Friday, August 19, 2022

Friday Watch Party: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

I have never seen a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film, and now I found out a very young Ida Lupino co-stars in this particular movie.  

Look, I'm remarkably easy to please, in many respects.  Just put Ida Lupino in your movie.  Or Basil Rathbone.  Or Sherlock Holmes.  All are perfectly cromulent reasons to watch a film.

So let's do this.  

Day:  08/19/2022
Time:  8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 PM Pacific
Format:  Amazon Prime
Price:  $4

link is live 10 minutes before showtime

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

Apparently I have it in my Google Calendar that today is Lois Lane's birthday.

Happy birthday to the world's greatest reporter!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Happy Birthday, Madonna

Happy Birthday to Madonna Ciccone of Bay City, Michigan.

Here's to the person who kept me with one ear on pop music during my grumpier years and both eyes on MTV for years upon end.  Heck, seeing the video for Lucky Star is one of my seminal memories as a kid, and I probably need a series of lengthy therapy sessions to work through Express Yourself and Take a Bow.  

She's got a new album out there (of remixes, I think) and currently is going through a new look I have several questions about, but we'll always have Open Your Heart.

Monday, August 15, 2022

2020's Watch: The Lost City (2022)

Watched:  08/14/2022
Format:  I don't actually know.  Jamie put it on.
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Two guys named Nee

Sunday night we threw on the recent Sandra Bullock/ Channing Tatum romantic adventure comedy, The Lost City (2022), as it had received a generally favorable RT score and my brain wasn't functioning, anyway.

This movie is the platonic definition of "it's fine".  It is more or less exactly what you think from the trailers, everyone appears to be having a good time, it's got fewer laughs than what you'd like but is reasonably funny, and you'll have a frictionless experience which results in forgetting you saw it in about two months.

The movie co-stars Daniell Radcliff as a somewhat mad billionaire, the lovely Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Bullock's agent, a goofing Brad Pitt as a sort of mercenary, Hector Anibal as a henchman, and Oscar Nunez providing comedy relief in a comedy?

The movie is Romancing the Stone with no edges.  

Like, I don't really know what else to say about it - someone watched Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas and said "let's do that, but different enough that copyright isn't an issue".  But it just feels like a re-write of a wildly popular movie that tries to make up for the lack of sexy sexiness with "hotness", reminding you Channing Tatum works out a lot and eats a lot of protein and Sandra Bullock is a fan of pilates and it's paying off.  

But, it's a romance novelist living out one of her own books in a vaguely Latin-American country with a jungle helped along by a hunky guy and there's a jewel to be had.  Romancing the Stone.  Everything else is just wing dings they put on it.

Por ejemplo:  There's also a dead husband storyline that feels very much like a 1990's movie that insists our lead occasionally acts, but it's also, like, a weirdly dark cloud over what's supposed to be a funny romp through the jungle.  It's made all the more confusing because no one seems to care about Bullock's dead husband or her grieving him or what seems to be clinical depression that screams "it is not funny that people are forcing her through the steps of the first act, she is a grieving widow suffering depression".  The cumulative effect was me wondering if the dead husband thing was an early or late addition to the script that didn't fit most of the rest of the script.

The movie should really just be about her figuring out her male-model doofus pal has an inner life and it's okay to bang him - something he seems up for from jump.  But he also has a weird and unwarranted relationship to the book series as a guy who probably has one photoshoot a year?

What flat out doesn't make sense - minus crippling depression - is why Bullock is kidnapped instead of paid-off and why she doesn't want to participate in Radcliffe's scheme, especially when he has unlimited resources and is willing to remove her from her tour she doesn't want to be on.  She states she was a practicing archaeologist at one point.  That seems relevant.  Like -having her just go and then realize she's in over her head is the infinitely more interesting choice. 

Pretty clearly the movie wants to be the start of a series, much like Romancing the Stone tried to do same, so we keep up with various players who will be our gang in future adventures, like Bullock's publisher, her weird friend in Oscar Nunez and Radcliffe, who will be Danny Devito in future installments. 

80's Watch: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Watched:  08/12/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Tim Burton

I saw Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) the first time in a theater in the Chicago area when we were on a family roadtrip and were staying with some people who had kids our age.  I mean, we were all a little obligated to like Pee-Wee Herman at the time, and I think there was a smidge of misunderstanding that this was a kids' movie rather than an all-ages movie.  

I recall thinking the movie was funny, better than I expected, and that I'd about needed a change of pants after the Large Marge sequence during which I'd leaped about a foot out of my chair.  

I've seen the movie a few times over the years, and every time I am reminded of the film's genuine greatness.  

I really don't know much about Paul Reubens outside of his work as Pee-Wee Herman, but I assume he's a pretty smart guy.  Literally no one else does what he does.  What was kind of lost on us at the time as kids, and what will be lost on kids new to the movie now is that Pee-Wee Herman is a sort of living embodiment of a Boomer nostalgia and retro goofiness that wasn't commodified in the way Gen-X nostalgia has driven, like, billion dollar Transformers movies.  He was more of a boy-man who still lived in a sort of Howdy Doody world of kitsch and camp that now looks like generic kid-fun, but was roughly coded to bend the intention of everything around him from Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen to a hobo bindle stick.

The story, the characters (Simone!), the settings (dinosaur truck stop, the rodeo) and the set-up are all amazing nonsense.  I mean, it's a movie that features a Santa sleigh with a Godzilla in it during a climactic scene.  The movie doesn't pause for life lessons, it just keeps upping the goofiness.  

Also, the casting is pitch perfect - at least it seems so now - with Jan Hooks, Elizabeth Daily, Diane Salinger, Cassandra Peterson, Mark Holton, Judd Omen, and more..!
Anyway - if you want 90 minutes of pure joy, I welcome you to it.  If you do not, take a pass.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Well.  We had a request, and while I can't accommodate every request, (a) I love this movie, (b) this person is in a way, and it wouldn't be right turning her down when this is all she asks, and (c) turns out this week is the 37th anniversary of the film's release!  Tuesday, as I write this, is actually the day it was released.

This movie - which is mostly *not* filmed in Texas - is the most accurate depiction you will ever see of Texas, in spirit.  

This movie has everything.  Adventure.  Romance.  Ghosts.  Snakes.  Morgan Fairchild!

So, join us for one the 1980's finest works of art!

Day:  08/12/2022
Time:  8:30 PM Central
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Cost:  $4

Link live 10 minutes before showtime

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Happy Birthday, Peter Cushing

Today marks the birth anniversary of English actor Peter Cushing.  Cushing was a familiar face to generations the UK, the US and across the world thanks to his starring roles on Hammer horror films, playing a truly demented Dr. Frankenstein across many films, a noble but crisp Dr. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, and - of course - as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope.  

Cushing has become one of those actors where I now say "Cushing is in that?  Well, let's watch it."  And I'm never disappointed in a single moment of him on screen.

He was also a very humble gentleman who came to fame in his 40's, and always seemed to have his feet on the ground.  Cushing was also quick to make friends with his co-stars and colleagues, and he worked numerous times with Christopher Lee, and befriended the likes of Vincent Price and others who were kings of the horror film world.  

I always find it intriguing that, in his downtime, Cushing made miniatures and models of all sorts of things.  

Anyway, happy birthday, Peter Cushing!  You are missed.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Aliens Watch: Prey (2022)

Watched:  08/07/2022
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

I had not heard one word about Prey (2022) before my social media lit up when it dropped on Friday (two days ago).  Frankly, I ignored the chatter for half a day when I saw mention it was a Predator movie, which is not in the year 2022 that is something that gets me terribly excited.  I love Predator, but everything after in the franchise sort of exists on a sliding scale, and attempts to merge it with Aliens somehow devalued both.  

Suffice to say, I have not seen every Alien, Predator or Aliens and Predator movie over the past 35 years.  

Thus, I was inclined to ignore the movie til I heard the basic set-up and that some trusted sources generally liked it.  Some quite a bit.  

I finally watched the film this morning, and... yeah.  This is the best Predator related thing I've seen since watching Bill Duke dry-shave in a jungle.  They kept the scale manageable, they remembered we know the Predator set-up, and that the thing to do now is to make the movie have personal stakes for the lead.  They will be changed in some way by the experience, and not just because they experienced pants-eradicating terror facing an alien invasion.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Death Spa (1987)

Watched:  08/05/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First!
Director:  Michael Fischa

So, I mistook this movie for something else I'd watched not too long ago, Killer Workout - the other 1987 movie about a string of murders occurring within an LA health club.  And, I assure you, this would be the best possible double-bill one could program, and one day I will make that happen.  The movies are similar to a point - but this one has a budget and actors you've seen before.  And a *lot* more shenanigans, but with fewer curiously placed yard-phones.

Anyway, I spent the first fifteen minutes of the movie utterly confused as this was *not* the same movie I'd watched, but due to the aesthetics of a 1980's LA gym, film grain of the 1980's all looking pretty similar circa 1987, and my face-blindness, I thought I'd stumbled onto a different cut of the same movie.  But it's not.  It's wildly different.

Is it better?  I mean - yes.  This one doesn't feel like guerilla film-making, and it has te budget to deliver on the things you were expecting in Killer Workout but didn't really get.  Namely, gory FX and a bounty of bewbs - just kinda strewn about in that 1980's way that says "look what we got to do.  Let's go enjoy some cocaine."

The plot is an insane mix of future-shock computer stuff that never really plays out, possession of humans AND computers, Dressed to KillPsycho, Carrie and many things I am sure I missed.  Anyway, I was kinda blue I'd picked the wrong movie at first - but at this point I now stan Death Spa.  The back half of this movie is absolutely bonkers and you realize the first half just exists to lull you into a false sense of security that you know what this movie is.  And you do not.  

Somehow casting but not really starring one of the guys from Dawn of the Dead, Kirk's son David from Wrath of Khan, and the woman who played Teela in Masters of the Universe, it's got a "that guy!" vibe I particularly enjoyed.  I don't know who the actual leads are, and was frankly confused who some of the women in the film were supposed to be or what their relationship was to anything - but that's 1980's filmmaking for you.  It's about MEN.  In JACKETS.  Who PUSH UP THEIR JACKET SLEEVES.

There's also some amazing sound design where they do not care that planes are flying overhead and birds are furiously chirping.  I always like it when its clear they couldn't afford a re-record session and the real world invades your killer computer ghost movie.  

OH.  And there's a parapsychologist.  And a kinda sexy lady who is blinded by chlorine?  And the guy lives in a house seemingly designed by MC Escher and that's where he puts her, and despite her recent hospital stay he keeps changing her into very formal clothes and then 9 1/2 Weeks-ing her with asparagus, the sexiest vegetable.

Anyway, watch this movie.  Ten thumbs up.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Death Spa


Well, it's time to watch Death Spa.

I have nothing in particular to say about this movie before we watch it, but there are deaths at a health spa.  So get ready to scream... and sweat!

Day:  Friday 08/05/2022
Time:  8:30 Central
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Cost:  $4

(link live 10 minutes before showtime)