Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)



Watched:  01/05/2019
Format:  cable on DVR
viewing: first
decade:  2010's

A lot of this movie worked for me for what it was.  I suspect the less than amazing box office (a total domestic take of $9.6 million - no international numbers reported) for the movie may be attributed to the oddball place it found itself in, demographically.  Had this movie arrived in the early 00's, I think it would have been a $60 million or more earner, but the approach hails from the 90's and 00's - where the structure is utterly predictable, it's far more about what the movie hangs on that skeleton via gags and jokes.  The stars of the film and pop scene isn't really the focus of Gen-X'ers, and, to be kind, the view of Millennials re: pop music seems to be a hearty embrace, free from irony and with a big thumbs up to being marketed to.

But, yeah, if you're into Andy Samberg's brand of humor, this is that. For 90 minutes.  And there are so, so many cameos, many of which are almost funnier just based on the timing of when and how the star appears (hats off to Mariah Carey, in particular).   And, Tim Meadows, as always, the most underutilized, funniest guy in anything. 

This is in no way essential viewing, but Jamie watched it once and said "yeah, it's better than you think", so we watched it.  And, yeah, it did the trick for a second movie on a Saturday evening (especially after Thor 2). 






Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Musical Watch: Call Me Madam (1953)



Watched:  12/30/2018
Format:  disc
viewing:  first
decade:  1950's

When we were kids Ethel Merman was still part of the popular consciousness, but I'm not sure what folks my parents' age thought of her (I can pretty much guarantee my dad found her annoying).  Merman was a Broadway performer with a brassy voice and who had a sort of streetwise persona paired with a self-deprecating wit.  I think. 

Call Me Madam (1953) was originally a Broadway show with music by Irving Berlin and starring Merman, apparently a Tony Award-winning show.  I only listened to about five minutes of the commentary, but the narrator was quick to leap on the notion "look, this was based on stuff everyone in 1953 would have just known from the news, but hasn't really remained in the zeitgeist".  Despite the fairytale-like story, apparently Call Me Madam is loosely based on a real person and events. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Holiday Watch: White Christmas (1954)


Watched:  Some time in December
Viewing:  Unknown
Format:  Netflix
Decade:  1950s

I watched White Christmas (1954) a couple of weeks ago and forgot to write it up.  It's a Michael Curtiz flick, which means it's automatically a decent sort of film.  I understand Bing Crosby thought the film's final product was a disappointment, and I have to say - there's something odd about the movie I can never quite put my finger on that doesn't work.

Likely my main issue is that the third act misunderstanding between Rosemary Clooney and Crosby makes no sense at all (and seems like a single question posed by Clooney's character would have cleared things up).  And I learned this viewing that the part played by Danny Kaye was originally supposed to be Donald O'Connor, which...  we'll just have to let our imaginations fill in the blanks, but some of what's in the script makes more sense if that's who you wrote the part for.

While mostly a bit of holiday fluff, it is an interesting peek into the Post WWII American mindset and does give us a bit of the returning soldier's melancholy as some try to find their useful place in society when they aren't commanding a regiment.

Also, Rosemary Clooney wears a black dress that Jamie and I are going to have to agree to disagree about.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve from The Signal Watch



It's Christmas Eve here at The Signal Watch.  By now the sun is down and, if you're lucky, there's not much to do but make yourself a cup of cocoa or pour a cocktail or two.  Unless you're headed for Midnight Mass or late service.  If so, we'll catch you on the other side.

I hope your Christmas Eve is spent as you'd wish.  For me, it's a small gathering of family.  We're planning to eat tacos and tamales (this is Texas, after all), and stay up a bit late watching movies and maybe indulging in those cocktails.  I'll be the last one up, most likely.  I am every year and have been since I was a kid.

stockings are hung by the chimney with care

I like that image from Paul Dini and Alex Ross's graphic novella Peace on Earth.  As Scrooge might have learned on his own Christmas Eve - there's more joy in others than in the accumulation of riches, more satisfaction in knowing we've reached out somehow to our neighbors here on this big, blue marble.  Let's all strive to do better and raise each other up in 2019.

For the past several years I've closed out with Ms. Darlene Love and one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  If I didn't love the song before (and I did), then seeing Ms. Love perform the song as her show closer here in Austin a few years back was one of the best live performances I've ever seen.  After the melancholy tunes of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, some Nat King Cole, some Sinatra and some new favorites - this is how I want to say goodnight before Christmas morning arrives and a new round of celebration begins.

This version has the incredible addition of Ms. Patti LaBelle.

Peace on Earth.  Goodwill towards all.  God bless us, every one.




Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Watch: "Holiday Inn" (1942)


Watched:  12/07/2018
Format:  streaming on Prime, I think
Viewing:  7th or so
Decade: 1940s

Holiday Inn (1942) is a terrific movie, except for the deeply problematic blackface sequence.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mary Poppins Watch: Mary Poppins (1964)



Watched:  10/09/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's


I @#$%ing love Mary Poppins  (1964), man.  Both the character and the movie.  Like, unironically, unabashedly - there is not one thing I do not like in Mary Poppins.  It is, as they say, practically perfect in every way.  As is Julie Andrews.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A TL;DR SPECIAL - Mind-Blown Watch: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)



Watched:  09/26/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

People, for oh so many reasons, I am absolutely baffled and stunned by this movie.

Where to start...

Begin at the beginning, I suppose

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Today is the 30th Anniversary of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Peepshow"

According to Slicing Up Eyeballs, today marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of Peepshow by Siouxsie and the Banshees.




AMAZING WATCH: Streets of Fire (1984)



Watched:  09/04/2018
Format:  Austin Film Society screening with PaulT
Viewing:  Fifth?
Decade:  1980's

I think it's fair to say that Streets of Fire (1984) is one of those movies you either get behind or you do not.  Like, I'm not sure there's a lot of gray area in how people react to whatever it is this movie is serving up - but despite the fact that I am well aware that Streets of Fire is not a very good movie, I am also of the opinion that Streets of Fire is an amazing movie.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Happy Birthday, Madonna!



editor's note:  I thought I lost this post, but found an open tab with a draft still available I was able to copy and add to.  This isn't the original post that went out, but I - for the first time in years - accidentally erased that post when I clicked the wrong button.  

Apparently yesterday was the 60th Birthday of Madonna.

Here at The Signal Watch, we salute Madonna as the person who told us it is 100% okay to like pop music.  You will not lose your edge by enjoying Madonna.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, America's Queen, Has Merged With The Infinite



According to reports, Aretha Franklin, beloved Queen of Soul and American icon, has passed.

For more than 48 hours, news had circulated that she'd entered the hospital and was with loved ones, and thus I spent last night listening to a lengthy playlist of Franklin's "hits".  I hope that was a good way to keep her in our thoughts.

I can think of few other performers as universally beloved as Aretha Franklin.  Clearly she's one of the last performers multiple generations will have agreed upon and understood as emblematic of Soul, R&B and what the voice can bring and how it can have personality and tell a story.  Even when covering an already popular song, Franklin made it her own.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Musical Watch: My Fair Lady (1964)

some day, we should do a deep dive into the work of illustrator Bob Peak

Watched: 03/04/2018
Viewing: Probably the fourth time
Format: DVR off TCM
Decade: 1960's

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Uncovered 90's! Pics of My High School Years Bedroom

Let it be known - I was remarkably square in high school.  I don't want to over or undersell anything here.

But a kid's room is a timecapsule - not just of a time, but of what was going on and how things intersect.  As near as I can tell from other pics in the stack, these are from some point between Christmas and Prom of 1993.  If the other pics in the pack were taken at the same time, I have reason to think it's Christmas break of 1992.

My folks were incredibly lax about what I did with my room, which was on the second story of our house.  It was in the front, had a big window I never opened, and had a vaulted ceiling, which was kind of nuts.

At some point I just started tacking and stapling stuff to my walls, and by the time I graduated, one wall was pretty well covered and the opposite was getting there.

All this was taken down unceremoniously circa 1995 when I'd left for college and my parents had some visitors with a kid who "couldn't sleep in my room".  Apparently they found it "scary".

In theory some of the contents were preserved during the re-do of my room, but they didn't survive the purging of my old stuff pending the sale of my folks' house before they moved to Austin.

most of high school I was riddled with acne, so I don't know how I look so fresh-faced here

Saturday, September 16, 2017

St. Vincent - "New York"

Lookout. Swears in the song embedded below.



I am very much looking forward to the release of this album.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On the 30th Anniversary of Something to do with the band Whitesnake



Original Leaguer JimD challenged me to post something related to the 30th Anniversary of something to do with the band White Snake.  I don't know what it was.  I suppose probably the arrival of their big album, the name of which I cannot recall (I looked it up.  It's "Whitesnake".  Those clever bastards.).

But I owned the tape.

What the kids who think they know about the 1980's misunderstand is that in 1987, the music scene was not all Depeche Mode and LL Cool J.  It was lots and lots and lots of "hair bands", Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Gloria Estefan.  But, wow, were there a lot of hair bands.  Like, all @#$%ing day long on the MTV, it was a bunch of guys with terrible, teased hair.

I was never much one for Motley Crue or whatever, and I really wasn't into:  White Lion, Great White, or even White Snake.

But in that Year of Our Lord, 1987, what White Snake had that nobody else had: Tawny Kitaen

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Crawford Watch: Humoresque (1946)



As mentioned, I'm listening a bit to the You Must Remember This podcast during my commute, and moved on to a 6 episode run on Joan Crawford.  One of the topics covered toward the end of the series is how much of an impact Mommie Dearest (starring Faye Dunaway as a cartoonish Crawford) had on the popular conception of Joan Crawford, surpassing the image the actress had worked tirelessly for decades to make herself a star and retain her star status for decades past those of her contemporaries.

Humoresque (1946) should probably be thought of as a John Garfield picture, first and foremost.  He's certainly got the most screentime and the longest character arc.  The actions of the other characters in the film are focused upon what focused on their relationship to Garfield.

He plays Paul Boray, a violinist who rose from working-class roots in the streets of New York to become a national sensation within the high-class world of classical performance.  The film is a melodrama, no doubt, and an examination of a man of extraordinary talent and passion and the women in his life, including the girl-next-door, his mother and the wealthy society woman who elevates him from nothing to star status, but who carries an incredible amount of baggage.

Musical Watch: Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)


Everyone has the idea of the 1930's big, splashy movie musical in their head thanks to clips used in other movies and television, and I'd argue that Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) is the platonic ideal of this sort of film.  I really don't know much about what was going on at the real Ziegfield Follies or on Broadway in the 1930's, but it seems that what Hollywood was doing at this point was bringing over the basic template of fluffy stories about two young lovers trying to make it work as the excuse for a lot of song and dance.  But with the ability to put the camera wherever they wanted, visionaries like Busby Berkeley would redefine what audiences could expect in regards to cinematic spectacle.

Produced at Warner Bros. (I know, I had to triple check it wasn't from MGM), the movie stars a lot of those names you hear about from Hollywood's Golden Age, but who I haven't seen in that many movies.  Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler...  and certainly other players who were the "that guy" actors of their day.

All in all, the movie is a bit of fun and nothing too challenging to the audience, storywise.  Light comedy interspersed with those unbelievable visuals of dozens of dancers creating geometric patterns or almost surreal visuals (20 cops on rollerskates chasing a baby).