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Brief, No Spoiler Review – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Hey 3.5 readers.

B to the Q to the B here.

I’ll give you all a chance to see it but I’ll say at front, I liked this movie a lot, which surprised me because I went in fully with the mindset that I was going to hate the ever loving butt crap out of it.

I just thought the Last Jedi sucked big donkey butt, and by extension, the Force Awakens too.  My impression of Force Awakens was it was ok but all it did was ask questions, and at the time I thought, well, if the next movie answers these questions then it will pay off but instead, all Last Jedi did was fart in our faces on every answer.

Good as this movie was, it reeks of the writing work of that kid you knew in college…we all knew one, right?  You know, the one who would dick around all semester, screw around and get F’s on every assignment and then at the last minute, grab a six pack of energy drinks and pull on all nighter so as to get an A on the final paper, thus bringing his overall course grade to a gentlemen’s C?

That’s the irony here.  As a series, I’d give the latest trilogy an overall C, but I’d give the last movie an A.

This movie seems like the writers were having a come to Jesus (come to Yoda?) moment and decided to stop jerking us all around.  Stop asking questions only to fart in our faces when we seek answers.  We will eventually stop seeking answers if all we get are farts, just as Charlie Brown will, we hope, one day stop trying to kick Lucy’s football when he realizes that she’s going to pull it away.

That’s how this film felt.  It felt like Lucy finally let us, as Charlie, kick the football.

Overall, a fun ride and when you go in waiting to take a dump on it only to be pleasantly surprised, it’s a relief.

The sad part is they had it in them to do great all along, so one wonders why they didn’t do it with the first two but, oh well.  This movie keeps the franchise alive.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

3.5 readers, I’m not sure what I just say.  I’m blown away, elated, astounded and disgusted, so let’s just dive right in.

The Emperor is alive.  He has been all along.  Sorry if that’s a spoiler but it’s not like that hasn’t been promoted in the ads and trailers.  Frankly, this comes out of left field to me and reeks of bad writing.  I mean, the Emperor was not even so much as hinted to in the last two films, so to bring him about in this one?

Yet somehow, it makes sense.  Turns out the Emperor is strong with the Dark Side of the Force, so strong that nothing can contain him, and that the ghosts of Obi Wan and Anakin Skywalker have kept a constant vigil over the old duffer for many years, ensuring he does not return.

Admittedly, the light saber dual between Kylo, ghost Obi Wan and ghost Anakin was cool, though odd.  Seems like it defies all physics.  Ghosts can’t fight, can they?  And would Kylo really be able to defeat them?  Unlikely.  Fun to watch.

Meanwhile, Rey has reunited with Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca on N’rokto.  Rose Tico has received a tip that a local warlord has intercepted a communique between Kylo and the Emperor.  SPOILER ALERT: the warlord is Lando Calrissian and Billy Dee Williams shines in the last cameo from the original trilogy cast.

From there, it’s a race film.  Who can make it to the rejuvenating chambers of Hermera in time?  Will the heroes get there and destroy them so the Emperor remains depleted for all of time or will Kylo and the Emperor arrive first so that the Emperor can get rejuvenated so that he can fuck shit the fuck up all across the galaxy?

Strangely, the movie relies heavily on the ghosts, which is odd because I always thought the ghosts were just an occasional gimmick or writing ploy when one of the characters needs to know what a departed character may have thought.  But the ghosts are heavy in this one and the ghosts of Luke, Han and Leia advise the heroes that the quickest way to the chamber is through the Hermera’s core, which actually serves as a gateway to an alternate reality.

By this point, I admit I was beginning to fade.  The movie is a very long two and a half hours, but it picks up midway with the intense flying stormtrooper scene.  Frankly, most of the film is a mad chase.  Think, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with lightsabers.  Or Smokey and the Bandit with lightsabers, if you will.  The heroes and the villains are in a death defying race to see who can get to the rejuvenation chamber first.

Here’s my main complaint.  The entrance to an alternate reality, to me, just seems like a cop out.  C3P0, in a rather tender moment, sacrifices himself to hold the gateway open and it is implied that the alternate reality gateway might just be held open forever…so as you can imagine, this gives way to many fan theories suggesting that the entire series might be rebooted.  Maybe in another alternate reality universe, the events of the films never happened and it will all begin again with new actors.

Disney has been tight lipped about this, but I would assume that Bruce Decker, the young actor who plays what appears to be a youthful Luke for a brief amount as the alternate reality is passed through will no doubt become quite famous soon.  Boy, did he ever land a role of a lifetime.  I really think Disney has to say something about the future of the series at some point, but maybe they are holding off so as to not give any spoilers.

Oh don’t read this review as there are spoilers.  Sorry it took me so long to say that.

There’s a lot of fan service.  Almost too much.  And a lot of questions answered.  Almost too many.  It’s like the execs got together in a room and decided they needed more fan service and more questions answered to make up for all the douchebaggery that was perpetrated in the last two films.

Did I need to know Rey’s parentage?  Sure.  Did I need to know that her parents were Obi Wan and a random barmaid?  Probably not. Lowers my esteem of Obi…or raises it.  He’s only human after all.  And it’s not like he could have taken care of the kid.  He was only alive briefly when he took possession of a human form long enough to bang a barmaid after all.

And did Chewbacca have to be named the Supreme Chancellor of the New Republic?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I guess it makes sense.  He’s the last of the original characters still alive.  Just, you’d think the furry fuck would put some pants on already.

Finally, let me just say that from the very opening scene in which the Star Wars universe’s very first homosexual kiss was shared, I knew this was a very different movie, brought to you courtesy of a very new generation.  The millennials are uber woke, and they want that wokeness on screen.  I assumed that Rey would end up with Finn…and when Rey looks like she is about to kiss her tour guide, Kez Bongo, I was like wow, the first lesbian kiss in a Star Wars film but nope…turns out the first homosexual kiss went to Poe and Finn, who have been sharing feelings for a long time, ever since they met in the first film.

Touching to be sure, but I don’t think the 25 minute see where these two raw dog each other in the butt was necessary.  I mean, it’s a kid’s film, damn it.

Anyway, just kidding.  My 3.5 readers know I always post a joke Star Wars review.  I’ll post a real one when I see it.  Don’t tell me any spoilers please.

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Dealing with Christmas Returns

Hey 3.5 readers.

Has this ever happened to you?

The good thing about online shopping is you don’t have to leave your house.

The bad thing is that things get messed up, especially around Christmas time.  This has happened to me the past few years and again this year.  I will have to once again go into Christmas telling people in my life that uh, sorry, they sent me the wrong thing and I guess I’ll get you your gift in January.

What crap.  And I usually have to go round after round after round with customer service until someone finally pays attention and sends the right order.

I know.  I sound like Grandpa Simpson.  Matlock!  I want Matlock.

Movie Review – Richard Jewell (2019)

3.5 readers, as all 3.5 of you are aware, I am the world’s foremost ugly rights advocate, championing the rights of the aesthetically challenged all the time on this fine blog that is only read by 3.5 people.  We’re here.  We’re ugly.  Get used to it.  We will not be prisoners under the paper bags that society wants to put over our faces for a minute longer.

Thus, as you can imagine, when I watched this movie, there was, as an aesthetically challenged man myself, a special place in my heart for one Mr. Richard Jewell.

For those too young to know or so old they forgot – a brief recap.  The year was 1996.  Hillary Clinton was president for the first time, running the country on a de facto basis while her president husband was busy chasing interns around the resolute desk with his pants around his ankles.

The Macarena was all the rage and the Summer Olympics were in full swing in Atlanta.  Richard Jewell, a security guard at the event, spotted a suspicious backpack, warned everyone he could and saved a lot of lives that day, for as it turned out, the backpack indeed had a live bomb inside.

Now, as an ugly rights advocate, let me lay out the ugly truth for you, America.  Had Richard Jewell been a handsome man, that would have been the end of it.  The FBI would have put their focus on where it should have been in the first place – the hunt for the actual bomber, who sadly, evaded capture for another six years.

Alas, poor Richard was a fat guy who lived with his mother and in the eyes of the Feds and the media and the public at large, that was enough to convict him.  A speculative narrative followed, namely, that Richard was a “false hero” i.e. he craved attention and praise, so he planted the bomb so that he could find it and be hailed as a hero, getting the respect and admiration he so long craved but was denied by society.

Unfortunately, Richard wasn’t a perfect man.  Few of us are.  He had a spotty record with some red flags.  He’d previously worked as a college campus cop, but had been fired for being overly zealous in catching students boozing it up.  He’d been fired from another job in law enforcement too.

On top of that, he was a gun enthusiast, having collected enough gats in his room to repel a zombie invasion.

All of this weird?  Yes.  But does that make him a monster?  No.

This is a movie that, quite frankly, couldn’t have gotten made if Clint Eastwood hadn’t been behind it.  It’s a film where the chubby guy (Paul Walter Hauser) is the underdog hero and the handsome guy (Jon Hamm as FBI agent Tom Shaw) and hot babe (Olivia Wilde as the late Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs) are portrayed as villains.  In the standard Hollywood formula of pretty = good and ugly = bad, this picture would not normally fly.

Is it a product of today’s era?  Sure.  Our current POTUS lives to call out Fake News and Clint is one of the last few working conservatives in Tinsel Town.  Ultimately, this is a tale of how Feds and the media, in a rush to be first, ignored their duty to be right.

The sad crux of the film is Richard had a life.  It may not have been a glamorous one, but it was one and it was his and he lived it the best he could, getting up everyday and working and earning a living despite the limitations that God had given him.  He was fat, and not well spoken, and did yearn to be taken seriously in a world that dumps on people who look like him.

But on the other hand, his fat guy powers saved the day that day.  Spoiler alert – his enthusiasm for fast food leads to him getting the runs and on his way back from an emergency bathroom break, spots the bag.  Frankly, a more physically fit flatfoot may have never spotted it.

And ironically, the overzealous “I’m super cop” mentality that got him fired from previous gigs saved lives here, as Richard pushes other officers on the scene to take the bag seriously even when they all just assume it must have just belonged to some tourist who left it behind on accident.

Anyway, I won’t drone on.  Hauser plays the role well while Sam Rockwell nails the part of Watson Bryant, a not-so-hot lawyer who isn’t really prepared to take on a case of such magnitude, yet pushes himself to do so because he’s the only friend Richard’s got.  Bryant’s work is cut out for him because Richard yearns for law enforcement approval and initially (naively) sees Jon Hamm’s character as a friendly colleague rather than a bureaucratic hack looking to nail a scalp on his wall.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the movie might have been a little hard on Kathy Scruggs.  I’ll admit, I’m not up on the history here, but she’s portrayed as a slutty Wicked Witch of the West who bangs the information that Jewell is a suspect out of Shaw.

Should the FBI have kept a tight lid on the fact that they were investigating Jewell so as to not ruin his life?  Yes.  Should the media have waited to report on Jewell until or unless he was charged with something?  IMO, that’s a harder call.  The fact that he was investigated was news, and it was more of the FBI’s job to keep the info under wraps.  On the other hand, the media didn’t need to camp out front of the guy’s apartment for three months either.

Ultimately, if there was no evidence that Scruggs and Shaw were banging, then that allegation shouldn’t have been made in a movie that calls upon the Feds and the media to get their facts right when any man, even a man who doesn’t fit the traditional hero mold’s life is at stake.

Overall, great movie and shocking look at some of the tactics that were used against Jewell, including a bizarre attempt to trick him into confessing to things he didn’t do by telling him he was participating in a training film instead of a taped interrogation.  Sad to say it happened in America.

Also great appearance by Kathy Bates as Richard’s mother, Bobi, who suffers through the FBI confiscating all of her wares, from her underwear to her tupperware.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  FYI, domestic terrorist was pinched as the actual bomber in 2003, which finally brought speculation that Richard was the bomber to a close.  The film might have delved into that a bit more.  The film ends as the investigation concludes, but articles I have read indicate that Richard still suffered innuendo that maybe he did it and just got away with it until Rudolph was finally caught.  One wonders if all this stress contributed to an early death for Richard, who passed on from heart failure when he was 44.  Though he was overweight, I’ve seen fatter people live longer so…it couldn’t have been good for the poor guy’s health.

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Movie Review – Knives Out (2019)

 

Whodunnit, 3.5 readers?  Whodunit indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Movie Review – Ready or Not (2019)

Here comes the bride…with a shotgun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Movie Review – The Aeronauts (2019)

Guess what, 3.5 readers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Do I Want An Air Fryer?

Hey 3.5 readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Irishman is Too Long

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

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

 

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

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

Hey, 3.5 readers.

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

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

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

Have you ever had a day like that?

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