If you heard a video got 3 million views this weekend (and the weekend isn’t over yet) you’d probably assume it features like, Beyonce performing a live concert on top of the Empire State Building or something but what would you say if I told you it was about the Napoleonic Wars?
I know. Mind blown, right? Anyone can get 3 million people to watch a video about Beyonce in a spontaneous concert, but it takes a pretty special kind of brain to get 3 million people to watch a video about 1800s French warfare.
Little seems to be known about “The Oversimplified Guy” but his videos are pretty great. He “over simplifies” history, boiling down histories of wars, battles, time periods etc. down to a half hour to an hour or so. His work is an example of great things that can be done on a small budget. Animated characters that are little more than stick figures, lots of clip art…but the jokes come flying at a fast and furious pace and honestly, I’ve learned more about world history from these vids than any history class.
Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal BQB here. Just wanted you to know I just finished my screenplay for “Jeff!” a villain origin story about the fun adventures that Jeffrey Dahmer went on as a kid. What? No one wants to see a movie that would glorify a man who kidnapped and cannibalized a bunch of poor unsuspecting victims? Got it. That makes sense.
Whew. Good thing you warned me, 3.5 readers. I would have been very embarrassed if that movie had been made. But it’s not like Hollywood would have made such drek anyway, right? I mean, it’s not like they once greenlit a trio of films about the childhood and early adulthood of the man who would go on to be Space Hitler, the idea being that sure, he killed a lot of people but hey, he used to be an adorable little pod racer and what? They made it. Yeesh.
OK but surely, Hollywood would NEVER and I mean NEVER make a movie that glorifies a villainess who runs around trying to kidnap a bunch of Dalmations so she can skin them and turn their hides into coats and fashion accessories and wait…they’re doing it? THEY ALREADY DID IT?
Huh. OK then. BQB here with a review.
Part of me gets why Disney makes movies like this. They have a great big catalog of characters that fans love and the more media they make about these characters, the happier the funs are and besides, if they don’ t keep whipping out schlock based on their IP, then some other rival studio might make something similar. No, some other studio couldn’t make their own film about Cruella, but give Cruella enough time in the vault and out of the public’s eye and some other studio might just get away with making a film about their own villainous fashionista and we can’t have that now, can we?
Part of me doesn’t get it. Villains are bad and to make movies about their early years, the ones that molded them into the evildoers they are today seems to send the wrong message. I suppose it’s silly to read too much into it, though these films sort of suggest that evil adults are allowed to justify their misdeeds of the present as long as they had rough childhoods in the past and if that’s true, then I guess we all get away with being supervillains, don’t we?
At least in Maleficient (spoiler alert) we learn that we’ve been misunderstanding Disney’s favorite witch and secretly, she was trying to protect the princess all along. DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT – here in Cruella, we learn that Cruella doesn’t really have a penchant for turning puppies into coats (her villainous behavior is an act to attract publicity for her fashion label). Even so, if you watch the original 101 Dalmatian films, it doesn’t seem like an act. It seems like she really wants those puppies to become designer handbags.
But movies are all about the suspension of disbelief I suppose.
The plot? It’s a battle of the Emmas as Emma Stone plays the titular Cruella, born Stella to a kind mother who tries her best to parent Stella out of her evil ways. When said mother dies tragically, young Stella is orphaned and hits the streets of London, meeting the dudes who would become her henchmen, the trio becoming grifters and living off the spoils of trickery, fraud and petty crime.
Eventually, Stella is taken under the wing of London’s then leading fashionista, The Baroness (Emma Thompson), and it seems like all of Stella’s dress designing dreams will come true until she learns that the Baroness is actually a horrible person whose comeuppance is due. Enter Cruella, Stella’s secret (and eventually, only) identity who lives to upstage the Baroness at every fashion show at every turn.
Were there a lot of people clamoring for what ultimately boils down to a Disneyfied version of The Devil Wears Prada? Probably not and there’s the problem with this film. Most of these Disney flicks depend on cute animals. Readers, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but kids really like cute animals. Adults like cute animals too but are savvy enough to understand that cute animals poop and pee and love to chow down on expensive furniture and so on.
In other words, the main selling point of 101 Dalmations were, you guessed it, all the adorable puppies. Dogs are part of the act here, but not as prominently. If you were hoping for lots of cute canines in every frame, you’ll be disappointed. The point of Cruella was to just put the puppies in peril so you, the viewer, end up with a better appreciation for the puppies upon their inevitable rescue…so take away the puppies and you’re left with…dueling fashionistas? Yes, I know. Every kid is dying to rush out and see movies about fashionistas.
I do have to give the movie points for great costumes, some funny moments, and a fantastic soundtrack, basically a sampler of 1960s and 70s counterculture songs. The film spans both decades, from Cruella’s 1960s youth to her young adulthood in the 1970s as sort of a punk rock type figure. Yes, the great irony of Disney making a punk-ish, counter-culture film.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy but I’m not sure who the movie is for. Adults who are into fashion have more choices for media about fashion. Kids who love puppies have more choices when it comes to movies that feature puppies. That’s mainly my chief complaint about this movie – it needed more puppies. Otherwise, Emma Stone provides a fabulous Cruella impersonation.
Is it worth the $30 rental fee on Disney Plus? Unless you’re really dying to find out how Cruella became Cruella, I’d say you could wait until this one’s streaming for free or at least for the regular Disney Plus subscription price.
Sometimes people goof on this movie and I’ll admit, there is a lot you have to suspend disbelief for (namely, that it is pretty obvious from the get-go that Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah is a narc from the get go and it is unlikely that Bodhi’s (Patrick Swayze) gang of radical extreme sports loving, parachuting and wave surfing dudes who rob banks to support their globe trotting endless summer lifestyle would be fooled but whatever. Movies are all about suspension of disbelief, aren’t they?
This movie is a lot of things. It’s Reeves at his California bro-iest, where they allowed his surfer dude accent to fly free. I wonder if his accent wasn’t the inspiration for this film altogether. Someone somewhere in Hollywood must have been like wow we have this famous actor who sounds like a surfer dude. What can we do with him? That’s my guess anyway.
It also has Gary Busey in, my opinion, his best and most memorable role. Go ahead. Name another film Busey has been in. I know he’s been in a lot, but this is the one I remember him for, as Utah’s partner, older mentor who tells all the younger agents he was in Vietnam when they were in diapers or catching bad guys when they were popping zits or whatever. Also, he’s so hungry that he orders two meatball sandwiches because he could eat the ass end out of a rino. Now that’s real hunger right there.
It has bank robbers that are funny (the ex presidents who wear president masks while doing impressions, Nixon’s “I am not a crook” line stealing the show as well as the cash. Frankly, I think this movie set the standard for bank heist films and every other bank heist film since has been trying to copy it, with no one coming close to creating a group as funny yet also as scary as the ex-prez gang.
Young Utah infiltrates the gang, falls in love with Bodhi’s ex Lori Petty and falls in bro-love with Bodhi, admiring Bodhi’s free spirited, rejection of the work a day 9 to 5 chain yourself to a desk culture, yet also realizes the dudes can’t just be allowed to flaunt the law and put people in danger just to finance their lifetimes of fun.
It’s a great film and BTW, did you know it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who won best director for The Hurt Locker? Seriously, Point Break is literally one of the most testosterone fueled, kick ass, bad ass films ever made, filled with gun fights and bank robberies and explosions and dudes in Ronald Reagan masks turning gas station pumps into flame throwers so they can set cars on fire and its got one of the dudes from the Red Hot Chili peppers as part of another gang of bad dude surfers except this one deals drugs and I could go on and on and on…and it was directed by a woman!
I’m not sure of the backstory there. I wish I knew more. Frankly, I think after Point Break, Bigelow should have been able to get her hands on many an action film, directing them through the 90s and 2000s at a rapid clip but her next memorable one doesn’t come until 2009’s The Hurt Locker, close to 20 years later. What’s up with that, Hollywood? This is a woman who clearly gets the action genre, who knows how to keep action lovers like me chomping on the popcorn so y’all should have given her more films to helm.
Not that anyone reads this blog anyway, I’m not saying Hollywood didn’t or what the case was. Just its odd to me that its Point Break in 91, then she did other stuff, but nothing really that stands out to me until The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Unless there were some films in the middle that I’m forgetting about.
STATUS: Shelf-worth, bro. Radical. BTW, there’s a speech that Bodhi gives about projecting strength that stuck with me this recent time I watched it. Every few years I dust off this gem and give it a go. I watched it as a kid (probably shouldn’t have) and thought it was pretty cool but didn’t understand everything. As an adult, I get Bodhi’s speech about strength. He says he projects strength to get what he wants out of life. If you act weak, people will treat you weak. If you act strong, people will give you want you want just out of fear of your strength.
Does this apply to everyday life? I mean, no you shouldn’t walk around like you’re ready to kick everyone’s ass. However, if you, say, go into a job interview dressed nicely, looking sharp, your fitness is on point, you’ve sought out the right experience and credentials for your field and you don’t come off as desperate, said employer might be like wow we need to scoop this person up before someone else does.
Also, I forget the actor’s name but Utah’s boss telling the young Utah that he’s young and dumb and doesn’t know anything and the worst part he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. As I get older, I realize many problems that arose in my youth came from me not even knowing what I didn’t know. Like I kick myself for not doing X but then I have to admit that I had no clue Y result would happen or that I even had options A B C D or E, so hate on myself as much as I want but sadly, when you’re young, you have a lot less info to go on, which is sad because ironically, this is also the time when you are called on to make the most important decisions in life that will follow you forever.
This is the first instance I can remember where a movie tricked me into thinking it was going to be good, only to end up bad.
The first 5-10 minutes are pretty great. We see Vegas become overrun by zombies. Set against Elvis’ classic gambler’s anthem, Viva Las Vegas, we see impersonators of various Vegas icons, from Elvis to Liberace, getting trapped in the brain biting melee.
We see slot machine junkies become dinner for the undead.
We even see boobs! Do you have any idea how long it has been since I’ve seen an honest to god boob in a motion picture release? I didn’t even think boobs were allowed on screen anymore but there they were. The zombie showgirls were set loose, free to feast on gray matter.
It all sets the scene for what should be an awesome Vegas themed horror flick. America’s pleasure city is overrun by the undead and a rich casino owner has hired a team of mercs led by Dave Bautista to infiltrate the damned city (it’s closed off and due for a nuke to protect the rest of the country from being overrun) and recover the 200 million in his vault.
Vegas heist film with zombies. Got it. Sounds cool.
Then the plot meanders, as Zack Snyder films so often do. Suddenly, its not so much about the heist. It’s about Dave Bautista’s character’s relationship with his estranged daughter. The daughter has a friend she was to save. Except, suddenly the movie isn’t about that. It’s about the Army of the Dead who have taken over the city. Apparently, there are super smart zombies who boss around the dumb zombies and they rule. Alright, so now its about defeating the leaders of this evil army.
Wait, its also about this character you get to know for five minutes whose name you won’t remember and this character you get to know for five minutes whose name you won’t…you know what? Forget it. Zack Snyder doesn’t believe in tying up loose threads, so if you see a trail of bread crumbs, don’t expect it to lead anywhere except to more bread crumbs…either that or it just stops and there is no more bread.
Comedienne Tig Notaro offers bits of needed comic relief as a fast talking helicopter pilot but other than that…this is a movie that could have been good and just…wasn’t. Maybe zombies have been done to death (pun intended) or maybe this movie could have settled on one plot. When you have zombies in vegas plus a heist you don’t really need that much more.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy but just remember you’re coming for a diversion, not to really experience anything. I worry about a world where movie theaters go out of business and streaming services like Netflix take over, because you might get an occasional good film, but you’ll also get a lot of schlocky filler. Bad writing. Non-existent character development. I mean, if you spend two and a half hours watching a movie, you should be able to remember one character’s name, right? I can’t remember any of them, who they are, what they want. The whole time it’s just oh that guy. Yeah that guy, and that gal and oh we saw them before, now they’re back. OK.
I have no freaking idea what this movie is about, but let’s give a try, 3.5 readers.
At the outset, let me say this. Tenet isn’t a movie you watch. It’s a movie you study. It’s work, like actual hard work. It doesn’t have to be. You can just sit back and watch the pretty pictures fly by, but if you are one of those people who feels a need to understand what they are seeing, good luck.
I love Christopher Nolan films and applaud him for being ambitious. Even so, I postponed watching this one for awhile. Even when it was like one of the first blockbusters you could rent at the height of the pandemic, when Hollywood wasn’t really offering anything, I put it off because the trailers seemed so confusing and I knew it would be a lot of effort.
I actually did try watching it one time and after 20 minutes was like, “Nope!” Click. Not that it was bad, just that I’d had a long day and when I’m down for the count, I need something mindless to stream. Bring on the silly cat videos.
But I finally got through it. (BTW it’s two and a half hours long). So let’s talk about it. (SPOILERS – I think they are spoilers. Honestly, I may have no clue what happened here and what I’m saying doesn’t make sense).
John David Washington plays “The Protagonist” and that’s a pretty cool name for a secret government agent. He’s been recruited to serve in the Tenet program and as explained early on by a scientist, people from the future have figured out how to send objects from the future into the past. In this movie world, things from the future and the past have different energies or “entropies” meaning, and I’ll botch this, but meaning that everything is opposite. Things from the future, when they reach the past, move backward. (Why doesn’t this mean that things from the past move forward when they reach the future? Well, they do, but why isn’t it like fast forward? Well, things from the future that reach the past don’t move in super slo mo so alright, I just answered my own question.)
The scientist urges the Protagonist to not waste too much time trying to understand how this all works but just accept that it is happening. Personally, I have to believe that quote is also Nolan’s invitation to his viewers to feel free to just sit back, chomp on some popcorn and throw your notes and flowcharts away and just have a good time watching all this hullabaloo happen.
And a lot of wacky stuff does happen. You have bullets that have been already shot going backwards, from the hole in the wall where they are lodged, back into the gun. Car chases where cars drive in reverse (could happen now if the driver looks over his shoulder the entire time). Car crashes in reverse. People traveling through time to fight each other.
Oh, right, there’s some sort of overall plot about people from the future who hate people from the past so that’s why they are trying to kill everyone in the past and you might ask, well won’t that kill everyone in the future and the answer is the people from the future don’t believe that will happen so maybe they’re right and it won’t or maybe they are dummies and it will. Belief or “tenets” i.e. key parts of faith that you hold close and trust are true even during the darkest of times when no light can be seen is a big part of the film.
Add in a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) the arms dealer who sells the backwards bullets and is pitting the future and past sides together. His wife/hostage Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) and the Protagonist’s BFF/fellow agent Neil (Robert Pattinson in a role where it looks like he’s really grown into himself as an actor and shed off his youthful Twilight years.)
I think the idea of past and present at war is an interesting concept. I think the idea of future people sending lethal objects to the past to kill the past peeps and vice versa is interesting and a new take on time travel. It gets confusing when our heroes and villains travel between past and future and there are rules, like you have to wear an oxygen mask because the air moves differently on so on.
I don’t know. It’s a new, different take on the time travel genre and I suppose we can’t give Nolan guff for being original in a world of reboots and sequels but wow, I have no idea what happens in this movie. While the effects are cool and it was intended as a summer blockbuster where the big screen explosions would have made up for the what the heck is going on plot and unfortunately it got sidelined due to covid.
John David Washington is really coming into his own as an actor too. Criticism is that they didn’t really tell us much about who The Protagonist is or any personal details but perhaps there just wasn’t enough time with everything else going on. He does have a budding romance or friendship or romantic friendship with the villain’s wife. There’s no sex scene (wouldn’t that be cool to see in reverse?) but and not to give a spoiler but there are times when she is in peril and you can tell the Protagonist really cares. That caring is just based on emotion rather than sex because they haven’t had any which makes it interesting. He wants to save her because he cares about her. There’s no promise of booty to come later upon risking his life for a successful rescue. Good for you, Protag. What a stand up guy.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Give a try but take the scientist’s advice and don’t try to understand it. Some of your questions will be answered if you watch long enough. Others won’t be unless you watch it again and again and honestly, I don’t have the time or brain power to do that. Others won’t be unless you venture into articles and videos by people who took the time to parse through it and figure things out.
A final thought. We do need faith, or to believe in tenets. Faith gets us through our darkest hours. Believing your happy ending is on the way – to keep exercising though the pounds never drop, to keep applying for jobs when the HR reps laugh at your resume, to keep writing blogs even when only 3.5 people read them…and yes, to keep watching a movie that begins with a scientist telling you to not attempt to understand for it defies explanation.
BQB here with a review of Those Who Wish Me Dead, now available on HBO Max.
Let’s face it. Angelina Jolie is so hot that her hotness makes it difficult for her to perform in certain movie roles. Super hot Lara Croft? Check. Super hot queen? Super hot temptress? Super hot witch? Super hot fantasy babe? Check, check, check, check.
It’s harder for her to play Average Jane roles, ones where she performs boring grunt work. Here, she plays a firefighter and she does her best but it’s just difficult for me to believe that someone with her level of hotness would bother with a job that requires so much demanding physical labor and stress. I mean, seriously, once you achieve a level of great hotness, you’re not going to take the firefighter’s exam, or chop down doors with fire axes and carry victims on your back to safety. You’re not even going to do your own shopping. You’re just going to snap your fingers and say, “I’m hot” and then just kick back as a sea of toadies do your bidding and throw money at your face.
That probably isn’t fair. Jolie is hot but she’s put the work in over the years, both on and off screen, and does global charity work and so on. But come on. She’s hot. Are there hot people doing hard labor? If there are, God bless them, but seriously, they are squandering their hotness if they are.
Anyway, Jolie plays Hannah, a Montana firejumper trained to parachute into forest fires and fight them, preferably with karate but a hose will do. She’s having a rough go of it, for she made a mistake on the job that got some kids killed, and her superiors have banished her to a lookout post, blaming her for the incident rather than just say, hey, bad things happen when big fires start and could anyone else have done better.
Enter Nicholas Hoult (he who plays creepy dudes) and Aiden Gillen (he who played Littlefinger on Game of Thrones.) These two are the world’s most incompetent hitmen, who spectacularly blow up target #1, thus giving target #2 a chance to flee to Montana with his young son.
Said target has family he intends to hide out with (Jon Bernthal and Medina Singhore) but all hell literally breaks loose when the incompetent assassins set fire to the forest to draw their target out, only to end up in a race against time, trying to take down a kid with a boatload of bad info he has been charged to share with the press.
It’s up to Angelina to save the day and the kid but honestly, call me biased against hot people, but I really think an attractive person, at least one as hot as Angelina, would just be like, “Anyone wanna save this kid for me?” and then like a hundred dudes would show up and save the kid for her and she could take a nap cuz she’s so hot.
That’s it. That’s the movie. Sorry, I should have warned SPOILERS but I didn’t. Watch it anyway. It’s pretty good.
Been totes busy lately but have had time to catch some flicks. Don’t think I’ll find time to review, so here are some quick thoughts:
The Courier – Historical drama/real life story of an Average Joe British salesman recruited to deliver messages between the CIA and MI6 and a high ranking Russian government official during the 1960s, helping to bring the Cuban Missile Crisis to a resolution in the process. Not a fun movie but you’ll learn stuff, so that’s good.
The Marksman – Liam Neeson as a bitter old rancher and ex-Marine who feels like his life doesn’t matter much anymore in the wake of his wife’s death and the bank’s foreclosure on his home. Finds a purpose in rescuing a young Mexican immigrant boy from a cartel who is chasing him.
Above Suspicion – I think this movie is below the Khaleesi. HBO alums Emilia Clarke and Jack Hudson (she of Game of Thrones and He of Boardwalk Empire) star in this glorified Lifetime channel for women movie and true crime story about Mark Putnam, the first FBI agent to ever go to jail after killing an informant he was having an affair with. There are parts of the story that are gripping, but you do have to put up with a) two Brits doing their best Southern caricatures and b) it portrays, at least in my opinion, Putnam as this poor guy who had it all – married family man with an up and coming career and this evil temptress had to go and ruin and it by seducing him and I don’t know…don’t FBI agents/married men have a duty to rebuff their female informants advances and go home and take a cold shower? And if they don’t, isn’t the better option to confess to your superiors and take whatever legal and or career ending punishments coming to you before things turn violent and ugly?
Nobody – This stars Bob Odenkirk so I thought it’d be funny but it wasn’t. The overall plot is a seemingly mild mannered Dad loses his family’s respect when a pair of robbers break into his home and he does nothing to stop them. When we learn Dad was once a highly trained government assassin who has long since left that life behind, he falls back on those kills to go on a vigilante spree….and it sort of looks like it’s going to become a copycat of Deathwish but then it devolves into this meandering plot about Odenkirk taking on the Russian mob and his brother RZA and father Christopher Lloyd also have assassin skills though how this happened is never quite explained other than brief references to them having served in the Army. I like Odenkirk and while the film is worth a watch, I think this movie suffers from not knowing what it wanted to be so it tried to be too much and needed to settle on a plot.
Mortal Kombat – First ten minutes where bitter martial arts rivals Sub-Zero and Scorpion fight in Ancient Times over who is Asia’s greatest warrior are pretty kickass. If they had made this the entire movie, it would have been spectacular. Alas, after this, it devolves into the standard video game based movie mess where they crowbar in all the characters, all the punchlines, all the special moves and what have you. Most video game movies are terrible largely because what makes a video game great (brainless, repetitive drivel) makes a movie bad (brainless, repetitive drivel) but there’s a lesson here for Hollywood that if a game has a nugget of awesome storyline, focus on that. An entire movie about two ancient ninjas fighting to the death to be named Asia’s greatest warrior sounds pretty cool to me.
King vs. Godzilla – Fast forward to the last twenty minutes. Eat some popcorn to the fight scene. Ignore all the parts with the humans talking. You’re welcome.