Thursday, September 26, 2019
In my head, I walked around knowing full well that Mad Men was the best television I had ever, or would likely ever, see. And the minute the show ended, I pledged to rewatch the whole show from beginning to end, but other things catch up with you, new shows come on, and at some point you start to say to yourself: you know, you may well put the show on and start to get that uneasy feeling as you realize that this thing you loved? It doesn't hold up. You weren't wrong at the time, but we've all moved on. But, sure, rewatch out of nostalgia.
Having just completed a rewatch of Mad Men Season 1, I am reporting that Mad Men is better than I remembered.
Sunday, September 22, 2019
I am well aware that Zach Galifianakis is not a fit to everyone's comedy palette. I may be one of two people I know who is sad that the FX series Baskets has drawn to a conclusion (and both of those people live in this house), and while I am aware people liked him as a supporting player in The Hangover films, that hasn't necessarily translated into leading-man-comedian status after several mid-budget Hollywood films came and went.
Not long ago, SimonUK and I were discussing the difference between American comedy and British comedy, and the conversation boiled down to "I think Americans like a trickster underdog who gets it over on a pompous bully, and Brits like a buffoon who has no idea he is his own problem." Galifianakis's Funny or Die based web-series Between Two Ferns sits somewhere uncomfortably in the middle - Galifianakis playing a version of himself as a local basic cable public access host who somehow lands everyone from Charlize Theron to former (and then sitting) President Barack Obama. It's punching up comedy - he's deflating any sense of self-importance a Hollywood-type might have - but doing so as a buffoon lacking any notion of the impact of his questions, and - amazingly - he's pretty irritable with his guests.
The web series makes for a fascinating watch, partly because you can see which Hollywood folk are comfortable enough in their own skin to actually sit through one of the interviews, which can actually deliver some devastating questions (the only direction the guests seem to be given is: deadpan). Some engage, returning the favor, others simply go blank, and it's always just a long, awkward gag.
There's something of a story to Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) - essentially it posits that Galifiankis is a NC-based public tv host who has been picked up by Funny or Die, and coked-up CEO of FoD, Will Ferrell, sends his Hollywood pals to do the access show as a gag and to drive clicks. A taping goes horribly wrong, but as the outcome, Ferrell sends Zach and his crew on the road to get 10 new episodes recorded in 2 weeks. If he makes it, he gets a fancy late night talk show.
As one would assume, the film is more or less a road picture as the crew heads East to West, catching celebrity interviews along the way (Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, etc...), en route to deliver the episodes to Ferrell's desk. So, if you like rough sketches on the road and the web-interview format of Between Two Ferns, I have some good news for you.
The supporting cast of Jiavani Linayao, Ryan Gaul and Lauren Lapkus really are pretty hilarious, but so are a lot of the interviewees, whether it's the interview clips or the ostensible documentary footage that we're supposed to be watching. Special hat tip to Chrissy Tiegen for her part (and, of course, John Legend). And I hadn't seen Mary Scheer in anything in a decade, but I swear she makes the absolute f'ing most of her 2 minutes of screentime. holy cats.
I dunno. I thought it was hilarious, but this is a true Your Mileage May Vary film. I assume many people do not care at all for Between Two Ferns, in which case... this isn't going to improve that for you.
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
I sometimes listen to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, but usually only to episodes featuring movies I've seen. And it may be a testament to my poor choice in movie viewing that I've seen about 2/3rds of the movies the show covers. But, I had not seen Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987), which they covered with very special guest stars, Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.
I'm not sure I share their unbridled enthusiasm for the movie, but as a post-Carrie, post Nightmare on Elm Street, mid-horro-budget Canadian horror film - I could see the charm in the movie.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I... I may now be a fan of Ray Milland. I used to not think of him one way or another, but after The Long Weekend and a re-watch of The Big Clock (1948), and thinking back on some of this other films like Dial M for Murder, Alias Nick Beal... he's not quite Cary Grant or James Stewart to me yet, but I may actually seek out more of his work just to see what he does.
I read the novel of The Big Clock maybe two decades ago, and my memory of the book is that it was, as the kids say, a real page turner. One of those books you keep picking up to see where it's headed. Shortly after, I found the movie and give it a viewing, and while they're substantially different, also a good watch. A few years ago, I watched it again and liked it significantly more than even the first time - and on this viewing, I am pretty sure I was correct to like it all the more.
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I wouldn't say this movie was mismarketed, exactly. But how reviews I read described it made it sound exceedingly joyless, but interesting. The premise held enough promise that I planned to get to it eventually, but wasn't in a mad dash to do so. However, Jamie watched it somewhere along the line when I was off at a breakdance party or whatever I do, and informed me it was very much in my wheelhouse, and, indeed, she was correct.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) is the true story of Lee Israel, an NYC based writer of bios of celebs of bygone eras (she's working on a Fanny Brice book during the movie's circa 1991 timeframe), which don't really sell, so she tries to hold copy-editing positions, etc... to pay the bills. But as a caustic, misanthropic drunk, turns out holding a job can be tough.
She becomes re-acquainted with a down-on-his luck bon vivant, played by the always-amazing Richard E. Grant (a charming drunk, here), just about the time she has some bills due (cat gets sick), and has to make some money, quick. Through a series of small discoveries, she learns of the world of memorabilia and letter collectors, and begins forging letters supposedly penned by luminaries long since passed, including everyone from Noel Coward to Louise Brooks.
Melissa McCarthy stars as Israel, and it's not exactly a revelation to see her this good - I think she's kinda brilliant as a comic actor, so seeing what she can do with a dramatic part was a "well, sure" revelation. She's always been so specific, with undercurrents and layers of sympathy, pathos, and thoughtfulness, even in goofy stuff like The Heat (which I really enjoy, y'all), doing same but for a dramatic role makes sense. And, it seems, the work done here by she and Grant earned them both Oscar nods.*
Because the arc of the film is fairly obvious, I'll refrain from spoilers. Instead, I'll just tip my hat to the actual technical work, character work, and script. Director Marielle Heller has a sparse directing and acting filmography, but seems to know how to get a performance, and I'm now doubly interested in the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Mr. Rogers biopic coming, as she's the one wearing the puffy director's pants there, too.
I also quite liked the DP work by Brandon Trost, and almost laughed out loud seeing this is the same DP as the Crank movies, which I'll just let all of us ponder if we think we ever have someone's style nailed down.
Anyhoo... I'm just recommending this one. Give it a go.
*which... honestly, we should be expecting movies with these levels of performance in movies all the time, but that's reserved for TV these days.
Friday, September 13, 2019
|The man, the myth, the manager - our own Brandon Zuern|
We're trying this thing out where we're trying to stray a bit from the "let's talk about a movie" formula and we delve into comics and the people who love them.
It's the launch of "Secret Origins", where we talk to comic-folk about how they got into comics and how they got to where they're at as collector, creator, comic retail pro, etc, et al. We start off by visiting with the manager of what's been our longtime LCS (Local Comic Shop, for you new kids). Get to know Comic Book Brando, our own Brandon Z! Learn about Austin Books and Comics, its sister stores, and two guys discussing the winding paths to comics fandom.
For more Kryptonian Thought-Beast, you can always visit our, uh, satellite site? Something like that. OR our sister Soundcloud.
The Center of Austin Fandom below...!
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
There are a whole bunch of movies that are not the same movie that I thought were the same movie that came out between 1980 and 1987, that all have sort of meaningless names, and I thought were the same movie. Brainstorm (1983) is one of these movies.
The thing is, I'm not even sure what is what, but these movies all had pictures of people wearing headgear or having lasers pointed at their brains and often had to do with virtual realities, walking around in people's dreams, stuff like that. I guess. All I know is that, from this pile, I had never seen Brainstorm despite very much remembering the box collecting dust at Video Station and Video III when I was a kid.
Monday, September 9, 2019
Viewing: Oh, gosh...
We turned to our wife of more than 19 years and realized we were heading into tricky territory as we asked "What is Love?" Fortunately, she came back with "Star Wars". Join Jamie and me as we use The Force and talk what was maybe the first great movie romance a lot of us clicked to: Leia, Han, a broken down ship and some mynochs to keep it interesting.
Han Solo and The Princess (Love Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST
Han & Leia Suite (Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST
"What is Love?" Podcast Series
And, snowsuit Leia