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

Monday, May 9, 2022

Dog Watch: Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)



Watched:  05/06/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Walt Becker

I dunno.  This is for very small kids, but it also felt like it wasted a lot of goodwill and a lot of potential.  Clifford is a character I don't think about much as I am 47 and I have no children.  But I think if all you can think to do is make a boilerplate kiddie movie that seems lifted from every kiddie movie since Uncle Wat turned his attention to live-action, I dunno.  He's a big fucking dog.  Workshop that shit.  

The movie is chock full of cameos and small roles for known talent and looks like they spent some money on it.  It's a beloved and well known character, and...  it kinda feels like they didn't really know what to do once they got the rights.  

It also takes place in the city, which...  look, maybe the first book is urban, but Clifford is a suburban character.  NYC is a lot of things, but it is not a place where a giant dog is going to fit terribly well long term (he wrote as his own giant dog put his massive noggin on his hand and keyboard).  Like - look, the 'burbs are more dull and less diverse than Harlem - but this is also a fictional movie, and/ or could have been in a small town?  I don't get the setting.  It's okay to country-fi that story.

Maybe the thing that was weirdest about the movie is that it desperately wants to be about *something*, and the thing Clifford had going for him in his origin story is the power of love (to turn a small sickly puppy into a giant dog).  But the movie decides to be about accepting something/ someone who is different.  But then it's about very White people in gentrifying Harlem who seem boringly ordinary, even the wacky uncle who needs to grow up borrowed from every movie, ever.  

I'm all about messages of "hey, don't fear something because it's different or you don't understand it", but the speech at the end is wildly nonsensical and unearned.  Being "new to school" is not weird or different, it's...  an uncomfortable period of adjustment (I moved 3 times during my school years.  You adjust.).  Our Emily Elizabeth is a pretty standard kid.  She doesn't have a third eye or something.  She's "poor", but NYC giant apartment poor.  Normal in her world is having a 27 million dollar loft.

Honestly - who wrote this thing?

Anyway.  I thought the cast looked like they were having fun, Clifford was cute and the last act was at least kind of fun/ funny.  I wouldn't not show this to a small child.  But I also am disappointed that this is the Clifford movie we got.  It's better than the Air Buddies movies by a country mile, but it's still... meh.  Gimme a trick or treating Clifford of GTFO.  

Paddington raised the bar for timeless children's characters into movies, studios.  Work harder.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

PodCast 198: "Ghost Rider" (2007) - A Marvel Madness PodCast with Danny Horn (and Ryan)



Watched:  04/29/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: Second
Decade: 2000's
Director:  Mark Steven Johnson




We make a costly pact for minimal gain - watching 2007's edge-lordiest superhero as he monkeys his way through not hiring a lawyer and all the fall-out. Join us for discussions of acting choices, when the plot in no way adds up, Nic Cage and very, very small feet in this just-before-Marvel-got-good installment.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Ghost Rider - Christopher Young, Album 
Ghost Riders In The Sky - Spiderbait


Marvel Madness PodCasts

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

PodCast 197: "The Medusa Touch" (1978) - A SimonUK Cinema Classic w/ Ryan




Watched:  04/25/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Jack Gold




It wouldn't be the first time we used our minds around here and it led to disaster. SimonUK and Ryan get excited about Richard Burton and Lee Remick, respectively, and get on the case of the victim of an attempted murder, who maybe - just maybe - is the source of all sorts of trouble. Join us as we talk an entry in ESP horror paired with police procedural.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
The Medusa Touch - Michael J. Lewis 


Simon movies!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

80's TV Movie Watch: The Spirit (1987)




Watched:  05/02/2022
Format:  DVD from Warner Archive
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Michael Schultz

Way back in the 1980's, I ordered a Bud Plant catalog so I could get an idea of what all was out there in the world of comics.  I remember two things that really stuck out - a Mike Kaluta image of The Shadow (the first time I'd heard of the character) - and an image for a collection of The Spirit strips with P'gell prominently featured.  You know the one.

I didn't know what the hell The Spirit was, but to my 11 year old brain, this seemed very sexy indeed, and I assumed The Spirit was some sort of soft-core comic.  

Flash forward probably only a matter of months, and I read in Comics Scene that someone was making a TV movie of The Spirit, learned more about it (not a softcore book!) and back in the days when we weren't having superhero media rained down upon us, I was very interested.  

Finally the movie was slated to air, and of course there was some scheduling conflict (we just missed TV in those days), but I could probably catch the last hour or so.  I don't remember where we were or what was up, but I do remember my mom ran into a friend and started talking.  And I just had to stand there while the clock spun and my 1980's chances with no DVR faded away of seeing any of the movie.  

I walked in the door, watched the last five minutes, and then went to do homework.

Western Noir Watch: Lust for Gold (1949)




Watched:  05/02/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  S. Sylvan Simon and George Marshall


Well, Criterion Channel is currently highlighting a collection of films starring Ida Lupino, and that's good news for me, anyway.  Always on the hunt for more Lupino, I wanted to check out something I hadn't seen, and we mostly randomly landed on Lust for Gold (1949), what appeared to be a Western, but which really turned out to be Western Noir, which is absolutely a thing.

This is a supremely weird movie, and they needed to make one movie or the other movie in their movie, but instead they give you two partial movies, and I cannot begin to conceive of the "why".  A full 2/3rds of the film is flashback to events from the 1880's, and the rest takes place, which a much-less-talented team of actors, in the present day of 1949.  And I'm not sure the whole section in 1949 needs to exist at all, and I'm not sure that the events of 1880 shouldn't have been mentioned in about three sentences in a very different version of how the 1949 stuff spins out.

The end result is that you don't get any Ida Lupino until something like 35 minutes into a 90 minute movie, and... come on.  What are we even doing here?

Friday, April 29, 2022

PodCast 196: "Spider-Man: No Way Home" (2021) - A Marvel Madness PodCast w/ Jamie & Ryan



Watched:  04/15/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Jon Watts




Jamie and Ryan finally catch up with the gigantic Spider-Man movie from 2021, ponder multiverses, wish fulfillment, and doing something that maybe shouldn't have worked, but did. It's a post-game chat after watching a deeply complicated movie that was either a celebration of Marvel's most beloved hero on film, or it was a very, very weird thing to do/ cash-grab.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Arachnoverture - Michael Giacchino


Marvel Madness Playlist

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Watch Party Watch: American Cyborg - Steel Warrior (1993)




Watched:  04/22/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Boaz Davidson

A movie that actively resists how movies are supposed to work, American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993) eschews character, story, pacing, and more to tell the plot outline of a cute blonde carrying a jar-of-baby to a port to give it to Frenchmen whilst being stalked by a robotic gym coach.  Luckily, she's saved by Unfrozen Caveman Hero Joe Lara.  

The movie has exactly two modes:  (1) uninspired fighting - 90% (2) awkward romantic moments - 10%.

It's a movie that is only 90 minutes, but somehow feels 4 hours long, because it has no story and thinks it should make up for that with the exact same fight sequence happening over and over and occurring in 10 minute spurts.  It's insane.

Anyway, I hate it and want to eject it from my brain as soon as possible.  So this write-up is over.




Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday Watch Party Watch: American Cyborg - Steel Warrior




During summers and over Christmas while in college, I used to go see every single movie that came to the local AMC.  I'm pretty sure the ticket girl thought I was stalking her because there I was, like 4 nights per week.  And, as is my wont, I began addressing her by name.  

But it wasn't just me lurking around the AMC at Richey Road.  Back in those days, The Bros. Steans were very much a package deal (ask Jamie about a pre-Amy Jason), and so there we'd be, standing at the window, asking for two tickets to Man's Best Friend or whatever.  And, one Christmas, we got down to the dregs of the holiday-time offerings.  

With no Oscar bait on the table (this is just before they learned to dump all those movies in December, which would happen maybe the next Christmas), we chose American Cyborg: Steel Warrior.  

The movie was absolutely terrible.  To add to the experience, either the projector or film itself kept breaking.  So every twenty minutes or so, the movie would stop, the lights would come up and a half-full very small auditorium of people would have to look at each other, acknowledging "yes, I also chose to watch something called American Cyborg: Steel Warrior".  And, every time it broke, it was adding a few minutes onto the duration of how long any of us planned to be there, and we'd all shown up for a 10:00 PM show.

As it crept to about 11:15 and the movie broke yet again, I heard some real grumbling this time.  And so, I stood, faced the crowd and said to people I had never seen before:

Oh, no.  I know you're all thinking this movie is terrible, and, it is.  But no one leaves.  We started this together, and we're finishing this together.  We can do this!  Let's finish this awful movie!  

People, I got applause.

Not a soul left that theater.

In retrospect, that may have been a terrible mistake.

And, Friday night, I share that mistake with you.

Starring people you don't know, one of the final films put out by Cannon while in its death throes, we're watching people run around an abandoned factory.


Day:  04/22/2022
Time:  8:30 PM
Service:  Amazon Streaming
Price:  $2





PodCast 195: "The Wild Geese" (1978) - A SimonUK Cinema Episode w/ Ryan




Watched:  04/08/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Andrew V. McLaglen




Aging soldiers of fortune go back in for one last mission - and this time we're talking about the movie and not SimonUK and Ryan! It's a SimonUK Cinema Classic, a canon film, and a chance to watch Richard Burton play essentially himself if he was a mercenary. Behold post-colonialism relationships with the African continent, high adventure and the folly of canceling your Christmas travel plans.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Overture - Roy Budd, The Wild Geese OST 
Flight of the Wild Geese - Joan Armatrading, The Wild Geese OST



SimonUK Cinema Series

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.








Sunday, April 17, 2022

PodCast 194: "Turning Red" (2022) - Pixar Talk w/ Ryan Michero, Maxwell, Nathan C and me




Watched:  04/09/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Domee Shi




With a new Pixar film, Ryan Michero returns to the podcast to fill us in on what he was up to on the film. We get a behind-the-scenes peek at the film, and talk a lot about what makes art, technology and story all work, Pixar-style! And, Ryan S gets mad about ginned up controversies.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Nobody Like U - by Billie Eilish and Finneas and performed by 4*Town
U Know What's Up - by Billie Eilish and Finneas and performed by 4*Town


Pixar Talk Playlist

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Catwoman (2004)




Watched:  04/15/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  first complete, end-to-end viewing
Decade:  2000's
Director:  some asshole who goes by "Pitof"

If I were teaching a class on superhero film, I would make Catwoman (2004) the half-way point of the class.  Chronologically, the movie arrives after Fox successfully put out two X-Men movies and Sony has delivered some Spider-Mans.  Warner Bros has shut down its Bat-franchise and will sometimes think about making a superhero movie, but everything you read in the press that WB is considering is still stuck in the idea that superheroes are campy and should be comedic, or is a reimagining where they'll use the name but everything else will be so changed, it will bear no resemblance to the comics.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Friday Watch Party - Catwoman!



Good Friday?  Let's make it a GREAT Friday, with the power of Halle Berry!

This is also a story about death and resurrection, but this one involves considerably more cats and milk.  And if there's one thing I know, it's that y'all love cats.  

Well, so does the hero of our film!

So, I have seen this movie in pieces over the years, but never straight through.  It's time to fix that.  

Jamie is already mad I picked it.  Just FYI.

In 2004, with Marvel getting a successful X-franchise out there and some Spidey films, DC absolutely panicked and green lit Catwoman, based on no comic property, and loosely tied to about a 60 second bit in 1992's Batman Returns.  This movie - directed by a mononymic French guy who knew nothing about Catwoman and had no real directing experience - is really the lens you need to understand how much WB did not give a shit about it's subsidiary, DC Comics, and how little they believed their characters were worth.  

In all fairness, we do get 100 or so minutes of Halle Berry.  And, of course, Sharon Stone!

Day:  Friday, 04/15
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon Watch Party:
Cost:  $4


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

90's Watch: The Freshman (1990)




Watched:  04/12/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Andrew Bergman

I'm kind of fascinated by the writer/ directors who did a few things but aren't workhorses with thirty directing credits or a hundred writing credits.  Because Andrew Bergman is one of these guys.  He doesn't have any movies in his IMDB that's a big mark against him, but it's just not clear why their last big credit was in, like, 1997.  

The Freshman (1990) arrived at a very peculiar time in my life.  That summer I had been in DC for my uncle's wedding, and we had some downtime as it wasn't a touristy sort of week in town.  And, frankly, although my brother and I were 15 and 17, we got shunted to the side as not-adults.  My uncle, being my uncle, had some videotapes he owned, and that included Godfather, Godfather II and Das Boot (just to prove Bob knows how to party).  And, Jason and I watched all three.

Anyway, 1989-1990 was more or less the year that I became a nascent film-jerk, because that Spring we'd also rented Lawrence of Arabia and a host of others for the first time.  But The Godfather movies hit me like a ton of bricks.  And then I got home, and a few weeks later, The Freshman hit theaters.  

To this day, this is one of my favorite comedies.  Everyone in it is perfectly cast and nails their business.  Brando is fucking magical.  Broderick is the best he'll be til Election.  And it rewards rewatches to really pick up on some of the dialog and what people are doing and saying.  Man, we lost Bruno Kirby decades too early.  And, man, Penelope Ann Miller is so, so good.

But, yeah, I absolutely love this goofy movie.  It's incredibly warm-hearted for a movie made in a period where that often translated to schmaltz or dumb-assery (this same producer made Chances Are).  And I still think it's psychotic that this movie didn't do better, but maybe the Godfather crowd didn't want to see Brando send up one of his most famous characters, and maybe the younger crowd wasn't interested.  

And how DOES a komodo dragon fit into a mob comedy, anyway?  Or Bert Parks?  

Anyway, I think history has mostly been kind to the film.  Hasn't it?  I don't know.  But it was a great little push to let me know "movies can be fun" - not just the movie I was watching, but how it played with the most sacred of cows.  It's still shocking to me that all the pieces came together as they did.


Gilbert Gottfried Merges With the Infinite




Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried has passed.   And I'm going to miss him.

Gottfried was someone it seems literally everyone knew, and he was a YMMV kind of personality, drifting between doing stuff for kids to telling deeply dark jokes at Friar's Club Roasts.  And, yeah, he was the voice of both the AFLAC Duck (until he went dark and got fired), and Iago from Aladdin, but he was also the voice of Mr. Mxyzptlk on Superman: The Animated Series, and is now what I hear in my head when I see the character in new or old comics.




But, really, I think of Gottfried as part of the two-headed hosting beast of USA's Up All Night schlock movie program.  One night would be the lovely and hilarious Rhonda Shear, and the next you'd get Gottfried hosting you through A Polish Vampire in Burbank, Cannibal Women of the Avocado Jungle, etc...   He would wander the streets, amusement parks, bars, whatever... and be there with you in the wee hours as you made it to the end of H.O.T.S. or whatever.  He was truly a pal (and I also kind of wanted his job).

I do love how he knew what he was, embraced it, and was always the funniest @#$%ing dude in whatever he was in.  Truly, never afraid to go there.



PODCAST 193: "Chances Are" (1989) - a Birthday Exchange Movie Discussion w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  04/10/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Emilie Ardolino




NSFW! In retaliation for his selection, Jamie busts out a mostly-forgotten late-80's magical-realism romantic comedy that really draws some interesting lines in the sand for what it thinks are totally fine ideas to put into a movie. Thrill to Jamie and Ryan pondering how this was a mainstream movie that went without comment at the time.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
After All - Cher and Peter Cetera
Chances Are - Johnny Mathis


Jamie's Cinema Classics

Monday, April 11, 2022

Hammer Watch: Brides of Dracula (1960)




Watched:  04/11/2022
Format:  BluRay!
Viewing:  Second? 
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher 

It's my b-day tomorrow, and for my b-day, Dug and K sent me a couple of Hammer blurays I'd not picked up, and... I'm very excited.  Lots of extra features and whatnot and excellent picture quality. 

I wrote this one up in late 2020, so I'm not inclined to say a ton more.   I suppose this time it really struck me how much this movie seems to play with the idea of gothic romance novels, of the young woman entering a castle and uncovering a mystery - but in this case rather than a wrongly imprisoned prince or lord, she accidentally frees a Dracula.  It's kind of clever.

This is also a movie where we see Van Helsing continue on his arc as a bad-ass, fist-fighting Draculas and applying his anti-vampirism plan to himself.  It's crazy.  

I will also continue to contend that Andree Melly was very cute as a vampire.



Sci-Fi Watch: World Without End (1956)




Watched:  04/10/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward Bernds

From YouTubeTV:  

An astronaut (Hugh Marlowe) and his buddies land on 26th-century Earth and find men meek and women friendly

I mean, yes.  

I have no idea how I recorded this movie, but I did.  I'm guessing by accident.  I put it on to see what it was, and - while not good or great - there's a bit of The Time Machine and what we'll all know from Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes to this movie.  

Some astronauts return to Earth only to find they didn't just pass through space, they passed through time - a few hundred years.  On the surface, they find giant spiders and brutish troglodytes, and as they meet a race of subterranean people who seem much more like the people they left, they find that there was a nuclear war at some point.  While safe in their underground city, the men have turned weak and fearful, and the women - hot and mini-skirted.   And disappointed in their men.  So of course they like Rod Taylor popping his shirt off and bringing the gun show.  

Anyway, it's mostly curious in that it seems like Hollywood did watch the movie and said "we could do this better".  And they were not wrong.  Just twelve years later, Planet of the Apes - with Rod Serling and the original novel behind it - doesn't just turn the opportunity into a sex fantasy/ reinforcement of our exceptionalism as mid-Century Americans.  


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Doc Watch: American Grindhouse (2010)




Watched:  04/08/2022
Format:  Amazon?
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010
Director:  Elijah Drenner

This doc felt weirdly slight, and I see now it was 80 minutes.  It traces the history of film from its origins to what sorts of theaters carried schlocky, sexy, or violent films not produced by the studios.  

But... it's weirdly focused on just New York and LA, forgetting these movies had audiences all over, and never curious about how they were (or were not) seen in the rest of the country.  I'm not sure I buy of the main theses of the film, that the studios started making "grindhouse" movies because of the end of the vertical integration of studios and theaters that dissolved post WWII.  But I would agree that eventually studios got involved with content formerly reserved for the grindhouse market.  I'd just point to studios trying to differentiate from what was on TV once the Hays Code fell apart and the rating system came to be.  

There are pretty good interviews, including Eddie Muller, and some creators of some classic schlock, much of which I haven't gotten around to seeing (pitching a 'Women in Cages' movie to Jamie is not as easy as one would believe).  And I've never come across availability of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.  But I was pleased with which ones I'd seen.  I think they gave Russ Meyers and his real legacy basically no consideration, and it's weird.  There's no mention of kung-fu or other genre.  Instead, they seem to want to follow a thread to porn that I'm not sure works if you remember actual porn theaters existing and that was an adjacent but not entirely related thing.  

In short - it's fine, but feels... debatable?  Like the narratives only work if you aren't thinking too hard.




Watch Party Watch: Night of the Lepus (1972)




Watched:  04/08/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  William F. Claxton

You'd think a movie about giant, mutant rabbits with a taste for human flesh would be more exciting.  But, alas, that is not the case with Night of the Lepus (1972), which seems like such a missed opportunity.  And I welcome some enterprising soul to remake and improve the idea.  NOW IS THE TIME.

The movie features Rory Calhoun, Dr. McCoy and Janet Leigh, among others.  Janet Leigh is kind of weirdly wasted in the film, but wears an interesting array of stripes.  And it also features a lot of bunnies shot in slow-mo on scale sets, and it is goddamn adorable.

The main character and his family are entirely responsible for the science and bad decisions that create the mayhem of the movie, and should be in jail.  Even the little girl.  It's a hell of a script.  

Anyway, my middle school floor hockey team was named The Slaughter Bunnies, and I really wish I could say we based it on this movie, but we did not.