Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Holiday Watch: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)




Watched:  11/30/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Todd Strauss-Schulson

Look, I'd seen this once back in 2012 and that was it for me, but Jamie is currently dealing with COVID, and so we're not looking for movies that are downers or super complicated at the moment.  

And so it was that after approximately 45 seconds of looking, I tuned into A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011) - a movie that a mere 11 years later could never be made.  It's still relatively funny, but I'm also far older than I was when the first Harold and Kumar movie hit in 2004.  So, you kind of have to put yourself into the mental state of the early 00's and then the shift to adulthood that this final installment reflects.  

But, yeah, its maybe the last gasp of a string of movies featuring dudes behaving badly for yuks and a pre-#MeToo worldview that impacts a lot of key punchlines.  Also:  baby doing drugs (this absolutely does not hold up).  And, of course, the charm of a stoner comedy doesn't necessarily hold up over time for reasons so complicated and out of the scope of this blog that I don't feel like getting into it - but I'll say "aside from their musical selections, stoners are mostly deeply boring and tedious IRL."

As left and right horseshoed into overlapping end-states driven by differing concerns, the movie landscape has become a very different and more...  concerned place, in a way not really seen since the early 1960's.  It's not that you can't make a movie like this - no one is stopping you, but it's often not seen as something for a general audience or theatrical release.  Stuff like this now feels like it's a Netflix or Hulu drop.  

It is also super weird that Kumar had spent a couple years in the White House and filmed this during a sabbatical.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Hallmark Watch: A Holiday Spectacular (2022)




Watched:  11/27/2022
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Putch

It's easy to forget that before they had a cable channel and the need to fill programming 24/7, Hallmark started making movies for network television.  Back in the day, Hallmark used to deliver semi-prestige Sunday-night movies with name talent.  I don't think this happens anymore as they've moved these movies to The Hallmark Channel and the budgets have taken a hit of sorts, but the DNA of those "Hallmark Presents" movies still exists.  So, every Christmas, tucked amongst the usual low-budget fare of the Hallmark movie season, you do get a movie or three with name actors or big set pieces. 

One of this year's offerings is A Holiday Spectacular (2022), which has only two name actors, one of whom is Eve Plumb, which blew my mind, and Ann-Margret.  Ann-Margret mostly only appears in a framing sequence and probably knocked her part out in 2-3 days of shooting, but it's still a delight to see her.  

Santor Watch: The Key To Christmas (2020)

Approx. 100x more effort was put into this poster than the movie



Watched:  11/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director, Writer, Camera, Editor, Catering, Accountant, Set Decoration:  Jason Mills

Some pals seem to take exception to my practice of watching bad movies, riffing them, commenting upon them, etc...  The argument goes "someone tried, and it's not cool to make fun of them for trying".  To that I say:  if trying is your criteria, I welcome you to watch The Key to Christmas (2020).  Because that @#$% ain't happening here.

Look, I don't understand the market for ultra-cheap holiday movies.  There can't be that many Me and Doug's out there constantly looking for ways to torture each other with the worst in absolute garbage media.  Someone is out there buying the rights to these movies to distribute them with the idea that enough people will watch them that these movies will make money somehow.  I don't get the model.  I have to assume it's money laundering, tax fraud or something.  

Saturday, November 26, 2022

PodCast 222: "Home Alone 1 & 2" (1990, 1992) - Holidays 2022 w/ SimonUK and Ryan


 

Watched:  11/05 and 11/12/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing: Second/ First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Christopher Columbus




Simon and Ryan ponder two of the biggest money makers of the 1990's, a pair of movies that caught the world by surprise and took cartoon violence, family strife, abandonment, and hanging with old people and found their Christmas box office miracle. As the movies are now staples of the Holiday, we take a look to see what's under the tree. Will we get a sweet present or hit in the face with a @#$%ing bowling ball?

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

So it Begins Watch: We Need a Little Christmas (2022)



Watched:  11/6/2022
Format:  Hallmark
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kevin Fair

I watched this because it stars Erica Durance, full stop.  This is an Erica Durance stan site.  

Look, if all goes well, we're going to podcast a Christmas movie or two this year and I'll talk more about Hallmark Christmas movies.  They're not something you watch or discuss individually, but watching them is a longterm investment in observing an ever-evolving living organism of Christmas cheer.  Collectively, they're something that mutates to respond to the environment and to best dominate the landscape.  Thus, talking about any individual Hallmark movie is missing the point - you have to be talking about all Hallmark Movies or none at all.  

We also will talk about what the movies are for, and how you watch them.  And this movie served that purpose pretty well this weekend.  

To that end, I had it on, I put on the movie and occasionally looked up to see what was happening as it unspooled.  I performed household tasks in need of doing  - like changing lightbulbs and cleaning and doing dishes and dealing with recycling.  I was in and out of the house during all of this, and thanks to ample commercial breaks (this was recorded off cable) and the friction-free plot that just kept happening with no real conflict to mar the story, I'm pretty sure I followed the movie just fine.  I saw a lot of great, large kitchens and Erica Durance in a wide-array of outfits.

In these films, characters always state their motives and feelings in clear terms, including "I don't know what I'm feeling".  Because these are movies about things that cause feelings.  Sadness.  Melancholy.  Stress.  But always curving toward happiness and joy derived from Christmas, new friends, and new love.  

As I say - I watched this because it stars the lovely Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on several seasons of Smallville.  Here, she's a recently widowed woman who has moved she and her young son to a new town to open a new interior design business (away from friends and family?  Now?  It doesn't all add up.).  And - showing that Hallmark movies have dared to make the formula a bit different - it's about Durance meeting a new neighbor who went through similar (or worse) experiences decades prior, and how Durance and the neighbor - played by Lynn Whitfield, who you've seen in like 15 things at least - find friendship and mutual understanding despite their lack of any differences of opinion on anything of consequence.  

The drama plays out in microbursts, which seems to be the new thing for the Hallmark movies.  There's no single issue or misunderstanding, it's more like little episodes as characters get to know each other.  It's kind of a weird style of storytelling that I can only really point to older novels or a few 80's or 90's movies to compare it to.

Yeah, a possible suitor for Durance is introduced, but the movie also knows it is *too soon* for romance to be more than a possibility by movie's end.  Thus, he's an endlessly polite and patient dude who also does the things dudes do when they hope it will get them in good with Erica Durance - like dropping all of their Christmas plans to do a 5 hour turn around trip.  It's a shocking amount of restraint in comparison to how these movies worked a decade ago.  Like I said - evolving organism.  

So it includes Hallmark staples

  1. Single Mom
  2. Kid unnaturally concerned with the feelings of adults
  3. Attempt to recreate Christmases past
  4. Weird Christmas events that don't happen in nature (Christmas camp for kids?)
  5. Local man who everyone in town adores but who is unattached
  6. Solider/ Veteran 


Monday, July 25, 2022

I Forgot To Post On This Watch: Open By Christmas (2021)





Watched:  I dunno.  Let's call it 07/10/2022
Format:  Hallmark's Christmas in July
Viewing:  First
Director:  David Weaver

I watched this for two reasons:  (1) I put it on for two seconds and then it ended and I'd just watched a whole movie and that's how Hallmark movies get you.  (2) Erica Durance was in it, which was the fuel in the fire, I guess.

Judging this movie by the current standard of Hallmark Christmas movies, it was... fine?  Good?  Let's settle on "it was okay at doing what it set out to do", which is all you can judge it on, anyway.

Not long ago, Hallmark started letting themselves make movies that weren't one of five plots, so now you kinda don't know what you're going to get.  I mean, the same bland, friction-free spirit is there.  You know everything will be okay.  But these days they've learned that's the thing, not any particular formula of story.  Thinking about it, the Vandervoort starring Hallmark pic I watched last Christmas also had two narrative threads, so maybe that's the thing?  Cast Smallville actors and two plots.  I'm calling it now.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Holiday Watch: Easter Parade (1948)




Watched:  04/17/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Charles Waters

I put this on at the start as we were cooking, and then realized I was watching the end.

This movie isn't my favorite.  But it does have Ann Miller in some parts of it.  And that's not all bad.








Monday, December 27, 2021

Forgot to Mention it Watch: Crazy For Christmas (2005)




Watched:  12/17/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Eleanore Lindo

For me, this film is ground zero for what has become what I oversimplify and refer to as my Hallmark Christmas Movie fascination.  I'm not sure I even watched Crazy for Christmas (2005) on Hallmark the first time.  It could have been Lifetime or some other network.  But I think I watched it Christmas 2005 when it first aired.  I know I watched it in Phoenix, and by 2006, I was in Austin.

What I mostly remember was that it starred Howard Hesseman of WKRP in Cincinnati fame, which was how I wound up checking it out.  "Oh, yeah, that person" quickly became what brought me back to these movies as I checked in on the Tiffani Amber Theissens and others who were happy to pick up a check and turn in a performance in a movie that would get eyeballs and not embarrass anyone became a thing. 

This movie co-stars Hesseman, but really hinges on Andrea Roth, who has an imbd page as long as your arm, as a single mom struggling to finish school and raise a kid.  She works as a limo driver to pay the bills.  On Christmas Eve, a local eccentric millionaire requests her, specifically, to drive him around for the day.  She has a kid and doesn't want to do it, but the money is too good.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Post-Christmas Check-In and Andre




Hi all!  

I hope your Christmas went well.  

We had a good few days of festivities.  Thursday was Santa With Muscles Day, which... really, should never be repeated.  

After much COVID testing, we were able to host Christmas Eve for my parents and cousin, Jamie's Dad and brother (The Dug) and his wife, K.  Unfortunately we were in a gray area with my brother's family until Christmas Day, so we missed them on Christmas Eve.  

Cocktails, too much food, some jolly music and cheer was had by all.  It's also my cousin's birthday, so it's always a one-two punch of festivities on Christmas Eve.  As always, after parents left, we checked in with The Pope, watched some Hallmark, watched some Christmas specials, etc... it was lovely.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas.


Merry Christmas, y'all. 

May your day be a good one.  May you spend time today talking to those you love, in person or in any of the myriad ways we now can reach out.  

I'll be spending time with family.  After the past few years, that's the best gift I can ask for.  

I'm so, so lucky.  I hope you are, too.

If you need a Christmas hello, don't be shy about asking.  That's what this day is for.  


Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas Eve, Every Buddy


As we do each Christmas Eve, we're giving Darlene Love a spin.  If you've never listened to Ms. Love, give it a shot - see why she's so great live.  

It's been an... interesting year here at League HQ, genuinely filled with love and loss and ups and downs.  It's been a year of instability and amazing support.  And even this Christmas Eve is filled with questions. 

But all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.  And that's true in the better years, too.  

On this night of  anticipation, I hope you are either spending the holidays as you wish or have plans for a good night in the coming days.  All I know is that we get another year coming up as this rock hasn't flown away from the nuclear ball anchoring our planets here, or been consumed by it yet.  

We've got another chance.  Let's all do better.  Let's all try to remember that we're all we've got.

While Darlene Love is the patron saint of Christmas here at The Signal Watch, there's always room under the tree for more voices.  And where would we have been in 2021 if not for Ms. Hannah Waddingham?  


PodCast 176: "Santa With Muscles" (1996) - Daydrinking the Movies Christmas 2021 w/ Jamie, Dug, K and Ryan




Watched: 12/23/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: Second
Decade:  1990's
Director:  John Murlowski




Well. We rounded up Jamie's brother and sister-in-law, got into the booze cabinet and watched a truly, truly horrible movie. And with tape rolling, we thereby talked about The Meaning of Christmas, magic crystals, soft-racism in unrelated movies and a wide, wide host of topics.

Have a cocktail or three and catch-up. We're talking a garbage movie.




Music:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Michael Buble 

hypnogram interprets "Santa With Muscles"



Christmas 2021 Playlist

Holiday Noir Watch: "Lady in the Lake" (1947)




Watched:  12/21/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Montgomery

Well, this is officially my own personal Christmas movie tradition now, I guess.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Holiday Watch: "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944)




Watched:  12/21/2021
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Vincente Minnelli

My allergies were destroying me, so we agreed to just put on something light and simple.  I didn't realize Jamie had never seen this one, so maybe it was a good choice?  She never said much about what she thought about it.

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) is only barely a Christmas film.  It follows about a year with a family in St. Louis over 1903-04, in a world just around the corner from that which inspired Walt Disney's Main Street USA in the Disney Parks.  That's not an exaggeration - Disney did base Main Street on the small town of Marceline, Missouri, where he would have lived about 4 years after the events of the film as a young child (Disney born 1901).

The film boasts a name cast, headlined by Judy Garland, and as a product of wartime filmmaking, the cast skews female-centric and features non-draft eligible gentlemen in support roles.  Mary Astor seems cast too-young as the patient matriarch, paired with Leon Ames as the father.  Lucille Bremer appears in her first (of like 10) role, Margaret O'Brien as arguably the #2 lead in the film at 7 years old, Harry Davenport as "Grandpa".  Joan Caroll, who plays Patsy in Bells of St. Mary's is another sister.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Cat Watch: The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014)



Watched:  12/20/2021
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First?
Decade:  2014
Director:  Mark Jean


The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014) is the movie that precedes The Nine Kittens of Christmas, which we just watched.    Some of the cast from the follow up is in this movie, like Gregory Harrison.  But it's a different and oddly cheaper film than the sequel.  

But it does have stars Brandon Routh and Kimberley Sustad.  I can kinda see why people liked them enough that this got a sequel.  The acting isn't robotic, and you can see its not just people smiling at each other like morons.

It's basically a movie about two adults as shy and dumb about romance as two middle schoolers, who are eye-@#$%ing each other for 3/4ths of the movie but, do not do anything about it until the final, Christmassy pronouncement of love.  

Because TV, and especially these movies, works a certain way - there's a scene when it's just the two of them, alone in a house in which they both live, and they kiss, and then apparently time and space no longer matter, because they're then telling their confidants about the kiss in two different locations.  And I'm like... so... what happened for the 12 hours or so inbetween here?  You said nothing to each other?  I would think you would say something to each other.  Like - I get that that felt good in the edit bay, but it literally makes no sense at that point.

ANYWAY, these movies are not about making sense.  They're about dumb misunderstandings.  And Christmas-time romance.  And picking out a tree.  And talking about Christmas when I was a kid.  And hitting all the beats.  Plus, cats.

The movie doesn't really set up Routh's character quite the way I imagined they would based upon the sequel, which states that he has a hard time with change.  I mean, maybe?  But not a pathological fear of change as presented.  He's adjusting to the idea of taking a girl seriously rather than having fun, but he does do it on his own.  

Anyhoo...  there's a couple of cute cats.  And I realize now several things in the sequel were call-backs to this movie, which means the people who made the sequel were assuming we were very, very familiar with this movie (I don't think I'd watched it all the way through before).  

Monday, December 20, 2021

PODCAST 175: "Cash On Demand" (1961) - Christmas 2021 w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  12/13/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Quentin Lawrence




Jamie and Ryan pull the perfect job of a half-baked podcast episode! The best laid plans of podcasters and men and all that as we do our best to get through the score, talking about a Christmas heist film from the renowned Hammer studios, starring some top-shelf talent! Join us, and let's see if we can't get away with it!




Music:
Money - Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon 


Christmas 2021 Playlist

Christmas Classic Watch: White Christmas (1954)

something about this picture says "whoops, I joined a cult"



Watched:  12/19/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Curtiz

Man, I've seen this so many times.  

Next time you watch, just bask in the glory that was Edith Head's genius for gowns and costuming.  



Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas Watch: Single All the Way (2021)




Watched:  12/18/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020
Director:  Michael Mayer

Not going to bury the lede.  Single All the Way (2021) is the gay-starring romcom for the holidays that Netflix's DataTron3000 realized would do quite well for clicks as it would serve a perpetually underserved audience.  The probably good news is that it is not trying to either fit the Hallmark mold, nor is it a Hallmark spoof.  It's its own, stand-alone, comedy movie.  

I am already aware that it is also a YMMV affair, as are many-a-comedy, as I've had one pal weigh in with a "that sucked" response, and - hey - you probably do not want my opinion of your favorite comedy.  Unless it's Young Frankenstein.  Or anything with Madeline Kahn.*

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Christmas Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)




Watched:  12/18/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  ha ha ha
Decade:  1940's
Director:  George Seaton

Look, we watch this every year.  I'm not writing it up.  And this site is very clear on its pro-Maureen O'Hara stance.



Christmas Watch Party Finale! "Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero" (2012)




Watched:  12/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Steve Franke


I have to ask Producer/ Director/ Writer/ Actor Steve Franke - what is this, Steve Franke?  Because our Amazon Watch Party is pretty convinced that this movie is somehow a tax write-off scam.  

Look, I am second to none in adoring large, silly dogs.  And this movie has two white golden retrievers as stars of the movie, and they are pretty great.  It also has other dogs, a pack of alpacas or llamas (I don't know the difference), and in two insert shots, a fucking bear. 

I guess this is a Christmas movie, but it's also a quest movie if your quest is two fluffy dogs just running hither and yon around fields in Texas.  Also, a separate quest for the scared kid looking for his dogs.  CHRISTMAS.