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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

90's Comedy Watch: Cabin Boy (1994)


Watched:  09/13/2019
Format:  BluRay from Kino Lorber
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's

Well.  I mean.  We may not agree on Cabin Boy (1994), is what I'm saying.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Catch-Up Watch: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)


Watched:  09/11/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I wouldn't say this movie was mismarketed, exactly.  But how reviews I read described it made it sound exceedingly joyless, but interesting.  The premise held enough promise that I planned to get to it eventually, but wasn't in a mad dash to do so.  However, Jamie watched it somewhere along the line when I was off at a breakdance party or whatever I do, and informed me it was very much in my wheelhouse, and, indeed, she was correct.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) is the true story of Lee Israel, an NYC based writer of bios of celebs of bygone eras (she's working on a Fanny Brice book during the movie's circa 1991 timeframe), which don't really sell, so she tries to hold copy-editing positions, etc...  to pay the bills.  But as a caustic, misanthropic drunk, turns out holding a job can be tough. 

She becomes re-acquainted with a down-on-his luck bon vivant, played by the always-amazing Richard E. Grant (a charming drunk, here), just about the time she has some bills due (cat gets sick), and has to make some money, quick.  Through a series of small discoveries, she learns of the world of memorabilia and letter collectors, and begins forging letters supposedly penned by luminaries long since passed, including everyone from Noel Coward to Louise Brooks. 

Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and it's not exactly a revelation to see her this good - I think she's kinda brilliant as a comic actor, so seeing what she can do with a dramatic part was a "well, sure" revelation.  She's always been so specific, with undercurrents and layers of sympathy, pathos, and thoughtfulness, even in goofy stuff like The Heat (which I really enjoy, y'all), doing same but for a dramatic role makes sense.  And, it seems, the work done here by she and Grant earned them both Oscar nods.*

Because the arc of the film is fairly obvious, I'll refrain from spoilers.  Instead, I'll just tip my hat to the actual technical work, character work, and script.  Director Marielle Heller has a sparse directing and acting filmography, but seems to know how to get a performance, and I'm now doubly interested in the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Mr. Rogers biopic coming, as she's the one wearing the puffy director's pants there, too. 

I also quite liked the DP work by Brandon Trost, and almost laughed out loud seeing this is the same DP as the Crank movies, which I'll just let all of us ponder if we think we ever have someone's style nailed down. 

Anyhoo... I'm just recommending this one.  Give it a go.


*which... honestly, we should be expecting movies with these levels of performance in movies all the time, but that's reserved for TV these days.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sci-Fi Watch: Brainstorm (1983)



Watched:  09/10/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

There are a whole bunch of movies that are not the same movie that I thought were the same movie that came out between 1980 and 1987, that all have sort of meaningless names, and I thought were the same movie.  Brainstorm (1983) is one of these movies.

The thing is, I'm not even sure what is what, but these movies all had pictures of people wearing headgear or having lasers pointed at their brains and often had to do with virtual realities, walking around in people's dreams, stuff like that.  I guess.  All I know is that, from this pile, I had never seen Brainstorm despite very much remembering the box collecting dust at Video Station and Video III when I was a kid.

Monday, September 9, 2019

PODCAST! "Empire Strikes Back" (1980) - What is Love? #4 w/ Jamie and Ryan


Watched:  07/28/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Oh, gosh...
Decade:  1980's

We turned to our wife of more than 19 years and realized we were heading into tricky territory as we asked "What is Love?" Fortunately, she came back with "Star Wars". Join Jamie and me as we use The Force and talk what was maybe the first great movie romance a lot of us clicked to: Leia, Han, a broken down ship and some mynochs to keep it interesting.



Music
Han Solo and The Princess (Love Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST
Han & Leia Suite (Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST


"What is Love?" Podcast Series



And, snowsuit Leia

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Kaiju Watch: Godzilla - King of the Monsters (2019)

be careful.  Even under the sea, you can step on a Lego


Watched:  09/04/2019
Format:  Google Fiber Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

In all fairness, at least two of you people warned me.

I didn't care much for 2014's Godzilla, the first in the series to relaunch Big-G from an American studio, leaping from Toho Studios to WB/ Legendary.  It didn't help that the movie was pitched as a Bryan Cranston vehicle at the height of Breaking Bad's popularity, and then removed him from the story about 1/3rd of the way in leaving us with an uninspired story about two characters who never were much beyond their wardrobe of "soldier" and "nurse".  We got Ken Watanabe in practically a walk-on role and Sally Hawkins as his sorta side-kick, but neither was given much to do but stare in awe at screens.

The movie was followed by Kong: Skull Island (2017), which I was in the minority as finding kind of boring and relying too much on Toho's take on prior renditions of King Kong rather than the 1933 original, for which I have a deep love.  I didn't find the way it "borrowed" from Apocalypse Now particularly charming or even appropriate.  The movie turned Brie Larson into a talking tank top, and if you asked me what happened in the movie to whom, I couldn't tell you.  Something something MONARCH.  But it also assembled a wild array of A and B list talent including Marvel heroes and villains taking a side-gig.  Ditching the notion that Kong would leave Skull Island in this episode, instead we're stuck with "look how many ways soldiers and scientists can die over the span of 90 minutes", which is a formula I mostly find deadly dull.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Weird Al Watch: UHF (1989)



Watched:  09/02/2019
Format:   Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  No idea.  Must be a dozen
Decade:  1980's

My claim to fame is that I saw this movie twice in the theater.  Once - because it was summer, Weird Al had a movie, and it was mid-afternoon.  The second time I caught it was the day before I started high school, kicking off the tradition I kept up through college where you got and see a movie the day before the school year starts so you're thinking about something else.

You've either seen UHF (1989) or you haven't.  Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, already quite famous by 1989 thanks to several hit novelty records and MTV airplay, the movie is basically a bunch of music videos and really funny sketches tied together with a razor-thin plot about running a broke, non-network TV station on the edge of town.  It's an underdog story about big corporate stations being run by mean people vs. underdogs who break the mold and come out on top thanks to creativity and a sense of community.  Or something.

It's also a reminder of how much weird comedy could get in the 1980's, with skits like Gandhi II and Spatula City, and that firing a firehose into a kid's face can be hilarious in the right circumstances.

The cast is weirdly impressive when you realize it features both Michael Richards and Fran Drescher just before they broke big just a few years later, but also Emo Philips, Billy Barty, David Bowe, Victoria Jackson, Gedde Watanabe, David Proval and a handful of "oh, that guy!" actors.  And, of course, in a stunning coup of casting brilliance - Kevin McCarthy as the evil network affiliate owner and operator.

I dunno.  There isn't much to say about the film.  It's still fun, even when you know not everything aged well or fallen out of relevance.  But a lot of it still has that magic (ex: Conan the Librarian continues to work all too well). 

And I genuinely like some of the gags, like the homeless guy asking for change to break a dollar.  Just gold.

Anyhow- for some early Michael Richards genius and pre-Nanny Fran Drescher, you can do way worse.  And Weird Al is just funny as all hell in this thing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

New Classics Watch: Wings of Desire (1987)



Watched:  09/02/2019
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1980's

Originally, I'd put this film on as I've pondered doing my own episode of "What is Love?" for the PodCast, but - like others who took on the task - I am also faced with the dilemma of a stable relationship of many years.  I like movies that include or which are about people finding each other in this mixed up world, but it's almost like a High School movie to me - I have been there.  I have done that.  I am now elsewhere.

Wings of Desire (1987) is part of a movement of film that we called "Art House" back in the day, and which I am afraid is fading out.  A film like this, today, would get festival accolades, play about twenty theaters in the US for a couple of weeks and then vanish, popping up on Netflix with zero fanfare and a description which did the casual browser a disservice.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

PODCAST: "Aquaman" (2018) - Kryptonian Thought-Beast Episode 01 w/ Jamie and Ryan


Watched:  08/29/2019
Format:  HBO Streaming on Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

We launch our Kryptonian Thought-Beast series with an (exhausted) examination of our fishy friend's blockbuster cinematic success! And we ask "Why? Why did people like this movie? For it is not a good movie." Join Jamie and I as we discuss the dude-bro who would be king of 3/4ths of the Earth.




Music:
Aquaman Theme - Power Records, Sounds and Stories about the Justice League of America


Kryptonian Thought Beast PodCast Series

Aeroplane Watch: The Dawn Patrol (1938)


Watched:  09/01/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930s

This is, apparently, the second version of the same story.  Just this weekend Jamie and I were discussing reboots and relaunches, and I made some noise about "well, they've always remade popular stuff" and this is a pretty good example.  The first version of The Dawn Patrol from 1930, I have not seen.  This remake comes from just eight years later with a shift in casting as Elynn, Niven and Rathbone step in front of the lens.

The Dawn Patrol has curious timing - released in 1938 as the US was watching Germany roll over Europe.  It's an anti-war film, and I found the Wikipedia entry on the film a bit odd, shrugging it's shoulders and saying they were romanticizing combat aviation because of high numbers of deaths, etc... that were part of the genre but gave it kudos for showing the scars of the commanders sending out the untrained pilots.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Our Bro In-Law, The Dug, Has Appeared on a PodCast talking "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"

Joseph Scrimshaw is a comedian and writer who focuses on geek-culture topics.  Ask the man about Star Wars.  I dare you.

He also has a podcast called "Obsessed" where he interviews folks about their personal, well, obsessions.  His latest episode features someone near and dear to us here at The Signal Watch, Jamie's brother, Doug. 

Late last year Doug saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  And then he saw it again. And then again.  And then again, and so forth. 

I love Scrimshaw's format, and I'll likely be borrowing some of his ideas as he roll forward at The Signal Watch, and Doug is as Doug in this podcast as a Doug can Doug (this is a feature, not a bug).

Art19
Stitcher:
  

Into the Spider-Verse on Apple PodCasts (starring DOUG)

Google Play PodCast

Thursday, August 29, 2019

PODCAST: "The Breakfast Club" (1985) - High School Movies Back2Skool Speshul w/ Maxwell and MRSHL


Watched:  08/17/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's


It's our first Back2Skool Speshul! We finally pull off the band-aid and talk about "The Breakfast Club" (1985), a seminal movie for Gen-X'ers, that taught us to live, learn, laugh and love and that maybe we're not all that different underneath. Except for how we are, and that's important, too. Or something. And that when we grow older, we're going to either suck or work tough, soul-crushing jobs or both.

Anyway, this PodCast is, like, two hours, so buckle in, every buddy.





Music:

Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds, The Breakfast Club OST
I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats, The Fine Art of Surfacing


High School Movies Playlist

Sunday, August 25, 2019

SHUT UP, I LIKE IT Watch: StarCrash (1978)

there were legit reasons for this being what one wears in space, but I missed it


Watched:  08/24/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: at least fourth
Decade:  Baby, this is the REAL 1970's

Yeah, I watched this movie the first time because Caroline Munro, but it has so, so much more to offer.  Star Wars may be the preferred 1970's era sci-fantasy film, but StarCrash (1978) has Christopher Plummer gamely lending his gravitas to a movie with a space-ship shaped like a hand and a 10 story robot with nipples.  And, man, that's just. the. start.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hitch Watch: The Wrong Man (1956)



Watched:  08/21/2019
Format: TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

I had no idea what this movie was about prior to giving it a watch, so real quick:

Directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, this is based on a true story (apparently?) of a musician who goes to his insurance company to see if he can take out on a loan his wife's life insurance for some dental work, only to be identified by the clerks as the man who committed two robberies of the company in the prior 9 months or so.  The police pick him up, assuring him that if he didn't do it, there's nothing to worry about, but in a line-up, he's identified by multiple witnesses (the robber also hit a few stores) and even his handwriting sample seems to match.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

According to long-lived Superman site The Superman Homepage (it's old enough to still be called a Homepage!), it's the birthday of everyone's favorite comic-book intrepid reporter, Lois Lane!



Lois is having a pretty good year.  She's been key to the entirety of the Rebirth efforts around Superman as the comics squared the Superman/ Lois romance/ marriage once again, and gave them a son in Jon Kent.  Since Bendis came on the Super-books, he's put Lois back at the fore, first as someone Superman missed as she left for space, and then as a source of consternation as she's deposited herself in Chicago rather than Metropolis.

There's no question Lois's storyline is just getting bigger, and it sure doesn't hurt that she's starring in the super-books, deeply involved in Event Leviathan and currently has her own 12-issue maxi-series by Greg Rucka (a great fit for Lois) that I'm actually really enjoying.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

PODCAST: "The Piano" (1993) - it's #3 in our 'What is Love?' series - w/ MRSHL and Ryan



Watched:  06/21/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: Second
Decade:  1990's

click for a complete list of tracks and Playlists from The Signal Watch PodCast

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Just a couple of 40-something dudes, sitting around contemplating the nature of a woman's desire, the qualifications for feminist film, symbology and visual storytelling, and what's a woman to do when you find yourself in New Zealand in 1852 and married to a dud?




Music:

The Heart Asks Pleasure First - Michael Nyman, The Piano OST


Playlist - "What is Love?":

Lego Watch: Lego Movie 2 - The Second Part (2019)


Watched:  08/15/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I just checked Box Office Mojo and if you want to weep for humanity, this movie made $190 million and Minions made over a billion dollars.  I think I'm beginning to understand how we reached our current state as a people.

Anyhoo...

If you haven't seen Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), it's now streaming, so now's a second chance. 

With the device revealed at the finale of the first Lego Movie, and a reasonable assumption being that we understand that the adventures of the movie are in part a kid playing with Lego and in part a kid working things out - the movie is able to play a bit more with the premise. 

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).

Spooktacular Watch: Supernatural (1933)



Watched:  08/14/2019
Format:  Alamo S. Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1930's

Say what you will about Austin, but I just got home from a Tuesday 9:30 PM showing of a 1933 horror movie almost no one has seen who is currently alive, and the place was hopping.  I know this is true in other cities, but this one is mine.

For whatever reason I enjoy what the studios were up to with horror in the pre-Atomic Age films, a mix of the occult, mythical beasts, ghost stories and sometimes just creepy old houses with a Boris Karloff in them.  Supernatural (1933) would have come out on the heels of Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) in the era where not just Universal, but other studios, were getting in on the horror genre and the Hayes office wasn't yet really enforcing any codes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

MST3K Watch: Killer Fish (1979)



Watched:  08/12/2019
Format:  Netflix MST3K - The Gauntlet
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Sometimes movie stars just want to take a vacation and maybe shoot a movie while they're there.  You see it all the time in these peculiar movies that don't look very good but star people who actually cost some money - and the movie is in, say, Hawaii.  They're called "postcard movies", and the deal is usually that the star maybe asks for less because they're being put up in a really nice hotel in Maui for two months to make some romcom or whatever.  Their family comes out and they go boogie-boarding on their days off.

I kind of suspect something similar was afoot in 1979 when Killer Fish went into production.  The movie doesn't have the world's biggest stars, but in '79 Lee Majors was a pretty big deal and Karen Black was still bankable.  I imagine selling the movie as "come down to Rio de Janeiro for a couple months" was a pretty good deal.  I'd also mention, this movie was part of the short-lived Fawcett-Majors Productions, a go at producing from when Lee Majors and Farah Fawcett were Hollywood's foremost couple.  And, no, you've never heard of this movie or the other films that they produced.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Western Watch: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)



Watched:  08/11/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR from a looooong time ago
Viewing:  first
Decade:  1940's

Well.  Between this and The Lost Weekend, I picked quite the double-bill for the weekend.

I mean, I knew.  I'd rented this movie twice in college but when I'd think about what it was about, I'd never hit "play" on the ol' VCR.  And I'd recorded it a half-dozen times on the DVR and never watched it.  But this time I did.

The Ox-Bow Incident (1942) is about a small town in the old west who finds out that a local rancher has been killed, and so they pull together a posse to go track down the killers.  It's a mish-mash of local color and yahoos, rationalizing why they don't need to follow the rules, exactly, and supported by the ineptitude and slack nature of some local authority.