Thursday, January 7, 2021

Friday Night Watch: The Running Man




Day:  Friday 01/08
Time:  8:30 PM
Where: Amazon Prime Streaming


So, back in the 1980's we were getting a lot of dystopian stories that were intended to be cautionary tales/ satires - and apparently nobody was paying attention and these movies were mostly derided by critics and not thought of as much more than crazy action movies.

Arguably, however, between the explosions and Arnie-grunting, movies like The Running Man were actually kind of trying to say something.  Anyway, when stuff like Survivor started hitting the air, my reaction was "well, this isn't good".

34 years from this film and twenty years on from "watch assholes win money", several seasons of Wipeout, American Ninja Warrior, COPS and Live PD later, it's not hard to imagine "Running Man" being the next big leap on Fox.  

So, let's give it a spin!

Trek Watch: Star Trek - Nemesis (2002)




Watched:  01/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stuart Baird

So, this movie wasn't very good.

To be clear - all my favorite ST:TNG people are back (even Wesley Crusher), and they're all good.  The movie even co-stars a very young Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman and good ol' Dina Meyer.   But.  The very premise doesn't make a lot of sense, it weirdly includes what amounts to a rape scene of Troi (handled in the most ham-fisted and traumatizing way possible) which comes from nowhere and is seemingly there only to motivate Troi in the final reel to play Space Ouija Board to find the baddies.*  

But, yeah, Star Trek: Nemesis is about off-brand Romulans and a clone of Captain Picard (Hardy) picking a fight with Picard by planting an early-model of Data on a nearby planet.  They seem to have a modestly large-sized ship that, for reasons I was not clear on, will somehow overtake all of Earth's defenses if the Enterprise crew doesn't stop them.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Noir Watch: The Killer is Loose (1956)



Watched:  01/04/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Budd Boetticher 

We did this as a watch party.  

I already wrote this up a while back, and literally have nothing to add.  

It was super fun to watch with the watch party, but... nope.  No new insights or observations.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Trek Watch: Star Trek - Insurrection (1998)




Watched:  01/03/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Jonathan Frakes

I had mostly blocked out my prior viewing of Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), remembering it as "the one that felt like a very long episode of the show".  And, indeed, minus the movie suggesting Picard has found the love of his life (who is immediately never again discussed), the movie is more or less a stand-alone episode with some effects that are okay but never amazing.

Mostly, it feels like the cast of Trek screwing around for 45 minutes before the movie remembers it needs to get its act together and do a movie.  And even then, Gates McFadden looks like she's visibly smiling while going pew-pew-pew with a phaser rifle, like "ha ha!  They're letting me do stuff!"  

So, things I liked:

  • Frakes directing himself in a sequence with Troi in a bathtub, irritated that Starfleet is calling
  • Worf does not need to be there, but is, and goes through Klingon puberty for some reason
  •  The Enterprise E is a pretty sweet ride
  • The cast insisting on finding a way to fit in Gilbert & Sullivan during a space battle
  • Hiring F. Murray Abraham at the height of his fame and then making him unrecognizable under layers of make-up
  • Gates McFadden generally just looking pleased to be there even if she has *nothing* to do

But mostly the movie itself doesn't make much sense and goes to some extraordinary script-lengths to create their scenario that is wildly hand-wavy.  But Trek fans should check the set up that leads to the titular "insurrection" as a reminder of how horribly run Starfleet is during Next Generation episodes.  It was a weird staple of ST:TNG that Starfleet was consistently making horrible decisions that Picard would need to rebel against like a cool teen showing up the stuffy principal that of course it made it into a movie.*  I understand a Star Fleet is a tough thing to run, but maybe by the 10th tribunal where Picard is having to do his best Perry Mason, check the man's service record, remember he has no particular reason to be a Romulan agent, and stop threatening to disassemble Troi or whatever they're doing that week.  

Anyway - this is a very weird, very obviously inexpensively made era of Trek-movie, and while I am thrilled the cast is having fun, this whole movie needed a lot more workshopping at the script level than anything else.  

One day they will make a Trek-show where the Captain is not constantly the point man on every dangerous operation, but this movie is not that.  And Ryker flies the Enterpise by joystick AGAIN.

A final note - the movie casts Broadway darling Donna Murphy as Picard's love interest, a 300-year-old alien living on a planet that seemingly will keep her young and rejuvenated forever (she has an action figure and everything!).  Doesn't let her sing or anything.  She has a lot of TV credits, and was coming off doing a stint on the briefly popular Murder One.   But she is actually very solid on a show that I usually just take for granted "look, the lines are nonsense, so if we get 'wooden' as a performance, that's a win sometimes."   

But I strongly suspect I'll immediately forget this movie again, because it makes very little sense.


*So, yeah, next time you're complaining about Picard and saying "Picard would never quit the Federation!  I don't like New Trek", remember the approximately 52 episodes of the show where someone in a bathrobe showed up and Starfleet decided the Enterpise needed to be shutdown or whatever.   Sooner or later, you take your pension and go drink in France.


Inspirational Watch: Eddie the Eagle (2015)


Watched:  01/02/2021
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's
Format:  Disney+
Director:   Dexter Fletcher

"Based on a true story" is more or less Hollywood speak for "we got the three things you remember about this event right, and everything else doesn't bear up to a quick Wikipedia check".  It doesn't mean this or others movies aren't worth watching, but always always always Google the subjects of "true story" movies after finishing a film.  It's inevitably more interesting than what's in the movie.

I do not remember the 1988 Calgary Olympics at all.  I was 13 and lived in Texas where none of the sports existed, and didn't watch much TV at that time in my life.  Jamie was actually at those Olympics, so she remembers the actual events and guy.   I think I vaguely remember watching hockey.  

Eddie the Eagle (2015) is a fine movie - a decent one for kids and adults.  Unlikely guy goes to the Olympics to compete - and the glory is in trying.  I've spoiled nothing - you can still watch.  Everything is very color-by-numbers and has the edges removed.  I mean, it's fine - I enjoyed it for what it was.  





Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 Movies - By the Numbers




Look, obviously a few things were different this year per my availability to sit on my ass and watch movies.  

And watch movies I did.  There wasn't much on in the way of baseball until July or so.  I had time to do podcasts almost once per week (we'll get to that).  And, we instituted twice-per-week movie parties (Tuesdays and Fridays.  Jenifer runs Tuesdays, I manage Fridays).  Plus, I don't really follow that many TV shows, so I had some time to watch whatever.  And I think when you review the list, you will say "whatever did he watch these movies for?"

Anyway

For comparisons:

In 2020, I watched 269 movies that I am aware of.  I have blog posts entries for each of these movies, and some metadata on each movie to help me track.  

This number includes only movies I watched in their entirety.  If I watched part of a movie, it's not included.  

It is possible I've missed some movies, one way or another.  Whether I forgot to mark it, or write it up, or whatever.  So I'll say - at a *minimum* I watched 269 movies in 2020.  I'll adjust the post if I figure out I missed anything.  

For the complete numbers in a spreadsheet, you can click here.

2021 Watch: Johnny Mnemonic (1995)




Watched:  01/01/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Robert Longo


I saw this movie in 1995, and it was pretty terrible then.  It's really hard to put your finger on, but the closest comparison I can make is what happened/ happens with superhero movies when someone comes along and decides to use pieces of what's there, but doesn't really get it is about the thing that makes it work.  

Looking back at 1995, explaining what was going on in science-fiction, the rapid development of the internet, and how those two things intermingled - as well as who from the world of music, film and art and basically "got it" is mostly long since forgotten.  But, yeah, there was a time when we honestly thought people would basically use the internet like a great big VR simulation with avatars, "physical" items to look at using our headsets and manipulate haptic gloves.

And by "we" I mean * everyone* was excited about the internet and the cool toys until you actually tried to use the internet and it all fell apart upon first contact,  and you realized a mouse, keyboard and a decent monitor were terrific and cheap and got you where you needed to go.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Christmas Noir Watch: Cover-Up (1949)




Watched:  12/23/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Alfred E. Green

An insurance detective comes to a small town to look into the apparent suicide of a wealthy man with a considerable settlement coming to the benficiaries.  Arriving in town, he finds everyone hated the guy, it sure looks like murder, and everyone - including the foxy young lady he met on the bus on the way in, are in on a cover-up.  Thus, the name of the movie.

Stars William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe.

The ending is weird and super chipper.  

NEW YEAR WATCH PARTY - "Johnny Mnemonic" - because it takes place in 2021

 


Day:  01/01/2021
Time:  8:30 Central - Texas time, yo


So, I last saw this in the theater opening day, 11:30 AM show.  And it was very bad.  So bad, I had forgotten it co-stars Dina Meyer's terrific jawline.

she has great hair, too

Anyway - let's see what the citizens of the early 90's thought this year would look like!  

I've watched the first five minutes, and... uh, maybe they weren't so far off, is what I'm saying.

Only, far less Dina Meyer than we could have hoped for.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Guest in the House (1944)




Watched:  12/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  this one is confusing, but it's listed as follows on IMDB -  John BrahmJohn Cromwell...(uncredited) Andr√© De Toth...(uncredited) Lewis Milestone...(uncredited)

A dopey young doctor has fallen for his patient - a mental patient with a phobia of birds and a love of stirring shit (Anne Baxter).  Reasonably, he takes her to meet his idiotic family (minus one key player).  Unreasonably, he just f'ing leaves her with his idiotic family who just met her.  She gaslights the living shit out of everyone, including an 8 year old girl.

This movie features:
  • 3 great 1940's hairstyles on lovely women
  • 1 coocoo bananas psycho
  • Multiple dum-dums who clearly never met a Mean Girl
  • 1 Margaret Hamilton reminding you why it was hard for her to find work after Wizard of Oz seared her into your mind as a broom-riding funster
  • 1 wife who is wildly tolerant of 1 husband who is clearly banging his model no matter what the script tries to tell us
  • 1 man who has all the appeal of a soaked Ralph Bellamy that is, because filmed during wartime, the only man around sold to us as a real dream boat
  • 1 bird pining for the fjords
It is not a BAD movie, but it is also not hard to imagine how this movie could be better.  Also - how this sort of movie became a Lifetime movie, which would be called "Psycho Sister-In-Law".

However, this movie ALSO was released under the name "Satan in Skirts", which...  *chef's kiss*.