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

Monday, May 3, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Teen Witch (1989)




Watched:  04/30/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  I don't care


We're wrapping up our Friday Night Watch Parties this coming week, and maybe that's all for the best.  For - I may never top Teen Witch (1989) as an offering.  It's all downhill from here.  

It's one thing when people make a movie and try and it doesn't live up to expectations.  It's another when you can tell someone was pushing out garbage to take advantage of a place in the market and literally seemed to not care how the movie turned out.  And that's being generous, because the alternative with Teen Witch is to accept that adults made this film and this was their moonshot, and then we have to wonder: do you know how movies work?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 Movies - By the Numbers




Look, obviously a few things were different this year per my availability to sit on my ass and watch movies.  

And watch movies I did.  There wasn't much on in the way of baseball until July or so.  I had time to do podcasts almost once per week (we'll get to that).  And, we instituted twice-per-week movie parties (Tuesdays and Fridays.  Jenifer runs Tuesdays, I manage Fridays).  Plus, I don't really follow that many TV shows, so I had some time to watch whatever.  And I think when you review the list, you will say "whatever did he watch these movies for?"

Anyway

For comparisons:

In 2020, I watched 269 movies that I am aware of.  I have blog posts entries for each of these movies, and some metadata on each movie to help me track.  

This number includes only movies I watched in their entirety.  If I watched part of a movie, it's not included.  

It is possible I've missed some movies, one way or another.  Whether I forgot to mark it, or write it up, or whatever.  So I'll say - at a *minimum* I watched 269 movies in 2020.  I'll adjust the post if I figure out I missed anything.  

For the complete numbers in a spreadsheet, you can click here.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Christmas Noir Watch: Cover-Up (1949)




Watched:  12/23/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Alfred E. Green

An insurance detective comes to a small town to look into the apparent suicide of a wealthy man with a considerable settlement coming to the benficiaries.  Arriving in town, he finds everyone hated the guy, it sure looks like murder, and everyone - including the foxy young lady he met on the bus on the way in, are in on a cover-up.  Thus, the name of the movie.

Stars William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe.

The ending is weird and super chipper.  

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Guest in the House (1944)




Watched:  12/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  this one is confusing, but it's listed as follows on IMDB -  John BrahmJohn Cromwell...(uncredited) André De Toth...(uncredited) Lewis Milestone...(uncredited)

A dopey young doctor has fallen for his patient - a mental patient with a phobia of birds and a love of stirring shit (Anne Baxter).  Reasonably, he takes her to meet his idiotic family (minus one key player).  Unreasonably, he just f'ing leaves her with his idiotic family who just met her.  She gaslights the living shit out of everyone, including an 8 year old girl.

This movie features:
  • 3 great 1940's hairstyles on lovely women
  • 1 coocoo bananas psycho
  • Multiple dum-dums who clearly never met a Mean Girl
  • 1 Margaret Hamilton reminding you why it was hard for her to find work after Wizard of Oz seared her into your mind as a broom-riding funster
  • 1 wife who is wildly tolerant of 1 husband who is clearly banging his model no matter what the script tries to tell us
  • 1 man who has all the appeal of a soaked Ralph Bellamy that is, because filmed during wartime, the only man around sold to us as a real dream boat
  • 1 bird pining for the fjords
It is not a BAD movie, but it is also not hard to imagine how this movie could be better.  Also - how this sort of movie became a Lifetime movie, which would be called "Psycho Sister-In-Law".

However, this movie ALSO was released under the name "Satan in Skirts", which...  *chef's kiss*.



80's Watch: Romancing the Stone (1984)




Watched: 12/30/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Apparently, Robert Zemeckis

As a kid, I have two memories of this movie - 1) I think my parents thought itw as going to be risque, because the first time we watched Romacing the Stone (1984) it was with some family friends who had to tell them it was okay for 9 year old me, and 2) when I watched it again later - running on HBO or whatever, it just made me wish I'd rather be watching an Indiana Jones movie.  

I was, of course, not tuned in at all to what the movie was doing.  I had so clearly missed the point watching this as a kid, that five minutes into it this time (and I don't know if I'd seen this movie since I was 20), I turned to Jamie and said "I don't think I ever realized before that Kathleen Turner is supposed to be a nebbish.  I thought the idea was that she was a fancy lady from New York out of her element."  

So, yeah - TOTALLY missed the point as a kid.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

PODCAST: "Wonder Woman 1984" - a Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Stuart, Jamie and Ryan

spoiler: the movie was not released in October

Watched:  12/25/2020
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade: 2020's
Director:  Patty Jenkins


Our elite team of nerds comes together to discuss the hottest ticket on HBOmax and at the cinema. Is she a wonder? Has the world been waiting for her? We try to step inside the characters as we ponder what the film did and why, and, does it work? If you WISH someone could get to the bottom of this film - look no further! We're in our satin tights fighting for the right answers! 
Themyscira - Hans Zimmer, Wonder Woman 1984 Soundtrack

Pixar Watch: Soul (2020)




Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Pete DocterKemp Powers

I believe we're going to try to do a podcast on this one, so everyone sit tight.  

But, yes, very good.  Recommended.


Monday, December 28, 2020

Watching the Detectives: The Nice Guys (2016)




Watched:  12/28/2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Shane Black

This was exactly the movie I needed this evening.  

I dunno what to say about it.  Somehow Shane Black made a movie that managed to utterly surprise in every scene, was absolutely wrong, and absolutely hilarious.  Had a killer soundtrack, featured Keith David and gave Kim Basinger stuff to do.  

I am not sure liking this movie this much makes me a good person, but there we are.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

That Was a Movie Watch: Salome's Last Dance (1988)




Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

So...  I'm always on the hunt for something new to watch with folks during Friday Night Watch Parties.  For some reason unknown to me, Salome's Last Dance (1988) popped up as a suggestion from Amazon, and after reading the description - roughly: Oscar Wilde attends a production of his banned play performed in a brothel - I was like "huh, no idea.  Let's look."  

I got maybe 45 seconds in and saw "Directed by Ken Russell", and know more about Russell's reputation than his actual work, which is always at least *interesting* if you've seen Altered States, Lair of the White Worm or even Tommy.  So - I gave it a whirl.

Holiday Watch Party Watch: We're No Angels (1955)




Watched: 12/22/2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Michael Curtiz

In general I think of Michael Curtiz as one of the most versatile and best directors of the Studio Era of Hollywood.  This is not the movie I'd use as Exhibit A for that argument.  

I don't really get it.  This movie is well liked and features a cast of solid, well-known actors (I *do* include Aldo Ray in that statement.  I like Nightfall).  But it has a very, very strange pacing - like, a snail's pace - is not immediately or obviously terribly *funny*.  And, yeah, it's a comedy.  It's listed by AFI as one of the 500 funniest movies ever made, so...  what the hell do I know?  

But, yeah, it's about three Devil's Island prisoners (Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov) who hide out in a shop/ home owned by Joan Bennett and Leo G. Carroll - and, along the way - wind up helping out the shop and solving all of their problems.  

I do feel less crazy as I was not the only one watching the movie and I don't think any of us were fans of the thing.  

I dunno, maybe none of us were in the mood or something - but I think something about the stageyness of the production - that they seemed to pace it as a play they hadn't quite figured out the timing for - just really impacted the watchability.

All that said - it did have one of the darkest/ most leaning on gallows humor endings to a movie I can think of from this period, and maybe that has a great deal to do with how it's been received.  No idea.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wonder Watch: Wonder Woman (2017)




Watched:  12/23/2020
Format:  HBOMax
Viewing:  No idea
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Patty Jenkins

Every time I rewatch Wonder Woman (2017), I'm stunned at the complexity and completeness of the character arc for Diana in the film.  But here, at the end of 2020, how much Diana's illusions and how she deals with them being shattered, resonates.  

From the first time I saw this movie, I know I've been saying it's one of the only superhero films to actually understand what a superhero is and what they do.  It's something comics themselves have forgotten as the writers have fallen into the traps of Hollywood script rules - and the movie itself does, in fact, play with those same rules.  But as a character, Diana is pure.  She's not out for revenge against someone who performed an injury of some sort upon her or a loved one.   She's outraged at the world of man and what they allow to occur - saying there's nothing that can be done.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hallmark Watch: Christmas at Dollywood (2019)

Dolly's outfit needs more sequins



Watched:  12/18/2020
Format:  Hallmark Channel on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Michael Robison

Arguably, no one involved with this movie knows how anything works in real life and everyone but Danica McKellar's character should be fired.  And Dolly, of course, should always be held blameless.

We've watched a lot of parts of Hallmark movies this year, but watched almost none from start to finish - but when a movie promises to serve up Dolly in prime, post 2000 incarnation of Dolly as glamorous wise songstress and embodiment of goodness - I'm in.  I have, in fact, watched a good chunk of "The Coat of Many Colors" movie and everything.

Monday, December 21, 2020

PODCAST: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  11/28/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Shane Black


Jamie and Ryan talk the 2005 neo-noir by Shane Black and starring RDJ jr. and Val Kilmer. We hadn't seen it and were heartily surprised by the film - a noir murder mystery sort of thing with a lot of classic detective pulpy roots as both text and plot. 
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Intro and Titles - John Ottman

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Holiday Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


Watched:  12/16/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming (but it's also on Disney+ now)
Viewing:  ha ha ha...
Decade:  1940's
Director:  George Seaton

If Miracle on 34th Street isn't part of your personal Christmas canon, I don't even know, man.

Noir Watch: Tomorrow is Another Day (1951)




Watched:  12/13/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Felix E. Feist

I watched this film once before and did a brief write-up, so I won't belabor the points there.  Instead, I'll dwell on how there's always multiple reasons to watch a movie, starting with "is it any good?" and "was the story worth it?"  And, yes, and yes.  

Watching Tomorrow is Another Day (1951) again, I found  it seems to intersect at a lot of places in cinema and cinema history.  It's not breaking ground, but it does feel like 1951 is a particular time and place in what we're talking about, and the aesthetics of how that story is done.  And - it's helped along by the plot element of the basic set-up.

Steve Cochrane - who is becoming a personal fave - has just been released from prison after killing someone when he was still a teenager.  Now in his early 30's, he doesn't really know anything about post-Depression America.  Or how to function as an adult in society.  He's basically a 15 year old kid in a grown-up's body wandering the streets of post-War America with no context for anything from a 1950's era car with power windows to how to get a job.

One of the curious aspects of watching movies from the 1920's - 1960's is getting used to the wardrobes, ideas and fashions of each era - and getting your head around what the 50's looked like compared to the 1930's, and that can all bleed together in hats and suits in black and white.  But here it's a plot point to know the hat of 1951 is not the hat of 1935, and the cut of the suit is different (those of us who grew up in the 80's know our 1990's suit from our 2020 suit).  

For us sitting in 2020, who are staring at the taxi dancer sequence with wonder - this movie may have the most straight-forward presentation of what was going on in these places that doesn't assume a lot of audience knowledge (as Cochrane's character tries to sort it out).  

But the film also sits on the edge of the 1940's.  The urban portions, where Cochrane heads to NYC, feel like any movie from 1944-1950 (and miles away from the NYC of Sweet Smell of Success in 1957).  It's still dime-a-dance girls and tenement apartments.  But the back third of the film where Cochrane and Ruth Roman join seasonal workers picking lettuce - feels almost pre-war.  It's not the picture of post-war prosperity that we tend to think of, but which does show up in films like Border Incident and Thieves' Highway.  The hand-to-mouth existence of anyone wasn't always shown - but here it's a reminder of the struggles of a lot of America that the movies never really sought to show once the war came along.

It's not the way anyone really intended you watch the film, but every once in a while the structure or story of a film of the era can be a window into the period in ways that weren't necessarily intended, but wtill jump out at a modern viewer.  

I did like 95% of the movie again - but, man, that ending.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Noir Christmas Party Watch: Lady in the Lake (1947)

 

Watched:  12/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Robert Montgomery

I've written this up plenty.  And podcasted it.  No need to do so again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Holiday Watch: Christmas in Connecticut (1945)



Watched: 12/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Peter Godfrey

The other night I was drinking and, as one does, decided what I really wanted to see was Sydney Greenstreet in a movie.  And, of course, it is the holiday season - and what better choice than Christmas in Connecticut (1945) when it comes to your Syndey Greenstreet/ Christmas movie viewing needs.

Basically a classic farce (but only with a hint of the bedroom about it), Christmas in Connecticut gets a lot of play, but seems like it never quite makes it into the zeitgeist like a lot of other films - even if it deserves to more than a lot of modern holiday favorites.  Genuinely funny with a terrific set-up and everyone on the same page giving sharp, punchy performances - it's got classic comedy chops to spare.

Stanwyck plays a cooking and homelife columnist for a popular "Good Housekeeping" style magazine.  She's essentially posing as America's perfect housewife - complete with husband, child and a picturesque farm house, when she's really living the life of a single-gal in the big city.  Fortunately, her uncle if a terrific chef and just tells her how he makes his best dishes, and she adds the purple prose.

But her pushy publisher (Greenstreet) is sent an idea for a promotion - the famous guru should take in a hero sailor (the movie is WWII contemporaneous) and show him true American hospitality.  But, of course, she can't do it - so she fakes it.

People are in and out of doors, people hidden from one another, and Una O'Connor plays the domestic not in on the shenanigans.  And - while faking a marriage she's actually dodging to a bore of a man (who owns the farm), Stanwyck meets the sailor in question and the smittening is mutual.

It's a terrific film - perfect for a comedy about the holiday that doesn't take it too seriously.  And, of course, Sydeny Greenstreet is brilliant. As always.

Monday, December 14, 2020

PODCAST: "A Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover w/ Stuart & Ryan




Watched:  11/29/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director: Brian Henson


Stuart and Ryan talk the Dickens out of a movie featuring a bunch of felt animals and a CBE for the arts of England. It's got ghosts, a weirdo pretending to be a great author, great sets and a missing song. Maybe not a huge hit when it showed up, it's now a staple of holiday viewing and both very much a Muppet movie and very much a Christmas movie - so it fits the theme for this year.
Music - Muppet Christmas Carol OST
Scrooge - Paul Williams
When Love is Gone - Paul Williams

Playlist - Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020

Watch Party Watch: Blood Beat (1983)

 


Watched:  12/11/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

Sometimes you watch a movie that is so off the rails, the batshit-ness gains its own power.  

I *think* I basically get what occurred during Bloodbeat (aka: Blood Beat) (1983), but I am willing to hear any interpretation of events which unfold in the film.  

A woman living in rural Wisconsin welcomes home her kids from college for Christmas.  Her son has brought his girlfriend, unannounced.  NBD, but the mom is also on the skids with her rednecky live-in boyfriend, and she's a painter and psychic.  Sort of.  And she gets a weird vibe from the girlfriend.  

The girlfriend also hits a psychic tripwire upon arriving, so... They all go hunting.  The girlfriend does not like.

A samurai ghost shows up when the girlfriend is sexually aroused.  And the sister seems unable to get an outfit together that makes any sense.

Anyway - the samurai ghost kills the neighbors who try to put too many things on a waterbed.  

There's a psychic battle, stock footage of nuclear blasts, and some light nudity.  It all feels like a one off issue of X-Men circa 1984.

I genuinely enjoyed this thing.  DIdn't know where it was going from moment to moment, and was both just confusing and concrete enough to stick with for the 90 minute runtime.  Not a technical marvel, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Watch Party Watch: "I, The Jury" (1953)




Watched:  12/8/2020
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Harry Essex

There was a time before Mickey Spillane was a name everyone kind of knew, and before Mike Hammer books had been adapted by major studios.  I, the Jury is one of the first Hammer books, released in 1947.  This poverty row movie adaptation came out in 1953 - and it really isn't like anything else coming out at the time.  

Yeah, the acting in this film wasn't going to threaten the usual Oscar contenders, and at first blush, there's a lot of what you might have seen in a Marlowe mystery - but (a) this case starts personal and finishes even more so for our detective, and (b) this detective is going to punch his way through the mystery.  

Where Marlowe tries to keep his cool, often over the top of rage whichs pills over, Hammer starts at a ten and goes up from there.  When your mystery starts with a dead best friend and you're on the trail through a bunch of weirdos - any of whom could have done it - I guess I can see how you'd be testy.  

Star Biff Elliot who plays Hammer is a curious choice.  He's not the stringest actor and his decision to go "angry" in every scene means that there's nowhere to go, really.  He blasts into the frame the first time we see him, and barges into every room thereafter  - so we don't ever really see him in any other state.  And anger is an easy go-to for actors, but it's hard to maintain.

The rest of the cast is actually pretty solid.  Peggie Castle as a love interest/ psychologist and Margaret Sheridan as Velda are both pretty great.  And Frances Osborne - who I'd only seen elsewhere in Murder By Contract - was very good as the mourning girlfriend of the murder victim.  

I discussed Spillane's semi-controversial place in crime-fiction, and this movie doesn't do much to dismiss the notion.  It's got as gritty a crime and violence angle, adjacent to overt sexuality as anything I can think of from this era - but still coded deeply enough that it was going to fly past the censors.  But, man, that ending is something else for the era.

The film was shot by John Alton, who always makes any picture look far better than it has a right to look - and I'd argue this movie had a huge impact on Frank Miller and his Sin City look and feel, from the deep shadow and windy mystery to the cinch in Hammer's raincoat.