Thursday, February 27, 2020
Viewing: 5th or 6th
We welcome all-new co-contributor and longtime pal JAL to the PodCast for a new series: Noir Watch! We're kicking it off with a dreamy murder mystery, Laura (1944) - a whodunnit about a detective who falls for a painting, a venom tongued columnist and Vincent Price in his pre-Master of Horror Days. And, of course, the lovely Gene Tierney.
Laura - Dan Raskin, Laura OST
Noir Watch Playlist:
Whiskey: Bonesnapper Rye
Some films mentioned:
His Kind of Woman starring Vincent Price, Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell
Kiss of Death starring Richard Widmark and Victor Mature
Laura as cover song
by Charlie Parker
by Ella Fitzgerald
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I've been aware of Victor/ Victoria (1982) since, probably, college. Just never got around to seeing it. The movie is famous for it's plot of "woman posing as a man presenting as a female impersonator (re: Drag Queen)", but you hear little else about it. It had no radio hits from the songs and hadn't really permeated the culture the way many-a-musical will.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Format: Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
(Our most NSFW episode yet!) We hit the Alamo Drafthouse, settled in and ordered up some cocktails, for we were watching "CATS" - the adaptation of the 1980's musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber! Join us in a Day Drinking the Movies episode as we discuss 2019's favorite (and deserving!) movie punching bag - with special guests Doug and K!
Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats - Cast, Cats OST
Memory - Jennifer Hudson, Cats OST
Monday, December 23, 2019
We've all seen this movie, and the weirdest part to me is still that they got Michael Caine to sing and (kinda?) dance.
I like it, too. It's probably as safe a bet as you've got for introducing your kids to the notion of A Christmas Carol, which they might as well get to know at some point. But it is genuinely a sweet movie, even if not my favorite adaptation of the book (the George C. Scott version is incredible, the Patrick Stewart version surprisingly moving, and I'm always in the bag for Scrooged).
But, hey, you get penguins ice skating, some great muppet-eering, and Paul Williams providing excellent musical numbers. The sets are absolutely mind-boggling, and the "let's put a ton of Muppets on the screen" approach totally pays off.
Anyhoo, I'm a fan.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Friday, November 22, 2019
I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time. I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.
Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat. I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked. It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms... That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
We welcome special guest, Eric S, as Maxwell and I discuss one of the greatest episodes of TV of all time, from one of the greatest sitcoms of all time! It's a 2019 Thanksgiving edition of The Signal Watch! We talk about the series in general, but all through the lens of one turkey of an episode. Oh, the humanity! (We recommend watching S1: Episode 7 of "WKRP in Cincinnati" before listening)
My entries for The Signal Watch Challenge!
Monday, November 11, 2019
Decade: 1970's/ 2010's
If asked to compile a list of the greatest popular American singers of the 20th Century, I'd assume Aretha Franklin would make the top few - if not the number one slot - for much of the US populace.
We lost Franklin in 2018, and it's unclear who can begin to fill her role in the zeitgeist, but maybe it's too soon, and maybe we don't need to. Maybe she was a singular talent.
Shot in 1972 and unreleased until the last 12 months or so, Amazing Grace (2019) is an attempt by Sydney Pollack to record and capture the experience of Franklin recording a live Gospel album at a church in Los Angeles over the course of two nights. Backed by a local choir and supported by the Reverend James Cleveland, Franklin takes to the pulpit and - as one would expect - nails every song before her.
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Format: TV broadcast on ABC
This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.
Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years. As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious. I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies. I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
As was noted today by Post-Punk (srsly, follow these people), and our own JimD (follow Jim, too, he could use the emotional support), today is the 31st anniversary of the release of Peepshow, the 9th album by Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Peepshow was one of those albums that, as the kids would say, got me through high school.* While I liked the single of Peek-a-Boo when it debuted on MTV, I didn't actually buy the full album til the following year. In practical terms, I listened to this album over and over, nurtured a fanboy crush on front woman Siouxsie Sioux, and felt things deeply while listening to said album on tape, which I was in danger of wearing out when I got my first CD player.
I tend to think of Peepshow as a very complete album. It's more than a smattering of songs from a band, and it's not just that every song is single-worthy, or so I believe, but that the band found a flow to the songs that takes you from point to point. It isn't a "concept album" nor does it tell a story, really, but it just clicks, track after track. And, mostly, makes me miss the thing where you just lie on your bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to a record.
Here's to Peepshow, the first sexy depressing album with a dollop of S&M and pop fun that got me to hang posters of a woman on my wall that I know my mother did not approve of at all.
I did see Siouxsie and The Banshees in 1991 at the first Lollapalooza in Dallas, TX when they toured in support of Superstition, which also had some great singles. And, yeah, they were pretty great despite the fact it was 98 degrees when they hit the stage.
*one day I suppose we should tackle this notion of "got me through high school" on the podcast with Maxwell and MRSHL.
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: No idea. Must be a dozen
My claim to fame is that I saw this movie twice in the theater. Once - because it was summer, Weird Al had a movie, and it was mid-afternoon. The second time I caught it was the day before I started high school, kicking off the tradition I kept up through college where you got and see a movie the day before the school year starts so you're thinking about something else.
You've either seen UHF (1989) or you haven't. Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, already quite famous by 1989 thanks to several hit novelty records and MTV airplay, the movie is basically a bunch of music videos and really funny sketches tied together with a razor-thin plot about running a broke, non-network TV station on the edge of town. It's an underdog story about big corporate stations being run by mean people vs. underdogs who break the mold and come out on top thanks to creativity and a sense of community. Or something.
It's also a reminder of how much weird comedy could get in the 1980's, with skits like Gandhi II and Spatula City, and that firing a firehose into a kid's face can be hilarious in the right circumstances.
The cast is weirdly impressive when you realize it features both Michael Richards and Fran Drescher just before they broke big just a few years later, but also Emo Philips, Billy Barty, David Bowe, Victoria Jackson, Gedde Watanabe, David Proval and a handful of "oh, that guy!" actors. And, of course, in a stunning coup of casting brilliance - Kevin McCarthy as the evil network affiliate owner and operator.
I dunno. There isn't much to say about the film. It's still fun, even when you know not everything aged well or fallen out of relevance. But a lot of it still has that magic (ex: Conan the Librarian continues to work all too well).
And I genuinely like some of the gags, like the homeless guy asking for change to break a dollar. Just gold.
Anyhow- for some early Michael Richards genius and pre-Nanny Fran Drescher, you can do way worse. And Weird Al is just funny as all hell in this thing.
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
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Just a couple of 40-something dudes, sitting around contemplating the nature of a woman's desire, the qualifications for feminist film, symbology and visual storytelling, and what's a woman to do when you find yourself in New Zealand in 1852 and married to a dud?
The Heart Asks Pleasure First - Michael Nyman, The Piano OST
Playlist - "What is Love?":
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Look, it's @#$%ing inevitable that I'll watch the movie version of Cats, so I might as well lean into it. I promise you can now look to The Signal Watch as Your News Site for the movie of Andrew Lloyd Webber's goofiest achievement (and he did Starlight Express), Cats. And I hereby swear I will watch this movie opening weekend.
Fact: I saw the musical of Cats touring once when I was sixteen and a theatre-kid in high school. I mostly remember dancers in very tight costumes bending and flexing a lot and the woman playing Grizabella knocking it out of the house.
Fact: I subsequently owned the two-tape soundtrack to Cats which I listened to twice before realizing "I do not think I actually like 85% of the music in Cats" but felt that as a theater-kid, I couldn't get rid of the tapes - but I did quietly migrate them to my mom's tape collection.
Fact: I saw Cats a second time in college when it came through Austin and a friend said "hey, I've never seen Cats", and I was like "well, you should see it sometime," and then me and Peabo got tickets. We looked at each other during the first number, realizing "oh god, we've made a horrible mistake" and that feeling never let up til the final curtain.
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Y'all, I @#$%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.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
One of my earliest memories is being about three, hanging from the inside of the garage door and singing "We Will Rock You" and kicking the garage door to the beat. Who knew a 3 year old would have that kind of appreciation for a Brian May guitar lick?
It's hard to piece together what I knew about Queen and when. It doesn't help that time for kids is so distended, and what were minor hiatuses for the band were epic blocks of time to me back then. I do remember them coming back into my consciousness with "Radio Gaga". I remember a bit of Live Aid on playback (but not live). I remember Freddie passing.
And, of course, anyone around at the time remembers the post-mortem, Wayne's World supported explosion of "Bohemian Rhapsody", a song I can't say I'd heard before.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
JAL recommended this song to me the other night, and, as per usual, JAL is right.
Weyes Blood - "Movies"
Weyes Blood - "Movies"
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
For more on The PodCast - where to find the podcast with your favorite service, etc...
The Signal Watch blog - we also write essays and review movies and stuff
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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