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

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Doc Watch: The Last Blockbuster (2020)




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


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

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

So, a feature length doc talking about the death of Blockbuster as some sort of tragedy that was just an accident but something we all loved?  I was pausing the movie and making Jamie listen to me as I debated the film's non-stop nostalgia and love of the corporate behemoth, which - starting in the summer of 1994, I saw as actually very bad for movies when I tried to rent Breakfast at Tiffany's and (a) the clerk had never heard of it, and (b) looked it up and explained to me they used to have it, but they got rid of it.  But they did have 45 copies of Pauly Shore in Son In Law.  Like, you don't have to be a snob to find that a little sad.

Neo-Noir Watch: The Grifters (1990)




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

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

SPOILERS

Friday, May 7, 2021

Friday Night Watch Party - The Apple


We are going out on a high note!  By going for the lowest note.  Universally reviled, and from what I've seen, this looks truly, truly terrible - we're watching this sci-fi musical whatever it is.  

Anyway, this if the final Friday, so join us in the dark future of 1994 for a rock'n'roll fantasy that is sure to, uh... anyway.  It's a movie! 

Day:  05/07/2021
Time:  8:30 Central



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trek/ Cattrall Watch: Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country (1991)




Watched:  05/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Nicholas Meyer

This is... my third favorite Trek movie?  Pretty remarkable for a movie that has very few ship-fetish shots and plays like a 3-part episode of the TV series.  But, man, it just works.  

I believe it was advertised as the final movie for the original crew from Star Trek before The Next Generation gang took over, but as an excitable 16 year old, I thought "nah, they just got their mojo back on this one.  They'll make more."*  

So, yeah, shocker, I am into a tight murder mystery set in space with the fate of the galaxy in the balance.  Throw in ship-to-ship combat, several rad supporting cast members beyond the usual crew, plus Sulu as Captain of his own ship (and, my god, had they just given Takei a spin-off series back then...), \more wildly over-the-top Klingons in the form of Plummer's Shakespeare spouting warrior, Chang (love everything about this character) -  and it's like Trek was just punching "Ryan will like this" buttons.  

And, of course, Kim Cattrall as Lt. Valeris.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Teen Witch (1989)




Watched:  04/30/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  I don't care


We're wrapping up our Friday Night Watch Parties this coming week, and maybe that's all for the best.  For - I may never top Teen Witch (1989) as an offering.  It's all downhill from here.  

It's one thing when people make a movie and try and it doesn't live up to expectations.  It's another when you can tell someone was pushing out garbage to take advantage of a place in the market and literally seemed to not care how the movie turned out.  And that's being generous, because the alternative with Teen Witch is to accept that adults made this film and this was their moonshot, and then we have to wonder: do you know how movies work?

Animation Watch: The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)


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

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

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

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

International Watch: The Handmaiden (2016)




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

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

SPOILERS

Saturday, May 1, 2021

2010's Watch: Everybody Wants Some (2016)




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

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

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

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday Night Movie: Teen Witch




Announcement:  

We'll be wrapping up Signal Watch curated Friday films soon - at least in a "you can expect Ryan to organize this every week" mode.  I will do a movie this week and next week.  After that, in the future, we'll do it again from time to time, maybe even monthly, but not every week.  Certainly we'll be back for Christmas and Halloween.

Keep your eyes on twitter or this blog.

I genuinely appreciate the Friday night movie club and y'all trusting me to curate a collection of often terrible, terrible films.  Y'all have gotten me through a really, honestly, difficult year, and I can't thank you enough.  I hope it's helped.

As the world re-opens and things shift around a bit, I kinda need to reclaim my evening time - even Friday evenings.  (I used to go to the gym!  I used to leave the house! I think we can all envision a world where these things can happen again!)  

SO, let's try and go out with some high quality films.

THIS WEEK:

A movie that always makes me think "I bet Heather would unconvincingly defend this movie", it's Teen Witch!  

What if a sort of unpopular girl who was picked on by teachers found out she had amazing magical powers and DIDN'T use them to burn prom to the ground - but instead made her friend rap?  Casually bent the laws of time and space and obliterated free will in others?

That's THIS movie.

(see, how much will you really miss me doing this to you?)


Day:  Friday  04/30/2021
Time:  8:30 Central


Art House Watch: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)



Watched:  04/28/2021
Format:  Peacock (of all places)
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Peter Greenaway

Back in the merry old days of first arriving at college, living on campus at UT Austin was a perfect sort of thing to do if you were a movie nut - or turn you into one.  I could walk to Dobie Theater and catch international and art film, Hogg Auditorium was basically rented by a student society of some sort who brought in Hong Kong films.*   The Memorial Union Theater was open at the time and programmed by some serious film nerds, so that's where, my first night on campus, I wandered down to see Tie Me Up, Tie Me  Down with kids I had never met before but who lived a few doors down.  

Anyway, I was not unaware of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) in high school.  I was known to drive into town to go catch a movie at the River Oaks or wherever some interesting stuff was showing - and I may have seen the poster of Helen Mirren in lingerie and given the poster a longer than necessary look.  Or maybe a cover in the video store.  Anyhoo, early Freshman year at some point (I really think in the first weeks of school), we headed down to the Memorial Union and caught the film.  And my brain kind of melted.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Voodoo Woman (1957)




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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

PODCAST: "Blade Runner" (1982) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ Ryan and SimonUK


Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  BluRay - version - The Final Cut
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ridley Scott


Description


Music:  
Blade Runner Main Theme - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST
Tears in Rain - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST


Signal Watch Canon:

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




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

Still processing this movie.  Stunning.

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

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

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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Crawl (2019)




Watched:  04/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  second!
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Alexandre Aja

This is the second time I saw this.  It was a good movie for a crowd with lots of go-to jokes about injuries minor and fatal.

SimonUK and I discussed my love of movies about animals eating people on a prior podcast about Crawl.  


Super Watch: Thunder Force (2021)




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

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

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hamilton Watch: Black Moon Rising (1986)




Watched:  04/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  very, very 1980's
Director:  Harley Cokeliss

When you're a kid, you kinda like everything you see, and then - one day - you admit "that... maybe was sort of boring, or not what I wanted to watch".  The excitement of "movie" fades away, and you're admitting to yourself - even if the poster contained a cool car, a cool dude and a pretty lady, maybe that movie was not as good as the poster promised.  

I don't remember anything about Black Moon Rising (1986) from when I watched it on cable or VHS as a kid except that I didn't much care for it.  Well, I'd totally forgotten that the movie had any other known actors other than a pre-fame Tommy Lee Jones, but I was looking at it for a Friday night watch party and realized "oh, wow, this has Linda Hamilton!"  And I like me some Linda Hamilton.

Anyway - Linda Hamilton is probably one of two reasons to watch this movie.  She's doing her best in a movie that flatly doesn't deserve it.  She's wearing a crazy wig in the first scenes, so don't freak out when you see her in a doofy haircut.  The other reason is to see the kooky car they cast as The Black Moon.*

A deeply NOT street legal vehicle that looks designed to murder pedestrians and corner poorly, The Black Moon has turbo-boost, something we'd all seen on Knight Rider for years by the time this movie came out.  

Really, aside from Linda Hamilton's briefly glimpsed self, it feels a bit like a network TV movie.  

What's most alarming is that the titular car of the film is barely in the movie - you see more of Jackie Chan's supercar in Cannonball Run II.  And, as I mentioned, the movie doesn't do much with the car being "super".  In the same era as Blue Thunder, Air Wolf, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, etc...  putting a car out there as the central conceit better have *some* hook.  But, really, this movie is about the car getting boosted by Robert Vaughn's apparently wildly profitable car theft ring - a business so profitable I think they're suggesting he's building two skyscrapers in LA on the profits.  

Jones plays a thief in the employ of the US government who has stolen some data from Lee Ving of punk band Fear and, stumbling across the team bringing The Black Moon to LA to show it to investors, hides the data in the car...

You know what?  This movie isn't really worth a synopsis.  I can't recommend it.  It's slow as a heist movie, Jones isn't even great.  I read he was boozing a bit during this time, and that may be it.  Hamilton is fine, but she can't save this wreck.  

But, yeah:  Robert Vaughn, Linda Hamilton, Tommy Lee Jones, Bubba Smith, Lee Ving, Richard Jaeckel, William Sanderson, Keenan Wynn, a baby Nick Cassavetes...  it's kind of wild seeing all the folks go by.  The movie has a writing credit by John Carpenter, and advertised itself as "from the mind of", but it's telling that imdb trivia states he'd never seen it.

Oh well.  We can all still like Linda Hamilton.



*the wacky looking car is actually a fake version of the 1980 Wingho Concordia II, a real and unique car.

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




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

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

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

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




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

Friday, April 23, 2021

Friday Night Watch Party: Crawl (2019) - let's watch alligators do what alligators do!



Well, we're back on the "let's watch animals eat people" thing, but a much newer movie!  And in Florida!

Let's watch people be somewhere they shouldn't and alligators looking at it as a buffet.

Day:  Friday - 04/23/2021
Time:  8:30 PM



(I believe you can actually hear Barry Pepper yell "My leg!" in the trailer around 1:04)

Monday, April 19, 2021

PODCAST: "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) - a Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ MRSHL and Ryan




Watched:  02/10/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Stuart Rosenberg


We're discussing our personal canon, and to that end, Marshall and Ryan do not fail to communicate about one of the best movies of the New Hollywood era. Join us as we talk prison movies, analogy, and using film to reflect upon the wider world. Come on! It's one of the greats of American cinema starring one of the greats of American cinema! Come give us a listen.


Music:
Main Title and End Title - Lalo Shifrin, Cool Hand Luke OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Maniac Watch: Maniac (1980)




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


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

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

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

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

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

see!  There she is!  



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