Back around 2002, a show debuted on American television that would introduce the nation to its first not-pleasant gameshow personality, Simon Cowell. That show was American Idol, a program which has left a string of forgettable personalities and the occasional dead body.
Friday, June 25, 2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Format: TCM on DVR
Decade: 1960's (so very, very 1960's)
Director: Phil Karlson
Thanks to a misfire of the Google Fiber TV television schedule - I've found it. The most 1965-1968 movie ever made.
This is the second movie I've recorded by accident while trying to watch a recording of The Kissing Bandit as part of the Cyd Charisse month-long retrospective. Last time I'd accidentally recorded Singin' In the Rain, and this time...
I'd heard of The Silencers (1966) a while back, but never stumbled across it or had reason to watch it. It was always lumped in with movies that influenced Austin Powers about 30 years after this film arrived (and we're now almost as far from Austin Powers as this was from that! WOW, are we getting old). It stars Dean Martin as a sort of super-spy in a made-up NSA-type agency called "ICE".
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Ranald MacDougall
Jenifer was good enough to host a watch party this evening and selected Queen Bee (1955), a film from Joan Crawford's mid-40's to mid-50's cycle.
I'd label the movie as a "Southern Gothic Melodrama", and I wouldn't be shocked to see it pop up on Noir Alley, either, but not til we've exhausted other films like Flamingo Road, which fits the bill better. I genuinely enjoyed the film, in part because it's so bonkers and done with complete sincerity as Crawford manipulates everyone around her in a grand old house in small-town Georgia.
The film co-stars Barry Sullivan and John Ireland, but our POV is the young cousin of Crawford played by Lucy Marlow, who arrives after her schooling to be a sort of companion/ secretary to Crawford. But I just figured out the woman playing one smaller role was Fay Wray, aged 48 or so. Mind officially blown.
You can't not comment on the fact that Crawford was 50 or older when the movie was filmed and is still playing a woman who is probably supposed to be no older than 35. I can never think of anyone who pulled this sort of thing off in the studio-era for as many movies in a row who wasn't Mae West. But casting contemporary Wray against her as a former rival for the affections of Barry Sullivan, is no mean feat. And, look, it's not a criticism. Crawford's make-up was more a problem by 1955 than the actual aging process, and in some shots and in some entire films from the era, it works. Crawford herself is no less powerful an actress, and one wonders if she dialed it back how she might have appeared (although her hair in this film is the tight perm of the mid-50's that did few women any favors).
But, yeah, it's a tidy 100-or so minutes of Crawford wreaking all sorts of havoc upon her own family and their lovers. It's got some outstanding dialog, terrific cinematography (Charles Lang), and you can't outguess the movie as it unfolds.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
I've seen the original Jaws probably 20 times, but as part of my day waiting for the AC repairman, and as yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the release of Jaws, I figured... maybe give that sequel a spin?
Jaws 2 (1978) arrived 3 years after the original, and had some of the band still in place. Scheider and Lorraine Gary reprised their roles, as well as Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn, our canary in the coal mine that politicians don't actually have to worry about disasters or deaths they cause through incompetence so long as people refuse to ever admit maybe the voted for the wrong person.
Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb is back, as well as the same producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck. Even John Williams.
But, yeah, it's not Spielberg. Instead we got Jeannot Szwarc, who you may say: what else did he do?
Monday, June 21, 2021
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: George Sidney
So, I recorded this one as part of the Cyd Charisse "Star of the Month" retrospective on TCM, and while I have been waiting for the AC repair guy to call me back (it's 100 today in Austin), I put the movie on.
I'd always heard the name of the film The Harvey Girls (1946), but didn't know anything about the movie - just that it was a big, 1940's-style musical with Judy Garland as the lead. I assumed it was about a group of sisters in the Harvey family. Nope.
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Arthur Marks
Friday Foster (1975) comes late in Pam Grier's starring roles in the "blaxploitation" cycle of films. Curiously, it's also based on a comic strip that ran from 1970-74, which I plan to track down. But - as you can see by the release date on the movie, the strip was defunct by the time the movie arrived.
From what I saw on the internet, the strip and movie had some things in common, but reversed the course of Friday's career - making her start as a model and wind up as a photographer/ reporter for Glance Magazine.
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Director: Steven Kostanski
It's been a minute since I posted. We had guests for the first time since COVID, and we've been watching a lot of baseball and Ted Lasso, so no movies of late.
It seems Psycho Goreman (2020) is a bit of a cult favorite at the moment among horror aficionados, and I was looking for something fun to watch on my Friday night. But aside from "sorta like an 80's family movie", "sci-fi alien" and "hilarious", I didn't really know much about it, which is my preference going into most horror.
And, yeah? It's horror-ish. Horror adjacent. Sci-fi. Comedy. Something.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Format: Google Play Streaming
A supernatural comedy with an utterly specific and terrific tone, Extra Ordinary (2019) is an Irish comedy about a psychic who'd rather she wasn't, who has chosen a dull existence as a driving instructor until a confluence of events pull her back into the ghost-wrangling work she once performed with her father.
The movie co-stars Will Forte playing an incredibly Will Forte character of a former one-hit wonder and practicer of the Dark Arts who finds himself crossing paths with Rose Dooley, our ghost-wrangler.
I'm realizing this movie is very hard to talk about without littering the post with spoilers, so just bookmark the movie or add it to your "will watch" column for some night when you need a light, goofy comedy.
Actor Ned Beatty has passed at the age of 83.
Beatty looked for all the world like she *should* have been a character actor. But, instead he played a wild array of characters. I mean, you've seen Network.
If you've never seen the 1990 version of Captain America (yes, it's a feature length "movie" of sorts), Beatty is the one competent actor in the whole thing and you wonder what he thought of the final product, if he bothered to ever watch it.
But as Otis in Superman: The Movie, he's provided me with no shortage of laughs. It's a perfectly studied comedic part, and he's hilarious whether you're 3 or 43.
Director: Jon M. Chu
A few years back, Jamie and I paid our money and saw a local stage production of In the Heights at the Zach Scott Theatre here in town. It wasn't a touring show, but it was a professional show with a mix of local talent and hired talent from out of town. The theater in question struggles, I think, because the audience is on the gray and silver side, and bringing in shows with a hip-hop tinge, or something like Hedwig (which we also saw there) seem to throw off the audiences that still pat themselves on the back for coming in for the Janis Joplin show they do there about three years.
But the show was solid, not least because the actual source material is what it is. In the Heights was the work that made Lin Manuel Miranda in the musical theatre world and enabled him to do something as ambitious as Hamilton. And, I don't think I need to tell you a ton about where that carried him.
The movie of In the Heights (2021) was supposed to be released summer of 2020, I believe, but was shelved until this summer, and is now enjoying both a theatrical release and a release on HBOmax.