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

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poppins Watch: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)



Watched:  07/13/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2010's

Y'all, I @#$%ing love Mary Poppins. 

I already talked a bit about this movie back in December when we went to go see it as a holiday-timed family outing. 

Honestly, as much as I liked it the first time, on a second viewing, I liked it even more.  Once you're past the "what am I looking at?" aspect of such a big production and get over everything they're throwing at you and can process it as a movie with a story and things happening and songs you're not hearing one after another for the first time and dance sequences you're just trying to process...

Honestly, it's really a very well put together bit of entertainment and a fine companion piece to the original.  And I like it quite a bit. 

Yes, you can still both absolutely map the movie scene for scene as a remake of the original, but it is, in fact, a sequel, so it also has a new plot and new problems and works in elements of the original as plot points, creating some terrific continuity.  I *liked* the songs the first time, and on a second viewing, I really liked the tunes.  They may not have the immediate impact of soft-rock favorites in the manner of Moana or Frozen, and they remain so much in the vein of the Sherman Bros., we aren't going to get a Broadway showstopper akin to Let It Go, but the song-craft is still tremendous and the songs almost as powerful as carrying the story forward as Moana

And, of course, Emily Blunt's take on Mary Poppins is...  well, she's pretty great.

Anyway - I won't belabor it.  I rewatched the film, enjoyed it again, and will watch it again in the future.  This movie could have been a trainwreck and dimished the original - instead, the level of attention of detail in recreating the world of a movie from 60 years prior and updating it to a different period is phenomenal.  Not to mention the recreation of Disney's 2D circa 1960 animation house style brought into this new film.  The spirit is so much the same from head to tail on this movie, it's an astounding feat.

And whether it's the Julie Andrews original film or this belated follow-up, I still @#$%ing love Mary Poppins.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

PODCAST: Spider-Man - Far From Home (2019) - a quick Marvel movie chat with Jamie and Ryan



Watched:  07/08/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan just saw ol' web-head's European tour, and rather than being all Mysterio about their reaction, we grabbed a microphone to shatter any illusions that we wouldn't cover this latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Join our first totally unedited reaction podcast!



Music:
Spider-Man (1967 cartoon theme song) - Paul Francis Webster and Robert "Bob" Harris

Marvel Movies Playlist

3D Noir Watch!: Inferno (1953)

absolutely no one swings into action on top of a couple having a cuddle in the course of this movie

Watched:  07/11/2019
Format:  Alamo South Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Well, somehow Wednesday became my Robert Ryan double-bill day.  SimonUK and I headed over to the local cinema to take in this novelty 1953 film.  Ostensibly noir, this movie is both in technicolor (not a disqualifier) and in 3D (a curiosity for noir, to say the least).  It also takes place in the desert and is 65% a tale of survival in extreme conditions, and - while I get why it gets lumped in with noir, I'm a bit on the fence. 

If the movie borrows from noir, it's trying to borrow from the best - in some ways asking "yes, but what if the husband in Double Indemnity had lived?" and pairing it with a survival tale in which the husband is not on an urban railroad track but thrown from a horse in the Mojave Desert. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Noir/ Lupino Watch: On Dangerous Ground (1951)


Watched:  07/10/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950s

If I were to buy this movie on Bluray (and it's Lupino, so don't count me out), I would wish it had Eddie Muller's conversations which bookended the showing on Noir Alley.  Muller says he's doing "barroom, not classroom", but I'll argue that by showing a wide variety of films on Noir Alley and talking about why we should pay attention, discussing what happened during production, etc... and not just lauding whatever it is we're about to see, Noir Alley is one of the best movie-watching experiences and educations you can hope for.  And, yeah, he makes it all as casual as a talk over cocktails. 

On Dangerous Ground (1951) is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars two of my favorite denizens of Noir Alley, Ida Lupino* and Robert Ryan (here wearing a coat and hat and a tough cops face in a way I wish with all my heart I could pull off).  I'd meant to watch it some time ago, and I can't recall why it fell off the list - but now was the time!  Muller certainly discussed details of the film and production, but his real focus was on the Bernard Herrmann score.  And it is very, very much a Bernard Herrmann score, which is almost off to see against an RKO b&w cop picture. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 2


The week of the 4th of July, I was in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to visit some old family stomping grounds.  The Marquette/ Ishpeming/ Negaunee area is where my mom's people landed after arriving from Finland.  My grandfather worked in iron ore mines for forty years while my grandmother cleaned houses and other odd jobs.  And, when my mom arrived as a surprise when they were in their 40's, then raised the sparkplug that is the lady we call "Mom".

This area is also the setting for the novel Anatomy of a Murder.  When Otto Preminger decided to adapt the book circa 1958, he brought the entire production up to this remote area.




You can read more about it in Part 1 of this photo tour.

A Picture Tour of Locations from "Anatomy of a Murder" - my vacation pics from the U.P. - Part 1



This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder.  If you've never seen it, it's a terrific film and holds up far better than you'd expect considering the changing mores, attitudes, laws and and more since 1959.  In some ways, it's covering territory we seem to cover over and over as a society and may be more relevant now than ever.  A legal drama, it should be a bit out of my wheelhouse, but instead it's been one of my favorite films since college.

Starring Jimmy Stewart, it has a terrific cast of well-known and lesser known actors.  Eve Arden, a very young George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra, Arthur O'Connell, and Kathryn Grant (a University of Texas alumnus and, at the time, just married to Bing Crosby).  And, a bit bizarre for the time and place, Duke Ellington.

The movie, however, was based on a novel written by Robert Traver.  Traver was the pen name for attorney John Voelker, who lived in Ishpeming, Michigan and served as the city prosecutor, ran for other public office and was generally highly involved in public life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Noir Watch: Woman on the Run (1950)



Watched:  06/30/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

First - this poster is doing Ann Sheridan no favors.  She's a gorgeous woman, and here she looks like a wax museum figurine that's been set too close to a lamp.  Second - like many-a-noir, this title isn't actually accurate.  The movie is about a woman seeking out her husband, who is a dude "on the run".  Unless this is when I find out "on the run" in this era meant "she's just moving about quickly", which I don't think it did.



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Marx Bros Watch: At The Circus (1939)


Watched: 06/29/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing: First
Decade:  1930's

Well, this was a bit of fun.

The Marx. Bros had been in Hollywood a full decade by the time (Marx Bros.) At the Circus (1939) was released.  It''s basically not all that different from A Night at the Opera or other Marx Bros. outings, at least in format.  There's a Groucho song, Harpo plays the harp, Margaret Dumont (bless her) plays the wealthy dowager.  There's a couple in love who have a song or two that would have gone to Zeppo and someone else back in the day. And an antagonist in need of a good come-uppance.

But if you're watching ta Marx Bros. film for structure or plot, something has gone terribly wrong. 

All in all, the circus is a terrific setting for the Marx Bros, animals and acrobats and all, setting up an ideal finale under the big top.  There's stunts and great visual gags, a flying Margaret Dumont, and a gorilla.  How can you not like it?

It doesn't hit the levels of absurdity that Duck Soup reaches, but nothing does. 

One thing I find curious about the Marx Bros. movies is that some, such as this one, contain scenes with all-Black casts plus a Marx Bros or three.  It's not unheard of for this in other movies, but clearly they were trying to bring people to the screen who weren't always there.  You always cringe a little when you're not sure we're not going to wind up in Blackface (they do in at least one picture), but not here. 

The movie also has a terrific scene with Groucho and a very young Eve Arden that now has one of my favorite "breaking the fourth wall" moments in a movie as he bemoans how he doesn't know how to do the scene without trouble from the Hayes Office. 

Anyway - we were going back and forth about what makes comedy work, what makes it feel like a movie versus comic actors just doing their thing as the camera rolls, and I'd argue, come back to a Marx Bros movie for what's possible on the screen.

Romance Watch: Sabrina (1954)



Watched:  06/29/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Everyone but me has seen this movie, but we were staying in on a Saturday and it seemed like a good option for a bit of a light movie and to check off a viewing box.

Somehow, until about two years ago, it had escaped my notice that Sabrina (1954) was actually a Billy Wilder film, and so I wanted to give it a real shot, and I'm glad I did - it did surpass whatever bar I'd set for the movie.  The movie isn't exactly what I expected, which was to see two brothers in escalating conflict, trying to win over Audrey Hepburn.  You can read that as: I didn't want to watch two middle-aged guys duking it out over an ingenue for 2 hours - but it's not really that.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Noir Watch: The Shadow on the Wall (1950)


Watched:  06/27/2019
Format:  Noir Alley TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

The core idea of this movie is so... evil... I almost think it'd make for a swell comedy. 

Ann Sothern - a sort of "America's sweetheart" of the era - plays a woman who murders her own sister but can pin it on her brother-in-law.  BUT!  Her niece saw the whole thing, so she won't go to the gas chamber, she's in a race to kill the little girl before Nancy Davis (read: Nancy Reagan) helps the the little girl recover her memory.

I mean, you can imagine the Looney Tunes quality of repeated murder set-up after murder set-up to kill a bright-eyed little girl who is working through her cloudy memories by playing dolls with Nancy Reagan. 

This movie plays it straight, is a lesser entry in everyone's resume but that of child actor Gigi Perreau (still living, people!), and is good enough as yet another entry in the "psychology is a an alchemical force toward unlocking the mind" films of the era.  It does co-star a pre-Ronald-betrothed Nancy Davis, who is better than I figured she'd be, but still very much Nancy Reagan.*  It does not feature nearly enough Zachary Scott, whom I always like. 

My favorite scene is one where Sothern poisoned the little girl's chocolate milk and it seems like anything can happen in this particular set-up, shot from the kids' eye level as her friend wanders in to see why she isn't drinking her milk.  Just great stuff. 


*I'm sorry - the lady just seemed like a scold all the time when I was a kid, and she feels that way here, too

Adventure Watch: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)



Watched:  06/27/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  4th or 5th
Decade:  1930's

Flat out, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is one of the most influential and best adventure films ever made.

Everything that came before it led up to it, and everything after stands in its shadow.  If you think superhero movies pitting quippy rogues in brightly colored outfits standing up against despotic thugs grasping for power is a new thing, my friend, have I got a movie for you.

Even by modern standards the film is a marvel - maybe especially so.  There's no wires, no wire removal, no CGI versions of Errol Flynn leaping onto a horse with his hands tied behind his back.  That's just dudes in tights doing some crazy stunts for your entertainment.  And it's far from just Flynn - it's an army of actors and performers jumping out of trees, swinging on ropes, and buckling swashes.  The pacing is rapid, especially for 1938, and sets the standard for today's adventure movies, but the dialog is 95% better than most films of its type - intentionally cheesy in many parts, lots of "look, we're pretending to be Ye Olde British People", but - at its heart - the movie will always resonate, as will the story of Robin Hood, of standing up for a nation and all people over the avarice and cruelty of those who would crush others to live with more than they can ever use.

As you can guess, the silent era figured out that you could get in audiences with wild stunts - actions speaking louder than title cards, after all.  Douglas Fairbanks was one the great stars of the era, his Zorro and other characters bouncing all over the screen, jumping off and on horses, swinging from anything that could bear their weight.  It's a hell of a thing to watch, and still absolutely thrilling.  1938 is only a decade into the sound era, and here you can see that the language of sound film has found its form.  Add in the fact this is in technicolor, popping off the screen, and that Flynn is the definition of "handsome fellow", and it's a movie that takes advantage of everything it's got.

One of those things is Olivia deHaviland, who plays the role of the Maid Marian.  This Marian isn't already charmed by the rogue-ish Robin, but is won over by realizing his true loyalty to England, the same which he's inspired in his men, and how he is true to his mission.  He's not just robbing to gather a ransom to free his King, he's also caring for the injured and battered who can't fight alongside him.  She has her moments of action within the confines of the story and era, and while she'll be given a side-eye perhaps by modern audiences, man, for the time, it's a cheeky role.

We also get Claude Rains as Prince John (just perfectly foppish), Basil Rathbone as utter dirtbag Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and the always wonderful Una O'Connor as Bess - Maid Marian's lady in waiting.  And, of course, dozens more. 

If you've never seen the movie, I can't recommend it enough.  It'll genuinely make you wonder why, between this and the Disney version, the past thirty years we've been handed somber, depressing versions of the story.  Part of the joy of the movie is Robin Hood's joy and good humor in the face of danger.  He's not an anti-hero out for vengeance, he's a hero in search of justice.  And Maid Marian.

So get ready for sword battles, archery, skullduggery and men in tights leaping from trees. 

I give it five thumbs up.


Marvel Re-Re-Watch: Captain Marvel (2019)


Watched:  06/28/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

You'd think I'd have less to say on a third viewing of the movie, but I was genuinely surprised how much more I liked this film on a third viewing.  In many ways, I now think the ad campaign for Captain Marvel and my prior knowledge of the character really got in the way of seeing a lot of what the movie does in bringing us along on Carol's journey - frankly, showing the destruction of the Kree ships in the trailer was crazy and shouldn't have happened.

And while I liked and appreciated the messages the movie makes regarding Carol coming into her own and pushing out the voices of those who would contain and control her - this time I also got a much better feel for the step-by-step journey to Carol's always intact sense of justice and the slow transformation to trusting herself as she learns what sort of people/ aliens she should be trusting.

I've made comment before that it's super-fun to have a Superman-level hero in the Marvel movies, it's also a joy to have someone who reflects the core of what's made Superman stand out since the inception of the character: someone with the moral centering to do the right thing who has the power to act on it without compromise or fear for their own skin, and who will not use that power for self-gain.

Anyway - fun to rewatch the movie again (and, I am sure, again and again in the future).

Friday, June 28, 2019

Noir Watch: Nobody Lives Forever (1946)


Watched:  06/28/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

A bit of lighter, post-war crime drama. 

Garfield plays a former con-man coming back to New York to reclaim the girl he left when he enlisted, and the wad of money he left in her hands.  She's thrown in with a club-owner and spent the money, and so he heads out to LA to reconnect with an old friend.

Running into some pre-war fellow goons, he's turned onto a scheme to rip-off a wealthy widow, who turns out to be less tired old lady and instead the lovely Geraldine Fitzgerald.  Trouble ensues.

The movie is so light in places and features so many comedic bits, it barely feels like noir - but structurally, it fits the bill.  Nothing ground-breaking here, but Garfield shows his chops as a strong leading man, and we get some great character actor performances and Fitzgerald demonstrates why she flirted with major stardom.

PODCAST! Teens in Space! "Space Camp" (1986) & "Last Starfighter" (1984) w/ Maxwell, Mrshl and Ryan


Watched:  06/17 and 06/20/2019
Viewing:  Second and unknown
Format:  DVD and BluRay
Decade:  1980's

It's "Teens in Space"! We get far out with one kinda-grounded adventure featuring some kids on an unscheduled voyage and then find trouble in Rylos City as playing video games actually DOES turn out to be a life skill (if you want to murder anonymous aliens). Join MRSHL, Maxwell and Ryan as we keep our feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.



Music:
Last Starfighter Fanfare - Craig Safan, Last Starfighter OST
In Orbit - John Williams, Space Camp OST

High School Movies Playlist

WWII Watch: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)



Watched:  06/25/2019
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

A fascinating oddball of a movie - part epic, part recreation, part disaster film, part meditation on the futility of war, Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) is an all-star retelling the of the real life events leading up to, and a recreation of, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Originally this was supposed to be two separate movies, one Japanese and one American.  And it almost is - the Japanese parts were directed by Japanese directors (Kurosawa was notoriously fired off the film!), and the American parts: an American director.  I can only wonder how that would have worked in practice, perhaps better.  Both sections reflect the mistakes made along the way - failure of diplomacy, duplicitous use of diplomatic formalities, bureaucratic loggerheads, etc...  Each section reflects back the stance of the home country on what happened at Pearl Harbor in tone and approach, which can make for something of a split-personality to the film that doesn't always work, but probably informs the viewer in 2019 what was felt a generation after the war.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

TL;DR: In 1989 I was 14, and I saw "Batman"



The kids are never going to know that there is, literally, in the public consciousness, a world before Tim Burton's Batman from back in '89, and a world that came into being after that movie.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Batman, the Michael Keaton/ Kim Basinger/ Jack Nicholson-starring gothic caricature that changed the public's perception of superheroes in general.  This isn't hyperbole - nothing was ever the same after this movie came out.  You don't get an Iron Man or Avengers without Batman.  You really don't get the idea out to the general public that comics have moved to a teens-and-up audience until you get breathless write-ups about the Batmania phenomenon.  You also don't have piles of merchandise for adults with a superhero logo on it until Batman, or comics movie-related toys flying off the shelf.

But, mostly, you finally got people to stop thinking "Bam! Whap! Pow!" when they thought about superheroes.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Seafaring Watch: The Sea Wolf (1941)


Watched:  06/21/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

For some reason folks try to file this movie under "noir", and... maybe...?  But I'm going to just go ahead and say "drama".  I'm not willing to do mental the work to turn a Jack London story on a boat into a noir.

I actually broke one of my own rules and purchased this BluRay a couple of months ago having had never seen the movie.  Honestly, I looked at the starring names, looked at the source material and the name of the director and figured "I've spent money on far worse films".

A wildly timely movie - perhaps depressingly so - as the original story by novelist Jack London was adapted to reflect the times.  A man on the run played by John Garfield joins up with a ship (agreeing after almost getting shanghied).  Meanwhile, an escaped convict (Lupino) is hiding on a ferry to San Francisco when it's struck by a steamship.  She and a writer (Knox) are rescued by the crew of The Ghost, but with no intention of setting them back to land.  The Ghost is a 1900-era pirate ship, and those aboard are a crew of the worst of society, who hate themselves almost as much as they hate each other (and assume the worst in everyone).

Friday, June 21, 2019

PODCAST! "Ant-Man" (2015) - Jamie and Ryan's Avengers Countdown


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Watched:  06/14/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  4th
Decade:  2010's

Jamie and Ryan get small with a hero of dynamic proportions. It's "Ant-Man" (2015), Marvel's post "Avengers: Ultron" tone reset. Part heist, part retro-sci-fi, part superhero - it's the Gen-X superhero with a whole lot of supporting cast and the best van in superherodom.




Music
Plain Song - The Cure, Disintegration


Avengers Chronological Countdown Playlist


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Of Course No One is Going to the Movies to See a Comedy



In what will now be a series of "how are you allowed to cover this business?  Do you know any actual humans?" responses to THR bone-picking articles and their "protect the industry!" take on news...  I guess I'm gonna talk about why no one is going to see comedies in the theater.

THR is confused as to why people are not going to see comedies at the movies, and talks about the theories being floated in Hollywood in what's turning out to be a dreadful summer if you aren't Ant-Man or a talking raccoon.

Let me help:

It's because there's no reason to see a comedy on the big screen.  It will be available via streaming within a couple of months, maybe for free.

There.  Very simple.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Noir Watch: Nora Prentiss (1947)


watched:  06/15/2019
format:  Noir Alley on TCM
viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's

Eddie Muller intro'd this movie by discussing how this film was marketed and considered "a woman's picture", and from what I've gathered about Women's Pictures of the mid-20th Century, I can see why that label got dropped on it.  But had he not mentioned this in the opening, I'd have seen this as soft-boiled noir and maybe mentioned women's films in passing.  Bear in mind, one of my favorite movies if Mildred Pierce, which one can see as equal parts Women's Picture and Film Noir, so that's not taking a particular stance, it just changes the formula a bit.