Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
So, this is a musical version of The Philadelphia Story - the classic flick starring Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. Apparently that play became the movie of The Philadelphia Story, which became the stage musical High Society, which became this movie.
This movie isn't... great. It's not bad, and I laughed out loud at a number of things, but on the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia. And I say that as someone who is a fan of Bing Crosby movies and likes Cole Porter.
What this movie does do is let Louis Armstrong play himself, and give him time to appear quite a bit in the movie. And he's not bad!
This is also the movie that dares to remind you that Grace Kelly was very, very good looking* - which, as she is not Kate Hepburn, seems to be the primary driver for why men are after her (ladies, believe it or not, personality and wit go really, really far. Be a Kate Hepburn.).
I dunno. I wish the music had more zip and it didn't feel like an echo of something else, but Bing looks like he's having a ball with Frank, and a gentleman in tophat and tails, suffering from a hangover, yells at a bird, and that was one of the funniest things I've seen in, like, a week.
*again, very attractive, that Grace Kelly
Boy howdy, is there a lot of media out there! And, boy howdy, are people both cavalier about jumping in mid-discussion about a movie or TV show to insert a movie or TV show you really should be watching.
In this era of way-too-much-content, where I'm already burning out on TV shows just because, man, I dunno, another episode? and a raft of new movies that trend for seemingly no reason (like, why DID you stop and watch Birdbox? I'm not saying it's bad, it's just... it just showed up so you watched it) we've all gotten pretty bad about telling people what they *should* be watching.
Back in the 90's when seeing a movie or TV show took some effort, you actually wanted a running list of things from trusted sources so when you went to the local video monger and they were out of VHS copies, oh, The English Patient, you would go and get Faces of Death III or whatever your friends had said might be worth a watch. If someone said "I like Larry Sanders" and you found out about in season 3, that kinda sorta meant you were given a pass to not watch the show, because no one had the expectation you'd drop everything in your life and track down copies of episodes.
NO MORE. We may not be able to educate our children or work out public transportation, but we can all watch Gator at the same time if we feel like it. If someone suggests catching up on the entirety of The Simpsons, you can do so. Somehow, people are able to "binge" watching 10-22 hours of TV in a week or two, plow through entire shows in a matter of a few weeks or less.
I'm not wired that way. At all. I don't even like watching more than one Avengers movie per every two weeks or so for the PodCast. Seeing episodes backed up on the DVR is enough to just make me quit on a TV show. And while I deeply believe in, like, and will defend a handful of TV shows, I don't necessarily get the urge to insist others watch the shows. Likely an after-effect of really going to the mat for Star Trek and Max Headroom as a kid.
And, movies... ahhh... movies. If there's one thing that's true, it's that all of us know, in our heart of hearts, that we have amazing taste in film, and everyone else's taste is suspect at best. It's a nicety when people agree on a movie, but we also may find ourselves in deep disagreement about, say, Aquaman (sorry, Max. We'll need to talk about that sometime.).
But what I really, really believe is that we all need to slow our roll on movie and TV recommendations. If we can learn caution when it comes to suggesting music to others (and if you aren't exercising caution there, I assure you, your co-workers are making fun of you), we can learn to do same with moving picture media.
And it's not that I don't WANT recommendations, it's that I want thoughtful recommendations. If you're going to suggest I spend a few hours doing something other than eating cotton candy and watching puppies play, I'd like a reason WHY.
THUS - The Form.
From now on, we're taking our recs from you and from people anywhere in my life via an easy to use Google Form. If you can't take the five minutes to fill it out, how much do you really want for me to watch that movie, anyway?, is what I say.
The good news is, the few of you who will actually use The Form will be captured in a spreadsheet I can review and use. Those of you too good for The Form? Well.
Without further ado: THE FORM
Format: TCM on DVR (Noir Alley from months ago)
This is an oddball one to slot in with noir in some ways - but I think it fits. It's just sort of a weird set-up to have your antagonist of the film a Nazi war criminal.
I really don't want to say too much or give too much away - I really didn't know much going into The Stranger (1946), and if you've not yet seen it - try not to learn too much and go give it a shot.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Format: Kino Lorber BluRay
Simon and Ryan delve into Film Noir via Neo-Noir, Altman-directed entry "The Long Goodbye" (1973), an oddball of a film with a lot to offer. We explore the role of Philip Marlowe in the world of fiction, some of the mechanics of noir, and whether or not any of this actually works as a movie.
The Long Goodbye - Music by John Williams/ Lyrics by Johnny Mercer/ performed by Jack Sheldon
For more about The Signal Watch PodCast
The Signal Watch Patreon
Monday, February 4, 2019
Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of screen actor, director and producer Ida Lupino. Ida Lupino passed in 1995.
I first came to note Lupino in High Sierra, I believe (I can't recall anymore), and have gone on to try and watch whatever I see going by on TCM. Yes, she's a terrific actor and has a presence that stills like the one above don't always capture. There's an intelligence to her work that - when I learned she had gone on to do work behind the camera and established her own production company, just sort of made sense. She had the misfortune of being a woman born two or three decades too early, who still managed to carve out a place for herself in a field controlled by men.
In 2018, a few retrospectives took place honoring her work and legacy. Did I watch any of her films from these retrospectives on my own time? No. Something I need to rectify.
But I am glad that Lupino's reputation is getting elevated and the strides she made during her career are being seen by today's film fans and makers.
Anyway, I hereby pledge that before Ms. Lupino's 102nd, and pending availability, I will watch the following projects which she directed:
- Never Fear (1950)
- Outrage (1950)
- Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
- On Dangerous Ground (1951)
- The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
- The Bigamist (1953)
- The Twilight Zone: The Masks (1964)
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I really, really wish I'd seen Annihilation (2018) without all the hype and teeth gnashing about "why aren't people seeing this?", etc... Much like any movie with Oscar buzz, this sets the table for expectations 9 out of 10 movies given this treatment can't possibly match.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
It's been forever since The Incredibles came out, and I really wanted to see this one in the theater and just never found the time.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Format: DC Universe Streaming
This week is becoming Steel-tastic as we return to a version of the Steel origin source material.
In 1992, DC Comics famously killed and resurrected Superman in a triptych of narrative arcs, , first downing him with Doomsday, then keeping Superman dead for a few months before bringing him back to save the day/ Earth.
It's a very 90's-tastic comic series, and your mileage will vary as you read it now.
Reign of the Supermen (2019) kinda sorta retells the story of the second two arcs post-Death of Superman as four new beings arrive on the global scene, all claiming some bit of Superman's legacy. From back in Ye Olden Comicks Days, this is where we got Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg Superman and The Eradicator. Surprisingly, over the years, these characters have endured unlike near any others spinning out of a major event, which is a testament to the solid core concepts each character embodied and how they fit into the DCU like puzzle pieces.
Monday, January 28, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I'd certainly heard the title of Panic in the Streets (1950), but had never paid the movie much mind. It played a while back on TCM, so I loaded it up on the DVR for a later playback and am thrilled I did. The movie is often listed as noir, but... aside from some aesthetic choices, it doesn't match my definition of noir, so I'm not labeling it as such.
Directed by Elia Kazan, the movie reflects his ability to shoot on location and make it mean something. Here he exits LA and lands in New Orleans, filming along the industrial docks and twisting roads of the city, jumping from suburbs to the edges of the French Quarter. Unfortunately, as the movie was 1950, it makes the location shooting feel like that much more of a lie as you only see Black people here and there, which in no way reflects the make-up of the city.
Still, you do get an immediacy to the film with the organic locations and settings, including sounds captured along the river or on the streets.