and the Beast (1997)




Watched:  04/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Ken Kwapis

Wait wait wait...  Fran Drescher plays a sassy Jewish girl from working class New York who a well-meaning functionary mistakes as a great candidate for a child-rearing role for a powerful and wealthy handsome widower?  What an entirely novel concept!  

Look, you couldn't not be aware of Fran Drescher circa 1997.  I remember my grandmother praising The Nanny at the time, and my own hip 20-something skepticism.  But a couple of years ago I found myself watching re-runs of the show, and I was like "oh, I get it.  She wants to be Lucille Ball, but in mini-skirts and leaning into Jewish stereotypes that I, as a WASP from Texas, can neither confirm nor deny."  Frankly, for what it is, it works.  I won't say the show is "smart" exactly, but it does what it does well, and I get how it lasted 6 seasons.

But... even in 1997 I was confused by The Beautician and the Beast.  It's the same thing as what she was doing on TV.  Like, pretty much exactly.  The movie is even PG from an era where comedies were PG-13, but Drescher's comedy was always flirty, not going for overt sex comedy or working blue, and so felt sanitized for network censors of the time.  So there's not even "we could never do this on TV" to separate the two.  Drescher is quoted as saying she didn't want to challenge the audience too much as she moved to movies, but I'd argue - don't just ask them to pay for what they can see every week for free.*

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Doc Watch: Pumping Iron (1977)




Watched:  04/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

So, I finally watched Pumping Iron (1977)!  It was super good.  I'm not spending the energy to write it up, but if I liked Arnie before (and he's my imaginary friend, so, yes), nothing has changed.  Also, it was wild to see young Lou Ferrigno.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Comedy Watch: Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021)



Watched:  04/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Josh Greenbaum

Delayed from summer 2020, Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021) was released to streaming services in February for a premium fee, but is now available for a more standard fee, and if I knew how much I would like it, I would have paid the $20.  

It's *not* for everybody, but it was absolutely in my wheelhouse.  This thing - written by and starring Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig - is as bonkers a comedy as I've seen in a looong time.  I don't want to give you any spoilers or plot points.  Just let it unfold.



Monday, April 12, 2021

PODCAST: "Withnail and I" (1987) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  March 30, 2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Bruce Robinson




We're discussing our personal canon when it comes to film - and what can two guys who talk endlessly at one another do better than discuss two guys who talk endlessly at one another? It's a British cult favorite, but not the best known movie here in the colonies - but maybe it should be? Join us for a sojourn in the country as we escape our normal routine!


Music:
Withnail's Theme - David Dundas and Rick Wentworth
All Along the Watchtower - Performed by Jimi Hendrix, Written by Bob Dylan

Signal Watch Canon:

Friday, April 9, 2021

Ida/ Noir Watch: Woman in Hiding (1950)




Watched:  04/08/2021
Format: BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Michael Gordon

Well, it's still coming up on my birthday, and Jamie said "watch whatever, it's your b-day."  And, with a Totter movie cleared we moved on to Ida Lupino.  Well, friends, while it may have started pre-pandemic, Jamie has thrown in with the Ida Lupino Fan train the past year, for sure.  So, this selection was saluted.

I'd not previously seen Woman in Hiding (1950), but picked it up cheap on BluRay, because: Lupino.  

I will argue that the noir movement splintered into several familiar genres, from the erotic thriller to the Lifetime Network's basic movie programming.  Film's with "women in peril" such as Sudden Fear and Beware, My Lovely - which definitely have precedents from the start of film found a home in the crime genres of the 1950's, doubling as "women's films" with plucky heroines (scared out of their minds) and some chisel-jawed dude who might come to the rescue.  By the early 00's: I mean - have you seen the names of movies on the Lifetime Network?*

Woman in Hiding follows Ida Lupino playing the daughter of a wealthy mill-owner in small-town North Carolina.  After the accidental death of her father, she marries the factory foreman, only to be met at their honeymoon cottage by a young woman informing Lupino "he was my man, he married you for the mill, and he probably killed your dad."

Freaked out, Lupino goes into HIDING (see - the title is accurate).  Here she meets Howard Duff (whom she's marry the next year) and shenanigans ensue.  

The film does contain a drinking game noir item - there's a convention in the hotel where they're staying.  

The film co-stars the lovely Peggy Dow in one of her very few film roles - she was also in the film version of Harvey that same year - and she was out of movies by 1952.  Which is a shame - she's great here and totally different from her character in Harvey.  

It also stars "that guy" actor Taylor Holmes, as well as Don Beddoe.  

This isn't my favorite Lupino role, but that's the script more than anything she's doing.  But, man, when confronted by Dow's character with what her new husband of less than a day may have done - she's got a lot to do there and nails it.  

Special nod on this one to cinematographer William H. Daniels.  He manages to get in some great stuff, especially in the sequence on the stairwell, on the bus and in the finale sequence.  Gorgeous looking noir stuff.  And letting the drafts in the stairwell kick at Lupino's skirt of her dress was pretty great (and likely a happy accident).  


*it's a parade of playing on paranoia re: domestic insecurity mixed with actual issues of domestic trauma, and it's a wild ride that Lifetime programs that shit 24/7 and then flips to "and now two months of movies about Santa being your boyfriend's dad".