Friday, July 19, 2019
In some ways I'm amazed I haven't totally turned on this show. It can be twee, it's a lot too precious in some scenes, and the "look, we're doing the 1980's!" while getting a lot of details wrong should have pushed me over the ledge.*
Sometimes I wish they'd just turn to David Harbour and Winona Ryder and ask "is this actually right? As someone who was a young person in 1985, is this accurate?" Because it works *better* for those of us who were around this age when the show is on. And it is on *a lot*. But when it's off, it takes you right out.
The horror was more or less abstracted to a general horror-movie sort of problem this season, giving the characters less specific rules-sorting to do, which I support. At times the visual and filmic references to other things was so heavy handed, though, the show almost folded in on itself.
Still, somehow, the show works. I still really enjoyed it, and I know why.
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.
Friday, July 12, 2019
2019 was the year I finally started watching Brooklyn 99, and like everyone else who watched the show, I became a big fan of Cheddar, the pet Corgi of Captain Raymond Holt and the lynchpin of more than one episode.
Sadly, a pup doesn't live forever, and Cheddar performer, Stewart, has merged with the Infinite.
Pouring one out for you, buddy.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
Jamie and Ryan just saw ol' web-head's European tour, and rather than being all Mysterio about their reaction, we grabbed a microphone to shatter any illusions that we wouldn't cover this latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Join our first totally unedited reaction podcast!
Spider-Man (1967 cartoon theme song) - Paul Francis Webster and Robert "Bob" Harris
Marvel Movies Playlist
|absolutely no one swings into action on top of a couple having a cuddle in the course of this movie|
Format: Alamo South Lamar
Well, somehow Wednesday became my Robert Ryan double-bill day. SimonUK and I headed over to the local cinema to take in this novelty 1953 film. Ostensibly noir, this movie is both in technicolor (not a disqualifier) and in 3D (a curiosity for noir, to say the least). It also takes place in the desert and is 65% a tale of survival in extreme conditions, and - while I get why it gets lumped in with noir, I'm a bit on the fence.
If the movie borrows from noir, it's trying to borrow from the best - in some ways asking "yes, but what if the husband in Double Indemnity had lived?" and pairing it with a survival tale in which the husband is not on an urban railroad track but thrown from a horse in the Mojave Desert.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
If I were to buy this movie on Bluray (and it's Lupino, so don't count me out), I would wish it had Eddie Muller's conversations which bookended the showing on Noir Alley. Muller says he's doing "barroom, not classroom", but I'll argue that by showing a wide variety of films on Noir Alley and talking about why we should pay attention, discussing what happened during production, etc... and not just lauding whatever it is we're about to see, Noir Alley is one of the best movie-watching experiences and educations you can hope for. And, yeah, he makes it all as casual as a talk over cocktails.
On Dangerous Ground (1951) is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars two of my favorite denizens of Noir Alley, Ida Lupino* and Robert Ryan (here wearing a coat and hat and a tough cops face in a way I wish with all my heart I could pull off). I'd meant to watch it some time ago, and I can't recall why it fell off the list - but now was the time! Muller certainly discussed details of the film and production, but his real focus was on the Bernard Herrmann score. And it is very, very much a Bernard Herrmann score, which is almost off to see against an RKO b&w cop picture.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
The week of the 4th of July, I was in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to visit some old family stomping grounds. The Marquette/ Ishpeming/ Negaunee area is where my mom's people landed after arriving from Finland. My grandfather worked in iron ore mines for forty years while my grandmother cleaned houses and other odd jobs. And, when my mom arrived as a surprise when they were in their 40's, then raised the sparkplug that is the lady we call "Mom".
This area is also the setting for the novel Anatomy of a Murder. When Otto Preminger decided to adapt the book circa 1958, he brought the entire production up to this remote area.
You can read more about it in Part 1 of this photo tour.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. If you've never seen it, it's a terrific film and holds up far better than you'd expect considering the changing mores, attitudes, laws and and more since 1959. In some ways, it's covering territory we seem to cover over and over as a society and may be more relevant now than ever. A legal drama, it should be a bit out of my wheelhouse, but instead it's been one of my favorite films since college.
Starring Jimmy Stewart, it has a terrific cast of well-known and lesser known actors. Eve Arden, a very young George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra, Arthur O'Connell, and Kathryn Grant (a University of Texas alumnus and, at the time, just married to Bing Crosby). And, a bit bizarre for the time and place, Duke Ellington.
The movie, however, was based on a novel written by Robert Traver. Traver was the pen name for attorney John Voelker, who lived in Ishpeming, Michigan and served as the city prosecutor, ran for other public office and was generally highly involved in public life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Sunday, July 7, 2019
At long last, I read both The Long Goodbye (1953) and Playback (1958), the last of Raymond Chandler's novels centered upon detective Philip Marlowe.
You'll note a lengthy dry spell between books here, and there's a precipitous drop-off between the two in depth and strength. It's curious as The Long Goodbye feels less like a detective novel and more like an author wrestling with himself, working through the point in his life where he'd enjoyed success and some fame and found neither amounted to much as he was still living with himself as an alcoholic, a writer of genre fiction, and now a widower.*