Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review – Ad Astra (2019)

Space.  There’s a lot of it.  BQB here with a review.

Similar to Interstellar, this film gives us a peak into the future of so-called “doable” space travel, i.e. there are no space operatic ships that fly at warp speed or laser sword battles or what have you.  Instead, it focuses on the idea that deep space travel is indeed possible if man is willing to invest the time and money.

Brad Pritt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut who has been recruited for a sensitive mission – to find his long lost father (Tommy Lee Jones as Clifford) who, thirty years prior went on a mission to Neptune to search for alien life and then disappeared, never to be heard from again.

The first half of the film starts out strong, meditating on a number of blunders that humans would likely export from earth to outer space, namely America’s moon base has become commercialized with fast food joints on every corner and warring factions fighting over resources back home are fighting over moon resources as well.

The film is visually beautiful and inspiring, reminding us that, at least in terms of getting to the far reaches of the Milky Way, doing so doesn’t have to be the stuff of science fiction as long as we open our hearts, minds, wallets and are able to find people who are willing to spend long chunks of their lives on space travel.

While I don’t want to give away spoilers, I’ll say that the second half of the film is riddled with gaping plot holes and though I’m but an amateur, I’ll just say there are parts where the science doesn’t add up and the doings are unlikely.  There are points where it feels like the writers pushed hard through most of the movie only to take a nap at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Gets a little disappointing at the end.

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BQB’s Friday the Thirteenth Inspired List of Mistakes People Make in Horror Movies

Hey 3.5 readers.

So, I’m a couple days late, but I hope you enjoyed (or at least, survived) Friday the Thirteenth.

Behold my list of horror movie character mistakes.

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Other Movies I Saw This Summer But Didn’t Get Around to Reviewing

Sorry, 3.5 readers, I have been uber busy, but here are some brief takes on some other movies I saw but didn’t get around to reviewing:

The Kitchen – Though it has a few good moments, I thought this 1970s crime drama starring Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy and Elisabeth Moss was kind of lame.  It’s about a trio of New York housewives whose husbands go to jail and they step up to run their criminal enterprise.  It’s sort of cringe because on one hand, it’s clear the movie is made such that you are supposed to root for women making it in yet another male dominated profession, i.e. crime and yet, these women are murdering and robbing and so on so really, should we be cheering on anyone who does such things?  McCarthy and Haddish are great comedians and I get they wanted to exercise their dramatic chops, but this wasn’t it.  Those vehicles are possible.  For example, McCarthy nailed it with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and Haddish will likely find her dramatic role one day.  Moss, who has drama experience from Mad Men, doesn’t get much of a chance to shine.  Overall, it felt like a cheesy ripoff of 2018’s Widows, which was also about three wives who pull off a heist when their husbands are taken out of commission.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – This is another one of those noble dog movies where the dog helps his owner throughout.  Although they are just one step above being a Hallmark Channel movie, they’re still pretty good.  This one is about a race car driver who has perfected the art of racing in the rain, i.e. don’t panic or you’ll wipe out, rather, assume the rain will come and turn into the skid.  Though he was unprepared for his wife’s death and the ensuing custody battle with her parents over his daughter, the lead, whose name I forget, keeps on driving with the help of his pooch.  Good stuff.

Angel Has Fallen – A good addition to this series.  Made me go back and watch the original Olympus Has Fallen and realize it is underrated as an action film.

What movies have you seen lately, 3.5 readers?

Movie Review: Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

This review will be brief.

As action movies go, its OK.   It’s worth the price of admission and fun to watch on the big screen.  On the other hand, it isn’t something that I’m clamoring to watch again.

The Fast and Furious movies have always required suspension of disbelief in their brand of putting awesome stunts above little nit picky things like laws of physics and gravity and so on.  Probably the most unlikely suspension though is that the Fast and Furious team accepts Shaw (Statham) as one of their own even though in a previous film, he openly murders one of their teammates in a gruesome way.  I guess eventually that becomes something we’re supposed to forget and frankly, I think most people do because it is silly to expend too much brain power on these films.

Hobbs (The Rock) a government agent who sometimes chases and sometimes works with rhe F and F crew, teams up with Shaw to help save Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) who has been implanted with a capsule containing a virus that could destroy the world.  Once a pair of awesome badasses, now they kind of look like old bald men going off on an adventure with some young chick paid to act like they are interesting.

Idris Elba picks up a payday as the villain but we won’t hold it against him.

There are some great scenes and it is fun and at one point, The Rock pulls a helicopter down with a chain.  Like I said, it’s fun and worth a ticket but it’s not something you’d want to see again and again.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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

Grab your time travel machine, 3.5 readers.  It’s time to go back all the way to 1969.

BQB here with a review of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film.

I’ve been a longtime Tarantino fan, 3.5 readers.  I suppose most Gen Xers are.  His films have always been known for 1) time jumps, i.e. starting at the end and working back to the beginning, so that the end of the movie becomes essentially how the whole mess started 2) long pieces of expository dialogue where characters drop key plot points by word of mouth in passing and 3) 1960s and 1970s pop culture references galore.

Remember Inglourious Bastards?  This film is another alternate history project.  Just as Tarantino rewrote WWII, so too does he give the infamously terrifying Manson family murder of actress Sharon Tate a rewrite.  The tale centers around down on his luck actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his trusty stuntman/errand boy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt.)  Together, they are a pair of old Hollywood legends who once put out a popular 1950s cowboy show, only to fizzle in the middle of their lives.  Rick is having a tough time finding work, and if he can’t work then Cliff can stunt.

Long story short, Sharon Tate and her husband, director (later turned on the run pervert) Roman Polanski, are Rick’s neighbors, and I could tell you more but suffice to say, during their quest to restart their careers, Rick and Cliff get sucked into the Manson family madness in a big way.

Having studied Tarantino’s movies for a long time, I have to say this one is far different.  His 1960s pop culture references are there, but there a but more subtle, with the occasional hint toward what is being referred to for the millennial generation.  Tarantino’s adoration of the 1960s and 1970s was already a bit stale in the 1990s when he got his start, and I remember as a teenager, watching his films was the first time I learned of some of the 60s/70s references to which he was referring.  So, his work is cut out for him in trying to stay afloat in a sea that is now dominated by young adults who were in short pants at the turn of the century.

Somehow, he pulls it off.  And he also, much to my surprise, refrains from the heavy, heady dialogue that is his trademark.  True, his dialogues were often a joy to behold, but here, he focuses more on showing rather than telling.  Ironically, it’s almost like this grandmaster blew up all the writing rules in his youth, only to begin grabbing hold of them in his old age.

It’s in the showing where this movie excels.  We see Leo as Dalton sitting on a float in his backyard pool, reviewing his lines for a part in a movie that he needs to remain relevant in the acting game.  This shows us that Dalton is desperate.  He’s old but he isn’t ready to quit just yet, and wants to give it his all before his final curtain call.

We see Cliff Booth sitting alone in a dingy trailer, his only friend a big dumb dog.  His house is a mess, looking as though he never cleans.  He cooks a pot of mac and cheese, then sits down before the TV to eat it straight out of the pot.  He is a consummate bachelor.  Unlike Dalton, he is used to a shit life.  Aspirations of anything else don’t compute with him.

And finally, we see Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.  So proud of herself for making it in the movie business is she that she goes to a cinema and takes in one of her films, in awe of her accomplishment.  It’s a sweet moment.

Overall, this is Tarantino’s love letter to his favorite flicks, genres, actors, directors…really, his kiss for that period of time in Hollywood history that formed the foundation of his work.

Ultimately, Rick and Cliff have to take everything they thought they knew about the movie business and turn it up on its ear to keep going in a world that’s changing, and Tarantino does that here as well.

After all, this is a movie that starts at the beginning and ends at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Watching Road House is An Exercise in the Suspension of Disbelief

SPOILER ALERT: Please watch Road House on Netflix, suspend your disbelief as you do so, then come here to discuss.

Hey 3.5 readers.

Road House.  It’s the shittiest awesome movie you’ll ever see, and I say that with all due respect to the late Patrick Swayze and make no mistake, he deserves much respect.

I’ve seen it a couple times over the years, but now, watching it as an adult, it’s a whole new experience.

With most movies, you do have to suspend disbelief.  Most movies tell fanciful tales.  That’s why we watch them.  If we wanted realism, every movie would be a guy sitting at a desk for 8 hours, periodically getting up once in awhile to get a sandwich or take a shit.

But you really have to put your brain on hold for this movie.

The plot is that Dalton, that’s his only name, played by Swayze, is the world’s greatest cooler.  A cooler is the head bouncer in a club that employs a squad of bouncers.  I had no idea that bouncing had such a high level of professionalism but that’s neither here nor there.  Bottomline, a businessman who owns a nightclub or road house in a rural Missouri town goes to NYC to recruit Dalton to clean up his joint, the Double Deuce, for it is a den of depravity, full of assholes who constantly murder each other.

Dalton takes the job on the spot, not giving a shit about his current employer, just taking off that night to drive to Missouri.  I mean, what an asshole.  Give the guy 2 weeks notice, am I right?

Anyway, Dalton gets to the Double Deuce and that’s when shit starts to go down.  The club owner agrees to pay Dalton $500 a night plus he’ll cover any medical expenses.  That stands out to me right away.  I mean, this is the shittiest bar in existence and somehow the owner has the dough to hire a cooler for $120,000 a year.

On top of that, there are scenes when the bar staff get together for a meeting about how they’re going to help Dalton clean shit up.  And there’s like, 50 people working there.  Like there’s no way this shitty bar is pulling in enough to cover that much overhead.

Anyway, Dalton gets into some fights with the asshole barflies and sooner or later, he runs across the town bad guy, who employs most of those assholes.  Push comes to shove and before he knows it, Dalton is at war with the town bad guy.

Oh, and Dalton gets stabbed one night and meets the town doctor, a hot blonde.  He literally calls her Doc.  Ironically, the movie is like a modern day western where the lawman comes into town and all the townfolk tell him to give up and just take it up the butt from the town bad guy because the bad guy is too strong.

Moving on, Dalton’s best pal and mentor is Sam Elliot, who is also another great cooler.  It’s cool to see Sam Elliot in his younger days though there is a creepy scene where he dances with Doc and looks like he wants to bone her even though she is his buddy’s girlfriend.

By the way, the cops don’t give a shit about this town.  There is some passing mention that the town bad guy has all the cops under his thumb but still, I mean, every night people are getting murdered and hacked to pieces and robbed and raped and so on at the Double Deuce and if that’s not enough, a local shop owner’s store gets blown the fuck up because he stands with Dalton against the bad guy.  Later, a car dealer stands with Dalton and the bad guy has a henchmen drive a fucking monster truck through his dealership.

All I’m saying is yes, I get it.  The local cops are on the bad guy’s take but holy shit, at some point, you’d think the Governor of Missouri would hear about some of the non-stop, daily bar murders and business explosions and send the National Guard in to fuck the bad guy up.

OK, beyond this I won’t say much more, but you should watch it on Netflix and return here to tell me the discrepancies and brain suspensions you have to do for this movie, which honestly, is awesome, make sense.

Some stupidity I noticed, in no particular order:

#1 – The farmer is a shitty negotiator.  Dalton asks to rent his room.  The farmer says up front well no one wants it because the whole farm smells like horse shit.  Wow.  Way to negotiate.  Maybe little the renter make the first move.  See what he’s willing to pay.  At any rate, the farmer says he’ll rent this super awesome loft bachelor pad complete with a walk out on rooftop porch that he can (and does) bang hot chicks on and he rents it to him for 100 a month which he says is just some bullshit he has to charge him lest the local church here he is giving shit out for free and they come looking for donations.

#2 – I said it before but I’ll say it again, the math behind the Double Deuce’s payroll structure just does not add up.  50 some odd employees, a house band and a pro cooler making 120,000 a year..,at a bar where stabbings happen every five seconds.

#3 – It takes place in Missouri but in the car dealership scene, you can see a sign for LA and Bakersfield in the distance to the right.

#4 – It is kind of awesome that Dalton knows in advance that bar creeps will fuck up his car so he always drives a broken down beater to work instead of his cherished Mercedes.  I’ll actually say that’s one part of this movie that is clever.

#5 – Dalton pulls a knife used to kill his buddy Sam Elliot out of Elliot and uses it to push down the accelerator of his car in an attempt to run the bad guys over.  Sorry, but I don’t think that knife would hold the pedal down.

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The Cats Trailer (Or, Just Because We Can CGI Something, Doesn’t Mean We Should)

 

Hey 3.5 readers.

Cats.  It’s one of, and some might even say, Broadway’s greatest musical.  It’s two hours of performers dancing and singer in kitty costumes.  The extremely loose plot is that the cats assemble in a junkyard once a year to introduce themselves and plead, through song, why Old Deuteronomy, the head cat, should pick them to ascend into cat heaven, where they will be reborn as a younger cat.

SPOILER ALERT – the most memorable (pun) song is “Memory” sung by Grizelda, who in her youth, was a very glamorous cat but when she became a famous cat, she forgot all the little cats and now, she’s old, washed up, somehow involved in cat prostitution, how that works I don’t know but whatever.  At any rate, the plot, in addition to being about cats, is also how it sucks to get old and how your body breaks down and your poor health ruins your life and everyone starts to think you suck because you’re old and all you can think about is how happy you’d be if you could be young again.

OK.  Aside from all that.  CGI has done some miraculous things, but I don’t think it looks good here.  Grafting the faces of real actors and actresses onto these CGI cats just looks dumb.

First, see the size.  They’re as small as cats and the world is from a cat perspective, meaning regular household objects are bigger to them.  So…ok on Broadway the only way you can have a dancing cat is to put a human in a cat costume, but for the movie why not have singing CGI four legged cats?

Or do one of those Air Buddies type things where you record the cats until they do the shit you want and then record some voiceover.

OK that would be stupid.  Scratch that.

But here’s the big question.  Why not just get these actors to appear in makeup?  You know, there have been a number of sequels to the Wizard of Oz over the years, laden with CGI and yet for my money, nothing beats the 1930s original.  Nothing beats those elaborate costumes and makeup jobs.

So, couldn’t we just make up the stars and let them prance?

Or, how about this?  Just make an animated cartoon voiced by the stars.  Disney makes new cartoon characters all the time.  Why not animate some cats who walk and talk like humans and let the stars sing for them?

My guess is these are all such big names that they wanted their faces on the cats.

I don’t know.  Something about the faces on the cats just looks cheap to me.

I’m sure I’ll go see it anyway though.

What say you 3.5?

PS – I love Jennifer Hudson, like for real, love her, but why is she playing an elderly cat?  Just seems like more of Hollywood’s stance against the old.  If the character is an old lady cat, depressed at what time has taken from her, then why is a young woman playing her?  I mean, OK, she’ll belt that song out of the bark but still.

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Briefly, 3.5 readers, I’m not sure I get Disney’s remake everything with live action initiative, even though I assume they’re generating a ton of revenue and not having to spend money on writing new stories as they’re just taking the old stories and re-doing them.

It sort of makes sense when there are human characters but something about a talking CGI animal cast is odd.  That’s the fun part of cartoons.  Why cartoon animals talking doesn’t seem silly I don’t know.  Maybe just the idea of real-ish looking animals talking seems weird.

But at any rate, it’s fun, though again, for some reason, cartoon lions fighting seemed ok but something about letting kids see real lish lions fight seems strange.

It was a good time but I don’t know.  I’m not sure CGI-ing everything is the way to go.  Don’t believe me?  Check out that Cats trailer.  I’ll probably rant about the Cats trailer at some point.

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Movie Review – Spiderman: Far from Home (2019)

Spiderman’s taking his show on the road, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review.

I think the overall success of the new Spiderman franchise is that they dove us into the action without bogging us down with another origin story.  By now, these superhero movies have been done to death so we know who they are and where they come from.  We don’t need to see baby Superman crash on the farm again.  We don’t need to see Batman’s parents get shot.  We don’t need to see Spidey’s uncle get shot.  We know.

By trusting the viewers know, the movies can delve into further action and that is what’s done here.  Peter Parker is going on a summer class trip to Europe, hoping to get a break from saving the world and all the woe that comes with it.  Alas, Nick Fury tracks him down and wants him to carve out some time from his sightseeing schedule to help Mysterio fight elementals – giant monsters made out of earth, wind, fire and other 1970s bands.  Or were the 1960s?  I think 70s.  I don’t know.

The movie integrates itself into the post Avengers: Endgame well, but my fear is that (SPOILER ALERT) Endgame offed a lot of key characters, so where the whole franchise goes from here without them is uncertain.

If I go deeper, I’ll give the movie away but suffice to say, I think this incarnation of the web slinger is a model for others to follow.  We don’t need the origin story anymore.  Just dive in.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Men in Black (1997)

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Something about watching MIB: International made me nostalgic for the good old days when the MIB films were first released.  I watched the first last night and the second tonight, so here’s my review of the original with a review of the sequel coming later.

At the time, this movie was super original and it broke some barriers by blending science fiction with comedy and knocking both out of the park.

On a personal level, it reminds me of my high school days, a time that was happy and safe and my life was ahead of me and anything was possible.  Sad that I squandered it all to become a blog proprietor with only 3.5 readers but oh well.  What can you do?

In the first film, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is the top veteran agent in MIB.  His partner gets old and accordingly, gets his memory wiped.  Looking for new blood, K recruits an NYPD officer (a young Will Smith in all his glory) to become Agent J.

As Agent J, Smith conveys the sense of surprise we all feel as we enter the MIB world for the first time.  Confusion and awe of a myriad of humorous and or scary things about the world around us, all revolving around the fact that we aren’t alone in the universe.  We aren’t even alone on this planet, for alien beings live among us in human suits, animal suits, dog suits and what have you.  It’s all the best kept secret there ever was and MIB keeps the beans from being spilled so humans can go about their lives without fear of the constant threat of alien invasion.

A plot unfolds involving the fate of, well, not our galaxy but a galaxy.  The Arkellians want to save it and a bug monster who turns a farmer (Vincent D’Onofrio) into a poorly fitted skin suit are at odds over it.  To the rescue comes Agents K and J, with the help of mortician Laurel (Lindo Fiorentino) who K has mind erased way too many times because, let’s face it, those alien bodies keep piling up.

Feels like just yesterday I saw this and now so much of my life is gone.  Sigh.  So much suckage.

This is Will Smith’s best work and I remember being young and watching him run down that alien in the beginning of the movie and thinking I’d love to be that fast when I grow up and now I’m old and wish I could be like that so I guess Will’s lead a pretty enviable life.

There’s a bittersweet scene in which J and K pull over an alien couple who are on their way out of New York City.  They’re on a rural road.  K is outside the car, questioning the driver.  Alas, the wife goes into labor.  J sticks his head into the backseat to help and before you know it, he’s being slammed all over by an octopus tentacle, presumably having popped out of the lady’s nether regions.

It’s hysterical because it’s all happening in the background.  K and the driver chat, totally oblivious to J’s plight.

But it’s also sad because the Twin Towers are so prominently seen in the background.  Damn you, Al Qaeda!

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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