Showing posts with label movies 2020. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies 2020. Show all posts

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Working Girl (1988)




Watched:  11/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second, I think
Decade:  so, so 1980's
Director:  Mike Nichols (checks notes) huh.

When Working Girl hit theaters in 1989, I remember it was one of those movies everyone saw - both parents and kids.  A lot of kids with their parents.  It had the gloss on New York City business and the glamour that suggested in the late 1980's as being a part of the high stakes world of business at the heart of American capitalism after eight years of Reaganomics was the pinnacle of success - and a lot of pop culture flowed forth from that.  Right up to and including movies like this, Gremlins 2 and the novel of American Psycho.*

Dolly Watch: Christmas on the Square (2020)



Watched:  11/26/2020
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Debbie Allen, y'all

I don't know if you guys know this, but the past few years Dolly Parton has been producing a variety of movies - including a few which appeared on Netflix last year.  My memory is that prior movies were basically using ideas from one of her more popular tunes (I actually watched a good chunk of Jolene, but think I forgot to write it up).  But I think Christmas on the Square (2020) is based on a new song from her recently released album (a solid Christmas record, if you're so inclined).  

This was very much a movie musical - relentlessly so - and intended to give everyone's mother something to watch this Christmas that they could casually mention that they had seen - and then recommend.  Directed and produced by the great Debbie Allen, it's not really a surprise the movie features singers and dancers trying their hearts out, and the film is packed with folks with plenty of talent madly dancing and singing around our leads.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Whodunnit Watch: Knives Out (2019)




Watched:  11/21/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson is one of those directors we need more of.  He's smarter than his audience (sorry, he is), and he's making stuff he'd want to see, and if we happen to come along and like it, too, great.  If not, it doesn't matter.  He made something *interesting*.  

On the heels of his stupidly controversial gigantic Star Wars movie that followed his usual way of doing things and managed to make maybe the only interesting Star Wars movie since Empire, he turned to the all-star murder mystery - a la Inspector Poirot films.  But not a murder mystery that relied on nostalgia, an exotic setting and romantic period in which the film occurs.  It's a family all brimming with motivations to take out the patriarch as they gather in the family a mansion in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb.  

HOLIDAY PODCAST: "3615 code Père Noël"/"Deadly Games"/"Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus" (1989) - A Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 episode w/ JAL & Ryan

 


Watched:  11/07/2020
Format:  Shudder Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Rene Manzor


It's French. It's Christmas. It's got a deranged Santa and a kid who has seen a lot of 80's action films. It's like "what if 'Home Alone' were infinitely @#$%ed up?" Justin and Ryan take a deep dive into a movie that feels like it's about to break as a cult classic, and features a very Bonnie Tyler Christmas song. You may know it as "3615 code Père Noël", "Deadly Games", "Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus". But it's a frikkin' delight, this thing. 
Merry Christmas - Bonnie Tyler

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020:

Monday, November 23, 2020

90's Watch: Dogfight (1991)




Watched:  11/22/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Nancy Savoca

I rented this one in high school, but I have no idea why.  I'm pretty sure the first time I watched it, I watched it by myself.  But I know I watched it the next day before I had to return it, with someone.  Probably my brother or a friend.  And maybe I watched it once in college, but the movie doesn't get discussed much and I'm not sure what sort of footprint it had or has.

TCM has been on a tear promoting women in film - behind the lens, mostly.  I'm afraid I've done a very bad job of keeping up with their terrific efforts.  Dogfight (1991) was shown as part of an evening's programming some time ago, and I hadn't had a chance to watch it, but finally did.  I'm surprised how much of the movie I remembered (there are movies I'll watch, and look at the blog in the same year and have to piece together what it was as I have almost no memory of the film already), but also what an impact the movie had on me at the time as a young dude.  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

PODCAST: "Robin and Marian" (1976) - a Connery Tribute PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  11/01/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Richard Lester


The Signal Watch is sad we've lost a film icon in Sean Connery, so SimonUK and yours truly check out one of Connery's less discussed but curiously interesting films - where he plays a middle-aged Robin Hood returning to Sherwood Forest after 20 years away. A meditation on legends, aging, love, what drives us and what we hang onto. 
Music
Robin and Marian Suite - John Barry


Watch Party Watch: Masters of the Universe (1987)




Watched: 11/20/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Gary Goddard

I should start by saying:  I didn't ever really like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as toyline, cartoon, what-have-you.  Maybe because a lot of the material behind the franchise is simply bad.  The Filmation cartoon was goofily animated and the voice actors always sounded like they were recording out of context and in a well-tiled bathroom.  It featured a handful of wildly annoying characters and artists who really wanted to work in a few rotoscoped shots as often as possible.  (I will say - it DID blend American comic book style art very well, and should have shown Marvel how to do this instead of what they did in the 1990's.)  But mostly, He-Man was a lot of nonsense to sell toys, and that's great.  I support that idea.  I just wasn't into their particular gumbo of elements that made up their cartoon and toys (and found the original line of toys frankly grotesque, and not in a fun way).

Fake Doc Watch: Waiting for Guffman (1996)




Watched:  11/14/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Christopher Guest

For a run of about five movies, Christopher Guest managed to borrow the "mockumentary" format pioneered with Spinal Tap (in which he famously costars), and managed to create some Gen-X favorites.  The run began with Waiting for Guffman (1996), a "doc" following the production of a pageant/ play intended to celebrate the sesquicentennial of a small, Missouri town, Blaine, the participants of which believe will be seen by an agent of a Broadway producer - elevating their joy at just participating in a local stage show to the chance for something beyond their wildest dreams.

Guest's ensemble would continue on with him through all five films, into his HBO show Family Tree, and into the attempt to recapture the magic with Mascots in 2016.  This film includes talent that was breaking at the time, established talent, and helped to establish some of the cast.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Spooky Noir Watch: The Seventh Victim (1943)




Watched:  11/18/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:   Mark Robson


A Val Lewton horror film - that means a lot of atmosphere, mystery, wild plotting and not a lot of blood or outright frights - The Seventh Victim (1943) is a study in building a sense of dread and doom.  It's a strange, strange film, following one lead character for much of the film before putting her in a corner and finding other characters more interesting to watch.  

The film marks the movie debut of Kim Hunter*, who plays a private school girl who learns her bills aren't being paid by her sister - and her sister seems to have disappeared.  She hits the big city and learns her sister has sold the cosmetics company she owned, her shrink hasn't seen her in a bit, and she was romantically hooked up with Ward Cleaver (see a young Hugh Beaumont as a sort of romantic character!).  

Seems her sister fell in with a bunch of devil worshippers, and that's no gone great.  In fact, when paired with a private eye who decides to do the work pro bono, he gets bumped off.  At some point, we find the sister, and she's on a path that none of the men around her quite understand as they try to save her.  

But, I'm selling the film short.  Being a Lewton produced film, it's all about ideas and what you can't see in the shadows.  There's a Lynchian dream-like quality to portions, and the horror of what you realize must be happening (from people getting away with murder right in front of you) to rooms full of people trying to talk you into suicide that's far weirder than any makeup or jump scares.  Really, the closest thing I can think of in a "we're gonna watch someone end badly" closest to this film was Fire Walk With Me.  

Included as a Noir Alley entry - it works.  The film's aesthetics rely on expressionism, deep shadow, etc...  There's certainly a doomed quality and an underworld scratching at the edges of polite society.  In this case, an underworld that's what polite society does after 8:00 PM.  



*Kim Hunter is much beloved at The Signal Watch as the actor who (a) appeared as Zira in some Planet of the Apes films, and (b) as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.  




PODCAST: "Krampus" (2015) - a XMas Genre Xrossover 2020 Special w/ Marshall and Ryan

 


Watched:  11/04/2020
Format:  HBO, maybe?
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Michael Dougherty


Tis the season for genre mashes! It's horror with Christmas joy! Join us as we peek in on a family that has lost its Christmas spirit - and is now facing a giant beastman-shaped reckoning. Marshall and Ryan talk the 2015 holiday horror hit that's become a bit of a perennial favorite (already!) - which reflects on how the holidays with family can really be a nightmare.


Music:
Krampus Main Theme - Douglas Pipes

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 Playlist

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Interaction Watch: For a Few Dollars More (1965)




Watched: 11/10/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown.  Probably fourth or fifth
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Sergio Leone

It had been maybe 15 years since I last watched For a Few Dollars More (1965), the second in the Man With No Name trilogy, which catapulted Clint Eastwood to stardom, made Leone an unlikely star director, and gave me some movies to be blown away by in my last teens/ early 20's.  

It's an interesting bridge between the solo adventure of a Fistful of Dollars, which is also maybe a bit rougher from a technical standpoint, and the groundbreaking filmmaking that would come with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and explode into masterpiece filmmaking with Once Upon a Time in the West.  

I may like Leone's work.  Sue me.

The film isn't *that* different to characters and bears from A Fistful of Dollars, but it does insert Lee Van Cleef as the variable in the experiment, and to great effect.  It's not hard to track how Leone went from this film to the three character structure of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the next film, giving chances for shifting alliances based on the character's self interests and motivations.  Flashbacks in this film presage similar from the finale from OUATITW.  

It's a gorgeous film, and the pacing and characters are happily breaking the conventions of Westerns of the prior 60 years of film, pointing the way for what we would come to expect from an American action film.  To the point that, with no knowledge of film history, what people coming to this movie for the first time would even think.  But this is 1965 - we're barely two steps from Hopalong Cassidy, chronologically.  

If you think you don't like westerns (a statement I think just basically means: I don't like movies about people without cars, as "western" is a nonsense category of a movie), give the Man With No Name Trilogy a shot.  It's amazing stuff.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

Interaction watch - RoboCop (1987)




Watched:  11/03/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  let's not talk about it
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven

I think we'll be podcasting this at some point in 2021, so we're gonna take a pass on writing it up.

But it was fun to watch as a Prime Party, as some hadn't seen it or hadn't seen it in a while.

Watch Party Watch: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)




Watched:  11/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1970's (and sooooo 1970's)
Director:  Joseph Sargent

I saw this one the first time at the Paramount with absolutely zero context.  Back in the day, I'd just show up for whatever was showing during the Summer classics series, and it's how I first saw some of my "new favorite" films since college.  Third Man.  Sunset Boulevard.  and a host of others.  

And, yeah, I really like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974).  It's a tidy caper movie, sharing screen time between the heisters and the heisted, but with no set up - just the execution.  So, when four guys take a subway car hostage on a weekday afternoon in New York, it makes no sense to the guys running the subway - blue collar schlubs whose jobs it is to literally make the trains run on time - and it takes a minute they don't have to figure out what the hell is going on.  Let alone - how the baddies think they're going to get away with it (they're trapped in a tunnel, too).  

The gang is a classic heist gang.  The master mind.  The wild card.  The dutiful sergeant.  The guy who is there as the inside man.  But part of what makes the movie is that the guys on the other side of the mic aren't hostage negotiators - they're public employees suddenly in a very weird position, running communications from the heisters all the way to the Mayor.  And, of course, they're a bunch of 1970's New Yorkers.  

As the world I live in is project and operational management, I get a kick out of heist films.   The heist = a project - and the plan for the heist, accounting for everything that can occur and keeping your stakeholders managed sure feels familiar.    The opposite side is operations, which are interrupted by the interference of the heist.  And - man, as I am wont to say - people are terrible in a crisis.

One detail I like about the film is that no one is working in synch on the MTA or government side.  From the mayor dithering and worrying about votes to the internal disagreement in the subway tracking office where Matthau is trying to keep things in hand.  I assure you, there's almost always someone in a crisis who is more bent out of shape that they can't do their usual job than aware of the actual unfolding situation than makes rational sense.

The movie was released in '74, so the occupants of the jobs likely have been sitting in that office since the late 1950's.  There's a casual racism and sexism pervading the scene and characters, and the film does comment on it - albeit not in the way we're used to in 2020.  Brace yourself for some stereotypes (especially among the hostages) and among the main cast.  It's a movie about an imperfect world that has to suddenly deal with the unknown.  

It's a tight film - the run time almost occurs in about half of real-time.  We don't worry too much about the home lives of the characters, and we don't even really know the motivations or what led up to the heist.  But what we do get is a wild mix of talent in the film which makes it work.  Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Jerry Stiller, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Kenneth McMillan, and a bunch of other faces you'll recognize (I finally identified Robert Weil as also appearing in Hudsucker Proxy after it's bugged me every time I've watched this movie previously).   

Anyway, worth your time some time.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Musical Watch: Hello, Dolly! (1969)



 
Watched:  11/08/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown.  Maybe 4th
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Gene Kelly

Hello, Dolly! (1969) has some amazing sequences worth checking out just to see what was going on in the post studio-system era when a surviving studio threw a huge ton of money at a film.  From massive sets to costumes for hundreds (if not thousands), the expense of the thing is hard to get your head around - and every dollar is on the screen.  There's talent galore, including established and rising heavyweights, and even unknown bit players have some moments.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Escape From New York (1981)

 


Watched:  11/06/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I'm not writing this up.  If you've not seen it, you're all the poorer for it - but it's a fine but of early 80's cinema.  And, of course, established Kurt Russell as a non-Disney star.



Friday, November 6, 2020

PODCAST: "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017) Avengers Countdown #16 w/ Jamie and Ryan


 
Watched:  10/01/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2010's
Director:  John Watts




It's round three for film adaptations of Spider-Man, and this time they made Aunt May a stone cold fox. After Disney and Sony sorted out their differences, Spidey finally became part of the MCU and - despite not following origin movie rules - manages to turn in a fun movie with a weirdly sympathetic super-villain (it's BATMAN).





Music: 
Very bad cover of Spider-Man theme - Jamie and Ryan
Spider-Man Theme - The Ramones


Avengers Playlist:

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election Week Watch: The Muppet Movie (1979)




Watched: 11/04/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's
Director:  James Frawley

We watched most of this movie on election night in order to avoid the news.  Finished it up last night in order to avoid the news.

Everytime I watch this, I am reminded that Rowlf is the funniest Muppet.   And Paul Williams needs to be re-re-discovered every three years.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Elementary Watch: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)


 

Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Terence Fisher

Frankly I'm surprised I'd never seen this movie before, except:  I've always been embarrassed to not have actually read the novel, which I usually like to do first on things like this.  For a while as a kid I read my brother's Sherlock Holmes collections, and like many a 13 year old kid, was a fan.  Frankly haven't read much since, so if anyone is doing any Christmas shopping for me... could use a nice Holmes collection.

Anyhoo...  Peter Cushing was TCM's Star of the Month, and they aired the movie and I decided: heck, now is the time.  It's Halloween-ish.  Ghost hounds and all.

Cushing plays Sherlock Holmes (to perfection, I might add).  Andre Morell is Watson.  I was further delighted to find out it co-starred Christopher Lee is the heir to the Baskerville manor and fortune, Sir Henry.  

The mystery surrounds a longstanding curse of the Baskerville family, that a demon hound occasionally gets them out on the moors surrounding their manor house.  When the latest occupant dies, killed by some large creature, the next in line is summoned home from South Africa to take his place.  In London, a Dr. Mortimer enlists the aid of Holmes and Watson to sort things out before Sir Henry falls to a similar fate.

The scope of the story plays well to the strengths of Hammer studios - access to solid actors, a limited number of locations, a grisly murder and kind of crazy story.  It has that Terence Fisher touch to it of not being overly stuffy, but also not ever feeling exploitative regarding the horror or grisly details while also painting a picture of what has occurred off screen or which was hinted at.  

If I have *any* complaint, I could have stood *more* of this movie.  It runs 87 minutes, and feels like it could have spent more time building suspects, detailed a bit more here and there, and given more room for Sir Henry's budding romance/ infatuation with the neighbor's comely daughter.  And, of course, with Cushing as Holmes such a delight, it would have been great to get more Holmes/ Watson time.  


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween Watch: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  2nd?  3rd?  4th?  It's been decades
Decade: 1990's
Director:  Kenneth Branagh

We already watched the classic Universal Frankenstein and the Hammer Frankenstein for the podcast, but I always watch Frankenstein and Bride as my final movie or so of Halloween.  So, I swapped in this version, which I hadn't seen in forever.  And I know I hadn't seen it in forever, because Jamie had never seen it.  

My memory was "that sure felt like it thought it was much better than it was".  It was directed by already-respected Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh, borrowed indie cred by casting Helena Bonham Carter (who was the indie-fan's sex symbol of the time), borrowed established cred with Robert DeNiro as the Monster, Tom Hulce of Amadeus fame, Ian Holm, John Cleese and others.  The sets are lavish, the score: sweeping.  

Halloween Cartoon Watch: Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Maxwell Atoms

Uh.  So, I guess there's a rabid fanbase of adult fans of Scooby Doo, which, you know, I really like Superman, so, no stones shall I throw.  I was just never a big Scooby Doo fan, even as a kid.  I mean, it was what was *on* in the few hours I was allowed to watch TV as a kid, so I watched it, but I didn't take to it.  Nor did I get onboard with the live action movies from a couple of decades ago.  Basically -  I am out of the Scooby loop.

But...  this year Hanna Barbera/ WB Animation released Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020), an animated movie featuring the voice talent of Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson as herself/ Elvira.  I gathered from something I read that she didn't just wander in, do a joke, and disappear again, so I paid to rent the film.  




As I mentioned, there's a rabid adult fanbase of Scoob-o-philes, and I was kind of curious how they felt about this movie.  The Scooby Doo I remember had the bland Fred and Daphne, Velma trying to keep things together, and Shag and Scoob as two slackers who had no business in the monster-chasing business and made dangerously large sandwiches.  The new take looks like classic Scoob, but Fred is... dumb?  I couldn't figure it out.  Daphne is... insane?  and the other three felt like how I remember them.  And, honestly, Scooby Doo himself was deeply back burnered, which is not how I remember the show working.

Elvira was allowed to be more or less a PG version of herself, and they went weird with some bits I can see Peterson finding pretty funny.  Bill Nye also plays a sort of Q role for the team, air dropping them a new mystery machine.

Well, according to what I saw online, the adult fans hate this take.    Which - sure.  Key characters are out of character, even with the fan-base approved voice cast.  

The movie is kind of weird, structurally - from including a Batman villain, to an extended road chase that just keeps going.  

Anyway, I probably enjoyed it more as an Elvira movie than as a Scooby Doo movie - and actually understand if fans are weirded out by their favorite characters acting out of character.  See: my confusion about recent DC Comics movies.  I'm not sure I've ever really been much of one for the Scooby Doo formula, but it was interesting/ weird to see the characters looking the same but (especially Fred and Daphne) updated to be more like modern animated characters.  Not sure it worked - but it was something to ponder.