Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla and Mothra - The Battle for Earth (1992)

Watched:  02/25/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director: Takao Okawara
Selection:  Me

We decided to keep on our path of rewatching Heisei-era Godzilla movies in order.  We last watched this one about four years ago during our "hunker down and watch Godzilla because it's COVID-times" erratic sprint through Toho's G-output.  

Honestly, I didn't really remember this one at all until a scene would start.  There was a lot of "oh, yeahhhh..." as the movie unspooled.  And I attribute that to the fact the middle of movie is a mess.  The beginning is interesting enough, and the end is good Kaiju Kombat, but the middle feels like they're trying to make a point about stealing and environmentalism, but it's a little confusing as to how that's tying into our Kaiju problem.  And to further muddy the film, Godzilla - now a heel after the time-warp stuff of the prior film - isn't here to restore balance.  He's just... sorta... rampaging.  

What's funny is how it looks like the new Monsterverse stuff is taking cues from these movies.  This is the first of the Heisei movies to suggest ancient cultures knew of the Kaiju, and there was a balance to the world brought by the Titans.  But here they do it as an exposition dump *after* introducing The Cosmos (our faerie friends).  And the Monsterverse can't bear the thought of either the Cosmos or Mothra in her larval form - so I guess we're just stuck with the window dressing.

Curiously, one of the supporting actors looked so familiar I mentioned it to Jamie who figured out he was recast in Godzilla 2000 as a totally different character, but he had facial hair and a very different demeanor.  But I did feel less crazy (and he's actually in like four of these movies).  And that's just one of those things - I think everyone acting in Japan gets to be in 2-4 Godzilla movies if they play their cards right.

SF Science-Fiction Watch: It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)

Watched:  02/24/2024
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Gordon
Selection:  me

I was watching something recently - no idea what - and they showed clips from It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), one of the 1950's staple sci-fi atomic-age monster horror movies I'd always meant to get around to, but it just never happened.  In the clips, I saw the giant, stop-motion squid at the center of the movie tearing up San Francisco-based landmarks so I thought "hey, let's watch that with Dug."

So, we did.

Quick note:  the version we watched on Amazon was colorized, and done pretty well, I believe by Amazon.  But it's not what I was intending to watch.  Beware which version you're clicking on when you agree to rent the film.

At the time, this movie was very successful, but seems to have been somewhat forgotten by Gen-X and subsequent generations.  Jamie stated out loud what I was wondering:  did someone read a synopsis of Gojira (1954) and decide to try to make something similar here?  Maybe, but also:  by 1955, we were into the second wave of monster films as studios realized the popularity of Dracula and Co. had not really diminished, but - also - wasn't it fun to have giant, radioactive ants (Them! - 1954) or just big old sea beasts (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms - 1953).  

Unlike Gojira, the military here is shown as successful, eventually, against the beast.  But, if you like movies about meetings and some awkward romance (and if you have an interest in getting into Godzilla, I hope you like both), this is the movie for you.  

Look, Harryhausen is a master, but he can only make so much movie so fast.  And make it look as good as it does in this film.  So there's not a lot of time in the movie where we actually see the giant octopus.  When we do, it looks fantastic.  The FX and stop-motion are top of their game for the era, if nothing else, just skip around the timeline of the film to watch that.  It's extremely cool.

The film stars Kenneth Tobey as our submarine commander hero and sexual harasser, Faith Domergue as the brilliant lady scientist who eventually takes Tobey down a peg even as she's clearly ready to bed him, and Donald Curtis, whom I have seen in multiple other movies but never in such a prominent role.  They're all fine.  Tobey I have an affection for as the guy from the original The Thing From Another World and a whole bunch of Joe Dante films (plus Airplane!).  Domergue just isn't one of my favorites.  She's very...  there in the movie, but she always feels a little flat to me.  And Curtis isn't bad as the third wheel.  

The sexual politics of the movie are squarely 1955 for most of the film:  he-man Tobey makes his intentions known, Domergue is sorta having it as Tobey literally corners her and all but waggles his eyebrows.  But the curious bit is the speech delivered by Curtis, informing Tobey (who presumably has been at sea since WWII) "hey, women have their own minds, and they're entering the workforce as equals, so step the fuck off" to which Tobey seems amenable-ish.  It arrives way too late, and has been ignored coming from the mouth of Domergue, but it does arrive, and for that alone I was shocked.

The movie is a tight 80-something minutes, so it's not exactly going to kill your day to watch the movie.  Just don't come in expecting deep character studies or anything.  Come in looking for SF to get blowed up by a squid and you're good.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sports Watch: The Sandlot (1993)

Watched:  02/21/2024
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  David Mickey Evans
Selection:  Jamie

I was wrapping up my senior year of high school when The Sandlot (1993) hit.  At the time, I was more interested in adult-oriented movies, and not at all into baseball, so the movie came and went without much notice on my part.  I'd have forgotten about it completely, but it's since become an inter-generational favorite, especially with baseball fans (which is by far the best sport to put in a movie), and has become a meme-generating perennial.  "You're killing me, Smalls" has escaped the fandom of the film and made it's way into pop culture.

Jamie pitched it for our evening viewing, and wanting to know what the hubbub was about, we gave it a whirl.

Absolutely, I was reminded of the era, circa 1980-84, when my family lived near a cul-de-sac in Spring, Texas, in the halcyon summer days when kids were kicked out of the house after breakfast, drank out of hoses, and would set up games of baseball to play all afternoon.  We used the cul-de-sac as our diamond, and our certainty we were terrible at baseball ensured we weren't putting out any windows.  My neighborhood was chock full of kids around our age, so getting a handful together to play was never a big deal.  In some ways, I was primed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

Watched:  02/20/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third?
Director:  Kazuki Ômori, Koji Hashimoto, Katsumune Ishida
Selection:  Me

I'm finally trying to watch the Heisei movies in order-ish (we tried to watch Return of Godzilla and couldn't finish it.  It's a slog.), but after watching Godzilla vs. Biollante, we were ready to return to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), which is bananas in the best way, and which I remembered fondly.

Work has been busy, so I was also ready for some kaiju kollisions on my television, and this one absolutely delivers.

Re-reading my post on the film from 4 years ago, I agree with myself here, so I'll skip summaries and whatnot.  

The movie *does* jettison the idea that Ghidorah is from space, which even the Monstervese films picked up.  It also low-key implies the villains are white Americans who have traveled through time to show up the Japanese of the future and remake the world in their image - and, man...!  OUCH.  But fair!

*Not All White Guys* is represented by a white guy robot (Jamie theorizes was inspired by T2, which seems very possible, even if just based on trailers the Toho guys had seen), and a sea-faring scientist in the 3rd act.  

The appearance of the US Navy in 1944 is treated as an invading force that's being repelled, which is... true-ish.  As seems to so often be the case with finding anglo actors for Toho movies, the Captain of the US navy battleship is curiously cast, but seems to be having a grand time.  I would love to know what the story was there.

Japan's role in WWII happening is often left murky in Godzilla films, but the war is frequently referenced.  

And this is somewhat why I wanted to get to this movie.  I was maybe five minutes into Godzilla Minus One when I started pondering this movie.  The two have very little in common, but it's hard not to draw a comparison between the appearance of a pre-atomic Godzilla facing off with the military in both movies, and soldiers having life-changing experiences with the beast and then have to reconcile seeing the same dinosaur roaming about at 20 times the size they last saw.  I mean, Godzilla Minus One is pretty good, but you can say it lacked in robots with super-speed and iffy make-up FX.

I do want to say:  the time travel in this movie has no internal logic, and I found it a bit baffling.  Everyone seems pretty aware of Godzilla even though he's been removed from the timeline, and our hero - a rapscallionish journalist - plans to write a book on Godzilla, who no longer exists at one point in the movie.  And clearly Toho was just like "whatever, man.  That's how time travel works."

Anyway, fun times.  

Monday, February 19, 2024

Sports Watch: Slap Shot (1977)

Watched:  02/18/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Roy Hill

Slap Shot (1977) is one of those movies that just gets repeatedly referenced and is a sort of rite-of-passage film for a lot of folks, especially big sports fans.  I've been mildly curious about the movie for a long time, but as someone who grew up in Texas, which means know exactly nothing about hockey, it just didn't connect for me before to watch the thing.  

But, the movie came up as I was sorting through back-issue bins at my local comic shop, Austin Books, as the manager is a huge film nerd and the owner is a sports buff (and I think enjoys that I am not a person who says "sportsball" who shops there).*

What I knew was the movie starred Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean and three guys who weren't pro actors who everyone talked about playing three weirdo brothers, the Hansons.  And that was about it.  Some things I could infer were that it was from that mid-70's period where it became a bit trendy in movies to make it feel like it was shot on-location and live in a bar with everyone talking.  And, to be honest, it is not to my taste, Robert Altman.  

Sunday, February 18, 2024

00's Watch: Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Watched:  02/17/2024
Format:  Criterion Channel (I know)
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Harry Elfont/ Deborah Kaplan

When I moved to Arizona for reasons I can hardly remember in the summer of 2002, I remember spending my days unpacking while Jamie was at work - and Josie and the Pussycats (2001) running all the dang time on HBO.  So, no, I have no idea how many times I've seen it.

I was well aware of the concept.  As a kid I knew Josie and friends from Archie Comics, and I had seen both versions of the cartoon, Josie and the Pussycats and Josie and the Pussycats in Outerspace (Hanna Barbera was nuts, y'all).

But like a lot of people, I dismissed the movie when it came out, assuming it was *not for me* and aimed at pre-teens.  Which, fine.  But not my movie.  But sitting there, delirious in the Arizona heat, I sat and watched a few minutes of the movie and was, like, "...ooooohhhh.  They let them make this?"

And I don't mean that in a bad way.  When this hit in 2001, making a movie for the audience about how they were being easily led dressed up as a frothy, fun ride was kind of unheard of.  And also sort of reflected the spirit of the Gen-X generation's initial push into leadership roles in media - just before they decided it was more lucrative to be the villains from this movie instead of spunky musicians.


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Doc Watch: The Greatest Night in Pop (2024)

Watched:  02/14/2024
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Bao Nguyen
Selection:  Jamie

I was 9 years old (about to be 10) when "We Are the World" hit the airwaves.  And then played non-stop for what seemed to be about 6 months to a year.  I can't say when I first heard the song or saw the video, but I do remember unloading the car when my mom came home from shopping (that was one of our chores) and a copy of the vinyl record being in the back of the van.  

I also recall either that year or the next school year being brought into the cafetorium at Spicewood Elementary where we were shown a "making of" doc about the song and the famine in Ethiopia and nearby countries.  (This was the 1980's, VCRs were newish, and teachers were always finding some reason to show a film).  

We're almost 40 years out from the release of the record, so a lot has changed in that time.  And a lot of people have passed.*  And it's hard for me to imagine what this would look like now.  Do musicians even still do benefit work like this, or has streaming killed the potential for raising money?

But the doc, The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) - now on Netflix - is a neat exploration of what happened and why, how it came together and the bumps along the way.  

The film relies on first-hand accounts, pulling in top-tier talent that participated, from Bruce Sprinsteen to one of the masterminds, Lionel Richie.  And, because it was so star-studded, it also features a treasury of video shot from the event of the recording.  

Unfortunately, some of the key players either weren't available for a sit-down (Quincy Jones) or were very not available for a sit-down (Michael Jackson).  But you do get a very good picture of what it must have been like for the people who walked into the room, using interviews with Cindy Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Sheila E., to the camera crew and engineer.

Sometimes you watch a doc and they talk about the situation and the huge impact it had, and you know they're kind of playing it up.  After all, no one wants to watch a doc and at the end they're like "well, it didn't really work out that great."  But USA for Africa, at worst, raised awareness for how people could take action and not just be told that people were starving, and wasn't that too bad.  At best, it did get nutrional support to the people affected by the famine, as well as medicine and other aid.

From the point of view of the doc and the unique event that was USA for Africa, it's absolutely worth watching just to see all of these people in the same room, minus their support staffs and all the trappings of top-tier rock stardom in the 1980's.  It's not like "We Are the World" is still played on the radio, and it's been a minute since I didn't just say "oh, that's the song" and then mentally tune out again.  I'd forgotten you have Bob Dylan in the room, for example.  

But it's human without getting weird, and you're reminded - much as with the Beatles doc - these are people.  And in the 1980's, the media machine really wanted us to forget that pop stars were just good singers in funny clothes.  

When you're a kid, rock stars seem like a permanent fixture.  I didn't think of Huey Lewis as a *new* thing or that he might be star struck being in the room with these people.  But, really, aside from seeing each other at awards shows where they don't *really* interact all that much, when would this many people get together?  When do you get Ray Charles and Kenny Rogers sharing air? Or Dionne Warwick and Willie Nelson sharing a verse?

The doc has it's truly shining moments, and I won't spoil them.  It never does explain why Dan Aykroyd was there - and that someone specifically tried to get him is all the more baffling.  It also doesn't dwell on who wasn't there - beyond Prince.  But for every huge celeb, we're missing a Madonna.  But I also appreciate that they didn't talk about why people were left out.

Anyway, it's a fun one to watch.  

But, seriously, it's weird this didn't become an annual sort of thing. 

*we miss you, Tina  

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Nuke Watch: Oppenheimer (2023)

Watched:  02/03/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Nolan
Selection:  Jamie

I'd wanted to see Oppenheimer (2023) in the theater, but these days, finding the 4.5 hours it would take to see a three hour movie is not as easy as I'd like (once you add in travel time and previews).   That mission has now been safely accomplished via streaming services.


When it comes to the historical figure of J. Robert Oppenheimer, I haven't done much more than the occasional Google-dive over the years.  I'd learned his name and some about his late-career in the early 90's (if he was discussed in my presence in the 1980's, I was not paying attention or didn't grasp what people were talking about).  

Meanwhile, an armchair interest in "wait, what?" about quantum physics in college had me do a shallow dive into the name-players of 20th Century physics, which I think has a bit in common with other early-days scenes, from comics creation to rock and roll when it comes to a clutch of personalities really kicking things off and influencing everything that came after.  

And, so, yeah, I was aware of how the work from Einstein and Bohr led indirectly and directly to the Manhattan Project via their acolytes and the threat of Germany having access to their own herd of physicists.  And, I knew that Oppenheimer's career took a turn for the worse in the post-war McCarthy-era we're in such a rush to return to.

I mostly had not read anything about the film, and attempted to avoid conversation about the movie - three hours is a long time to be considering other people's opinions instead of just watching a thing.  I am also aware any movie by Nolan will have detractors who don't dig his subject matter or his evolving style - and that's a tough place to start from if you let it get in your head.  

Sunday, February 11, 2024

U.S. G-Watch: Godzilla (1998)

the actual dick joke on the poster was probably the tell this movie was going to be straight garbage

Watched:  02/10/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Fourth?
Director:  Roland Emerich
Selection:  I have only myself to blame

Back in 1998, I saw Godzilla opening day with Jamie.  I'd been pretty excited about what a US studio could do with the concept.   We were five years out from Jurassic Park, so CG was a thing.  And seeing some actors we liked (who were not Raymond Burr) getting involved with the big guy seemed like a neat idea. 

I'd argue that at the time of the film's release, it had been since the mid-80's that a Toho movie really landed in the US, so there was some context for Godzilla for your average US movie-goer, but not a lot.  Mostly spoofs and lightly racist parodies.  Everyone knew Godzilla, but it was like... everyone knew Superman had comic books, but no one had read an issue since elementary school.  You knew the general look and some details, but... that was about it.

Looking at the box office, it's crucial to recall the movie had an absolutely gigantic marketing campaign.  This was back when movies didn't just advertise, they did a half-dozen corporate tie-in's, so Godzilla was going to be inescapable no matter what.  Heck, I very much remember the omnipresent Taco Bell chihuahua selling Big G.  

Tri-Star was going to make sure you were going to see this movie whether it was good or not.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Television Watch: Fargo Season 5

In the long, long ago, I went to film school and had the rough idea of the kinds of stories I was drawn to, and in the most auteurish version of the world, what sort of thing I'd want to make.  When I watch the television series Fargo, it is with the knowledge that this is the kind of stuff that lives in my wheelhouse, but done light years better than - even in my most self-congratulatory fever dreams - I could imagine delivering.

It's noir, in its way.  And allegorical, most certainly.  Characters have rich inner lives from which they call and respond to one another, and watching each season is mapping and reconciling the arc of each character, understanding how they fit into a larger tapestry as Hawley weaves a picture of the point he's trying to make this time.

Initially, the show seemed like a fool's errand.  The 1996 film upon which the show is based is a bonafide modern-ish classic (I am not taking comment or questions on this statement).  Trying to work in the world of the Coens, aping their style and worldview seemed breathlessly arrogant.  I was part of the audience from the 1980's and 1990's, who - thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen - came to see movies could maybe be a bit more than what I thought.  The Coens provided a fresh take and a clear perspective all their own when it came to style, substance and density of narrative, as much auteurs as you were likely to see in the US film industry, and ushering in the 1990's indie-film era.   

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

Watched:  02/02/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second*
Selection:  joint - me and Jamie

I don't have much new to really add to what I said back in 2020 about this movie.  But I do suspect that this is the Godzilla movie I have a firm memory of watching on TV as a kid, mostly because of the multiple kaiju and that the fight happens in an open field.  

I didn't say much about the human story in my prior write up - but it does feel like it's trying to set up a TV show or series of movies about two dudes and a child of vague relation, and their robot.  Read onto these people whatever you want - are they pals, brothers, a couple and their adopted child?  They do not say.  Nor do they do much to infuse anyone with a personality, story or anything to make them characters, but they do spend a lot of time showing them doing things.

Btw - the reason Megalon is attacking is that the surface humans set off an underground nuclear test killing - according to the dialog - a full third of the population of Seatopia, the nation of people living under the ground.  Y'all, the Seatopians are right to try to kill all of us.  But so wrong about trusting that guy and his bad mustache to run Seatopia.

But this is a kids movie, and I'm not going to complain too much.  The kaiju battling, robot stuff and bases for the movie is (chef's kiss).

Ida Noir Watch: Woman in Hiding (1950)

Watched:  02/03/2024
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Michael Gordon
Selection:  Me.  

This one popped up on TCM's Noir Alley, and my memory was enjoying the film, so I gave it a spin.  Also, it had been a minute since I'd watched anything with Ida Lupino in it, and that seemed wrong.  

Anyway, I stand by the review from three years ago.  And my assertion that Ida Lupino is a good idea.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Carl Weathers Merges With The Infinite

Here's what I think about when I think about Carl Weathers:

Sometimes you just like someone's vibe.  And then literally everything you learn about that person over a lifetime just reinforces or surpasses your early first impression.

I didn't see a Rocky movie til Rocky IV, and my introduction to Carl Weathers was seeing the great Apollo Creed fall in the ring.  He was, in my opinion, more likable and charming than our protagonist, enough so that seeing him die on screen in the first act was jarring.  Mission accomplished, movie.  You motivated Rocky and you got us to care, relying on Weathers' performance - and that was before I saw the other three Rocky movies, in which he's clearly, absolutely the star boxer the movies need.  

But of course Carl Weathers was also in action movies and generally around.  A few years later I was enjoying him in Predator and other movies.  I missed Action Jackson at the time, but caught it in recent years (it's not great, but he is).  

And then someone realized: you can put this guy in comedy.  People love this guy, and he's got a sense of humor.  And, so he started showing up in Happy Gilmore and Arrested Development.  I also was surprised to see him pop up in Friday Foster (I, too, enjoy a Pam Grier actioner).

What I'd missed was the whole Carl Weathers backstory of New Orleans kid who got a sports scholarship in high school and then college, and went pro as a football player - quitting to get into the movies.  And successfully doing so.  

But he was also behind the camera - and directed some of my favorite episodes of what I think is already a well-made show, The Mandalorian, in which he also starred in what may be my favorite role of his - Greef Karga, the shady businessman who finds a calling as a local leader (and has a vain streak you can't help but like).  I own at least two Greef Karga action figures, I admit.

Through that work was how I learned that Weathers had been busy behind the camera for a while, directing some TV, including some action programs.  Which - totally made sense.  I could see him dipping in and wanting to expand what he was doing and trying.

On a personal note, back when I was on twitter, I exchanged a tweet or two with Weathers, and the fact I'm still giddy about it should tell you where he ranked with me.  

I'm absolutely rattled at the sudden news of his passing, and wish his loved ones well.  I hope my impression of the man was correct, because he seemed like one of the good ones.    

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Minus Color Watch: Godzilla Minus One Minus Color (2023/ 2024)

Watched:  02/01/2024
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Third
Director: Takashi Yamazaki  
Selection:  Joint - Jamie & me

So, yes.  Third time is the charm for a re-watch of Godzilla Minus One (2023), which we wrote about when we saw it the first time and the second time, and then as part of my end of the year review.  

The version I saw was black and white (or, color desaturated to a monochrome, with plenty of tricks to make sure it works) in theaters for just a week, capping off the end of what was a surprisingly successful run.  On a reported $15 million budget, the movie has made over $105 million, and that's before digital and home video sales (will I buy some ridiculous deluxe version?  Why, most certainly).

After seeing it in Imax and in standard format, I figured: let's do this.  Plus, I saw one of the first shows in Austin, and now one of the last as I saw it both opening and closing night.

Is the "minus color" a goofy stunt?  Does it make sense to release a movie in black and white that was shot for color?  I don't know.  But based on the period setting, that Minus One feels like a 2023 echo to the 1954 original, and as a reflection of the 70 year history of Big G, I was willing to give it a whirl.  

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla v. Biollante (1989)

Watched:  01/30/2024
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kazuki Ōmori
Selection:  Me

For the most part, it's not that hard in our modern era to get your hands on most Godzilla movies.  In fact, you can find most of the Showa Era on Max and I've noted the Millennium era movies might be popping up on Hulu.  Plus, there's now that streaming Godzilla Channel on Pluto.  I have a pretty good run of the movies on disc on various formats, so I am good as long as those discs don't let their electrons scramble or something.  And, I've seen almost all of the Godzilla movies (one day I'll finish All Monsters Attack).

But Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), in any format, eluded me for a long time.  It was out there on disc, but not through standard retailers.  You more or less had to go through eBay if you wanted to get a copy, and even those were pretty expensive as it hasn't been re-released in a decade.  And it never seems to show up on cable or streaming outlets.  It seems the distribution rights are weird on this one film for reasons I don't quite get, but it was originally put out by Miramax in the US, which is probably part of the problem.  

But, yeah, I found a disc cheap as I could, but still more than I wanted to pay, and finally just pulled the trigger.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Classic Comedy Watch: Operation Petticoat (1959)

Watched:  01/27/2024
Format: Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Blake Edwards
Selection:  Me, by rec

So, a colleague had recommended this one, and forewarned me that it is a product of it's time, and I could not agree more.  

This is a movie with an odd framing device - a US Navy Admiral returning to the submarine he skippered during the war on the morning the boat is set to head to the boneyard.  He sits down and reads his Captain's log from cover to cover in his former bunk.

By 1959 two things were apparently true:  
1) the US was ready to do light, sexy comedies about the war, including starting out with making Pearl Harbor a wacky incident that happened
2) the role of women in film - especially light comedies - had changed a lot, with the "can do" spirit of women in the war or even noir

There is not room in this post to discuss the rapid swing of women in pictures of the 1950's from tough-women-on-the-homefront to "don't let those daffy women near machinery.  That's for MEN." that I assume reflects the culture of the time.  But it's kind of a thing, and for as fast as it happened, it took a lot longer to eke our way back out.  

This movie is the Admiral's (Cary Grant) recollections of the submarine crew's post Pearl Harbor response, lifting the boat and getting it semi-seaworthy again thanks to shenanigans on the part of a new Lieutenant (Tony Curtis), a streetwise fast talker who has joined the navy for the uniform and social ladder climbing opportunities.

It's got a hint of Sgt. Bilko (which pre-dates the film) as some of the best gags are about Tony Curtis finding the materials needed.  Good stuff. 

But the main feature of the film is when the sub stops off at an island and finds they have to evacuate 6 female nurses.  Who are, of course, mostly stacked.  And then it's a lot of "boys will be boys" and "women don't belong on a boat!" humor that you either are going to have to get settled in with or you're going to want to choke a boat load of US servicemen.  

The humor is a brand of post-screwball wackiness that would continue to expand into the 1960's and be killed off by 1970s film while being embraced by 1970's TV, in its way.  And some bits are really good.  I did want to tell the editor to please leave Cary Grant alone and let him have his moments after something wacky happened, because that's where you get the laugh doubled down (see Grant in Bringing Up Baby).  There's not even exactly double-entendres but in an era that was sanitizing comedy, this must have felt pretty racy (you see a girdle and a bra!).  

Fun bit of casting - look for Marion "Mrs. Cunningham" Ross as one of the nurses.  And, fun fact:  there was a 1977 TV show that basically remade the movie starring John Astin in the Cary Grant role and had a very young Jamie Lee Curtis as one of the nurses.  I have absolutely no idea how this premise was carried off for two seasons of network TV.  

Anyway, it's a fascinating time capsule talking to the generation who was in the war now that they bought suburban houses as much as it's a comedy you can still put on and get most of the jokes.  

G-Watch: Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla (1974)

Watched:  01/26/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second-ish
Director:  Jun Fukuda
Selection:  moi

Look, this week at work was a rough one, and next week is looking to be more of same.  I am tired.  And so, after watching another episode of the phenomenal fifth season of Fargo,* I put on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).  

This movie is remarkably silly, makes no sense in parts, forgets its a monster movie for long stretches, and does nothing to develop or differentiate any of the characters, seemingly adding them as the movie goes along to help fill plot holes.

The real showcase is, of course, Godzilla versus a giant robot version of himself that space aliens for a black hole(?) have built in order to take over the Earth.  Or, at least, whatever part of Earth is near the robot.  Initially, it's disguised as Godzilla, but to what end?  I cannot say.  Because they almost immediately remove the facade, and it seems like a robot is just as much a problem as the real Godzilla in how it's being deployed - by rampaging.  

However, we're also dealing with a prophetic vision seen by a young woman priestess/ heir to a once great dynasty on Okinawa.  There's a prophesy to go along with it regarding two monsters joining forces to fight a great threat, but it seems odd the ancients knew Mechagodzilla was coming?  There's nothing magic about a giant robot, except the love we should all feel for Mechagodzilla.

Anyway, this movie's main, non giant kaiju feature is a villain in a shiny jumpsuit who keeps smoking cigars.  I love this guy.  He really enjoys his work.

The one caveat is that this is around when Toho thought they needed to add blood.  So things get weird when MechaG really messed up Anguirus (he's fiiiiine) and then G himself (also: fine).  Also:  melting alien faces.

It's a fun pic, and while I don't think there's big life lessons to be learned, and it's confusing sorting out who all of these people are from time to time, this first appearance by MechaG is pretty stellar.  Where else will you find a 20-story robot that shoots rainbows out of its eyes?

*Juno Temple and Jennifer Jason Leigh busily confirming they're somheow even better than you thought, and Richa Moorjani putting in a bid for "damn, put her in more stuff" in a fine breakdown of myth and Fargo's patented exploration of good and evil 

Friday, January 19, 2024

High School Movie Watch: Bottoms (2023)

Watched:  01/19/2024
Format:  Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Emma Seligman
Selection:  Me

Pal AmyC had rec'd this one broadly to facebook over the summer, and I'd been curious.  And since, I'd heard in drips and drabs that this movie was really funny, but I didn't know anything about it other than "it's a high school comedy, but not like that".  And, honestly, I'm gonna pause you here and say:

go in cold on this one, because if you know anything ahead of time, you're doing yourself a disservice.  Just go check it out

I'll also throw in:  I want to re-watch this almost immediately, because (a) it was really solid, and (b) I know I missed about 1/4th of the jokes because there's weird little visual things all over the place and throw-away lines left and right that are hysterical.  

So, what is it?

Goji Watch: Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Watched:  01/18/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Masaaki Tezuka
Selection:  definitely me

Mostly, I watched this movie because, for Christmas, my brother gave me a MechaGodzilla which has been staring at me all day, every day, from below my work monitor since Jan. 2.

also, his lil' friend Gad gave me, and the Super 7 Shogun G

Anyway, somehow, inexplicably, I'd had MechaGodzilla on the brain of late.  

At the start of the COVID lockdown, Jamie and I settled into watching Godzilla movies on a regular basis.  We blasted through them in no particular order, and with minimal context.  Back in May of 2020, we checked out Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002).  My memory, without re-reading the post first, was that we'd liked it a lot.  And, upon a revisit, that was still true.

There's an oddly mournful tone to the movie.  As part of the Millennium series, it ignored the prior films except Gojira from 1954, an events that had taken place decades prior and was remembered well in Japan, especially as Mothra and other films were in continuity - the Japanese privately feeling that perhaps Japan was cursed.  

Our focal characters are a member of the military who is being held responsible for the deaths of multiple people during a Godzilla's first re-appearance in 45 years despite the fact she is actually not responsible anymore than she's responsible for Godzilla at all - oh, and she's a friendless orphan.  The other two are a widowed scientist and his charming, precocious daughter who lugs around a houseplant she thinks carries her mother's spirit.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

90's Watch: Quiz Show (1994)

Watched:  01/15/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Robert Redford
Selection:  Jamie

It's been 30 years since Quiz Show (1994) was released, and probably 29 since I've last seen it.  I'm now much older than Ralph Fiennes and Rob Morrow as our leads, and in the intervening years, the real Charles Von Doren, Richard Goodwin and Herb Stemple have passed (oddly with little in the way of news or media mention).

Sometimes watching younger film reviewers on YouTube or reading the film discussion of younger film enthusiasts, it's interesting to note the tilt to genre pictures of prior eras, and it's easy to forget that genre was largely in the margins thirty years ago.  At the time, something like Quiz Show was happily released by Disney when they had multiple outlets for producing movies for general and adult audiences - this one released through Hollywood Pictures (see also Touchstone and whatever their deal was with Miramax).  And we had name directors doing prestige pictures that were a thing to go see.