Saturday, October 5, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
I am well aware of the hurricane force that is Bette Davis, but for whatever reason, I don't wind up taking enough advantage of her expansive filmography. Sometimes I feel genuine guilt in regards to this deficiency, and - as this Davis-induced-remorse had occurred once again recently - I decided to remedy the issue by force-marching Jamie through a 90 minute movie that, frankly, I knew nothing about.
A prestige picture of sorts from pre-war Warner Bros., The Letter (1940) makes not just for an interesting time capsule, but a fascinating melodrama and noir, punctuated by Davis' terrific performance. With a script based upon a 1927 play (and previously made into a movie during the silent era), the material of the film is well honed, a tight, taught narrative with a number of fascinating characters and smart dialog.
Friday, October 4, 2019
Watched: 09/01/2019, 09/02/2019
Format: Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Ryan and SimonUK bite into two vampire movies with two very different takes, both landing in the go-go Mid-80's! One is a cult classic for horror fans, about horror fans! The other, a less known film starring artist Grace Jones as an exotic nosferatu. We take a look at what works and what sucks as these films return from the dead to give us a thrill and a chill!
Fright Night - J. Geils Band, Fright Night OST
Vamp Theme/ Seduction Surrender Longing Fix - Grace Jones, Vamp OST
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Look. They can't all be winners. And, frankly, whatever draw George Raft had at one point as a huge movie star, I just... do not get.
The pieces are there for a solid noir film, but every scene feels like it's the second take after maybe three run-throughs. Raft is wooden in the best of circumstances, but he sort of sets the tone for everyone else, bringing down the energy around near everyone but Queenie Smith, whom Raft seems to just sit back and enjoy during their shared scenes.
The movie follows the investigation of the suicide of a well-known song composer who also happens to go through women like they're on a conveyor belt coming to his door, not bothering to learn their names and calling them all "Dolores" (which never gets resolution or meaning in the film). Raft plays the milk-drinking cop who becomes obsessed with the idea the guy was plugged. Lynn Bari plays the dame who maybe did it. Who, for reasons that are not at all clear, Raft decides he's fallen for.
The titular "Nocturne" is a song written by the composer, left unfinished when he died.
That's it. That's the movie. Raft running around questioning people, fighting improbably with his own bosses, and having his mom do all the real detective work.
Sure, the movie looks good - RKO knew who to put behind the camera (Harry J. Wild was no slouch in my book), and there's a good idea in there somewhere about a good cop who doesn't think a suicide is just that and wants to investigate it for murder. But at the end of the day, we don't know much about the victim, we know less about the cop's dogged motivation, and the movie tips its hand as to what's happening at the 30 minute mark. Honestly - that's just strange.
I really, really did not like this movie, so I think I will stop writing about it now.
Sunday, September 29, 2019
PODCAST - Halloween Watch: "An American Werewolf in London" (1981)/ "Ginger Snaps" (2000) w/ SimonUK and Ryan
Format: BluRay/ DVD
Viewing: unknown/ First
Decade: 1980's/ 2000's
It's Halloween 2019! SimonUK and Ryan kick off the spooky season with a pair of scare-tacular films about coming to grips with change. And, of course, discovering you're now kinda undead and become a blood-thirsty kill-machine when the moon is particular round. We talk new-classic An American Werewolf in London (1981) and horror-icon-contender Ginger Snaps (2000).
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
An American Werewolf in London Suite - Elmer Bernstein, An American Werewolf in London OST
Bad Moon Rising - CCR, man, Green River
Halloween 2019 Playlist
Last Year's Halloween episodes:
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.