The squad from High Fidelity are at it again? in what is the kinda prequel, in a meta production sense, and a really great movie in my eyes. It makes me feel good. The cast really brings it, the movie is fun, and I think it set up some conventions or archetypes that carried forward into movies we see today (I think, at any rate).
This is the first time I actually make something that sounds like it’s in car so if you’re in a car it’s double messed up. A bold strategy, Cotton. I didn’t talk about the action at all. I realize that. The action isn’t huge but it’s good. They’ve got Cusack doing the most he possibly can which might have actually been all of it (I can’t remember at the moment–it’s been absolutely nuts this entire past month and the month before). Makes it feel good. It’s not too serious, not too goofy. Groundedly whimsical.
There’s a lot of daytime in this movie. I think they intentionally wanted it to feel more like a high school reunion movie that has an assassin in it than an assassin movie taking place at a high school reunion. The big action scene is set in the middle of the day. It’s cool. It really genuinely is.
If I had to choose a favorite little shot I would choose the one set in Debi’s bedroom when Martin is leaving. She tells him “you’re a fucking psy-cho” and does like a hand talking thing. That was an improvised gesture–she previously saw John and Joan doing that to each other between setups. That’s one great part but the opposite shot, John’s kinda manic wild “don’t rush to judgement on something like that” is just very unique and fits perfectly. Unhinged but just under the surface.
What could go wrong when you convince a mathematician at a prestigious university that you’re a genius, with the help of geniuses, just to go on a date with her? Not much, right? Right. This is I.Q. and, when I write it out this way, it seems wild.
It is wild. Leave your practical brain at home and enjoy the performances, Matthau especially, and conceits of this movie as they come. Do your thing. Odds are you haven’t seen and cannot easily see this movie anyway, so stay a while–and listen.
I want to point out that Princeton at this point in time was an absolute pop off of technology and research. I don’t remember placing the exact year that this movie was set in (nor do I think that it particularly matters–it’s roughly mid 50’s) but at Princeton you could have run into John von Neumann who is, arguably, more important than Albert Einstein in a lot of ways. Check him out if you get a chance. This man’s biography is where I learned that I do not like reading the biographies of people wildly more interesting than I am.
Yeah, this one didn’t stand the test of time. It’s unfortunate but it happens. You can tell just from the poster. See what this Cleveland baseball team is up to, again! Wow. My lack of enthusiasm is apparent. But it’s 1994’s Major League 2 and hopefully some folks made money off of it.
This is the second at-bat for the baseball trilogy, and it is… not good. Ground ball to short and a throw out at first, perhaps. It’s fine. It was fine for the time. There were a flood of kid-oriented baseball movies coming out that were doing numbers. I get it. But it’s not worth going out of your way for in 2022.
Yeah, the way this movie was advertised is a bit different from how I took it. That happens. This is a detective x magic crossover event that might get you your fill of both (or not!) and it’s called “Cast A Deadly Spell”. My DVD copy is “Hechizo Letal” as it’s in Spanish. I realize now that I didn’t do a great job at relating this to Halloween (as it’s actually release on the 31st of October as opposed to November 1st or, as I have so hackishly declared, Noirvember 1st).
At the time of this writing I’m actually really sick and coughing out a lung or sleeping most of the day. It’s not COVID, thankfully. I did need to record this in various sessions (re-record it at that–I could have nailed it the first time but I figured all I had to lose was time, ironically enough, and it is irony because I’m considering it from the point of an omniscient narrator with knowledge of the future but choosing to not intervene or change the events). But that means there is zero latitude to record pickups or just do it over for the third time. So there is some errata and missing pieces.
“Mulholland Drive”, the David Lynch picture, came out in 2001. I got “Mulholland Drive” vibes from “Witch Hunt”. I wonder if he caught “Witch Hunt” (1994) at some point and it rattled around in his brain–there were two Lynch alums in it so it’s quite possible. “Lost Highway” didn’t come out until 1997, so my timeline of these movies is wrong, by the way. I don’t know if I stated a timeline in the podcast but the way I was thinking about it was a little backwards. “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” had already come out so the aesthetic was there but the main points of my Lynch influence had not taken shape just yet. That’s a wild fact check for my dumb ass.
I misquoted Lovecraft in this movie. He says “show it some water.. but be discreet”. Whoops.
I didn’t talk about the music in “Cast A Deadly Spell” at all. It actually won an Emmy. A Primetime Emmy. For this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQm7ZAkfkYI. It was also nominated for sound editing. That’s pretty rad. Curt Sobel did the music on this movie and it was good. I liked it. He’s also done a ton of other work. His most recent credit was for “Rumble” and I was very much hoping that it was a movie about Link Wray & His Wray Men but it was not. Disappointing.
Here’s the link to a live stream from Sound Speeds Allen Williams about the IATSE stuff. He’s also got a ton of sound capture stuff on his channel which is super useful or super interesting–depending on how you approach it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnFTEWvejXY.
I know that I talked about “Yojimbo” being an adaptation of Red Harvest but Kurosawa went on record as saying it was actually The Glass Key. I haven’t read The Glass Key (just yet) but it lines up pretty good with Red Harvest so…. shrug. I probably also got the timetable wrong there, too.
The advertising material paints it as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” but with witches and zombies and that’s honestly not a connection I would have made. I really overlooked that completely, but I also really like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” quite a lot… it’s just the shoe scene. Wow the shoe scene really messed me up.
H. P. Lovecraft was a bit of a weirdo but I did learn, coincidentally, between the recording and the publishing of this episode that his father was committed and died in an asylum which what might have been late-stage syphilis. His mother was also committed at one point and died shortly thereafter. Lovecraft, himself, was plagued with mental health issues for most of his life and I can’t help but think that it’s linked to early tragedy combined with an intelligence that allowed for learning with out the life experience to contextualize information. That’s an incredibly unscientific theory but it feels like it could be true. He also apparently didn’t marry his cousin? I don’t know. It seems that she was a fiction author.
I did finish watching “Witch Hunt”. I felt compelled. It wasn’t that bad but it also wasn’t that good, either. It lives in the middle. They definitely went for it with CGI that was of dubious effectiveness. There’s also a trans madame in a magic brothel and a really loose analogue of magic use for The Red Scare which is really just cover for homosexuality or non-cishet or nontraditional (and I know that traditions vary wildly from what we think they are so I mean puritanical American traditions–I took a class on sexuality in college. I’m hip. I’m cool. That was like 15 years ago. I’m so old) sexuality which was also how HUAC was used in blackballing Communists and homosexuals in Hollywood. We do see a very young Clifton Collins Jr. at the brothel which is located in the Millard House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house that has shown up in more than a couple of things–most lately that I can remember it’s in Westworld (which might have an entire season that I haven’t seen yet–yikes). I started to feel better about the plot and the mystery but then, after a little bit, I didn’t? Does that make sense. Maybe it was illness and medication. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Doesn’t change my opinion of the movie. I also found out the name of the other theater in the Hollywood hills (or in the hills at least, not sure what exactly defines the “Hollywood” hills)–it’s The Ford. I’ve been to the Hollywood Bowl and that was actually really cool. I think, in the animated movie “Sing”, when their theater collapses (spoiler) the stage they end up on is an homage to The Ford but I could be wrong.
Ward is wearing a really cool Hamilton watch, though. Hamilton Watch Company is an American company that got swallowed up by Swatch in 1969 and now, I guess, they are Swiss. But sir, ve are Sviss! ….them too! God bless Eurotrip. I went looking for and and, with the help of Bandrew Scott I found it to be a Piping Rock. That’s a 1928 model, however, those were seemingly all gold. Watchcastage sleuth Bandrew then found that there was a reissue of the 1928 Yankees World Series version which is pretty cool.
Check out the very fun podcast Boars, Gore, and Swords. Red Scott also has another podcast that I listen to called Failure to Adapt which is a good time if you read books and watch book movies. I talk good and stuff.
Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald as a PDF exclusive on his website. I was unable to find the link that leads to the PDF at the moment (and it may have been lost in the website redesign shuffle) but the standard rights apply–don’t resell or reproduce this story it’s Neil’s property, etc. There is a graphic novel that is available if you want to support the author. Support local booksellers if you can. There’s also a board game which is, roughly, a deck builder.
Check out Austin Grossman‘s work. Soon I Will Be Invincible is where I jumped on that train and I haven’t jumped off. He’s also a game designer and the list of games he’s worked on include System Shock, Deus Ex, and Dishonored which are very much my shit.
I think a really good representation of Lovecraft’s work–but in a visual medium–is Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor Zdzisław Beksiński. Apparently his style is characterized as “dystopian surrealism” and holy shit is this Lovecraftian. Zdzislaw Beksinski – 707 artworks – painting (wikiart.org)
1993 was a transitional period. We were slowly, ass a country, shedding the action movie template of the 70’s and 80’s while experimenting with some headier notions on how we relate to media. Last Action Hero was, is, seeming, a product of this time. Woefully misunderstood or, at the very least, disliked and, probably, mostly unexamined, this episode is really going to try to dig in a little more.
I’ll drop a quick link here for Patrick (H) Willem’s Plot Holes video to set the level. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9HivyjAKlc And additionally, if you would like to just be unhappy with other people on the internet, you can check out the reply or reaction videos. Not my favorites. However the Willems video touches upon the exact concept I was thinking about as I had recorded this episode: verisimilitude. The “joke” is that the movie world of Last Action Hero has a very loose grip on verisimilitude and logical consistency. There are some movies that do exactly that and the Jack Slater series takes that up a notch. Well, several notches, to be honest. To completely ridiculous with a wink, and a nod, and an elbow to the ribs, and a “eh? eh?” and I actually dig that. It’s possible that audiences were expecting a more straight-forward movie world. That means that the movie isn’t going to be enjoyable but it doesn’t make it bad. Those are two different things. There are people so caught up in the verisimilitude of the media they consume that they watch 20 seasons of procedurals who rarely, if ever, deviate from their structures and concepts. They’re invested in those worlds. It’s quite often that those worlds are ridiculous parodies of our own “real” world–especially when technology is involved–but that doesn’t make them “good” or “bad” qualitatively.
We all watched The Social Network (2010) and we were not terribly concerned with the inconsistencies with our own reality but, in contrast, immersed in the verisimilitude of that movie. It felt more real than reality in some ways. And maybe that was the part of the execution that didn’t land. How do you make falling into a very over-the-top and ridiculous action movie feel real? Movies where cars explode into huge fireballs in a display of exhibitionist pyrotechnics. Heroes who are impossibly wounded still performing at the level of an Olympian at their physical peak. We, as an audience (and by “we” I mean “I”), get into the action movies like that. They’re internally consistent, sure, and definitely entertaining and engaging to varying degrees, but they aren’t “real”. But when you put this in a Picture-in-Picture frame and have something much more consistent with our “real” world (even if it’s gone past realism into just pessimism with realistic physics) it can all look very silly. There is a huge contrast in the color palette (if you’ve seen a US vs Mexico color grading it’s about that jarring) and that type of action movie wasn’t always quite as bright or childish while, to a certain extent, still being marketed to young boys. Perhaps that’s what Shane Black was talking about–maybe it wasn’t William Goldman giving the movie “heart” but instead having a cartoon cat voiced by Danny DeVito. Maybe those frames, layered on top of each other, were too different. Perhaps the original intent was lost. Maybe I’m just a fan and forced it to work in my head but, in thinking about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and believing that this was a dry run for that type of movie, I think that Shane Black could have pulled it off. It just would have been more like Lethal Weapon or The Last Boyscout and I don’t have a concept in my head of how that would have worked. I’d love to read the fully Shane Black pass, though. Where he took the Faustian blood-soaked morality tale. The movie still has a message. Would it have kept it? Would it have doubled down on cynicism? Would Danny have actually used the gun on THE PROJECTIONIST? Perhaps that was an empowerment fantasy; the world had already challenged Danny in big ways (even the thief challenges Danny) and this was Danny rising to meet and over come it.
Yes, it became obvious to me at some point that I missed using just about every catchphrase. I am probably more disappointed than you are. I also was recording outside and I just had some weird terrible noise that I had to remove. The result is an eerily silent(ish) recording that is punctuated by birds. I do not keep birds.
The Last Action Hero: Official Moviebook is also incredibly cool. Tons of behind the scene content and essentially took the place of a making-of featurette (or various making-of featurette’s). If you’re interested you can probably find it used for a few bucks. I don’t remember how much I paid for mine but it was in good condition. Not incredibly cheap but also not expensive enough to be weird about. I also wonder how influential this movie was to the Captain America: Winter Soldier glass elevator. That one obviously was executed with just more… everything but they don’t feel too dissimilar.
Get on the QT and strictly Hush Hush with Mark while hitting up this stellar period crime drama Produced, Directed, and screenplay co-written by Curtis Hanson called L.A. Confidential.
This movie is deep Jacques Custaeu-style and it’s got layers like a Scottish ogre in a swamp. I forgot to mention some stuff in the show like: * Kim Basinger winning an Oscar for this movie * Kim Basinger winning a Golden Globe for this movie * Kim Basinger winning a SAG award for this movie * The screenplay winning an Oscar
I did get that rain sound for $5–I didn’t make it. But I did write that piano part that doesn’t quite fit with this movie because it is 1. not a film noire and 2. features the trumpet heavily as opposed to a piano or electric piano. Feels pretty bad, tbh.
Turn of the lights–stay in the dark while watching Darkman! Darkman Darkman Darkman Darkman (whooo!) Darkman Darkman Darkman Darkman (whooo!) Let’s jump in to Sam Raimi’s 1990 super superhero creation Darkman–a pretty wild movie starring Francis McDormand and, ostensibly, Liam Neeson. Let’s lurk from shadow to shadow together on this journey into insanity.
You should definitely watch Darkman before listening to this podcast and you can check it out on Cinemax or on Amazon with this non-affiliate link. You can start a 7-day trial of Cinemax if you have Amazon Prime. I legitimately don’t know the details but that’s what it said for me.
Holla at me, young’n, @coolmarkd on Twitter. LMK wat u thot of dis flicc HMU fam. Lit AF. Servo AF.
Prepare to be… FRIGHTENED! by The Frighteners. This week Mark watches Peter Jackson’s first “big budget” movie The Frighteners starring Michael J. Fox and Trini Alvarado. This isn’t a first viewing but Mark is looking at this with fresher eyes and even weighs in on the Lord of the Rings movies as well as other stuff.
Will he change his mind on Peter Jackson? Does he even like this movie? Tune in to find out.
Not sure if The Frighteners is streaming but you can check it out on Amazon
This is Mark D (@coolmarkd) and Mark’s Music Collection, the podcast. Mark is an IT guy, dad, and generally poor nerd with limited music experience and he’s going to talk about his music collection. This episode is all about Green Day’s 1994 super hit album “Dookie”. This is a very important album to Mark for reasons he will get into but it’s album that he’s been listening to pretty much since it came out until present day.
Recorded and produced by Mark Diaz using Reaper https://reaper.fm