Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey (2019)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  So, this movie is the sequel to 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose” and it continues with author W. Bruce Cameron’s tried and true formula of pulling on the heart strings of pet owners.  You might remember in the original, Bailey died and reincarnated over and over, becoming a different dog each time, helping a slew of owners along the way as he pined to return to his original owner, Ethan (Dennis Quaid).

In this go around, Bailey croaks again and again, reincarnating over and over so he can help Ethan’s grandaughter, CJ, as he finds her again and again throughout numerous dog lives.

You cry when the dog dies.  You rejoice when the dog lives again.  Honestly, these movies are one step above being Hallmark films but somehow they make you care about the characters and the dog and I suppose the message is we all need unconditional love in our lives and dogs are better at providing that than humans.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – John Wick 3: Parabellum

Prepare for war, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “John Wick 3.”

John Wick was such a breath of fresh air when it came out so many years ago now.  I say that facetiously because the air was laden with a smelly, corpse stench but you know what I mean.  In a sea of sequels, prequels and reboots, it was something new to latch our hooks into.

And to date, Hollywood hasn’t managed to screw it up…yet.  This third installment doesn’t disappoint, though it does promise a fourth.  Truth be told, this one was good enough that I look forward to a fourth and I suppose that’s the name of the game.  When the movies start to stink, it’s time to call it a day, until the next reboot comes along.

Wick (Keanu Reeves) is on the run following a terrible offense he committed against the all knowing, all seeing high table of hitmen that, at least in this universe, control the actions of all assassins for hire.

The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon of “Orange is the New Black” fame) is on the hunt for vengeance and she puts Wick’s fanboy, Zero (Mark Dacascos) to the task.  With martial arts flare, Zero and company track Wick on a worldwide hunt, with Halle Berry, Angelica Houston, Laurence Fishburne, that guy who plays Ser Bronn of the Blackwater on Game of Thrones, and Ian McShane either reprising their old roles or stopping by the first time, depending on who you might be referring to.

It’s a highly artistic, super choreographed blood bath.  The body count is high and all done with stylish flare.  It’s not something easily described so you’ll just have to watch it.

Overall, this is the best new franchise to come around in a long time, so I hope they keep it up but also manage to end it with the same style as they’ve employed in past films.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

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I’m still on my Clint Eastwood kick, 3.5 readers.

This time I rented his iconic comedy.  I’d been meaning to see it.  I heard good things and there have been so many references to it in pop culture, especially to Clint’s sassy pet orangutan, Clyde.

Gotta say, I was not impressed.  Seems like blasphemy as I like all the other Clint movies I’ve seen so far, but I didn’t really get the point of this movie, or if it even had one.

Clint stars as Philo Beddoe, a hard living truck driver by day who fights in underground fist fights at night.  One night while at a club with his best buddy Orville (Geoffrey Lewis), Philo meets up and coming country western star Lynn Halsey-Taylor.

The tough guy falls instantly in love and upon learning she’s leaving town, he follows in the hopes of catching up with her again.

The rest is a road trip film gone awry.  While in pursuit of the babe, Philo offends the lamest biker gang ever as well as a pair of bumbling cops.  Both pursue Philo in the hopes of getting revenge and Philo stymies them at every corner.  Meanwhile, Orville’s foul mouthed mother, Ma. fends off more bikers with her profanity and her shotgun.

Clyde is utilized as an ongoing gag, making all kinds of fart jokes, sticking up his middle finger and so on.

I think had I been an adult in 1978 I might have laughed at this, though I’ve seen other films from this time and earlier that will billed as comedies that have made me laugh.  I think this one just falls flat.  The jokes are kind of cheap and though I hate to give the ending away, there isn’t really any kind of conclusion that makes you glad you watched the damn thing.

One thing that gets me is the 1970s were Clint’s prime years and he was in his 40s then.  So much lush hair.  I guess it really pays to work out and eat right and take care of yourself.

A young Beverly D’Angelo joins the gang as Orville’s love interest, Echo.  Think about it.

I get a lot of people like this movie but me, I don’t see it.  And to be honest, I can’t make this accusation for sure, but the whole vibe seems like it was a little too inspired by Smokey and the Bandit – just two hayseeds out trying to have a good time and stick to the squares.

Clint’s longtime girlfriend Sondra Locke was in a lot of Clint movies and she plays his love interest here.  I guess she was considered a hottie in her day and I’m sure she was a nice enough lady but I’m not sure I get her.  I’ve seen her in three Clint movies and she’s always cast as a character who is always pissed off at Clint, yelling at him and cussing him out.  Then again, their relationship did end with 10 years of litigation so maybe this foreshadowed that.  I don’t know.

STATUS – Hate to say it, but not shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

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Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

I don’t know if this will be much of a review.  Just that I have been on a Clint Eastwood movie kick lately.  He is one of my favorites and I only got to know him as an actor when he was old.  When he was young, he was so cool.  Shame what age does to us, though I suppose in many ways, he has retained his coolness.

“Escape from Alcatraz” is based on the real life escape by Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) from the legendary prison.  In many ways, it is the same old prison story, though now I wonder if this wasn’t the film that started all the other prison movies.

Clint as Morris gets hassled by a pervert, makes friends, gets upset when one of his pals is wronged and ultimately, figures out an escape plan.  They do forget to elaborate on the evil doings that got him locked up in the first place.  Ironically, the escape plan mirrors the plan that happened in real life and as shown in Showtime’s recent “Escape at Dannemora.”  One wonders if those inmates had seen this film.

Good movie and a running theme in Clint movies is that he is tough and stands up for himself.  He doesn’t start shit but doesn’t accept it when shit is slung at him.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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

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

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

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

SPOILERS ABOUND.

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

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

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

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

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

I just…I don’t know.  Meh.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Hellboy (2019)

God, this movie sucks.

Let’s get this review over with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATUS:  Not-shelfworthy.

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

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This is a stick-up, see?

BQB here with another classic movie review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Review – Us (2019)

I got 5 on it, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Us.

Jordan Peele went from wacky comedian to serious horror film director in Get Out.  His challenge here was to prove he could keep the pace going, and he does.

The plot?  The Wilsons (Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide/Winston Duke as Gabe) are a middle class family who bring their kids to Santa Cruz, California for a vacation with their family friends, the Tylers (Elizabeth Moss as Kitty and Tim Heidecker as Josh.)

Alas, the shit hits the fan when a family of dopplegangers arrives at the Wilson’s vacation home.  Each one of the strange intruders looks exactly like the Wilsons, but with the exception that they are basically feral monsters, looking to kill and destroy.

I’ve always thought that the best horror flicks rely less on CGI and more on feeling and emotion, things that are brought across through sights and sounds.  Peele excels with that.  The eerie facial expressions of “the Tethered” will freak you out, giving you a creepy look into the idea that we all may have a twin lurking beneath the surface and that twin may not be happy with us at all.

Sidenote – That may be the underlying social message of the film.  You see, as Red, Adelaide’s copy, explains, whenever Adelaide experienced joy, Red experienced pain.  Does one person’s joy cause another’s misery?  Perhaps that might be looking into things a little too in depth.  Or perhaps not.

All I know is this was scary, with some dashes of dark humor.  There are epic plot holes galore and the movie starts to fall apart if you put too much thought into it.  But Peele asks us to suspend disbelief and so we do…or should.  I don’t know if I ever did.  I still have unanswered questions.

Lupita has been a part of several big films this decade but as far as I know, this is her chance to shine in a lead.  Meanwhile, Winston Duke proves his versatility, from playing Black Panther’s ultra macho frenemy last year, to playing the happy go lucky, nerdy dad that his wife kids are embarrassed of here.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  I might be a little hung up on the social message I perceived.  My two cents is that yes, elsewhere in the world, there are people who suffer while we watch TV and play video games and go to movies and go on vacations.  How best to address that though?  If you’ve been an avid news watcher over the years, it seems as though America can do no right in addressing the world’s ills.  Attempts to help are met with accusations of America trying to take over.  Attempts to stay out of the problems of other nations are met with accusations of being cold and uncaring.  Then again, maybe it isn’t about suffering people abroad.  There are plenty of people who are suffering right here at home.

My main unanswered questions lie within how the copies exist and how they work but to talk about that here would be to give it all away.  However, if you’ve seen it, feel free to discuss in the comments.

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Movie Trailer – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

A first look at Quentin Tarantino’s 9th (rumored to be his second to last) film.  Looks good.  Bonus points for a rendition of Bruce Lee in the cast.

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Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Supercalafraga-whatever, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Mary Poppins Returns.

I’m going to let you in on a terrible secret, 3.5 readers.  I’ve never seen the original Mary Poppins.  I know, terrible.  I’ve seen bits and pieces over the years but it was before my time and no one from my time was nostalgic enough to share it with me.

Even so, I felt I had enough of the gist to get this new rendition going into it.

Truth be told, I liked this movie but it does feel like a throwback to yesteryear – its style, its music, its open embrace of imagination without feeling a need to explain the how or the why.  To me, it’s all exhilarating though in reading the reviews, I don’t think the critics got the point.

You see, Mary Poppins has never made sense.  She is a stoic nanny who floats down from the sky to help the Banks family whenever they are in need.  This time around, the Banks children from the previous film are all grown up and they are frantically trying to locate stock certificates that will prevent their cherished family home from being foreclosed upon by an evil team of lawyers and bankers, headed by Colin Firth.

Aren’t bankers the worst?  You enter into a contract with them out of your own free will and they loan you money that allows you to strike out on your own but when you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, it’s ok to just think of them as miserable SOBs and really, how dare they decide to not just allow you to keep the money you agreed to pay back?

Sorry.  I digressed, and apparently I’m the only one with grave concerns about the plight of the Great North American Banker.

Anyway, like I said, Mary Poppins is nonsensical.  She gets the kids to behave and clean up after themselves so the adults can tend to the hard tasks of adulting.  She doesn’t age.  She can do magical things.  Despite her love of methodical organization, she can also cheer the children up with highly choreographed song and dance routines featuring casts of cartoon characters.  I mean, WTF?

Long ago, cartoons were full of nonsense.  Adults made them to entertain kids but it was felt that little to no explanation was necessary vis a vis the how and the why of things.

At some point, the world changed.  We want to know the details.  We aren’t satisfied without the backstory.  And to the film’s credit, it flies in the face of this trend.

No, you’re not going to find out anything about Mary.  Who the hell is she?  Is there an army of nannies in the sky?  Do they all train in a magic nanny academy?  Do they have a leader?  Do they have an enemy?  What is the source of their power?  How do they fly?  What the hell?  Were they bitten by radioactive spiders or something?

In a world where we are bogged down with the deets, it felt nice to just indulge in some frivolous tomfoolery.  That, to me, is the cool thing about this movie.  Mary is a walking contradiction.  She pushes the kids to grow up and take responsibility.  Meanwhile, she pushes the adults to chill out and to comfort themselves by letting go to the imagination they lost long ago as they came of age.

There’s a scene early on where Mary and kids escape into a magic bath tub only to come out in an underwater world full of cartoon sea creatures.  There’s no explanation.  No how or why.  As a viewer of modern cinema, you’ll wait for the twenty minute piece of dialogue where the powers of being able to transport children to a cartoon world are explained.  Don’t hold your breath because you won’t get it and that’s ok.  It’s a good thing.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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