Movie Review – Knives Out (2019)

 

Whodunnit, 3.5 readers?  Whodunit indeed.

BQB here with a review of the star studded mystery, “Knives Out.”

This is a mystery buff’s mystery film, a modern day throwback to Agatha Christie, or if you will, the board game Clue.

On the evening of acclaimed, multi-millionaire mystery writer Harlan Thrombey’s (Christopher Plummer)  85th birthday party, the old man is found dead, his throat sliced open.

The suspects?  A veritable whose who list of d-bags and spoiled brat family members who all had a grudge against the old man, and all stood to profit from his demise.

Enter Benoit Blanc, the film’s version of Hercule Poirot, a simple country private investigator with a Foghorn Leghorn accent.  Played by Daniel Craig, it’s up to him to sort through the mess and determine who did what and where and when and how.

Yes, dear reader, you’ll practically want to whip out your notebook and jot down details yourself as you join in on trying to figure out the identity of the nefarious perpetrator.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Rikki Lindhome, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield…I could go on and on but suffice to say there are a lot of top actors in this one and they each get their moment to shine.

Meanwhile, Ana de Armas joins as Thrombey’s nurse and only trusted confidante, who becomes Blanc’s Watson in the quest to figure out which one of this assortment of a-holes did the old man in.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Though there are times it can be a little slow, and other times silly, it’s fun and a tribute to those films of yesteryear where the viewer is strung along with clue after clue before finally, the detective gives a rousing speech on how he pieced it all together.

Tagged , ,

Movie Review – Ready or Not (2019)

Here comes the bride…with a shotgun.

BQB here with a review of the sleeper hit “Ready or Not.”

3.5 readers, I love it when I am pleasantly surprised.  Somehow this flick slipped under my radar and frankly, it scooched by the rest of the world without much fanfare even though it is fantastic.  It’s thrilling, chilling, scary and though you wouldn’t think so, it’s also hilarious.

Samara Weaving stars as Grace, a woman from humble beginnings as a foster child who believes her dreams of being part of a family have finally come true when she marries Alex (Mark O’Brien).

Grace is in it for love, but on the day of the wedding she finds she’ll have to navigate her way through becoming the newest member of Le Domas family, a mega rich clan who built their fortune on board games.

I’m loathe to say that the Le Domases are creepy and kooky, but they are odd and eccentric and view all newcomers with suspicion.

Moreover, they have a strange yet seemingly harmless tradition.  Every wedding night, they insist the new member of the family draw a card from a box.  Each card contains the name of a game and past brides/grooms have been lucky enough to get away with a rousing game of chess or Old Maid.

Alas, Grace draws the hide and seek card and tradition dictates that when the bride hides, she is sought…with axes, crossbows, old timey blunderbuss-like guns and other weapons that were once owned by the family’s great grandpa and builder of the family moolah.

I can’t really get into the specifics of how or why the family goes on a hunt but it’s all part of the mystery that eventually plays out, to scary and silly extremes.

The humor comes into play when we realize that the Le Domases are rather incompetent killers.  They’ve lived pampered lives and the hide and seek card is only pulled, at best, once a generation or so, thus they are out of practice and ill-prepared.    Meanwhile, Grace wants to live, causing the hunters to become the hunted.

Marriage, in-law infighting, adherence to old customs and the strange habits of the uber rich are all pilloried as we root for Grace to put some heads on her wall.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  It came and went pretty quietly in theaters, but I could see this becoming a cult classic over time.

Tagged , ,

Movie Review – The Aeronauts (2019)

Guess what, 3.5 readers?

I’m a movie producer.  Well, I’d like to think so, anyway.  I’ve turned so much of my money over to Amazon over the past few years that I’m keeping Jeff Bezos fat and sassy.  At any rate, I’m sure the profit he devised from my purchases of socks, underwear and various and sundry household goods went to the creation of this fine film.

It’s about a balloon.  The year is 1862 and scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) teams up with pilot Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) in a voyage to the heavens to perform groundbreaking research in the budding science of meteorology.

Specifically, James is one of, if not, the first meteorologist and all the other scientists at the science club think he’s a regular doofus burger with extra dumbass sauce and a side of idiot fries for daring to think that one day, scientists might be able to predict the weather.  Turns out, his colleagues were right, because it’s 170 years later and the meteorologist on my local TV station can’t tell the difference between a fart and a gust of wind.

Meanwhile, Amelia and her late husband were once a pair of famous balloonists but as it turns out, ballooning, especially in those early days, was dangerous as hell, and spoiler alert, her old man kicked the bucket during a balloon ride.  Thus, she’s weary of the idea of going up in a balloon again until James convinces her that she must do it in the name of science, and also, no man with a balloon is willing to lower himself to be a part of what they consider to be James’ balderdash experiments.

Together, they brave the surly bonds of earth and I hate to say it, but a lot of the film looks like they shoved two actors in a basket, greenscreened some sky around them, then dumped some faux rain and snow on their heads but hey, it’s Hollywood.  You gotta do what you gotta do.

There are parts where it gets boring, and parts that seem like downright filler.  After all, it’s hard to make an interesting movie about history and its even harder to make one about scientific history.  Where the flick does get interesting is the harrowing chills, thrills, and spills that occur as this duo get up high and without instruments or any modern equipment, must fix various problems, all the while with little between them and a plummet to earth other than a wicker basket and some rope.

Briefly, Felicity Jones shines as she steps out of her usual stern and proper roles.  She starts out as a show woman, entertaining the crowd of those who stopped by to see the duo take flight, but soon becomes a mother hen, dumping gallons of common sense juice all over James’ dumb head as he urges her to take the balloon higher and higher so he can prove himself to be a bad ass scientist.

I assume this is Amazon’s bid this Oscar season so I also assume we can see this movie on Amazon Prime while we shop for doodads and widgets soon.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

Do I Want An Air Fryer?

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  It’s cyber Monday, er week, now as the sales go all week long.

I’m thinking about getting one of those new fangled air friers but something I’ve always wondered – you’ve got toaster ovens, crock pots, George Foreman grills, and now air friers….my question is, why are any of these devices better than the oven that came with my house?

Like it just feels like I’d buy a 200 dollar appliance, use it a couple of times and then either burn myself, or burn down my house, or just shove it in a closet when I realize I’m not going to use it again.

I watched a video of a guy having a fun time frying a steak in an air fryer but really, is it any different than putting the steak on a pan and frying it on my stove?

Discuss 3.5 readers.  Men, feel free to chime in.  Women, I don’t want to be sexist but I feel you might have more to say here, though I feel that because I’m probably a misogynist pig who needs to go to a re-education center to work those feelings out of my system.  Also, you all need Pelotons.  Sigh.  Where is this coming from?  I don’t know.  Anyway, forget all that and discuss cooking devices vs just using your stove/oven.

Tagged , ,

The Irishman is Too Long

It’s a Martin Scorcese movie, so I want to watch it but holy crap.  3 and a half hours?  That’s quite a commitment.

Maybe I can watch it in smaller, one hour bites.

 

Tagged , ,

Quote About Iron or Gold, Thorns or Flowers from Great Expectations

“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

Hey, 3.5 readers.

I’ve found that generally speaking, a lousy life isn’t the result of one mistake but a series of mistakes, a pattern of doing dumb things repeated over and over, time and time again.

Then again, when I look back, there have been some crucial blunders, some things where I think, “Wow, it was a no brainer to have done or not done something.”

Charles Dickens, who periodically stopped his books to talk to his readers right in the middle of his prose, once asked his readers to think about the one day where something happened that put them on a path to greatness or sorrow.

Have you ever had a day like that?

Tagged , , , , ,

Movie Review – Last Christmas (2019)

Hey 3.5 readers.

This won’t be a long review.  I enjoyed this movie largely because we got to see Emilia Clarke’s actual, human side, without any sci fi or fantasy costumes.  If there was a question as to whether or not she could perform outside of a geek movie, this shows she can. As rom coms go, it was pretty good.  OK, that’s all I have to say.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Hey 3.5 rat soup eaters.

BQB here with a review of this Netflix film.

The first scene of this movie packs a punch, albeit in a subtle, understated way.  (Look away if you 3.5 honkies don’t want any spoilers.)

Down and out entertainer Rudy Ray Moore has recorded an album and is pleading his heart out, begging a DJ played by Snoop Dogg to play his song.  Snoop is sympathetic.  He listens but ultimately denies the request. He just can’t waste his airtime on a nobody.

We instantly feel for Rudy.  He’s middle aged.  He’s chubby and not the best looking dude.  We aren’t sure whether to root for Rudy for holding onto a young man’s dream well past the time where most people let such fantasies go, or to take Rudy aside and tell him to give up gracefully.  Snoop, whose touch of gray hair says it all, advises the latter, telling Rudy, “We missed our shots.”  In other words, the DJ wishes he’d achieved something greater than DJing, but knows he can’t go back to his youth and try again.  He knows how Rudy feels, but he can’t help him.

Just when we think we can’t feel any worse for Rudy, the camera pans out to reveal that Rudy wasn’t at a radio station.  He was in the DJ booth…at a record store.

It gets worse.  As Rudy steps behind the counter and starts helping customers, we learn that poor Rudy was turned down….by a DJ…for a record store…that he works at.

How low can you go?

As a wannabe self-publisher, I sympathize and perhaps any aspiring writers out there can sympathize with Rudy as well.  As the movie progresses, we learn Rudy came from nothing and moved to LA when he was young in search of stardom.  Now that he’s over the hill, there’s no shortage of people telling him to give it up, but he just can’t.

When he’s not working at the record store, he works nights as the host of a club, introducing various acts while attempting to try out a fledgling stand-up comic routine.  His boss, the club owner, shuts down that, ordering Rudy to just play it straight and intro the acts because no one wants to hear his jokes.

Long story short, Rudy spends some time amongst the bums.  As he does so, he learns a style of street comedy in which down and out African Americans one up each other, telling tall tales, exaggerations and dumping on each other with perfectly crafted insults, all with an air of bravado.

And thus, a star is born.  Taking on the persona of Dolemite, a fast talking, in your face pimp, Rudy kills it on the comedy circuit, leaving audiences in stitches, and even starts raking in the dough when he self-produces a string of comedy albums.

Not content to stop there, Rudy makes a movie.  And it’s a terrible, godawful movie.  He has no idea about the technical side of movie making, no idea about budgets or writing or any of the skills needed to put an idea onto the big screen.  All he has is money and he heavily leverages himself into debt, putting everything on the line just to hire the people he needs to make his dream come true.

The result is one of the shittiest movies ever made, yet it’s so shitty its good.  Overall, I loved this movie because it’s a real underdog story, a tale about someone who defied the odds, refused to listen to the naysayers and ultimately, his stubborn pursuit of a dream paid off.

Ironically, Dolemite may have very well been one of the world’s first movie self-publishers.

Also, big kudos for Eddie Murphy.  If you haven’t seen his appearance on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee yet, there’s a part where he tells a touching story to Jerry Seinfeld about how, in his early days, his father gave him a ride into the city so he could perform at a club.  The idea was that the club owner would pay him and he’d use the money to catch a cab back home.  Alas, Eddie bombed, the owner wouldn’t pay, so he had to call his father and get an ear full all the way home about how dumb his dreams of standup comedy success were.

Eddie and Rudy may very well have been kindred spirits.  I’m not sure if Netflix released this in theaters, but if it is possible, I hope Eddie gets some Oscar recognition for this, because he’s overdue and does well in the role.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , ,

Happy Thanksgiving, 3.5 Readers

Happy Thanksgiving, 3.5 readers.

I hope you have a good one.  Sorry I haven’t been writing much on this fine blog lately.  I have been too busy on other exploits.  I hope there are still 3.5 of you and you are all doing well.

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Won’t you 3.5 readers be my neighbor?

BQB here with a review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

I have to admit, 3.5 readers, that while Fred Rogers is deserving of a movie, I wasn’t sure if there was a lot of material there that would keep an audience’s attention for 2 hours.  Did Mr. Rogers have any love triangles?  Did he punch out any bad guys?  Did he go on any wild car chases?  Did he defuse any bombs at the last second?

No.  He was just genuinely nice, and this film pays tribute to his way of life and how it helped others through a focus on one journalist who he helped in particular.

Matthew Rhys plays Lloyd Vogel, a jaded, cynical Esquire magazine writer who can barely get any celebrities to talk to him on account of his reputation for savaging his interviewees with biting criticism.

Assigned to profile uber nice guy and children’s television pioneer Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks), Lloyd thinks this is a crap job.  He initially sets out to crack Mr. Rogers on the belief that his personality is just a facade, a nice guy act designed to make money.  Even his wife, Andrea (Susan Watson) begs her man to not “ruin her childhood” by running everyone’s favorite neighbor through the ringer.

Naturally, as the story progresses, it’s Mr. Rogers who cracks Lloyd, suffering Lloyd’s rudeness with a smile and eventually getting him to open up about his own demons.  As it turns out, Lloyd carries a lot of anger over the fact that his father (Chris Cooper) cheated on his dying mother and abandoned the family in their time of need, leaving him and his sister (Tammy Blanchard) to grow up way too fast.  Alas, Lloyd carries his anger on his back wherever he goes, always assuming the worst about everyone.

Though Lloyd is the focus of the story, the film pays tribute to Mr. Rogers in that we ultimately learn his main goal in life was to help people keep their cool.  As we get to know Mr. R, we begin to understand that it’s not so much that he’s a wimp, it’s that he possesses a deep understanding that there’s a monster in all of us, and if we don’t channel it into positive ways, it will consume and destroy us.

For example, Mr. Rogers swims laps.  He mashes his hands on the worst notes his piano has to offer.  He writes letters to his fans and prays for them – individually and by name.  If he meets you, he will not only remember you but your family’s names and will ask how they are doing with their specific problems when he sees you again.  In short, he’s fully aware that life comes with all manner of pitfalls designed to drive us insane, but it’s his goal to help us figure out how to replace bad emotion with positive activity.  Swimming laps, after all, is better than cooking meth or cheating on your wife or what have you.

There’s definitely pain lurking under Rogers’ surface.  Hanks is able to show that with a look or mannerism.  Like the rest of us, he’s not perfect.  Unlike the rest of us, he’s not going to lose his mind over the flaws that are inherent in the human condition.

Some criticism – at times, the film feels like a stretch.  Perhaps the best tribute to Mr. R is to give us an example of how he turned a man’s life around with kindness.  However, there are times where I would have liked to have seen more Fred and less Lloyd.  This scenario reminds me of the criticism lobbed at “The Green Book” for being more about musician Don Shirley’s driver Frank and how perhaps Don should have had the brunt of the focus.

But then again, Mr. Rogers probably wouldn’t care too much about the spotlight, as long as his positive message gets out.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

 

 

Tagged , , ,