Sunday, May 19, 2019
Format: Noir City Austin at Alamo Ritz
Viewing: First for both
Decade: 1940's/ 1950's
Eddie Muller is back in Bat City for Noir City Austin, our annual showing of films I'd never find on my own, and always can't believe the gold Muller is able to surface. Muller isn't just host of TCM's Noir Alley weekly dose of crime, implied sex and moral gray areas - he's also head of the Film Noir Foundation. Proceeds from the festival and merch sales go back to the FNF, who, in turn use the money to rescue films from obscurity and eventual loss.
Friday, May 17, 2019
SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.
Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST
The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:
SimonUK Cinema Series:
Thursday, May 16, 2019
I wish I'd disliked this movie enough so that I could have a spoofy title to the post like "Whine Country" to tag onto Wine Country (2019). I guarantee you, some bright-eyed reviewer has used it out there somewhere. After all the film is about a bunch of upper-middle class to upper class women coming together to go through the entirely predictable steps of a "girls weekend"/ reunion film and all of the weirdly specific predictable beats (despite the fact that reunion movies are not my jam) that fall out.
People be having lives that are more complicated than when you're 21 working for minimum wage, y'all.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I remember reading that film-reviewer Pauline Kael made it a rule to only ever watch a film once - maybe a practicality of her business, maybe a personal quirk (as in all things, it's only mostly true). I think about this a lot, because - as anyone who has followed the blog or PodCast knows - I find returning to movies fascinating, both to see what my now-brain thinks of a movie versus what I thought of it then, and because of how those differences reflect on your own experience, making films something all the more personal.
I saw Nightmare Alley (1947) about four years ago, and I remembered thinking it was good - but not really clicking to it in particular. But on this viewing, despite the fact I remembered the film fairly well, it just reached out and hit me over the head. This is a brilliant, wonderfully crafted movie, tackling deeply sensitive material and plowing right through, and getting away with it like the low-level conman who inserts himself with the right clothes and patter - the movie sure looks like a morality tale and crime movie, while questioning the nature of anyone selling you salvation, spiritual insight or deep insight into your own psyche.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Everything old is new again.
So, newsletters - the thing people started doing about ten minutes after inventing the printing press - are back. Frankly, I think it's a good thing.
Twitter has its place and purpose, but isn't great at getting a complete thought expressed, and tweet threads tend to feel like someone shouting points at you. Frankly, as a content creator - you're fighting against a sea of noise and algorithms as people scroll on by. Facebook is... facebook. Its ways mysterious and inscrutable.
I've subscribed to a few newsletters myself. Writers, internet personality types, people I just happen to know... Everyone does it a bit different. Updates on what they're watching, reading, recipes, etc... recommendations. Sure, why not? I just like to keep up with folks.
I'm not sure I'm going to do what Max and others are doing. I already blog a-plenty, so if you want what my brain is generating, you can see those writing or hear me podcast for an hour every week or two... Going into it, my notion is to gather together recent blog posts and related links, maybe comment a bit on the posts, etc... Nothing too heavy.
But I also care a lot about what people are doing around me. Paul works on movies, Hilary and Stuart are musicians/ singers/ songwriters, Amy does Nerd Nite, Nathan has jazz shows and interviews, Maxwell has any number of projects going on at any time both personal and work-related... People win awards. People blog. People make stuff. I want to point out that stuff, too.
Maybe I'll occasionally get old school League of Melbotis-style and share more personal stuff in the newsletter which, frankly, I just don't want to do on a public blog anymore.
And... recipes! You never know. I could learn how to make something.
So, if you want to sign up - you can always look at the tab I put in the horizontal menu bar, or you can just fill out the complicated form here:
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
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame. But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury. Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV. Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).
These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up! you cannot be a wine-nerd. You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush. Pick one. But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.). But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list... comics were for children. Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.
Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.* Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics? What were we even doing?
Monday, May 6, 2019
Watched: 05/ 03/2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I was about five when 9-to-5 (1980) came out, and the theme song by co-star Dolly Parton was everywhere for about a year or two, remaining a staple of radio play to this day. Because the movie dealt with non-space-battle, gorilla or robot related issues, and I think was an R-Rating in the era of G, PG and R, I did not see the movie at the time. I was pretty sure then that it was not a sex romp based mostly on how many people went to see it (it was huge), and just never got around to seeing it as I grew up.
Which is weird - I'm not a giant Jane Fonda fan, but I find Lilly Tomlin brilliant whenever she's on a screen in front of me, and... I mean, Dolly Parton! If you don't love Dolly Parton, I don't want to know you. And Dabney Coleman was a thing back in this era - people loved him (he might have been a great take on J. Jonah Jameson in a 1980's-era Spidey movie if a studio had gotten its ac together. I'm just saying.)
From a purely sociological standpoint, it's fascinating to see a movie about the women of my parents generation who were going through the first phases of a lot of what we deal with today, but based upon the rules of the era where women were housewives, teachers, nurses and... secretaries. And we've all seen the role of secretaries on Mad Men (or should. Sucks to your GoT, give me ad executives drinking on the job).
Thursday, May 2, 2019
|Peter Mayhew during filming of Star Wars|
Peter Mayhew, actor who brought Chewbacca to life, has passed.
I was just over two years old when I saw Star Wars in the theater, and - like everyone - I loved Chewbacca. How could you not? A giant with a heart of gold, a loyal best pal, a co-pilot and a strong right hand - Chewie was the ideal buddy in a galaxy where you needed someone you could trust at your side, watching your back.
The scene I probably remember best from Star Wars as a kid was realizing how *tall* Chewbacca was when he was in shackles beside Han and Luke in the Death Star, and realizing the man inside that yak-hair suit was pretty much that tall, too. I recall being about seven and measuring out how tall he would be with a ruler against my friend's bedroom wall while we stood on chairs (I have no idea how or where we got the figure for Chewbacca's height).
The other scene I recalled was Chewbacca and pretty much everything about the trash compactor. Even as a wee kid, I found that bit terrific. Ford and Mayhew had their schtick down pat.
In 2000 I saw Peter Mayhew for the first time in person - he was signing autographs in a longline at a Disney theme park where Jamie and I were honeymooning. I didn't stand in line then, and I regretted it later. Flash forward to about four years ago, and the same happened at a comic convention in San Antonio - and as I walked out, regretted I hadn't jumped in line.
That I didn't wait is odd, in retrospect - when The Force Awakens was announced, I was possibly more excited to see Chewbacca and R2 back on the screen than General Leia or Han Solo - they would be the aged versions of themselves, but Chewie could be ageless, walking through these movies, one after another, no silver showing up in that fur.
But, of course, the man who brought Chewbacca to life was now not a kid himself, and I was aware his large frame had aged hard - I'd seen him in a wheelchair, and gravity is a bear for us over-six-foot-humans. I was not surprised when I heard he had a stand-in for all the walking scenes and was mostly the one playing the seated bits. But I still figured Peter Mayhew would be online, a pleasantly upbeat and chirpy presence - that he'd put on a tux jacket for a premier somewhere in LA. and maybe I'd see him at some other con and get his signature this time.
I'm genuinely sorry he's gone, but I am grateful that he spent the last few decades as a genuine celebrity, knowing his face and name meant (almost) as much to Star Wars fans as the fellow he brought to life, and that he got to be a part of it all over again in both the Prequels and the latest trilogy.
My understanding is that Peter Mayhew was an orderly in a hospital before being cast as Chewbacca in Star Wars. It's funny how a single casting call and some luck can change everything.
Watched: 04/25 & 26/2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane/ South Lamar
Viewing: First/ Second
Jamie and Ryan went to see "Avengers: Endgame" twice in two days. We talk the epic conclusion to the first ten or so years of Marvel Studios, what worked for us, what challenged us, and how it fits in with the world of comics from which it sprang. Don't listen in if you're avoiding spoilers - because we've got plenty.
Portals - Alan Silvestri, "Avengers: Endgame" OST