Showing posts with label crime fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crime fiction. Show all posts

Sunday, June 26, 2022

PodCast 202: "Hudson Hawk" (1991) - a 90's Reconsideration PodCast w/ MRSHL and Ryan



Watched:  06/25/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Michael Lehmann




Marshall and Ryan look into one of the worst reviewed, most notorious movies of the 1990's! We're looking at what they did, what critics and the public were sort of expecting at the time, where it went wrong and where it surprised us. Join us as we steal a bit of time and ponder an artifact that might turn movie lead into gold!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Swinging on a Star - Bruce Willis 
Side by Side - Bruce Willis & Danny Aiello




Sunday, June 5, 2022

Mystery Watch: Death on the Nile (2022)



Watched:  06/04/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Kenneth Branagh

I have not read any Agatha Christie, which seems like a really stupid blind spot for me to have, but here we are.  I have also not watched Poirot mysteries on PBS and I haven't watched the older versions of these same stories.  I assumed I'd get to them, and I haven't.  Life is short and I mostly waste it.  I did watch the prior movie starring director/ star/ producer Kenneth Branagh, Murder on the Orient Express, and I thought, as a movie, it was pretty solid. Nothing to win awards, but accomplished what it wanted to do.

But as I have COVID and I was trying to figure out how well my brain was working, seeing if I could follow a Poirot mystery seemed like a good idea.  And the answer is - I could follow it!

I 10,000% suspect that this movie is just the bare bones of the original novel, which I am not looking up to check, as I should read the book at some point and I don't want to ruin it. 

This one had a few things going against it.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

PodCast 200: "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984) - Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ SGHarms and Ryan




Watched:  05/21/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown/ First for Extended Version
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Sergio Leone




Steven returns to the podcast to talk one of Ryan's canon films, and one of Leone's last. It's an epic length podcast for an epic-length film, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Join us as we talk about what works, what doesn't, the challenges of the film, and what it all means.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Deborah's Theme - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST
Once Upon a Time in America - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST


Signal Watch Canon

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Parker Watch: Parker (2013)




Watched: 03/18/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Taylor Hackford

By now, I assume y'all know I'm a bit of a completionist, and I'm slowly buying the BluRays of all the movies based upon the Parker novels by Richard Stark.  Most famous of these movies include Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Payback starring Mel Gibson (which I don't own because Gibson, but probably will buy used to take him out of the money chain).  

If you're newer to the blog, when I traveled a lot for work, I read all 24 Parker novels and the Grofeld offshoots.  The movies never match the books - writer Richard Stark (real name: Donald Westlake) was not willing to let them use the name "Parker" as he was aware that the movies would differ too much from the books, and movie people tend to miss the point of Parker.  Which is 100% true.  So the movies are all oddball mutations of Parker as a character and the plots of the novels  - which, if done straight, would be fascinating stuff and probably spur a 1000 think pieces about following a character who is in no way a hero.  He is not a badguy, but he is a bad guy.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Noir Christmas Party Watch: Lady in the Lake (1947)

 

Watched:  12/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Montgomery

I've written this up plenty.  And podcasted it.  No need to do so again.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Noir Watch: Kiss of Death (1947)



Watched:  02/20/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  3rd?
Decade:  1940's

Kiss of Death (1947) was one of the first "noir" films I watched years back when I was trying to sort out "what... is noir?".   It took a second viewing a couple of years later for me to get how it fit into the category, but I do feel it is a good example of a certain kind of noir.  More importantly, it's got a great set-up that plays into a tight, engaging story, and has three fantastic performances.  And Brian Donlevy.

I kid.  Brian Donlevy is fine, but this film is famous for a ground-breaking psychotic performance by Richard Widmark as mad-dog criminal, Tommy Udo.  Flat out, that's probably what the movie is best known for - and there's no question, it's the Joe Pesci-before-Joe Pesci performance of it's day.  Maybe even the Heath Ledger-Joker performance of its day?  He's a lit stick of sociopathic dynamite who thinks nothing of killing someone's kids just to make a point, and he'd have a good laugh about it.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Noir Watch: The Captive City (1952)



Watched:  01/26/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

The Hayes Era produced some interesting bedfellows between Hollywood and public officials.  Esepcially as we headed into the HUAC years and Hollywood watched as colleagues were dragged out in front of cameras or placed in rooms to testify, naming names.  An odd side-effect was the over-compensation and big hug some movies gave law enforcement in some movies as they attempted to illustrate the complicated scenarios the officials were on about.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Whodunnit Watch: Knives Out (2019)



Watched:  11/29/2019
Format:  Alamo S. Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I have a feeling Rian Johnson is going to be, with this movie, one of those directors twitter decides they need to prove they think is overrated.  He hasn't made that many movies, seems pretty lucky to have done what he's been able to do (if you ignore how he scraped to get Brick made), and hasn't ever delivered exactly what people are expecting when they show up at the theater - up to and including The Last Jedi.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Noir Watch: Force of Evil (1948)


Watched:  11/12/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's


I recalled liking Force of Evil (1948) the last time I watched in 2011, and it's hilarious to read my write-up from what I'd argue was pretty early in my dive into noir (were we ever so young, Leaguers?).  Apparently this was also my first John Garfield movie, and it's a heck of an introduction to the guy, but I knew Marie Windsor and was thrilled to see her appear (as one should always be excited to see Windsor).

But, dang, was I happy to see I was appreciative of the film back then, because rewatching it now, I was stunned by what a remarkable film this is, was and shall be, and am shocked - watching it now - that it doesn't have a deeper fanbase.  Hell, you can't buy this on BluRay in Region 1, as near as I can tell.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chandler Watch: Marlowe (1969)



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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sick Day Watch: Clue (1985)


Watched:  07/21/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th or so.
Decade:  1980's

I watched this while I was having my worst day of my cold and running a fever.  I mostly remember clicking through options on Amazon and finally saying "ha.  Madeline Kahn."  And then I was watching Clue (1985) again.

A while back I watched this movie and actually didn't like it that time, except for some particular bits here and there, but on this viewing, I enjoyed it immensely (again.  I used to quite like this movie.),

Anyway.  Ha!  Madeline Kahn!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Signal Watch Reads: "The Long Goodbye" (1953) and "Playback" (1958)



At long last, I read both The Long Goodbye (1953) and Playback (1958), the last of Raymond Chandler's novels centered upon detective Philip Marlowe.

You'll note a lengthy dry spell between books here, and there's a precipitous drop-off between the two in depth and strength.  It's curious as The Long Goodbye feels less like a detective novel and more like an author wrestling with himself, working through the point in his life where he'd enjoyed success and some fame and found neither amounted to much as he was still living with himself as an alcoholic, a writer of genre fiction, and now a widower.*

Friday, June 7, 2019

Noir Watch: Dead Reckoning (1947)


Watched:  06/06/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

I know it seems like I heap praise on every single noir that comes along, but I'm usually trying to find some good in the film or a reason it was included in Eddie Muller's Noir Alley line-up.

Muller himself warned us up front that Dead Reckoning (1947) wasn't going to shake the Earth, and in practice - the movie has a wide variety of components that, if I were to tell you "it stars so-and-so, it has this and that plot element, it has a unique location" you'd be nodding and getting noir-jazzed for the movie.  But, in execution...  the movie just feels like a lesser picture almost immediately, and it just never manages to catch fire.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Noir/ Heist Watch: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)



Watched:  06/03/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  7th?  Unknown
Decade:  1950s

I know I throw a lot of soft recommendations around, saying "oh, you might like this" or "it's worth catching", but The Asphalt Jungle (1950) was one of those hit-me-like-lightning movies the first time I watched it, and, in a lot of ways, I've been chasing that same high ever since.  That viewing was way back in college from a rented tape on a 20" TV, and I've seen and owned various copies of the film ever since.  Frankly, when I just looked up the movie on this blog, I assumed I'd written it up 3 or 4 times, but, instead, I'm just finding mentions of it tucked into other posts.  So, it's been a while.

In some ways, in 2019 there's little new in The Asphalt Jungle - the film is one of those that reset the path for heist movies and created the template from which heist movies would flow from then til now.  But for a movie popping up just a few years after World War II, and because of the influence, it feels shockingly modern (especially for modern TV more than movies, which are largely toothless in comparison these days).  It's 3/5ths getting to and getting through the heist, and 2/5ths things going wrong and the fallout as our ensemble tries to sort out the mess they're in.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Noir City Austin - Day 1 - "Trapped" (1949) and "The Turning Point" (1952)




Viewed:  05/17/2019
Format:  Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  First for both
Decade:  1940's/ 1950's

Eddie Muller is back in Bat City for Noir City Austin, our annual showing of films I'd never find on my own, and always can't believe the gold Muller is able to surface.   Muller isn't just host of TCM's Noir Alley weekly dose of crime, implied sex and moral gray areas - he's also head of the Film Noir Foundation.  Proceeds from the festival and merch sales go back to the FNF, who, in turn use the money to rescue films from obscurity and eventual loss.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

PODCAST: Noir Watch: "The Long Goodbye" (1973) - w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  02/01/2019
Format:  Kino Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Simon and Ryan delve into Film Noir via Neo-Noir, Altman-directed entry "The Long Goodbye" (1973), an oddball of a film with a lot to offer. We explore the role of Philip Marlowe in the world of fiction, some of the mechanics of noir, and whether or not any of this actually works as a movie.




Music:

The Long Goodbye - Music by John Williams/ Lyrics by Johnny Mercer/ performed by Jack Sheldon

Links:

For more about The Signal Watch PodCast
The Signal Watch Patreon

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Noir Watch: The Big Sleep (1946)


Watched:  12/14/2018
Format:  Big screen at Austin Film Society
Viewing:  unknown.  Fifth?
Decade:  1940's

I'm not actually going to write up this movie.  You should watch it.  And behold Bacall.  I need to re-read the novel.  It's been a long time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Signal Watch Reads: Dirty Money (a Parker novel - 2008)



On Monday around 3:07 Pacific Time (I was flying back from Berkeley, CA), I finished the final Parker novel by Richard Stark, Dirty Money (2008).

It's a hell of a thing to say I read all 24 Parker books, plus the four Grofield spin-off novels.  That's certainly a first for me, when it comes to books.  Back in the 1990's, I read about five or six books with a tight continuity by William Kennedy, and I've read a lot of Hammett's "Continental Op" short stories - but 28 books by one person feels like a lot, airplane reading though they were.

Dirty Money doesn't conclude the series except for the fact that Donald Westlake (Stark's real name) passed on December 31, 2008 without producing any additional Parker novels.  Parker doesn't die, doesn't go to jail, doesn't give up on crime to have 3.5 kids and become a manager at Hardee's.  Butcher's Moon, the 1974 near-conclusion of the Parker series, also didn't feel quite like a finale, although the bodycount in the novel certainly had the sort of thing you didn't imagine Stark wanting to top.  But it did make for a satisfying conclusion of sorts.

Fortunately, so, too does Dirty Money make for a fantastic conclusion to the 90's-00's Parker rebirth.  The story ties together the plots of the two prior books into one continuous novel of sorts, refusing to gloss over the complications that I had, as a reader, half forgiven Stark for, thinking he had maybe written the other too quickly, hadn't really paid the same attention to detail he once did in that 1960's-70's heyday that produced the first ten novels of the series.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

SW Reads: Ask The Parrot (a Parker Novel by Richard Stark, 2006)



Ask The Parrot (2006) is the penultimate Parker novel.  Frankly, I'd been dreading hitting this book based on the title alone, which sounded like one of those caper novels that would get turned into a movie with Dennis Farina that was funny, but not *that* funny, and mostly forgettable.

It's a strange, small book, playing well to several of Stark's strengths and his interest in exploring multiple characters and POV's in a single book.  He sticks with the winning formula, maintaining a limited omniscient narrator's voice but using the 3rd section of the book to jump from person to person in the situation, setting up what would happen in the explosive fourth portion of the novel when everything comes together to fall apart.