Monday, January 20, 2020
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
It was a miracle I even got out of this five hour movie alive.
Way, way back in the 1990's, I saw this movie the first time - I believe - between my junior and senior year of high school. My vague memory of the film was that it was known for two things - it was a movie directed by the same guy who did Wings of Desire (which I'd never seen), and for the soundtrack full of musicians both huge and indie (back when that meant something in particular). Ads appeared in Spin and/ or Rolling Stone for the OST, which read as a mixtape from a pal with particular but good taste (Now That's What I Call College Rock vol. 1!).
Friday, January 17, 2020
Ahoy! We sail into the NSFW new year with a tale of unlikely adventure and horror as a very 1980-era Michael Caine heads to the Bermuda Triangle to look into some missing boats only to find: a secret civilization of PIRATES. And not fun, yo-ho-ho pirates, but, like, crazy inbred weirdo pirates. It's a whole scene, man.
Island Magic - Ennio Morricone, The Island OST
A few months ago, I had purchased a BluRay collection of films, all shot by noir-famous cinematographer John Alton.* I'd had great intentions, but never made it into the disc. For whatever reason, I finally did crack open the case and put in the BluRay and I get what the hubbub is about.
This was my first viewing of Raw Deal (1948), a fairly staple noir film, but one that I'd just not made time for before - which is a shame, because I liked a lot of the movie, and would probably use it to illustrate some classic noir tropes and definitely as a teaching tool for the epitome of noir cinematography from the height of the movement.
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM
I'd heard Hammer produced some thrillers and whatnot, but I'd not really seen any - my exposure to the studio's output had been mostly limited to their horror films.
Shown as a Christmas treat by Noir Alley's Eddie Muller - who fessed up that it's more noir adjacent than noir - this small-scale production is a terrific sort-of real-time story of a robbery at a bank branch in a small town well outside of London.
Friday, January 10, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
This movie never states that it's based on real events - but once it's underway, it's very specific to the point where I finally had to check to see if the character portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the film existed. Spoiler - He did!
But. Half of this movie is real and half is made up, and I am just, honestly, confused why they made this choice - except that I basically get the decision from an optics, casting and audience standpoint. The film swaps out one of the two people who made the real-life trip with a fictional female balloon pilot (Felicity Jones) who is overcoming serious and dramatic baggage tied to ballooning. All of which is made up. Even as she performs feats to save their lives that the real pilot was forced to do. But here, it's someone else.
But, again, the scientist in the film was real and really did go up in a balloon, but with a less-surprising male balloonist.
I honestly have no idea what I just watched, is what I guess I'm saying. I've read articles that are more reflective of my "yes, I understand why they did it, but..." perspective, and others that are really surprisingly blase about "facts" and "what occurred" and seem to think that's some old fashioned thinking and casually suggest if you are questioning the choice, you are both racist and sexist.
Look - I get that "based on a true story" movies change facts all the time, combine people into single characters, etc... - and, honestly, it's part of why I often avoid Hollywood's interpretation of history. But they generally don't swap out one of two main characters with a completely fictional person.
So - I have no idea what I just watched. It was okay. But I tend to think history is hard enough to get a grip on without making up fictional characters in their lives as seemingly major players. So, next time you ask me if I've seen a movie based on a true story and I kinda shrug and say "nope". You now know why.
I watched this just before Togo, which was also based on true events and changed quite a bit, but the basic facts were generally adhered to.
Format: Amazon Streaming
The holidays never end here at The Signal Watch! We've got one more PodCast for you as we discuss "Trading Places" (1983), a movie about class, race, and power of hoping your audience knows a whole lot about the commodities market (we do not). Join us as we discuss a movie that's both dated and ageless. Oh, and it takes place at Christmas, sort of.
Overture - Mozart, The Marriage Of Figaro
Sunday, January 5, 2020
SimonUK and Ryan were already standing around the kitchen talking about "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker", so they turned on a microphone and recorded themselves. What follows is a semi-incoherent conversation by two 40-something guys pondering the final installment of a decades-spanning storyline.
Fanfare and Prologue - John Williams, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker OST
Ewok Celebration - Meco, some 45 I had a as a kid
Saturday, January 4, 2020
We've already shared the breakdown of all the movies we watched last year, so now it's time to talk about some of our favorite things and to drag some movies we maybe didn't like all that much.
We don't just talk about movies that came out in 2019, we try to talk about all the "new to me" movies we saw, and maybe a special selection or three of movies we'd seen before, but which deserve special mention.
The Mellies are nominated by and voted upon by the only opinion that matters: mine. They are also not reflective of the panoply of films released in any given year - because I may watch a lot of movies, but I don't have that kind of time. And, honestly, I'm just not that interested in a whole lot of what comes out.
Friday, January 3, 2020
Well, 2019 was certainly a year that we mostly lived through. As years go, I'm not giving it very high marks, but I did watch a lot of movies. Which, boys and girls, is not so much an achievement as a thing which occurred.
In 2019, I watched 204 movies (click that link to see the spreadsheet). This is likely a lifetime high, and I don't really know how or why that happened, because 204 is a good 20 more movies than last year.
I also wrote a post or recorded a podcast for, I think, every movie I watched in 2019.
This 204 number includes movies I saw more than once. Example: I saw Avengers: Endgame three times this year, so it is counted thrice.
The figure does not include partially watched films, half-watched Hallmark Christmas movies, or matter that I watched on TV that some people might consider a film, but I happen to not consider a film.
As always, I may have missed a movie or two. It happens. The data is accumulated from the blog - so if I forgot to post on a movie, it is not reflected here. Also, dates watched on a movie reflect the date upon which I completed a movie, as I watch many movies broken up over 2-3 viewings.
Now, into the nitty-gritty.
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Not to be overly dramatic, but after seeing Frozen II (2019) the first time, I knew I'd need to watch it again before I'd do my usual posting.
The reviews were kind of lukewarm, so going in, I had my expectations set for "it'll be okay", and so... when the movie ended and I was having all the reactions I deeply *want* to have after seeing a movie, I'll admit that I kinda-sorta didn't trust my own reaction and figured it would fade after a day of thinking about (or forgetting about) the movie.
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Format: HBO Streaming
A while back our own PaulT - who does many things in the film and TV industry - worked on a documentary called Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops (2019). I believe he was a/ the sound mixer on the film, which - in documentary land - is no small feat. Especially when you're talking police situations, moving cars, and open classrooms. So, hats off to Paul.
The movie is currently streaming on HBO, and, if you get a chance, give it some time. The movie follows two police officers from the San Antonio Police Department's Mental Health Unit at work and in their lives.
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Eddie Muller introduced Criss Cross (1949) as an exemplar of noir and an underrated movie, and he's absolutely right. I'd seen this movie a while back, and it's absolutely stuck with me - so when it made the programming list for Noir Alley, I was thrilled to watch it again.
Monday, December 30, 2019
I don't know that I need to write up Tangled (2010). But here's what I think:
This movie is a letter of permission for some young women to realize that maybe their relationship with their parents is kinda toxic.
By that I do not mean that all young women have a toxic relationship with their moms, but dang... there is a reason that this movie ends with a young woman cutting off her girlish long locks as she severs her relationship with the woman who has been gaslighting her and filling her head with bad ideas for her entire life. And I think we've all sorta known that young woman who went to college, realized maybe the world was not the place she'd been taught, and wound up shaving their head by second semester.
There is some phenomenal character animation in this movie in the classic Disney tradition - I mean, Maximus is a frikkin' delight - and I really enjoy the number by all the tough-guys singing about their dreams. The new stuff was in the effects - sure - but the movement and camera work in the movie is kinda breathtaking when you watch Rapunzel zipping around like Spider-Man on her own hair. They really make the space inside the tower work, as well as in the construction-site sequence.
But, yeah, this movie is going to hold up for a very, very long time as it works with timeless themes, for both Rapunzel and Flynn, and the animation may look marginally dated by Frozen II standards, but I'll argue the Disney styling will keep it fresh for decades.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
Format: Criterion Channel
Look, it's possible Bette Davis is one of 5 or so finest actors to have graced the screen, at least in Hollywood films. Yeah, she is "of the era" on some things, but - man, even in not-great films she's a power house, and then in something that plays to her range and strengths?
Format: Amazon Streaming
Decade: So, so 1990's
Prepping for New Year's Eve, AmyC and Ryan return to the indie film scene of the 1990's when Tarantino could do no wrong and Miramax was the hottest game in movies. But what if they decided to Voltron their talent into a single, unimpeachably delightful and quirky movie made up of four separate segments by four separate auteurs? It'd be great, right? ...right?
Vertigogo - Combustible Edison, Four Rooms OST
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I've been aware of Victor/ Victoria (1982) since, probably, college. Just never got around to seeing it. The movie is famous for it's plot of "woman posing as a man presenting as a female impersonator (re: Drag Queen)", but you hear little else about it. It had no radio hits from the songs and hadn't really permeated the culture the way many-a-musical will.