Monthly Archives: April 2021

Movie Review – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

They’re dirty. They’re rotten. They’re scoundrels.

BQB here with a review. (Yes, it’s on Pluto TV. I’m really getting my money’s worth out of this app, which is zero.)

I remember thinking this movie was funny as a kid but now as a geezer, I think it is more clever. I was able to guess the jokes as they were coming, partly because they are memorable and partly because 2019’s “The Hustle” starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in a modernized female version with basically the same plot kept the jokes fresh in my head.

Michael Caine, looking rather dapper at roughly 55 here and man what a life you can live if you eat your Wheaties, plays Lawrence Jamieson, a master con artist who lives a lavish lifestyle in a wealthy town in the south of France. He finances his mansion, servants, travel, wardrobe, extravagances, etc. by bilking rich women out of their money, often by telling them he is a prince living in exile, trying to coordinate a rebellion against the communists who have conquered his non-existent nation. The ladies think they are donating to the cause of freedom, while Jamieson simply pockets the dough and gives the women the heave-ho.

Freddy Benson is also a con man, but on a much less impressive scale. He is an American, conning his way through Europe with stories about his sick grandmother and how he can’t afford lunch because he’s saving up for her operation. Freddy bilks rich women out of free lunches and pocket money.

When they meet on a train, Freddy demands that Lawrence take him on as a student, that he become Darth Vader to Jamieson’s Emperor, which is funny because Palpatine himself is in this flick. Ian McDiarmid plays Jamieson’s trusty butler Arthur, who assists in the cons. I know McDiarmid has a long career but personally, I believe this is the first non-Emperor role I’ve seen him in (at least that I can remember.)

Lawrence and Freddy go out on the con together but soon butt heads, finding it difficult to work together as they rarely see eye to eye. They settle their differences with a bet. First one to con super sweet soap company heiress Janet Colgate out of $50,000 gets to stay in town, while the loser must leave.

From there on, it’s a mad cap romp as Lawrence and Freddy constantly one up each other, telling one lie after the next and apparently they have no fear of burning in hell for there’s nothing, literally nothing that they aren’t willing to do to defraud this poor woman.

To the film’s credit, I remember it being a common trope in many films where a character sets out to defraud another character (sometimes it’s a man defrauding a woman or vice versa) and then after they get to know one another, they fall in love. Here, love does bloom amidst this twisted triangle, but (SPOILER ALERT) the duo is not rewarded for their treachery. The ending is rather ingenious and if you’re watching it for the first time, unexpected. I thought it was better than the old “Oh OK I forgive you for being a fraudulent piece of crap and will reward you with my love and trust now” ending that so many other movies go with.

The late, great Glenn Headley plays Janet and this movie reminded me of how sad I was to hear of her passing. She also played Dick Tracy’s Tess Trueheart and I always thought that movie illustrates the dilemma many a man finds himself in. Dick wants Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) because she’s hot, but knows she’s trouble as she can have any dude she wants. Tess, on the other hand, is true blue and will be there for Dick through thick and thin. Ultimately, you bang Breathless and marry Tess…or maybe just skip breathless and marry Tess because Tess will dump you if you knock up Breathless. Whatever. God, my knowledge of film stretches back to some super old movies. No one even gets these references I wager.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I do remember repeating Steve Martin’s bathroom at the dinner table joke over and over as a kid.

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Classic Movie Review – Stargate (1994)

It’s the movie that dared to cast French Stewart as a badass.

BQB here with a review of Stargate.

Long before the Internet took off (this was made in those early days where you didn’t dare to log on for more than 5 minutes lest your mom start harping on you about the phone bill), conspiracy theories still existed, though they weren’t as rampant as they are today.

One was the premise that the Ancient Egyptian gods were, in fact, space aliens who ruled over Egypt, subjugating the masses with their advanced technology. After all, how else could they have made all those pyramids without modern machinery? Spoiler alert – they did it through enslavement of the tribes of Israel which this film conveniently leaves out (enslaved subjects of another planet that resembles Ancient Egyptian are featured but the plight of the Jewish people is not mentioned specifically) but it did cast actors of Arabic and Middle Eastern descent rather than just put white dudes in brown face so honestly by 1994 standards, this flick was hella woke for its time.

James Spader, who made his bones playing the snobby rich kid in every 1980s teen movie, shows a softer side as Dr. Daniel Jackson. Honestly, as Spader got older, he traded in his snobby rich kid demeanor for an arrogant, full of himself and his genius villain persona, so unless I’m forgetting something, this is the one role I can think of where he actually plays a decent person, and in fact, a nerd. And he does it quite well.

Spader is a linguist recruited to decode the symbols on an artifact. The government has been trying to crack it since 1928 and Spadey Spades figures it out within minutes. Thus, the movie’s trend to dump on him for being smart begins as it is a running joke throughout the film that everyone despises a poindexter. (Sigh, as I have discovered in real life as well.)

Turns out, the artifact is a Stargate. Ancient Egypt really was ruled by aliens. Those aliens have since moved on to another planet. The gubmint calls on Colonel Jack O’Neill (Kurt Russell) to lead an expedition through the stargate and into the alien world, begrudgingly bringing Jackson as a tag-a-long as he’s the only one who will know how to decode the symbols on the stargate in the alien world. Oh, and they also bring a team of stereotypically rough commandos, including French Stewart, typically known for being a goofy comedian but he dumps on Dr. Jackson for being smart and again, I feel the doctor’s pain as everyone has been doing this to me my whole life.

Human vs. alien fights ensue. O’Neil and Jackson help the enslaved people of this alien world escape the tyranny of the evil aliens. If only O’Neil and Jackson had been around on earth many years ago. Exodus would have been a much different story.

Overall, it’s a pretty cool sci-fi flick and ahead of its time. I dare say it was original because most space films usually focus on space flight whereas the idea of a gate might, in theory, be more likely as a method for space travel as beings can’t otherwise fly for millions of miles without growing old and dying.

Bonus points for Russell, who also looks young here. He plays the grieving father of a son who accidentally shot himself while fooling around with an unsecured gun, presumably blaming himself for not locking it up. He cares for the young slaves who join his rebellion against the alien Ra but clearly looks after them as if they are his own kids, worrying about their safety.

This inspired a long-running syndicated TV show, which I never watched though I always heard was cool.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. And I watched it on Pluto TV!

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I Love Pluto TV!

Hey 3.5 readers. BQB here.

Just want to give a free plug to Pluto TV. I discovered it last week and have been glued to it ever since.

Is it another free streaming service? Not quite. It comes across very similar to your cable service. There’s a guide and a grid and you can scroll through channels of stuff that is already streaming in progress. However, it has an on demand section too where you can see what they have available and pick something.

It’s put out there as a solution for cord cutters. Get TV without cable. Eh, to me, it depends on how much you live TV and movies. Me? Personally? I need HBO, Netflix, etc. But otherwise, it’s got NewsMax and CNN updates so you can stay up on the news and it’s got a lot of stuff to keep you entertained so hey, if you wanted to save money, you could try cutting the cable cord and give this a try for awhile.

Ultimately, it’s another source for free stuff. I could have used it at the height of the pandemic as I went on a binge of old movies I’d always wanted to see but never got around to and they had a lot of them.

Cons – I’ve notice some freezeups and not the best rewind/fast forward options (which a lot of non-Netflix sites have a problem with.) For example, there was one movie where I just wanted to watch a part of the end and I gave up because it only had the back 15 and forward 15 buttons and once you move ahead every 5-10 minutes it makes you stop and watch a commercial.

Otherwise, pretty cool. I reccomend.

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I’m Number One! I’m Number One!

Will you look at that, 3.5 readers? A short story by me, BQB, is #1 on Amazon’s free horror short story list this weekend.

Look out, Stephen King. I’m set to outpace you, in like, a thousand years maybe…but still, isn’t that great? Last month, I had a book that was number one in Amazon’s free writing skill reference so I was a master of the English language and now I’m a master of horror.

Now if I could only get to the top of a paid Amazon list. I suppose that takes more doing.

Anyway, get your free copy this weekend.

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Celebrate Easter With a Free Werewolf Book!

Hey 3.5 readers.

For a few weeks now, they’ve been playing this trailer for a horror film – “On the holiest weekend of the year, watch The Unholy.”

And each time it played, I was like, “What idiot thought it was a good idea to release a horror film on one of the happiest, most holy and spiritual weekends of the year? I mean seriously, what dummy is going to go out and sit by himself in a movie theater during a pandemic to watch a horror film on this, the anniversary of our Lord and Savior’s glorious resurrection?

Well, turns out, I was an idiot who set up a free promo for a book about werewolves on Easter weekend. I set it up weeks ago, back in February. You know how we are all then. We still haven’t bothered to look up whether Easter is in March or April yet.

So, listen, grab this free book, will you? You can wait to read it next weekend if you want, but just do your old pal BQB a solid and grab your free copy. Jesus would want you to because he was all about helping people. No, I don’t claim to know what Jesus wanted but I’m just saying, I think he’d want you to have free books.

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