Monthly Archives: September 2022

TV Review – Andor – First Three Episodes (2022)

Spies! Lies! Something else that rhymes with -ies!

BQB here with a review of the first three episodes of Andor, Disney Plus’ new Star Wars series.

I’m just going to say it up front. It’s OK. It didn’t wow me, but it didn’t zow me either. I’ll keep watching it, but like the recent Obi-Wan, it didn’t blow much wind up my proverbial skirt.

The series is a prequel to Rogue One (ironically, the best and arguably most unsung Star Wars creation amidst a slew of Disney’s SW duds the past decade.) As you may recall, in that film, Diego Luna played Cassian Andor, a rebel spy so committed to the cause that he is willing to commit almost any heartless act, up to and including straight up murder, to further the rebel cause.

How did he get that way? This series aims to tell that story.

At first, the idea of this series seems silly. Aren’t there more popular, longer running characters we’d like to know more about? Where are the Lando Chronicles? The Leia Adventures? Skywalker: A Life?

Ah, but Disney has dipped its toe into those waters. A film where a younger actor played a younger Han Solo didn’t go over well (irony is I liked it). CGI Skywalker is interesting for a brief moment until you wonder how long it will be before all movies are just CGI renderings and actors are out of a job (feel free to discuss whether that would be a good thing.)

An interesting part of Rogue One is it showed a more vicious side of the Rebel Alliance than we are used to. In any rebellion, rebels must ask themselves if the victory they seek is worth the loss of life that must occur to achieve it. So OK, I’ll buy into the story of how one rebel was so angered by the Empire that he became a badass intergalactic spy.

All that said, the whole thing seems adulty. Not as in naughty, for this is still Disney, but as in a plot only adults might be interested in. Three episodes in, there are no light sabers or space battles. It’s light on the aliens. There is a silly droid. Most of the action comes in the form of a shootout in the end of episode three.

The plot? Cassian Andor was once Kassa, a member of an indigenous tribe of the planet Kenari. When his family discovers a crashed Empire ship that was up to no good (illegal mining apparently), the Empire kills the tribe sans Kassa, who is saved in the nick of time by scavenger Maarva (Fiona Shaw), who whisks the lad away to Ferrix, where she raises him as his adoptive mother.

Years later, an adult Cassian searches for his sister, who he believes escaped Empire forces. He checks a brothel where he believes she might be, um, you know, working, but has no luck. Alas, he gets into a spat with a couple of security company goons. Said goons picked the wrong fight with the wrong guy, leading Cassian to go on the run, right into the hands of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skaarsgaard), a clandestine spy recruiter for the Rebel Alliance.

It’s all very interesting. However, I think it might suffer from the fact that the plot might be too heady for kids, yet the subject matter might be too silly for adults.

SIDENOTE: The inclusion of a brothel in the first scene raised my eyebrow. True, no sex is shown. No debauchery is shown. It was part of the script that it was an off night and few customers were there. Still, it seemed out of place for a Disney show.

When George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney years ago, I thought maybe did so in order to keep Hollywood from doing nasty things to it, i.e. to not make an X rated flick with wookies having wookie sex or Jedis snorting space coke or what have you. Then again, I remembered that Lucas was the one who stuffed Leia into that Slave Leia outfit so he probably doesn’t have a lot of moral authority to stand on.

So, I guess my complaint is less about Disney bringing down Star Wars and more about Star Wars bringing down Disney. The deeper we get into Star Wars, the more inevitable it becomes that we see characters engaged in depraved activities. “Spice” has already been used as a code for drugs in prior Disney SW productions. Meanwhile, while characters have appeared in scantily clad outfits going back to the early films, this is the confirmation that beings in the SW universe not only do it but pay to do it.

IDK. I just think Disney needs to remember it is first and foremost a producer of entertainment for children. I know adults love SW too, but we have to think of the kids first and have plots that are suitable for the younguns. Ergo, no space brothels, even if it’s dark and deserted and the business of said space brothel is only alluded to.

We already saw Disney wrestle with a darker plot line and fail miserably in The Book of Boba Fett. Freaking Boba Fett fights a war to become the head gangster of Tatooine, only to be against all crime, which is a great example to set for the kids but doesn’t bode well for a show about a space criminal.

Maybe Disney needs to just stick with family friendly Star Wars base crimes. Smuggling, but only done to help the rebels, for example.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I think we are at a point where we have to realize Star Wars in its infancy was more about awesome special effects, and that Vader carried most of it. The further we get from those early films, the less interesting it all becomes. Perhaps some genius will figure out a way to make it interesting again. To Disney’s credit, the Mando series was a winner.

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Classic Movie Review – The Jerk (1979)

Always remember these three important rules of life, 3.5 readers:

#1 – Don’t trust Whitey.

#2 – The Lord loves a working man.

#3 – See a doctor and get rid of it.

BQB here with a review of this classic comedy of Steve Martin’s most hilarious film.

NOTE: This is a review for people who have seen the movie. Ergo, if you want no SPOILERS, look away. Go watch then come back.

I saw this movie on a list of films that couldn’t be remade today. I instantly remembered how much it made me laugh back in the day and had to rewatch it again. I’m not sure what that list was talking about because I would argue this is a rare comedy that has stood the test of time, 43 years in fact.

The premise? Steve Martin, in his first major film role, plays Navin Johnson, the white son of African American sharecroppers in Mississippi. He loves his family and they love him, but on one fateful birthday, he, to his shock, discovers that he is white (yes, even though he is well into his thirties.)

Navin’s mother explains that the family adopted him when he was left on their doorstep as a baby and raised him as one of their own. Realizing that he isn’t getting younger, Navin decides he must venture forth from the family homestead and out into the world, seeking to find fame and fortune of his very own.

From there, the flick is a string of skits and gags, all surrounding Navin’s adventure into the great unknown, with cameos by various stars of the day helping or hindering him as the case may be.

Back in the day, Roger Ebert gave this film 2 stars. You can read that review here:

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-jerk-1979

Now, here’s the thing. I admire Ebert because he built a great career doing what I love, namely, watching and picking apart movies. He’s the Mike Tyson of movie critics. So far be it from me to criticize him, but I think he got this one wrong.

As Ebert argues, comedy is subjective (so if he didn’t find it funny then I suppose in his view he wasn’t wrong). He goes on to explain there is funny for the sake of funny and situational funny. He goes on to say sometimes a character wears a funny hat and that’s the joke and sometimes there’s a silly situation that requires the character to wear a funny hat. The latter, according to Ebert, is way funnier.

Thus, to our veteran critic, Martin is all hat and no cattle, just a doofus doing doofusy things. Truly, he did and one might say he’s a pioneer of screwball comedy, making silly faces long before Jim Carrey.

However, what I believe Ebert missed is this film is one great big allegory for the fallout that occurs when youthful (or even not so youthful), naive optimism crashes into cold, hard reality. Forget Dr. Seus’s “Oh, the Places You Will Go!” Every high school graduate should get a copy of The Jerk.

Think about it. The high school grad thinks they’ve got the world by the horns when they head off to college. They think they know everything. Then they encounter the lousy roommate, the demanding professor, the first boss who dresses them down over a mistake. The student loan payments are due and the job interviews are going nowhere. I did all this studying to be a barista? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Compare this with Navin’s mistake filled journey. Navin is full of uninformed assumptions that blow up in his face due to his lack of experience. Navin thinks he’ll easily hitchhike across the USA, only to stand in front of his family’s home all day, well into the night. Navin gets a job at a gas station and thinks he’s hoodwinked a crook by tying said fraudster’s car to a church, only for the ne’er-do-well to take off down the drown dragging half the church, guests at a wedding still inside, behind him.

Navin is overjoyed when he is listed in the phone book, only for a homicidal maniac to pick his name at random and go on a murderous rampage against him. Navin joins a carnival, meets Patty the slovenly, over-sexed motorbiked stuntwoman and assumes he has found a ticket to free, no strings attached sex, only to discover that Patty is so attached she’s willing to commit violence to keep him.

The Navester comes on too strong with love interest Marie and she bolts. He invents the opti-grab grip eyeglass attachment that makes him a billionaire, only to be bankrupted by a lawsuit from irate customers when the product makes them go cross-eyed.

Bottomline – In life, mistakes are guaranteed. You think you won’t make them, but it’s not a matter of if you’ll make them but when. You’ll make assumptions. You’ll make decisions. Your actions will blow up in your face. You can fall apart and give up, or you can learn from your mistakes, vow not to repeat them and do better.

Had Navin not been such a dum-dum, he might have seen many lessons in his mistakes. He should have walked out to a main road to hitchhike, or heck, earned some money to buy a bus ticket. He should have left to crook to the cops. Not all publicity is good. Don’t have sex with someone you don’t want to commit to lest you hurt their feelings. If you sell a product, make sure you test it first.

Yes, wide-eyed, unbridled optism will surely always crash against the hard wall of reality, but all you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, figure out what you did wrong and not do it again.

In the end, the only lesson Navin learned is home is where the heart is. Sometimes, the greatness we seek is right in our own backyard, coming to us in the form of the people who love us the most, that we love in return. When Navin hits Skid Row, it’s his sharecropper family who find him, clean him up, and bring him back to the place he thrived the most, and an ending credit scene where he dances while his family sings shows us he couldn’t be happier.

Two cringeworthy things that don’t fit today’s modern wokeness. 1 Is when a group of mafiosos use the N word, Navin defends his family’s honor in perhaps the funniest bit of the film when he says, “Sir, you are talking to an n-word!” then magically channels the spirit of a kung-fu warrior as he kicks the asses of all the racist single handed (with the exception of Iron Balls McGinty.)

I would argue this joke gets a pass due to context. Navin loves his family so much. His love for them is the sweetest part of the movie and perhaps the most redeeming quality of an otherwise dimwitted dullard. The n word is only used to pave the way for a bit in which a man who loves his family kung-fus a bunch of racists into thinking twice about saying such nasty slurs. But ok, context is a dead concept when it comes to humor now, so this joke doesn’t hold up.

Second, the family at the end sings “Pick a Bale of Cotton,” a song that references slavery days. All are so happy as the family sings and plays instruments while Navin dances joyously to celebrate his return home for good. In context, one might remember that in slavery times, slaves sang such songs to keep their spirits up when forced against their will to do punishing labor. In 1979, there were no slaves alive but it is possible that Navin’s father, given the time period, might have, as a child, known an old person or two who lived with slavery times or even was a slave. I assume the point of the film was the family is singing a song that was passed down through the generations of their family though yeah, it surely would have been better if the family had sung a happier, less racially charged song.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. When I was a kid, I just thought Steve Martin was a doofus doing doofy things in this film. As an adult, I see it as a silly growing up tale, teaching young as well as old that whenever they take on a new encounter, they will inevitably make mistakes, fall on their face, have to pick themselves up and try, try again. In the end, the only real losers are those who keep making the same mistake over and over.

I do think this is a rare old comedy that holds up in modern times, save for two scenes that don’t keep with modern woke standards. I’m not saying “give it a pass” but if you consider context and intent, the scenes were meant to show a white man who loves his black family so much, more than anything in the world, and ultimately it is this love that is the best part of him.

Bonus points for a cameo by Jackie Mason who plays Navin’s first boss, the gas station owner. As a kid, I was a fan of all kinds of comedy and wonder if I was the only kid who would repeat Mason’s Yiddishisms. I dare say the man did more to popularize the use of words like oy vey, fakakta, and schmuck than anyone.

Double bonus points for Steve Martin. So many comedians rise up the ladder as anyone does in any profession. They get a small part here or there, many a medium sized role that leads to a big break. Martin had already been a popular SNL host and a comedian who sold out shows in major venues. He also wrote for Smothers Brothers. So by the time this, his first movie, came around, he was a veritable PHD in funny holder. Even though Martin was a Great Bambino level comic by the time this film came along, it is still rare for a comedian to knock their first movie out of the park.

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Movie Review – Beast (2022)

Roar, 3.5 readers. Very roar, indeed.

BQB here with a review of this stinkburger.

I think we have a contender for the Razzie Award for Worst Film of 2022. When I first saw the trailer, I wanted to like it. The premise is pretty simple yet scary. A father takes his young daughters on a photo safari of remote African wilderness. Alas, various problems ensue and the family ends up stuck in an immobile car, about to become lion chow if they venture too far outside for too long. In other words, it’s Cujo but with a lion instead of a rabid dog.

The film has a lot when it comes to special effects. Flicks are using CGI animals more and more, the good news being that real animals no longer have to be treated like furry, feathery clowns for our amusement. (They never did but that’s a longer convo.) The downside is that filmmakers need to learn to use restraint when it comes to having CGI animals do ridiculous things a real animal would never do. While I understand that every film requires a certain suspension of disbelief, an early scene where two CGI enormous adult lions hug and romp with Sharlto Copley, embracing him like friendly housecats rather than rip him to shreds is absurd.

The problem is there is very little plot to back the film up. What little plot there is, is very contrived and not enough to flesh out the film’s short run time of 90 minutes. Essentially, Idris Elba plays Dr. Nate Samuels, a medical doctor whose wife Amahle recently died after a period of estrangement between the couple.

Nate brings his daughters Meredith and Norah (Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries) on a trip to their mother’s homeland, hoping to find, I don’t know. Spiritual enlightenment. Reconnection with their lost matriarch. A chance to get away from it all. Typical movie brat Meredith treats her old man like garbage, blaming her father for quote unquote “not being there” in typical fashion of a young person who hasn’t been knocked around by the world enough times to realize that expectations never quite match up to reality and bottomline, if Mom didn’t want Dad to be there, then he couldn’t have been there. The reason for the separation is never given other than a vague idea that the couple wasn’t getting along.

The Samuels family’s tour guide of Africa is Martin Battles, played by none other than white South African actor Sharlto Copley. There’s a bit of irony in this casting choice. Given today’s uber woke world, one can’t help but scratch their head at the idea of a white man acting as the protector of a black family during their trip to Africa. However, Copley has been an actor and filmmaker for years, much of his work devoted to a love of the land he grew up in and ultimately, putting issues of race aside, the Samuels family are a bunch of city slickers from New York while Battles is an expert when it comes to African wildlife, having put in years of helping to conserve native species.

In other words, one might look at the premise through a different type of woke lens, that being race doesn’t automatically make one an expert in one subject or another. The Samuels are New Yorkers who know little of the Savannah, but Dr. Samuels is a practiced medicine man called upon to save lives at various parts in the film. Battles is white, but grew up in the area and through experience, learned all about fighting poachers, speaking native languages, keeping one step ahead of hungry lions.

But yeah, I get why viewers of African descent might roll their eyes at that early scene where the lions hug and romp with Sharlto as if he’s a modern-day White Lion King, Tamer and Friend to all African Wildlife he surveys.

At any rate, once the crappy plot is out of the way, the Samuels must survive the attack of a lion on the prowl for revenge after his pride is shot by poachers. An even earlier scene tells us this is no ordinary lion as it slashes through a pack of poachers with a vengeance. There’s one strange part where one poacher gets caught in a snag wire only to become lion food and I can only assume the idea is that he was hoisted on his own petard, i.e. he forgot where his pals laid the wire. Yeah, not gonna lie for a minute I had to pause it, scratch my head and think, “Did that lion lay that trip wire?”

If you can suspend, and I mean really suspend disbelief, then this flick is a nice brief diversion. I wouldn’t bother renting it. Wait for streaming. Though there are some scary scenes, there are also eyerolling scenes where Idris Elba somehow magically uses, I don’t know, father’s love strength to kick the ass of this killer cat rather than become lion food, as we all would, because it is a damn lion.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy. With a little more flushing out of the plot, this might have been better. I’m not sure if Elba had to be in this movie or if it was just a payday, but he’s too good for such drek. Frankly, Copley is too good for this drek. Even the young actresses playing the daughters were too good for this drek. Dang it, even the CGI lion was too good for this drek.

SIDENOTE: I think the nuclear proliferation of streaming services is turning films into drek. When I saw this trailer, I immediately predicted it would be drek because I had a hunch the filmmakers wouldn’t take it seriously but rather, would throw together a haphazard plot then make the movie largely dependent on some scares courtesy of a CGI lion. One of the girls wears a Jurassic Park shirt, perhaps a tribute to another film where kids ran and hid from CGI beasts, but at least there was some substance, some intrigue to the madness. In other words, give us more. Maybe the family gets tricked into entering the lion reserve or something. I don’t know. Ultimately, streaming media = Hollywood feels the need to churn out the schlock at a rapid pace and the substance is lost. There were good actors and actresses here. There were good special effects here. It just needed a better script, and perhaps more time and money to back that script up.

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Classic Movie Review – North by Northwest (1959)

Intrigue! Espionage! A killer crop duster! BQB here with a review of this classic Hitchcock film.

I’ll admit I’m no expert when it comes to classic cinema. However, from what I have seen, I have to assume that this film must have been a stunner when it came out. It seems way ahead of its time and likely inspired a whole generation of baby boomer action film directors. Without it, you would have never had flicks like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, etc.

The plot? A case of mistaken identity leads to the cross-country trip from hell for Madison Avenue publicist (Mad Man) Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant.) When poor Roger, twice divorced from wives who found his lifestyle rather dull, raises hand to flag down a bellhop while lunching at a ritzy hotel with work associates, henchmen in the employ of dastardly Cold War info broker Phillip Vandamme (James Mason) mistakenly believe Roger answered to a page for the elusive “Mr. Kaplan,” a CIA spy they believe is hot on Vandamme’s trail, ready to undo his villainy at any moment.

From there on, it’s a whirlwind ride that takes Roger to Long Island, the United Nations and aboard a train bound for Chicago, all culminating in an epic battle on the face of Mount Rushmore with Thornhill fighting evildoers atop the stoney faces of the ex-presidents themselves.

Along the way, he befriends Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint, who I believe may very well be the last star of this film to still be alive), a fellow traveler with some intrigue of her own.

All the while, goons lead by head goon Leonard (Martin Landau in one of his creepier roles) are always in hot pursuit.

For a 1950s film, there are scenes that are broad, epic and sweeping. Well-choreographed extras moving to and fro in the background make you really believe you are in Manhattan, or a train station, or at the UN and so on. The fight scene on Mount Rushmore must have made a few 1950s film techs think that Hitchock was out of his mind.

Don’t even get me started on the iconic crop-duster scene. Look away if you don’t want a SPOILER, but in one scene, Roger is lured to an open field, wide swathes of farmland everywhere. As he waits for promised help that never arrives, a seemingly harmless biplane sprays crops off in the distance. Slowly it gets closer and closer until it opens fire on our heroic adman, making several passes until it crashes into a conveniently located fuel truck in a magnificent fiery explosion. Was this one of the first of its kind on film? Better film historians than I can tell you but it has to rank high on the list of early spectacular film wrecks.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Psycho and The Birds are often thought of as Hitchcock’s most memorable works, but an argument might be made that this is his best picture. There are some bits that don’t quite stand the test of time, namely that a 26-year-old hottie swoons for a 50-something man though I suppose we have to remember that in that time, young women were taught that marrying a rich old dude was the path to success. To my surprise, there is a lot of out and open sexual talk in this film, which likely scandalized moviegoers of the day. I suppose later films that actually showed sex wouldn’t have happened without films like this talking about it.

SIDENOTE: Yes, I suppose there is plenty of room for debate as to whether films laden with sex and violence are a good thing. This one is tame by modern standards, though films like it arguably began to wedge the door open. Whether or not Hitchcock would approve of modern flicks is anyone’s guess.

DOUBLE SIDENOTE: There is a classic goof in the Mount Rushmore visitor center scene. A little kid at a table, apparently aware that a blank gunshot fired by Saint’s character, was about to go off, plugs his ears way ahead of time. Apparently, no one who cutting the final film noticed or cared or they didn’t want to go to the trouble of reshooting the scene.

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Movie Review – Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

More Thor, 3.5 readers. More Thor indeed.

BQB here with a review of Marvel’s latest.

I fear we might be in the Jump the Shark phase of the most expensive television show ever created, that being the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man is dead. Captain America is old and Hulk? Well, he could never sustain a movie on his own.

Like Paul McCartney, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is left to perform solo without the trio of mates who made up the fab four. However, if you’d like a brief Guardians of the Galaxy flyby followed by a team-up with a Lady Thor, Valkyrie and a rock man, then this movie might be up your alley.

Christian Bale stars as Gorr the God Butcher, and to Bale’s credit he really is one of few actors who can completely transform himself into a virtually unrecognizable new person. Gorr and his daughter, Love, the last of an ancient race, seek help from their God Rapu, only to be mocked. Angered when Rapu refuses to help his dying child, Gorr claims the necrosword, slays Rapu then goes on a killing spree across the otherworldly realms, slashing his way through many a god from ancient mythical folklore.

Meanwhile, Thor is hot off a streak of saving various worlds from villainy with the help of his new BFFs, the G of the G when Gorr attacks New Asgard a little refugee town on Earth, home to the children of many a god who perished in Old Asgard during Thor: Ragnarok.

When Gorr kidnaps the Asgardian kiddies in the hopes of drawing Thor into a trap, Thor teams up with other friends Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Jane Foster, now Lady Thor, having sought out the power of the hammer of Thor in the hopes of curing a fatal illness only to become a Thor herself.

I’m not sure how the Thor movies turned into a joke every 5 seconds laugh fest but I suppose they were always semi-intended to be a parody of ancient religion. Screaming goats, a bloated Zeus played by Russell Crowe, Thor’s clothes getting blasted off only for women to feint at the sight of his studly bod are just some of the many goofy happenings.

It’s funny and fun. On the other hand, it feels stitched together at times. Gorr is the most interesting character and arguably, has a justifiable grievance, having lived a pious life only to be mocked by a God he worshipped in his time of need. We see very little of him until the end. The Guardians are fun but it feels like they as well as other MCU characters have cameos limited to whatever the actors could do in a very quick time frame to scoop up a quick payday.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but like the recent Dr. Strange, I’m at the point where I don’t rush out to the theater anymore to watch these flicks. Rather, I just wait until they are on Disney Plus now.

OK I’ll give my rant. I’m not a huge fan of the trend where every male hero gets vaginized. I turn on a Hawkeye series only to see it’s mostly about Hawkeye training a lady apprentice to become a lady arrow shooter. Lame in theory but fun in practice.

Meanwhile, She-Hulk is more interesting than any stand alone male Hulk movie.

And though I balked at the previews, when I saw the movie I felt like, yeah, I can see how Jane would try to use her scientific mind to locate and harness the power of her ex’s hammer to gain newfound strength in a dark time.

So, to give props to Disney, it’s all done in interesting, watchable ways. And Marvel as well as DC always had a habit of just creating female versions of their superheroes when they ran out of ideas for their male heroes.

But I guess my complaint is that there seems to be a trend toward pushing women to become manly, as if being a woman is somehow a bad thing and women will never be whole unless they turn into dudes.

In other words, there’s a part where Jane corrects Gorr, telling him she’s not Lady Thor. She’s either Mighty Thor or Dr. Jane Foster and I just wonder, couldn’t she have just grabbed Mjolnir and become her own new hero? But then I guess anything but Natalie Portman in a Thor suit wouldn’t have sold tickets.

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Movie Review – Loving Adults (2022)

Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s Danish dubbed in English hit.

These are not great Danes. Ha! See what I did there?

Christian and Leonara seem to have an idyllic life. Sure, they have had their share of problems in life. They have spent the past several years as well as boatloads of money helping their son beat an illness. However, now that battle has been won and with the lad off to college soon, it’s time for these middle-aged folk to have some quality time.

But not so fast. Christian has fallen in love with the much younger Xenia, gratuitously schtupping her behind his wife’s back and apparently Danish cinema still allows boobies on screen because America sure as hell doesn’t. Violence, bloodshed and mayhem? Sure, but boobies? Never!

Anyway, hurt feelings lead to accusations which lead to threats which lead to murder, murder and more murder. One thing this movie does well is leaving you with a sense that there really is no one to root for here. At first, I found myself siding with Leonora, the faithful wife ousted after years of devotion for a younger model. But then her retaliations go above and beyond the punishment deserved by a pervy cheating husband. Mr. and Mrs. go back and forth, first at war, then as accomplices stuck with one another. A truly disastrous marriage that dredges up past sins and presents a terrible future.

All framed around a police commissioner narrator who tells his daughter about this case, what he describes as the most horrifying case he ever investigated in his time on the force. This isn’t really a story a daughter wants to hear on her wedding day, but alas the investigation led the old timer with such a blatant fear of love that he feels he must warn everyone of the dangers of falling for someone. Love, the good inspector advises us, can drive people mad and cause them to do terrible things.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. You’ll have to get used to the English dubbing and there are some words and phrases that I assume sound better in Danish that don’t translate to English. Otherwise, a scary story that will make you think twice about tying the knot. You don’t just have to worry about your partner’s sanity today, but for years and years to come.

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Movie Review – Bullet Train (2022)

Guns! Swords! Disco!

BQB here with a review of Bullet Train.

I had a fun time but I had absolutely no idea what was going on. That sums up a) this movie or b) my life, except that you’d have to take out the part where I said I had a fun time.

I’d explain the plot in full detail but I’m still figuring it out in my head and failing. The condensed version is that pretty much every passenger on board a high-speed train to Tokyo is an assassin who either wants to kill, is a target of or somehow otherwise connected to The White Death, a Russian who took control of a Japanese Yakuza syndicate.

Amidst the chaos, passive assassin Brad Pitt must snatch a suitcase full of money while escaping the clutches of a brother duo Lemon and Tangerine, a Mexican gangster, a professional poisoner, a schoolgirl with a penchant for explosives and you know honestly I eventually lost count.

The fight scenes are prolific, the plotting, conspiring, double-crosses, and jokes abound. It all has a very Tarantino-esque feel, though the heavy dependance on flashbacks can be annoying.

My main reason for applause is that in most films, Brad Pitt just seems like Brad Pitt, a super handsome man who just shows up and is super handsome. Here, he really convinces us he’s a nebbish type, a nerd riddled with anxiety armed not with guns but with calming techniques and self-help quotes. Yes, he does kill, but only when necessary, and he legit feels bad about it and tries his best to avoid it. In other words, Brad Pitt becomes someone else in this film.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. You’ll have to check your brain at the door and you may have to watch it twice to fully understand what happened, since it all moves very fast yet there are so many moving parts.

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Movie Review – The Gray Man (2022)

Explosions! Espionage! Intrigue!

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s The Gray Man.

I’d been avoiding this one for a while too, largely because I assume most Netflix flicks are trash, but everyone’s favorite streaming service has been surprising lately. This one is a special effects laden, hardcore action, ridiculous amounts of destruction action scene and had it been released in a theater I would have been satisfied on the return on investment on my ticket price.

Many stars and Netflix doesn’t do the thing they often do where they just pack a movie full of stars and they have them do a passable job on a lackluster script.

Ryan Gosling plays Sierra 6, one of a numbered agent assassin program devised by Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton.) The sierras are ex-cons, released from prison in exchange for a lifetime of service taking out bad guys at the CIA’s command.

Alas, when Six is ordered to take out a fellow Sierra, said target provides our protagonist with evidence that his bosses are up to no good and now the hunter becomes the hunted. Yes, I know this literally the plot of most spy movies, but it is done in great globetrotting style here.

Chris Evans plays against type, here as uber douche Lloyd Hansen who is an ends justify the means type of guy, completely uncaring as to how many innocents have to die in the name of acquiring his target. He even brags about his villainy, so that’s different for the guy we’re used to seeing as squeaky clean Captain America.

Meanwhile, the ever lovely Ana de Armas, who I intend to propose to when my self-publishing millions come through, rounds out the cast as Miranda, a spy who sometimes is out to help Six, or catch Six, or help him again, depending on where we are in the movie.

It’s up to Six and Miranda to save the day, and Fitzroy’s niece Claire (Julia Butters), kidnapped by the vile Lloyd in the hopes of drawing Six out.

Amidst all of this mess, lots of people get shot like cannon fodder and there are lots of explosions and car chases and plane explosions and train explosions and at one point I was like, “Oh come on, I don’t think the CIA would kill that many people just to get one guy” but hey, it’s a movie, it’s fun, so stream it today.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Between this and Day Shift, Netflix is really winning me over lately.

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