Monday, May 20, 2019
First, I forgot to mention that on Day 2, the TCM Backlot Austin Chapter met up at Noir City and grabbed a picture, and you'll see me awkwardly standing in the back. Thanks to Jane, et al, for organizing.
Next: Upfront, I'll tell you, I only saw two of the four films on Day 3 of Noir City Austin. This is not due to film programming, venue or any of that. I just had stuff I needed to go do as the coming week of work/life is set to be busy one. So, I was able to see the first two films shown on Sunday.
Noir City Austin continued exploring the 1950's, and by the late 1950's, the differences in style of dress, attitude and film-making choices between the first film shown on Friday night from '49 and by the time we hit boom-time/ post-Korea America in '57, a lot has shifted. Hell, men aren't even wearing hats as a required feature.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Format: Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Long ago I had purchased tickets to see a baseball game in the evening, so I was only scheduled to see two films for Noir City Austin, Day 2.
The theme for 2019 was a follow up on 2018, which was Noir in the 1940's, year-by-year. This 10 film cycle was tracing noir as we left the 1940's and how and why the films changed as we hit the 1950's as cultural issues crept into the films and television competed with the big screen and informed the lives of characters on screen. And, by the mid-to-late 1950's, began influencing how movies were shot so they'd work on the television sets of the era as Hollywood looked to cash in on the secondary income stream.
Format: Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing: First for both
Decade: 1940's/ 1950's
Eddie Muller is back in Bat City for Noir City Austin, our annual showing of films I'd never find on my own, and always can't believe the gold Muller is able to surface. Muller isn't just host of TCM's Noir Alley weekly dose of crime, implied sex and moral gray areas - he's also head of the Film Noir Foundation. Proceeds from the festival and merch sales go back to the FNF, who, in turn use the money to rescue films from obscurity and eventual loss.
Friday, May 17, 2019
SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.
Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST
The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:
SimonUK Cinema Series:
Thursday, May 16, 2019
I wish I'd disliked this movie enough so that I could have a spoofy title to the post like "Whine Country" to tag onto Wine Country (2019). I guarantee you, some bright-eyed reviewer has used it out there somewhere. After all the film is about a bunch of upper-middle class to upper class women coming together to go through the entirely predictable steps of a "girls weekend"/ reunion film and all of the weirdly specific predictable beats (despite the fact that reunion movies are not my jam) that fall out.
People be having lives that are more complicated than when you're 21 working for minimum wage, y'all.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I remember reading that film-reviewer Pauline Kael made it a rule to only ever watch a film once - maybe a practicality of her business, maybe a personal quirk (as in all things, it's only mostly true). I think about this a lot, because - as anyone who has followed the blog or PodCast knows - I find returning to movies fascinating, both to see what my now-brain thinks of a movie versus what I thought of it then, and because of how those differences reflect on your own experience, making films something all the more personal.
I saw Nightmare Alley (1947) about four years ago, and I remembered thinking it was good - but not really clicking to it in particular. But on this viewing, despite the fact I remembered the film fairly well, it just reached out and hit me over the head. This is a brilliant, wonderfully crafted movie, tackling deeply sensitive material and plowing right through, and getting away with it like the low-level conman who inserts himself with the right clothes and patter - the movie sure looks like a morality tale and crime movie, while questioning the nature of anyone selling you salvation, spiritual insight or deep insight into your own psyche.
Friday, May 10, 2019
PODCAST(s)! "Legend of Billie Jean" (1985) and "Pump Up the Volume" (1990) - Teens in Revolt! w/ Maxwell, Marshall and Ryan!
Format: LoBJ - Amazon Streaming, PUtV - DVD
Viewing: LoBJ - First!, PUtV - unknown
Decade: 1980's, 1990s
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*NSFW* Maxwell and Marshall come into the studio to talk TEENS IN REVOLT! It's "The Legend of Billie Jean" (1985) and "Pump the Volume" (1990), two movies where teens grab the airwaves and tap into the spirit of being a teen and find themselves on the wrong side of the law! We take a look at two classic teen movies for our generation and try to decide: what are these kids so dang grumpy about?
Invincible - Pat Benatar, Legend of Billie Jean OST
Rebel Yell - Billy Idol, Legend of Billie Jean OST
Everybody Know - Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man
Titanium Exposé - Sonic Youth, Goo/ Pump Up the Volume OST
High School Movies
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame. But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury. Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV. Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).
These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up! you cannot be a wine-nerd. You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush. Pick one. But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.). But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list... comics were for children. Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.
Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.* Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics? What were we even doing?
Monday, May 6, 2019
Watched: 05/ 03/2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I was about five when 9-to-5 (1980) came out, and the theme song by co-star Dolly Parton was everywhere for about a year or two, remaining a staple of radio play to this day. Because the movie dealt with non-space-battle, gorilla or robot related issues, and I think was an R-Rating in the era of G, PG and R, I did not see the movie at the time. I was pretty sure then that it was not a sex romp based mostly on how many people went to see it (it was huge), and just never got around to seeing it as I grew up.
Which is weird - I'm not a giant Jane Fonda fan, but I find Lilly Tomlin brilliant whenever she's on a screen in front of me, and... I mean, Dolly Parton! If you don't love Dolly Parton, I don't want to know you. And Dabney Coleman was a thing back in this era - people loved him (he might have been a great take on J. Jonah Jameson in a 1980's-era Spidey movie if a studio had gotten its ac together. I'm just saying.)
From a purely sociological standpoint, it's fascinating to see a movie about the women of my parents generation who were going through the first phases of a lot of what we deal with today, but based upon the rules of the era where women were housewives, teachers, nurses and... secretaries. And we've all seen the role of secretaries on Mad Men (or should. Sucks to your GoT, give me ad executives drinking on the job).
Thursday, May 2, 2019
|Peter Mayhew during filming of Star Wars|
Peter Mayhew, actor who brought Chewbacca to life, has passed.
I was just over two years old when I saw Star Wars in the theater, and - like everyone - I loved Chewbacca. How could you not? A giant with a heart of gold, a loyal best pal, a co-pilot and a strong right hand - Chewie was the ideal buddy in a galaxy where you needed someone you could trust at your side, watching your back.
The scene I probably remember best from Star Wars as a kid was realizing how *tall* Chewbacca was when he was in shackles beside Han and Luke in the Death Star, and realizing the man inside that yak-hair suit was pretty much that tall, too. I recall being about seven and measuring out how tall he would be with a ruler against my friend's bedroom wall while we stood on chairs (I have no idea how or where we got the figure for Chewbacca's height).
The other scene I recalled was Chewbacca and pretty much everything about the trash compactor. Even as a wee kid, I found that bit terrific. Ford and Mayhew had their schtick down pat.
In 2000 I saw Peter Mayhew for the first time in person - he was signing autographs in a longline at a Disney theme park where Jamie and I were honeymooning. I didn't stand in line then, and I regretted it later. Flash forward to about four years ago, and the same happened at a comic convention in San Antonio - and as I walked out, regretted I hadn't jumped in line.
That I didn't wait is odd, in retrospect - when The Force Awakens was announced, I was possibly more excited to see Chewbacca and R2 back on the screen than General Leia or Han Solo - they would be the aged versions of themselves, but Chewie could be ageless, walking through these movies, one after another, no silver showing up in that fur.
But, of course, the man who brought Chewbacca to life was now not a kid himself, and I was aware his large frame had aged hard - I'd seen him in a wheelchair, and gravity is a bear for us over-six-foot-humans. I was not surprised when I heard he had a stand-in for all the walking scenes and was mostly the one playing the seated bits. But I still figured Peter Mayhew would be online, a pleasantly upbeat and chirpy presence - that he'd put on a tux jacket for a premier somewhere in LA. and maybe I'd see him at some other con and get his signature this time.
I'm genuinely sorry he's gone, but I am grateful that he spent the last few decades as a genuine celebrity, knowing his face and name meant (almost) as much to Star Wars fans as the fellow he brought to life, and that he got to be a part of it all over again in both the Prequels and the latest trilogy.
My understanding is that Peter Mayhew was an orderly in a hospital before being cast as Chewbacca in Star Wars. It's funny how a single casting call and some luck can change everything.
Watched: 04/25 & 26/2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane/ South Lamar
Viewing: First/ Second
Jamie and Ryan went to see "Avengers: Endgame" twice in two days. We talk the epic conclusion to the first ten or so years of Marvel Studios, what worked for us, what challenged us, and how it fits in with the world of comics from which it sprang. Don't listen in if you're avoiding spoilers - because we've got plenty.
Portals - Alan Silvestri, "Avengers: Endgame" OST
Thursday, April 25, 2019
I expect Jamie and I will be putting a PodCast together on Avengers: Endgame, so... bear with us until that gets recorded, posted and edited. We are seeing it again tomorrow, so we get 2x the chance to miss things, I suppose.
All I will say for now, in spirit of keeping everyone spoiler-free, is: I didn't think any time was a good time to go to the bathroom, so plan soda intake accordingly. It is a LONG movie, but dense.
And, I genuinely wasn't spoiled by toys or anything else on the shelf. The trailers I've seen mostly covered the first 20 minutes of a 180 minute film, so... lots of movie there to grapple with. But Marvel has done a great job of keeping the movie under wraps.
1 SPOILER after the break...
Aside from Justice League Action and Young Justice, I have a hard time getting excited for the DC animation films or shows. While a country mile better than Marvel's cartoons and their paceless plotting (but kudos as their animation has finally caught up), with the end of Brave and the Bold and the hard pivot with Flashpoint, DC decided the only thing to do was aim squarely at 22 year olds and everyone else could go @#$% themselves.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
SimonUK brings a charming, home spun sort of tale about (nude) space vampires, not-Michael Caine, a blank Texan astronaut, a London-based Zombie plague, forced kissing on Patrick Stewart and more story than a movie has a right to contain.
Lifeforce Theme - Henry Mancini, Lifeforce OST
Call of the Wild - Henry Mancini, Lifeforce OST
Sunday, April 21, 2019
|I dunno about this team-up, y'all|
Growing up, Easter was a pretty big deal in our house. My folks are good Lutherans, and until about high school we got together with family and friends - hosting them for the weekend, or they'd host us - and insert the sort of small riot that can occur when you've got four boys born within 27 months of each other. There was always shenanigans on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday was Easter Eggs, church and then a substantial dinner. If we were out of town, then a 3 hour drive back.
The trick to Easter was that teachers didn't care about your long weekend (we often had Good Friday off from school), and the holiday rolled on through lunch and into the late afternoon, but that didn't mean I didn't have a book report or a test to deal with on Monday. So, good job, my teachers. That was super cool of you.*
Of course, school days are decades in the past. No one lets me participate in egg hunts, I haven't dyed eggs in 15 years (it's way more work than its worth as an adult), and I've realized the chocolate at Easter is weirdly, uniformly terrible even as its just as bad for you as good chocolate.
But, you *can* often land a solid brunch or dinner out of the deal.
Aside from Biblical epics (an early and overlooked part of film's history which faded in the 60's), the entertainment offerings for Easter are pretty few and far between. No one really wants to trample all over the Passion story or the religious import of the holiday to a lot of people quite as cavalierly as they're willing to do with Christmas. I did see Hallmark took a stab at recycling their Christmas movie formula to make an Easter movie or two this year (never stop being you, Hallmark Channel). And, of course, we've got Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade.
It's not the best movie - pretty standard romantic comedy stuff, and Garland and Astaire are typically great, but it does feature Ann Miller shaking the blues away. And to that, we tip our hat.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I've written up 99 River Street (1953) once before, and watched it something like 1.5 times before, but I genuinely really like this movie. Starring John Payne as a former champion boxer, now a cab driver - he's trying to adjust to a world of broken dreams and settle in with the dishy blonde he married at the height of his fighting days when he finds her cheating on him.
In a twist of just insanely bad timing,* a pal - Evelyn Keyes - lures him to a theater to show the body of a man she accidentally killed when he tried to #MeToo her during an audition. Just to make matters worse, the guy Payne's wife is running around with is a jewel thief who just heisted $50K in diamonds.
Friday, April 19, 2019
For prior blog post on this screening, click here.
SimonUK and Ryan delve into the 1991 sci-fi actioner and talk about the impact of the film on culture, on action film, and maybe ourselves. We also discuss the awesomeness of Linda Hamilton, CGI in 1991, violence then and now and a whole lot more.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Theme - Brad Fiedel, T2 OST
You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses, T2 OST
SimonUK Cinema Series
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Format: Alamo Mueller
Stuart's flight was canceled, grounding him in Austin til tomorrow and I was planning to see Hellboy (2019) at 7:20 with SimonUK, so world's collided this evening as SimonUK and Stuart met, sat on either side of me and then both proudly announced their fealty for director Neil Marshall. Truly, these two dudes are two peas in a pod.
So - yeah, I'd heard Hellboy was supposed to be terrible, which is a good place to set your gauge when watching the movie. It both earns the bad reviews and maybe defies them a bit.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Honestly, if you'd told me 20 years ago that in 2018 there would be so much superhero stuff on TV and at the movies I wouldn't blink to miss a Teen Titans tv show, let alone a movie (and, indeed, that Teen Titans would be a household word), I think you would have blown my 1998 mind.
So, I don't watch Teen Titans Go! 95% because I only have so many hours in a day. When the film of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) came out, I was busy and just didn't see it, but everyone was telling me it was great, so I picked it up "on-sale" via Amazon Streaming (thanks for the tip, Stuart).
Yeah! It's weird, super fun stuff. Kid safe, but wonderfully absurd for the adults - it's just amazing how the movie works on two different levels in virtually every scene and with every line. When the kids who saw it now return to it in a few years, I think they'll be genuinely surprised at what WB and DC signed off on here - it all feels like one long in-joke for comics fans, paired with the absurdities of comics AND the superhero movie boom, playing as a moral lesson the movie explicitly does not care about (giving us the best/ most honest ending I've seen in a kiddie cartoon in a while).
Anyway - I totally dug it. And cannot believe this gem exists.
Kudos to the Teen Titans Go! voice cast - that is some A+work. And to the celebrity voices who dropped in, like Nic Cage as Superman.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
We've essentially not only just *not* made any progress on how we deal with our border with our Southern neighbor since the release of this film in 1949, but we're now actively and intentionally worse about how all of this works.
Border Incident (1949) follows law enforcement working together from both the Mexican and American governments, seeking not to punish the braceros crossing illegally so much as to stop the exploitation and criminal behavior of the coyotes, who use the undocumented status of their victims to exploit them for terribly low wages, awful living conditions and potentially violent treatment.