Monday, June 22, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: William Conlin
There's not much to spoil here - it's a fact based documentary on the people behind the iconic make-up for the run of the original 5 Planet of the Apes films, the TV show and more. It does a good job of contextualizing the state of the art in the mid-60's and how they got there, starting in the Lon Chaney era.
Really, what I liked is that - as much as it's about the make-up and creation of - it gives personality and stories to the people who were there and made a vision a reality. We sometimes forget there are minds and lives behind the people who aren't the writers, directors and actors - but those unseen wizards who rise at 2:30 AM to be at work by 4:30 AM to get the actor on the set by morning, looking like a gorilla? Those are people who fell in love with monster make-up to such a degree, that's how they love and what they've chosen to do.
And, of course, for the people involved, Planet of the Apes - which won an honorary Academy Award for make-up before it became a staple of the Oscars - was a major turning point in the lives of a lot of people in the Hollywood make-up industry. It was sort of the digital T-Rex of its day.
It's currently streaming on Amazon, and if you're any kind of POTA fan, I recommend giving Making the Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film a go.
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Stanley Tong
Back during my early years of college, one of the student associations would bring in Hong Kong cinema to Hogg Auditorium on the University of Texas campus. JAL and a few others of us would wander down there, and the place would be half-full with bats flying around during the show. Sometimes we'd be less sober than other times, but we were getting great stuff that didn't play even the arthouse theaters, and seeing it on the big screen.
But the thing JAL first used to get me to show up was describing how Jackie Chan films worked, so - we went and watched Police Story 3: Supercop.
Friday, June 19, 2020
Watched: 06/11/2020 (Backtrack) & 06/16/2020 (Contract)
Format: Amazon Streaming and TCM Noir Alley
Viewing: First / Second
Decade: 1990's/ 1950's
Director: Dennis Hopper/ Irving Lerner
More ways to listen - choose an app
We're back with more noir - neo and otherwise! It's two movies about weirdo hitmen filmed 30 years apart. One is from the go-go 90's and has a lot of surprises, and the other is a cult classic of noir, about a man who just wants enough money to get that house he's had his eye on. Both have casts worth discussing and off-kilter approaches to their form. Join JAL and Ryan as we make our way through two features that don't get that many mentions.
The Signal Watch PodCast · 107: "Backtrack" (1990)/ "Contract for Murder" (1958) - Noir Watch w/ JAL & Ryan
The Executioner Theme - Perry Botkin, Murder By Contract score
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: 4th? - for whatever reason, I've seen this a few times
Director: Ishiro Honda
This one I've seen a few times and very much remember watching it as a kid on some local UHF channel. However, I think watching it with Japanese language subtitled to English may have changed a few details. I swear I thought this whole movie took place on Mars.
It does not.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Movie: Basket Case (1982)
Watch at: Amazon Streaming
Price: $2.99 HD, $1.99 SD (it was shot in 16mm, so...)
Day: Friday 06/19/2020
Time: 8:30 Central
at 8:20, I'll tweet out a screenshot of where we're pausing, so look for the hashtag
This Friday, the movie is no picnic! It's Basket Case, a 1982 no-budget horror movie made in NYC and selected by our own Lauren (in NYC, natch).
I've never seen it, but watched a clip that was bananas. So - get ready for some old school, 16mm Rated-R nuttiness. I assume, based on the rating, era, what I read of the movie's description, etc... if you're a sensitive sort, this may be one to skip.
But I hope you don't! This movie is pretty famous and it's worth a gander. Come and behold one angry puppet.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Sam Liu, Justin Copeland
I don't watch DC Animated Films like I used to, but the Reign of Supermen film last year was okay, and I was curious how they were going to handle The Silver Swan, who was on the poster for this movie. Plus, I am not like to avoid a Wonder Woman movie.
For anyone who reads Wonder Woman comics, the story borrows from the Perez era, the Jimenez era and the Rucka era - plus whatever the continuity derives from the DC animated movies, post Flashpoint. I watched with Jamie who has read a good chunk of Wonder Woman comics, but not as much of the Perez era, so I was surprised how many gaps I was mentally filling in which, for her, were larger story gaps.
Monday, June 15, 2020
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
I'd had this cooling on the DVR for a long time, but Jamie wanted to watch a comedy and I'd had this vouched for by a few people, including our own NathanC. What's Up, Doc? (1972) was a movie I'd seen name-dropped for decades, but didn't think much about it. Lately, the past couple years or so, though, both some of y'all and a few comments I picked up by osmosis led me to become curious about the movie.
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Richard E. Cunha
Oh. Oh my.
Well. So. I dunno, you guys.
I mean, "Oliver" Frankenstein just doesn't sound right. And I don't know why he was turning the pretty young lady he was living with into a monster in the evening with a potion he kept passing off as fruit punch. I was never clear what was going on with the girl's uncle and what he was science-ing upon. But we do run over a kind of catty young lady and she gets turned into a shambling monster.
Anyway. There's a backyard cookout with a band and a very long musical interlude.
Friday, June 12, 2020
I am terribly, terribly sorry to report that Dennis "Denny" O'Neil has passed. I am often genuinely saddened when I see someone has gone on to their reward, but sometimes it hits harder.
It is difficult to measure the impact O'Neil had on comics, popular culture and culture writ-large. And I doubt many people outside us comics nerds (and possibly only comics nerds of a certain age) know his name. O'Neil was one of the giants, someone I "liked" as a kid when I'd read his stuff, but as an adult and went back through the history of DC and saw all he'd accomplished?
O'Neil is one of the creators largely responsible for the version of Batman you know and love. He revitalized and solidified Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), making them relevant as sounding boards for the issues of the day. He updated Superman and took on the challenge of turning Wonder Woman into a secret agent (with mixed results). You may know the long runs on Batman that wound up informing Batman: The Animated Series, or the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" period of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow. His run on Superman is actually pretty well written, if unsustainable. The run on Wonder Woman is flat out wild and strange, and - issues though it may have - it's a fascinating attempt to try to update (and maybe a good cautionary tale for every time the internet tells DC to update Wonder Woman).
I first learned his name, I believe, on the cover of The Question (along with Denys Cowan), and soon I looked for his name in association with a certain level of storytelling I thought surpassed most of what was on the rack.
O'Neil didn't just tell stories that took DC heroes on new journeys and challenged them in new ways, he invented a large number of characters for DC and more. Those characters were a huge part of comics of my youth from O'Neil and others, and wound up in cartoons, movies and more. Scroll down this page to see a list of his contributions.
It's odd to see the passing of someone who was part of the second generation to enter comics, the folks who were handing off the torch as I was showing up as a reader. But O'Neil in particular is going to be missed. But us comics folk aren't the type to forget a person's contribution or what they did to advance the narratives that inspire and entertain us. And inspired others to create more on the foundations they built.
We'll miss you, Denny.
Viewing: second or third
Director: Ishirō Honda
This movie is straight up nonsense and is, therefore, ideal.
January in Tokyo sees 82 degrees temperatures and an encephalitis epidemic. People are all about UFO's. A Princess is seeking asylum from her small country in Japan because (a) there is an assassination plot afoot before she can be coronated and (b) everyone is wearing Elizabethan collars and it is a fashion nightmare. The Faeries are touring Japan and appearing on gameshows?
Anyway - we get way, way into the movie before there's even a hint of kaiju. Instead, there's a plot about the princess jumping out of her plane before it explodes and then appearing in Tokyo possessed by a Venusian and predicting calamity (see: Ghidorah). A reporter and her brother are stepping on each other's toes. There's a hit squad of 4 very hep cats after the princess.