Saturday, March 21, 2015

SW Watches: Most of "Major League"

Somehow this movie gets circulated a lot.  I guess there aren't that many successful baseball comedies as the only two other baseball comedies I can think of that aren't Major League, Major League II or A League of Their Own are the Bernie Mac movie Mr. 3000 (that I'm not sure anyone has ever actually seen), and the Tom Selleck flick, Mr. Baseball, which no one really remembers.

I'm just not sure this is a very good movie.  maybe it is.  I can't tell.  It's certainly something people have seen and quote infinitely ("just a bit outside...").  It has good bits, and it does have Rene Russo in a thankless girlfriend role to a mulleted Tom Berenger, so at least she's in it.  It does have an early career Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen and Dennis Haysbert as well as an established Berenger and Corbin Bernsen.  And, of course, baseball's Bob Ueker and the gravel-voiced James Gammon.

SW Watches: Three Amigos!

With Disney's Three Caballeros behind us, our Friday movie was the 1986 triple-buddy comedy, Three Amigos!.

Much like The Naked Gun, it's a movie we all grew up on and, frankly, we all know the jokes and gags before they happen.  But if you're a fan, that just makes them better.  Who doesn't look forward to the "My Little Buttercup" scene?  Or Dusty Bottoms saying "the lips will be fine"?

But maybe ten minutes into the movie, I suddenly realized that Galaxy Quest essentially lifted the Three Amigos! plot, which made me wonder which other movies are about actors stumblling into a real-life situation they've been aping.  If you can think of any, let me know.  It's an interesting thing to ponder, because it's a movie that can easily be held up to the critical eye and say the movie is racist - except if we're being honest, that's not really how the movie works (except when it does in that casually racist way Hollywood still deals with Latinos).  It's a cartoon, certainly, and the residents of Santa Poco are sweetly naive, the bandits are cartoonishly rogueish, the producer is a cigar-chomping corporate stereotype.  And, of course, our heroes have no idea what they're doing.   Apply that to Galaxy Quest, and, well...   Just something to kick around.

Aside from that, I really don't feel that there's anything new to say about Three Amigos! that we didn't say when we were in 8th grade.  If you don't like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, there's not much I can do to help you out, but I do think that while this may not be the smartest of any of their movies (it features a singing bush voiced by Randy Newman), it's still one of the funniest (it features a singing bush voiced by Randy Newman).

As a sign that life just isn't fair, El Gaupo actor Alfonso Arau really didn't do much else in American cinema after this, when he should have become a household name.  That dude is hilarious.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cartoon Watch: Three Caballeros (1944)

Lysergic acid diethylamide was first discovered in 1943 and introduced to the public in 1947,but not popularized until the mid-1960's.   So we're going to assume that whatever inspired the 1944 Disney feature length film, Three Caballeros, was more likely a byproduct of a lovely tour of Latin America and either the psilocybin mushroom or the peyote cactus.

For three summers in the mid-1990's, I worked at the Disney Store.  The soundtrack to the store was always a laser disc, or - more specifically - one side of a laser disc that played over and over in about a 45 minute loop.  For at least one of those summers, part of that loop was the titular song to Three Caballeros, performed by Jose Carioca, Panchito and Donald Duck.  I loved that frikkin' song.*  But I'd never seen the movie, and it hasn't ever really been readily available.

This weekend TCM played a bunch of stuff from the Disney vault, and luckily NathanC turned me on to the fact Three Caballeros was playing, so I finally DVR'd it and watched.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vulcan Video gets some love on Jimmy Kimmel

The Austin, TX of my youth may be fading into the past almost as rapidly as my actual youth, but you can still find bits and pieces of  90's Austin here and there.

For the discerning movie snob of post-Slacker-Austin, we had two places to hit:  "I Love Video" and "Vulcan Video", which everyone I've ever spoken to has referred to simply as "Vulcan".  In an era where purchasing movies was expensive, Blockbuster killed most local competition and carried garbage, and the internet was for sending emails and slowly downloading pictures of Gillian Anderson (I assume), Vulcan Video was where I'd go looking for classic film, off-beat pictures and international flavor.  And yet, you might still find a copy of Ernest Scared Stupid.

They also carried bootleg tapes, and so it was I rented The Star Wars Holiday Special, complete with commercials, the unreleased 1990's Fantastic Four movie, the unaired JLA pilot and the 70's-tastic Legends of the Superheroes.

I don't hit Vulcan these days because it's far from my house and, honestly - cable and internet.  But I have a soft spot in my heart for the neighborhood video store trafficking in hard-to-get stuff.

If you want a taste of 1990's Austin that's still alive and kicking - Jimmy Kimmel has produced three commercials for the place.

iZombie premiers tonight

set your DVRs, people.  Based on the really pretty great comic series from Roberson and Allred, I'm expecting very good things.

SW Watches: The Right Stuff (1983)

I was lucky to be born into an era when the job everyone aspired to was "astronaut".  As you got older, if you were me, you realized you were going to be too tall, wear too many glasses, be just amazingly awful at pre-Calc, and maybe develop a crippling fear of heights.  I was just never going to be astronaut material.

But, yeah, like a lot of people my age and older, I was pretty space-crazy growing up.  We were living on the edge of the world of Buck Rogers and Star Trek.  And, to be a part of that seemed like being a part of the future more than anything you could do (we can quiz Matt A. on the veracity of this childhood fantasy later, but it seemed right at the time).

On my 6th birthday, the Space Shuttle Colombia took off from Kennedy (STS-1). I was well aware it was a coincidence, but it still felt like a pretty good birthday present.  Watching it with the fam is still one of those indelible childhood memories.

Two years later, the Philip Kaufman directed movie The Right Stuff (1983) was released to theaters.  Based on a Thomas Wolfe novel, it's certainly not a movie aimed at kids, but The Admiral was also not one to let the two little miscreants he'd sired run around ignorant of one of the greatest periods (if not THE greatest period) of technical achievement in human history.  Nor would he let it pass that we would not know of the flawed, insanely brave men who sat atop those rockets and came back safely.  Let alone, we might not know the name of Chuck Yeager.

I remember seeing many movies in the theater from my childhood, and certainly the memory of seeing The Right Stuff is still vivid.  While the movie was not the sort of thing I was running around play-acting afterward, I knew I'd seen something quite different and kind of astonishing.

In the years that have passed, I have no idea how many times I'd seen it, but I caught it again while Jamie and I were dating, and I remember really realizing for the first time how damn good the movie really is.  I'm always shocked not just by the mixed reactions you can get at the mention of the film, but that it's not mentioned in the same breath with other films that routinely make great movie lists.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics

If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy 82nd, Michael Caine!

Alfredo reminds me it's the 82nd birthday of Michael Caine.  And if you don't love Michael Caine, well, I don't want to know you.

Here, on his birthday, I recommend remembering not Michael Caine, who is doing well, thank you, but remembering that is a great joy to do a Michael Caine impression by watching a reel of Michael Caine impressions.

Happy Birthday, Sir Michael Caine!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Franken-Watch: The Bride (1985)

Ever since I was a kid, I'd be meaning to watch the 1985 movie, The Bride, but was first told it was "too adult" or something, and later, "it's not very good".  And, you know, that second one is far more correct than the first rationale for skipping this film.  But between my interest in the Frankenstein story in general and because the movie Bride of Frankenstein is easily in my top 5 or 10 movies (especially when paired with Frankenstein itself, for a neat, under 3 hour package), I figured that if I could watch Christmas Vacation over and over, I could make time for a movie I hadn't seen.

If our trend this week is about failed marriages, we can twist that idea a bit to include how the doctor lost his lady friend, Jennifer Beals.

The movie features a fascinatingly 1980's cast, probably meaningless to the kids today, but you Gen X'ers and post Gen X'ers will probably at least raise an eyebrow.  Cast as Doctor Frankenstein (who I don't know ever receives a first name in this version) is former rocker/ current adult contemporary wunderkind, Sting, who was transitioning as the Police collapsed for the fifteenth time and as he made a stab at an acting career in some offbeat movies during the era (like Dune!).  As the titular Bride/ Eva, the movie casts Flashdance star Jennifer Beals, most likely as she and Elsa Lanchester are both the proud owners of gigantic, dark eyes, lots of hair and striking features.  Not too distant from his role in The Highlander as the Cossack, Clancy Brown plays Viktor/ The Monster (yeah, artistic license), but well before he became Mr. Crabs of SpongeBob fame.  And, David Rappaport, who you'll recognize from Time Bandits, plays a new character, Rinaldo the dwarf, a guy who befriends the monster as he wanders in the woods and helps him realize personhood.  And, a young Cary Elwes shows up, all fresh faced and prettier than everyone in the room.