Monthly Archives: April 2019

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

I think I might be the only one who thinks it stinks.

BQB here with a review of what will apparently be the last Avengers movie.

It’s good.  It’s flashy.  It’s got all the usual razzle dazzle.

By the way, they did a good job of keeping the plot under wraps.  There are some major changes that happen to the universe in this movie so if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably should not read on.

SPOILERS ABOUND.

So, it’s over three hours and there’s a lot of very confusing time travel.  Basically, Ant Man informs us of quantum technology which is used by the Avengers to go back in time and grab the infinity stones before Thanos can.

The result is sort of a quasi-highlight reel of the past films in the franchise.  The scenes aren’t all taken verbatim but the characters from the future are doing things while the characters from the past.  In some ways it’s cool and leads to a lot of poignant wrapping up of a number of character arcs.  In others, it feels like one of those final episodes of a TV show where the writers didn’t know what to do so they turned in a clip show.

I had a hard time following it and sad to say, it’s the first Avenger movie where I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

The ending is sad and sets up for new films with other characters taking the lead.

I’m not sure what they could have done differently and there are fun parts.  It’s still worth the price of admission and wraps up the series well.

I just…I don’t know.  Meh.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Game of Thrones Recap – Season 8, Episode 2 – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Hey 3.5 readers.

So, there was a lot of payoff in this episode.  A lot of things that rewarded you if you’ve been watching since the show began:

#1 – Jaime now feels like a dick for pushing Bran out the window all those years ago.  The show is a miraculous piece of writing that it has a character who started out the series pushing a kid out a window to cover up for his incestuous affair with his sister and now all these years later you feel sorry for him because he has grown and become a better person, a person who wouldn’t do such a thing now but he will always carry the guilt of having done so.

#2 – Jaime isn’t trusted by Dany because he killed her father though that seems silly because even she admits her father was a dickcheese.  Brienne of Tarth vouches for him, rewarding you for watching that season where she and Jaime became the traveling odd couple.

#3 – Brienne is formally knighted.  It seems like a sleight of writing hand to make it so any knight can appoint another knight because she’s known so many damn knights for so long.  Then again, maybe she just needed to vouch for one and then he owed her a favor.  It was a nice feminist moment though the show has long had women in positions of power.  The GOT world is ancient and backward but damn if it doesn’t let women be in charge of things.

#4 – Arya and Gendry get freaky.  This is bizarre and I’m not sure they should have done it.  Problem is the actress who plays Arya still looks very young for her age though I guess she is of age now.  I assume Gendry is her age but he looks like a full grown man getting down with a kid in this scene.  I believe the characters are both of age at this point.  I don’t know.  They might have handled this scene better.  Maybe they could have just alluded to it.  Masie Williams just looks too young.

#5 – Khaleesi seems to really be up Tyrion’s ass for every little mistake.  Jorah Mormount who doesn’t like Tyrion stands up for him, pointing out that no hand would ever not make a mistake and he as at least gotten her this far.

#6 – Sansa and Khaleesi are at odds.  Also, she isn’t happy to learn Jon Snow is a Targaryen.

#7 – Tormund is a giant titty sucker.

#8 – Overall you just had a lot of characters who finally come together after years of infighting and so far the last season is progressing well.

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Writing Regrets

I’m old.

This will probably be hard to explain due to a lack of exact dates and keeping things anonymous but I’ll try.

When I was young I really wanted to be a writer.  I got internships in that both summers and then in my last semester I had a really big internship where I spent a semester in a big city working as an intern for a big organization.  Honestly, I was basically a coffee fetcher, but it was fun and I fetched coffee for some big names.

After college, I returend to Podunk and got a small writing job locally.  There was a part of me that wanted to go back to the back city and pursue a life there as a writer.  It didn’t seem far fetched.  As a young person in my early 20s, I’d already gotten a lot of experience.  The rents wanted me to pursue something more practical and while I don’t want to throw them under the bus for doing what parents do and I realize it was up to me follow through with what I wanted, I ultimately chose the practical.

Do I blame them?  A bit.  Do I blame myself the most?  Of course.  There comes a time in adult life where you have to realize your parents don’t know everything and you will have to defy and disappoint them.  Don’t worry though because either way it will work out great for them.  If you defy them and do what you want and it fails, they can say I told you so forever.  If you defy them and do what you want and it succeeds, they’ll say they were behind you all along and it was their idea.  Also, fun fact, if you obey them and do what they want and it fails, they’ll say well you should have been your own man and what do they know.

Anyway, I blame myself entirely.  It is a week man who blames others for their failings.

I told myself I’d do the practical for a while and then after I’ve made some money I’ll do what I actually want.  (Kids, FYI this doesn’t happen.  Don’t buy that shit if someone tells you it does.)

Long story short, the practical thing didn’t work out.  At that point I thought maybe I should go back to my true love of writing.

But I was a wuss.  So I did another practical thing.  This practical thing actually worked out.

I do feel like I cheated myself though.  The writing world had accepted me early and I ended up worrying that I’d end up 30 and failed because I wasn’t being paid much at 20.  Now I realize that yeah, that just happens.  You have to pay your dues but good for you, your foot is in the door.  Your feet are on the first rung of the ladder, so keep climbing.

At this point now, I’m 40.  I’m self sufficient.  I suffered a lot though and to be honest, a lack of stability made relationships difficult.  I had to come to grips this year with the fact that it’s too late to have children.  Technically, I can have them forever but all the women in my age bracket are closed down for baby business.

Could I adopt a little Chinese kid?  Sure.  Do I fear they’ll send me a faulty one on purpose and refuse to take it back?  All the big ticket purchases I’ve made in recent years where I open the box only to find that the item is missing a part such that someone at the factory was asleep at the switch tells me yes.  (Was this meant as a joke?  Partially.)

There’s nothing I can do about it now, but the regret is palpable.  I had my foot in the door in what I wanted at an early age.  Then I talked myself out of it.  Then when that failed I was free to go back to what I wanted but I chickened out again.  Ergo, had I just stuck like ten straight years in what I wanted, I probably would have gotten to be where I wanted.

Although sometimes now I think maybe it worked out because I guess I’ll never know for sure writing would have worked out.

I guess we never know how things work until we do them.  When they don’t work, we are certain the opposite course would have been a success.

Question – How do I cope with this regret?

My answer – Keep writing self published books and hope  one of them hits.

Feel free to offer your answers in the comments.

 

 

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Happy Easter 3.5 Readers

I hope all 3.5 of you have a good one.

Movie Review – Hellboy (2019)

God, this movie sucks.

Let’s get this review over with.

I rarely give a movie a bad review.  After all, I’ve never made one before so any movie is better than my non-existent one, but this one is pretty bad.

The original two were great.  That was largely due to Director Guillermo Del Toro’s ability to make the scary and macabre seem beautiful.  The plots were well paced and succinct and you cared about the characters.

The reboot is garbage, like the writers weren’t sure what they wanted to do so they just threw a bunch of random crap into a blender and pushed the on switch.

It’s not just the deviation from the source material.  Though fans will be disappointed to see Abe and Liz didn’t make the cut in this one, I’d be totally willing to be cool with the franchise going in a different direction.  The problem is it went in like, 50 different directions.

David Harbour plays the titular demon gone good this time.  There’s a wrestling match with a vampire and a team of giant hunters.  The literal Alice in Wonderland and a were-cheetah are Hellboy’s companions.  There’s a ridiculous amount of exposition and large chunks of backstory are simply spoonfed.  There’s way too much telling and not enough showing.  Somehow, this all leads to a battle royale with a witch (Mila Jovovich) and a pig man.  How they are all interconnected?  Your guess is as good as mine.

I might be willing to forgive all of this.  Sometimes there are great properties that come out as steak and years later, all the studio is willing to give it is the potato chip treatment.  Potato chips are good, now and then.  At least they are tasty.

The problem is that amidst the lack of surety of which plot point the movie wants to focus on, there’s also some confusion over what it wants to be.  The entire theme is juvenile.  A big dope with filed down horns with potty humor galore.  That’s not necessarily bad, but then the F bomb is dropped with reckless abandon, often for no added effect, just because they could do it apparently.  I’m not against a good F bomb when it is timed right, but the first two put story over shock value while this one relies on swears and grossness.  At least Del Toro made the grossness beautiful.

Ultimately, it’s a simpleton movie with ghosts and goblins that is the kind of stuff that is geared toward kids but then again, it’s riddled with gratuitous cussing so you can’t take a kid to it.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem because shows like “True Blood” have taught us there is room for adult themed horror but the problem is the movie is so dumb that the adults who can handle the swearing aren’t going to enjoy it.  It’s too dirty for kids and too dumb for adults so who this movie is for I don’t know.

Ian McShane, who appears as Hellboy’s father, appears lost in this drek.  At one point, there’s a scene where his face gets grafted onto a monster and one wonders if he either fired his agent or decided the money is worth it.  At any rate, he’s too good for this and frankly, David Harbour is too.

I’m always sketchy about reboots, but done well, they can be great.  And I always try to leave room that updates to long beloved properties are done to reflect youthful tastes and I’m not the target audience.  Still, this just sucks.  Hellboy is better than this and if he sees this movie, he’ll probably bash it with his rock arm.

STATUS:  Not-shelfworthy.

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Who Will End Up On The Iron Throne?

My guesses:

#10 – The Knight King, because screw ’em all, they waited too long to come together.  George RR Martin comes out at the end while munching on a bag of cheese doodles and reminds Republicans and Democrats that the real White Walker is climate change…or possibly Russians.  Or weather controlling Russians.

#9 – Jon Snow and Khaleesi marry.  Both have major claims to the Iron Throne.  They consolidate the claims and the infighting between Khaleesi and Jon over him being King in the North because now they are married so they run it all.  No one cares Jon is an Auntie Fucker because it is olden times.

#8 – Cersei beats everyone.

#7 – Everyone dies, no one is left.

#6 – A few seasons ago, Arya made mention of a land far beyond the sea that is rumored to be there but no one has seen it.  I wonder if this is like the GOT version of America and people who are sick of the Westeros fighting will leave and start a new nation in fantasy America.  I guess this isn’t so much explaining who is king than it is giving a possible ending.

#5 – The Khaleesi, of course.

#4 – Jon Snow, because now he knows it all.  (In 5 or 4 that means only one either lived or lived but the other could not rule for some reason be it death or they didn’t get together.

#3 – Bran is the Knight King seems to be a popular theory so if he controls the Knight King then he rules.

#2 – Hodor.

#1 – OK, this is actually going to be my best guess.  Jon and Khaleesi either don’t make it or decide that the monarchy has had its day.  Either way, wise men like Tyrion and Varys start a democracy.

Also – I could see them giving some sort of flash forward to a steam powered Victorian Age or Modern Age.  That would be cool.

Also – none of these and something we didn’t think of.

What do you think 3.5 readers?

 

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Game of Thrones Recap – Season 8, Episode 1

Well, 3.5 readers, the final episodes are here.

I’ve been blogging about this show since this fine blog began.  Come to think of it, HBO probably owes all their success to me, since I sent my 3.5 readers their way.

So now, the end begins and we begin to watch the end.

Spoiler alert.

Jon Snow and Khaleesi are in Winterfell and the Northerners don’t like all the new people.  Jon learns that his bae is also his aunt so now he is an auntie fucker.

The dragons aren’t eating enough, the White Walkers are at the door, Cersei’s still a bitch.  I don’t know.  That’s about it.

My, how fast the past decade has flown.  This show has always been a welcome favorite, something riveting enough that I was always able to turn it on Sunday nights and for a brief hour, get lost in another world.

Six episodes doesn’t seem long enough to tie up the loose ends, but here’s hoping they will be.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

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This is a stick-up, see?

BQB here with another classic movie review.

After watching The Highwaymen, Netflix recommended that I watch the 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde” and who am I to argue with a streaming service’s AI?

I’d heard rave reviews over the years but personally, I’m not sure it holds up to modern standards.  Then again, it’s interesting as a snapshot in time and most likely pushed every boundary in place in 1967.

Faye Dunaway is epically boner inducing as truck stop waitress Bonnie Parker.  An early scene where she is close to in the buff makes me wish I’d worked out more and gotten more money so I could have nabbed a dame even half as hot but oh well.  Que sera, sera.

And that near nudity was probably pushing the envelope in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, having hailed from Generation X, I’m used to an older version of Warren Beatty, so it was interesting to see him so young and full of life here.

The writing is a little lackluster.  It almost seems like there was a checklist of known info about the infamous, murderous bank robbing duo that they had to get through.  Sometimes some leaps are taken and we’re left to guess what happened in the interim.

Clyde, for some reason, is unwilling to schtup Bonnie and that’s a shame because she is so schtuppable.  I’m not sure what the implication is there.  Perhaps it is meant to say he’s gay, though he’s never seen chasing after men.  That would probably have been too much for the 1960s.

Then again, it may not have been to say that he’s gay, but he just had some intimacy issues.  He does seem to like women but maybe he’s afraid to get too close or something.  We just see several scenes where Bonnie throws herself at him, he refuses, says he’s not a loverboy and the meaning we are left to guess at.

Rounding out the gang are Clyde’s brother and sister in law, Buck and Blanche Barrow (Gene Hackman and to my surprise, a young Estelle Parsons who I had only known as Roseanne’s grumpy mother) and Michael Pollard as dopey mechanic CW Moss who comes along for the ride to service the multitude of cars stolen by the gang.

The gang dynamic is basically Bonnie and Clyde started a gang, felt they had to invite Buck along to join the family business, and Blanche just seems to get in the way as she doesn’t really want to be in a gang but followed her husband for the ride because long ago, women just did whatever their husbands told them to do.  Her constant screaming is annoying but that is the point.  She wasn’t down for that life.

On one level, the movie is not all that realistic.  Bonnie and Clyde are presented as just a couple of country kids who had it rough and made a living the only way the Depression Era would let them.  They’re portrayed as taking steps to avoid shooting cops and feel great remorse when a mistake in a robbery’s execution leads them to having to shoot an officer.  Most accounts differ though and it seems pretty clear that the gang had a grand old time shooting and robbing their way through life, that they racked up a pretty needlessly high body count and never lost sleep over it.

On another level, the movie’s main contribution to the cinematic world is realism.  In most movies, even today, deaths are throwaways.  Someone is shot and they’re down, off screen, never seen again.

Here, we see death in all its brutality.  Buck is shot and attended to as he dies slowly, wailing in pain.  Bonnie and Clyde’s car is riddled with bullets.  We see the look of fear in their eyes when they realize they’ve walked into an ambush, the grim realization taking hold of them that their jig is up.  We see the bullets tear holes in the car, tear holes through their bodies, their lifeless bodies torn apart.  This was definitely another line crossed in 1960s cinema and ironically, is a line that is even rarely crossed today.

Also noteworthy is these two were basically America’s first reality stars.  They took photos and wrote poems about themselves, sending their own media to the newspapers and with it being the Great Depression, robbed banks didn’t get a lot of sympathy.  However, I prefer “The Highwaymen” portraying the officers as the real heroes.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Every man should have their own Faye Dunaway.

Movie Review – The Best of Enemies (2019)

And they say the Klansman’s heart grew two sizes that day.

BQB here with a review of The Best of Enemies.

Making this movie was a gamble in this day and age.  It’s based on the true story of how, in 1971, African American community organizer and civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and Ku Klux Klan leader CP Ellis (Sam Rockwell) came together and became unlikely friends and allies while working together on a committee that would decide whether or not to integrate a school in Durham, South Carolina.

Understandably, in this day and age, there is no forgiveness for racism, even for a racist who claims to have seen the light and claims to be reformed.  Ergo, while movies such as this or “The Green Book” have stories about a racist jerk who abandons his racist ways after spending time and coming to care about black people, an ex-racist isn’t going to get a medal today.  Sorry, but we live in a time now where you know not to be racist from the beginning.

Despite all that, the story does have a message that is worth noting, especially in today’s toxic political environment.  In the past, school integration was such a divisive issue that you might recall the Army had to be called in to watch the backs of African American students regarding the case of Brown vs. Board of Education.

In 1971, the community of Durham took a different approach.  It was decided to hold a two week meeting in which community leaders, black and white, got together to discuss their differences on the topic of integrating the local school in the wake of a fire that made the school for African American students unsuitable.

CP Ellis, the local head klansman, naturally hates the idea.  Meanwhile, Ann Attwater, a tireless voice fighting for the rights of African Americans, argues the community can’t expect African American kids to learn in a burnt out husk of a ruined school building.

As the two weeks long discussion group progresses, both sides get to know each other and the underlying lesson is that if enemies would just sit down and break bread, they might realize the other is, despite all their flaws, human and compromise might be had.  True, asking for a compromise with a klansman is pretty unreasonable to say the least but the message seems to be that because both sides sat down and talked rather than meet on picket lines to hurl insults, progress was made.

There’s no redemption for Ellis in today’s woke America, and no one’s arguing there should be.  Still, as he sits with his arch nemesis Ann and gets to know her as a person, and then starts to get to know other African Americans, he starts to learn their plight and how wrong his actions as a klansman have been.  Meanwhile, though Ann is the underdog hero in the fight and doesn’t have anything to prove to Ellis, she does get to know him and when she learns of some of his personal problems that led him to become such a hardened bastard, she starts to pity him.

I don’t know.  The movie is a tough sell and the idea that a klansman could ever be welcomed back into polite society isn’t going to win much applause.  However, the message that political opponents should stop hurling insults and threats and start sitting down and actually talking and finding out just what it is that the other side fears, be those fears rational or irrational, a path toward a solution might be presented.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Highwaymen (2019)

Nyeah, a couple of old cowboys are going to take down Bonnie and Clyde, see?

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s The Highwaymen.

It’s the 1930s and murderous boyfriend/girlfriend duo Bonnie and Clyde are tearing through the country and Texas in particular, machine gunning their way to fame and fortune one bank at a time.

You’d think people would be disgusted by that sort of thing but remember, it was the Great Depression, and many an American had been ousted out of their home by the banks.  Ergo, Bonnie and Clyde were cheered on as celebrities, a new version of Robin Hood, though they didn’t give their dough away to the masses and they gunned down a multitude of lawmen, often in instances it wasn’t necessary for escape but they just thought it seemed like a fun thing to do.

Enter Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, respectively), a couple of old cowboys in a world that doesn’t want them anymore.  In their younger days, they rode the open range on horseback as Texas Rangers, roaming all over the American territories, jurisdiction be damned, just to get their man.

Both are old men living quiet lives but wracked with guilt over the blood they spilled in the name of justice.  Frank married a rich younger woman and works as a security consultant for an oil company.  Maney didn’t luck out as well.  He lives on the couch in his grown daughter’s house.  Depression has got the best of him and he feels like a burden.

With the introduction of cars and interstate travel, America has entered into a sort of Wild West Part II phase.  Cowboys like Hamer and Gault may have tamed the West, but now, with multiple jurisdictions, state lines, and highways that can take a driver anywhere, the powers that be are clueless how to stop a two-person murder crew.  Even worse, they can’t or won’t share information with each other.  Add in the FBI with modern tech (for that day) and you’ve got a lot of people investigating but not communicating.

Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the governor of Texas at the time (Kathy Bates) begrudgingly allows Hamer and Gault to be reinstated, even though the Texas Rangers are considered an old relic of a long forgotten past.  Hamer and Gault are old, achy, sore, in rough shape and Gault needs to stop every five minutes to take a leak but they are experts on one thing that the younger breed of lawman isn’t, namely – tracking.  Find a clue, follow it to another clue, then follow that to another one…and follow it across state lines if need be.  After all, no one claimed a jurisdictional beef on their horseback days, but now, they’ll have to sneak around the backs of the Feds, Sheriffs, police chiefs, etc. as they move state by state, keeping their investigation to themselves as Bonnie and Clyde have been known to buy the loyalty of many a corrupt official.

Bonnie and Clyde themselves are seen very little, and that’s likely by design.  Although the two with their tommy guns are iconic, there have been movies before where the duo are romanticized as free love birds sticking it to the man.  This one is more on the nose, that they’re just two assholes who don’t want to work and are having fun and don’t value human life enough to not gun down whoever crosses them.  Thus, to give them big scenes where they’re tearing up scenery with their gats would probably be to give them more attention than they deserve.

Accordingly, this one’s on the duo who caught them, and perhaps even an ode to the old folks who are struggling to keep up with a changing world yet are still needed because they remember how to do things that aren’t done anymore – which sounds useless until you need that thing done.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

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