Movie Review – Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

Fire! Incompetent hitmen! Angelina Jolie!

BQB here with a review of Those Who Wish Me Dead, now available on HBO Max.

Let’s face it. Angelina Jolie is so hot that her hotness makes it difficult for her to perform in certain movie roles. Super hot Lara Croft? Check. Super hot queen? Super hot temptress? Super hot witch? Super hot fantasy babe? Check, check, check, check.

It’s harder for her to play Average Jane roles, ones where she performs boring grunt work. Here, she plays a firefighter and she does her best but it’s just difficult for me to believe that someone with her level of hotness would bother with a job that requires so much demanding physical labor and stress. I mean, seriously, once you achieve a level of great hotness, you’re not going to take the firefighter’s exam, or chop down doors with fire axes and carry victims on your back to safety. You’re not even going to do your own shopping. You’re just going to snap your fingers and say, “I’m hot” and then just kick back as a sea of toadies do your bidding and throw money at your face.

That probably isn’t fair. Jolie is hot but she’s put the work in over the years, both on and off screen, and does global charity work and so on. But come on. She’s hot. Are there hot people doing hard labor? If there are, God bless them, but seriously, they are squandering their hotness if they are.

Anyway, Jolie plays Hannah, a Montana firejumper trained to parachute into forest fires and fight them, preferably with karate but a hose will do. She’s having a rough go of it, for she made a mistake on the job that got some kids killed, and her superiors have banished her to a lookout post, blaming her for the incident rather than just say, hey, bad things happen when big fires start and could anyone else have done better.

Enter Nicholas Hoult (he who plays creepy dudes) and Aiden Gillen (he who played Littlefinger on Game of Thrones.) These two are the world’s most incompetent hitmen, who spectacularly blow up target #1, thus giving target #2 a chance to flee to Montana with his young son.

Said target has family he intends to hide out with (Jon Bernthal and Medina Singhore) but all hell literally breaks loose when the incompetent assassins set fire to the forest to draw their target out, only to end up in a race against time, trying to take down a kid with a boatload of bad info he has been charged to share with the press.

It’s up to Angelina to save the day and the kid but honestly, call me biased against hot people, but I really think an attractive person, at least one as hot as Angelina, would just be like, “Anyone wanna save this kid for me?” and then like a hundred dudes would show up and save the kid for her and she could take a nap cuz she’s so hot.

That’s it. That’s the movie. Sorry, I should have warned SPOILERS but I didn’t. Watch it anyway. It’s pretty good.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movies I Have Watched Recently

Hello 3.5 readers.

Been totes busy lately but have had time to catch some flicks. Don’t think I’ll find time to review, so here are some quick thoughts:

The Courier – Historical drama/real life story of an Average Joe British salesman recruited to deliver messages between the CIA and MI6 and a high ranking Russian government official during the 1960s, helping to bring the Cuban Missile Crisis to a resolution in the process. Not a fun movie but you’ll learn stuff, so that’s good.

The Marksman – Liam Neeson as a bitter old rancher and ex-Marine who feels like his life doesn’t matter much anymore in the wake of his wife’s death and the bank’s foreclosure on his home. Finds a purpose in rescuing a young Mexican immigrant boy from a cartel who is chasing him.

Above Suspicion – I think this movie is below the Khaleesi. HBO alums Emilia Clarke and Jack Hudson (she of Game of Thrones and He of Boardwalk Empire) star in this glorified Lifetime channel for women movie and true crime story about Mark Putnam, the first FBI agent to ever go to jail after killing an informant he was having an affair with. There are parts of the story that are gripping, but you do have to put up with a) two Brits doing their best Southern caricatures and b) it portrays, at least in my opinion, Putnam as this poor guy who had it all – married family man with an up and coming career and this evil temptress had to go and ruin and it by seducing him and I don’t know…don’t FBI agents/married men have a duty to rebuff their female informants advances and go home and take a cold shower? And if they don’t, isn’t the better option to confess to your superiors and take whatever legal and or career ending punishments coming to you before things turn violent and ugly?

Nobody – This stars Bob Odenkirk so I thought it’d be funny but it wasn’t. The overall plot is a seemingly mild mannered Dad loses his family’s respect when a pair of robbers break into his home and he does nothing to stop them. When we learn Dad was once a highly trained government assassin who has long since left that life behind, he falls back on those kills to go on a vigilante spree….and it sort of looks like it’s going to become a copycat of Deathwish but then it devolves into this meandering plot about Odenkirk taking on the Russian mob and his brother RZA and father Christopher Lloyd also have assassin skills though how this happened is never quite explained other than brief references to them having served in the Army. I like Odenkirk and while the film is worth a watch, I think this movie suffers from not knowing what it wanted to be so it tried to be too much and needed to settle on a plot.

Mortal Kombat – First ten minutes where bitter martial arts rivals Sub-Zero and Scorpion fight in Ancient Times over who is Asia’s greatest warrior are pretty kickass. If they had made this the entire movie, it would have been spectacular. Alas, after this, it devolves into the standard video game based movie mess where they crowbar in all the characters, all the punchlines, all the special moves and what have you. Most video game movies are terrible largely because what makes a video game great (brainless, repetitive drivel) makes a movie bad (brainless, repetitive drivel) but there’s a lesson here for Hollywood that if a game has a nugget of awesome storyline, focus on that. An entire movie about two ancient ninjas fighting to the death to be named Asia’s greatest warrior sounds pretty cool to me.

King vs. Godzilla – Fast forward to the last twenty minutes. Eat some popcorn to the fight scene. Ignore all the parts with the humans talking. You’re welcome.

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GET A FREE BOOK! (IT IS FREE)

Free stuff = good.

Paid for stuff = bad.

My book, The Second Death, is FREE all this weekend.

Ergo, it must be good.

Think about that flawless logic as you get your FREE copy:

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Movie Review – Nomadland (2020)

See you down the road, 3.5 readers. BQB here with a review of this year’s Oscar winner.

I’ll say from the outset that if you’re looking for a neat plot where everything falls together perfectly, or clear-cut happy ending (SPOILER ALERT – whether there is one here, is debatable, as are most aspects of this movie) then this isn’t for you.

I’ll also say that in many ways, it’s a yawnfest. Boring. Meandering. Drifting. Sometimes pointless…although I think this is the point – that this is, for most, the way life is. You do some stuff. Stuff happens. Sometimes because of the stuff that happened, you have to change and do new stuff. Sometimes you’ll look back and wonder if you should have done other stuff. Then again, you would have done different stuff if you knew the changing stuff was coming and OMG how exhausting.

Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman who lost everything due to the great recession of 2008 – her job, her town, her friends and her husband. When the gypsum plant in Empire, Nevada closed, the town literally closed with it, causing residents to flee in mass numbers to the point where the post office cancelled the area code. Alas, when it rains it pours, for while dealing with unemployment and financial woes, Fern’s husband dies and she’s on her own.

She becomes a nomad, and apparently there are many senior citizen nomads roaming America. They live in vans and campers, take seasonal work, then enjoy some semblance of a retirement for the rest of the year – driving around, visiting natural wonders, attractions, and so on. Ultimately, in today’s economy, the joys of a dignified retirement, one where Grandma and Grandpa living out their golden years in the house they bought and paid for long ago, going on fancy vacays and so on are no longer to be hoped for.

The film is more of a fake documentary. We see the way Fern lives and it doesn’t look great. She considers herself houseless, not homeless, but around the point when you see her (SPOILER ALERT) poop in a bucket, or wonder if she’s going to lose it all when a fist raps on her door, said fist belonging to a cop (will he tell her to move along? will he arrest her for vagrancy? Oh, the tension!) you begin to realize you’ve taken your home (and your toilet) for granted.

They say the best writers show and don’t tell but usually, in most mainstream Hollywood packaged films, there’s a bit of spoonfeeding here and there. Some character or some plot twist will happen that wraps it all up in a neat little bow where we all nod and say “ah” but that doesn’t happen here.

For example, as the story progresses, we see that Fern has options. Her sister and brother in law, well-off homeowners, disapprove of her lifestyle and offer to let her live with them. Not a bad option for someone who poops in a bucket but …and it’s never quite said and here’s where the film is a Rohrshach test – you can believe what you want. Maybe Fern is an idiot for not taking sis up on the offer of a roof over her head. Or, maybe Fern is smarter than everyone else. After all, nothing good in life is free. To live with sis means to live by someone else’s rules. You’ll never be fully in control of your life while you live under a roof someone else pays for. Maybe pooping in a bucket gives her more independence than we can ever hope for.

You might think Fern is a loser, only working part-time and then spending her little savings on road trips instead of, oh, I don’t know, spending it on rent or saving up for a down payment on a house. But then again, Fern thinks you’re a dummy for wanting all those things. She’s been through it. She lived life by society’s rules once. All those things you here as a kid. Work hard. Do good and do good things will happen. She built a home and a life that was taken away from her and at her age, she’s not about to do it all over again.

STATUS: Not really a happy fun time flick and not exactly rollicking good entertainment. I’m not sure it’s even up to Best Picture snuff though it did win and I can see why as it shines a light on how seniors are thrown away, how homeless people are thrown away, how not every homeless person is a “bum” and how behind every poop that ends up in a bucket, there’s a story about how that person lost their toilet. Sad.

DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT – though there were points where I wanted to fall asleep, I do think the ending was another one of those “it’s whatever you want it to be” things but I can see it being interpreted as Fern, given her situation, was right and everyone else was wrong all along. We never get that Hollywood spoonful of sugar to tell us what to think though so we don’t know for sure, or maybe we do. We never get to know for sure if what we did was right in life either so, yeah, fun times.

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Oscars 2021

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.

Every year, I usually would have talked about the Oscars long before now. In fact, it feels weird they did them in April. But COVID has caused a lot of changes to everything.

Also, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good, real movie. Studios will occasionally release a semi-decent one here and there but they are mostly holding onto their blockbusters until people are going back to theaters in large numbers again. Good news is I’ve caught up on a lot of old movies I probably never would have seen but bad news is I’m not that minded on new movies lately. Minded? Does that word work there?

Also, I usually complain about how the Oscars are so darn pretty. #OscarsSoPretty Rarely do we ever see the ugly win an award. We visually displeasing Americans demand equal representation on film.

Anyway, my thoughts:

#1 – I have seen none of these though it does seem like the streaming services are taking over. Nomadland = Hulu. Trial of the Chicago 7 = Netflix. Judas and the Black Messiah was made by Warner Brothers but released on HBO Max so more people could see it due to theater attendance being down. At any rate, I know the Oscars love to use the ceremony as a way to build up obscure think pieces that otherwise would go unseen, but I believe this is the first year where I haven’t seen a one before the show.

#2 – See above where I said I haven’t seen any of these movies, ergo it is hard for me to comment on performances. On the surface, I think they should have given Chadwick Boseman a posthumous Oscar for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Often, the Oscars are awarded based on a mix of a) whose turn is it and b) is there still time for them to get another turn? with c) who gave the best performance coming in last. Again, I saw none of them so I don’t know who gave the best performance and arguably, it is hard to say which is “best” because different roles call for actors to do different things so perhaps performances can’t even be compared.

Long story short, I love Anthony Hopkins but he’s been awarded up the wazoo throughout his long career. He plays an elderly father in “The Father” about a man suffering from dementia and memory loss and the toll it takes on his adult children who serve as his caretakers. I do have to say, this is a plight that goes unnoticed by society – how oftentimes, young people will go into life thinking they will do great things and then bam, an elderly parent gets a health problem and then that young person will spend a large chunk of their youth sitting in hospital waiting rooms, helping the parent around the house and so on. It’s what families do but perhaps we need a national conversation on how to make elder care more accessible and affordable, how to have professionals who know how to assist the elderly with patience and dignity, rather than have the adult kids try their best. Of course, another layer is that many old folks would prefer their kids help them as opposed to a stranger. Then there’s another wrinkle in that sometimes adult children will take advantage of the elder parent i.e. swipe their moolah or something and there’s even another wrinkle in that sometimes some elderly will boss the adult kids around, be unkind and miserable to them, treat them like crap, etc.

Note I said “some.” Not all do this. At any rate, I don’t need to bloviate on. I just think a) I’m not looking forward to watching the Father. I might skip it because it sounds sad but also I do think more light needs to be shined on the need for elder care (though I’m not sure how many solutions are realistically available) and b) Chadwick Boseman got robbed. So sad he passed at 43 after making history as the Black Panther and it just feels like since he’ll never get another chance to deliver an Oscar performance, he should have been given the award posthumously.

Oh and sidenote it was nice to see Steve Yeun of Walking Dead fame get a nod. He was one of the main characters that kept that show together in its early years and its nice to see him go on to bigger things.

I guess that’s it. Those are more two big Oscar observations, 3.5 readers.

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I’m Number One! I’m Number One!

Check it out, 3.5 readers.

My latest twisted short, “The Phone Did It” is number one on Amazon’s free technothriller charts. Thanks to a Freebooksy promo, I gave away approximately 1900 free copies of this book this weekend.

I mean, yeah if people had actually PAID for 1900 copies, I’d have a nice little chunk of change coming my way but let’s not get ridiculous, here. Authors making money in exchange for their labors? Absurd! Absurd, I say!

Anyway, this books is FREE until Tuesday, so do grab your FREE copy and if you’re so inclined, maybe you could even leave a review:

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GET A FREE BOOK!

3.5 readers, this weekend you can get one of my fine books for FREE, which means you don’t have to pay for it. All you do is go and get it for free. Wanna read it? Great. Don’t want to? Hey, maybe you will later. Point is, get it now, for it is FREE.

Do you know how your phone has been trained to show you stuff you’re interested in? Hell, buy one pair of French loafers today and you’ll be seeing ads for French loafers until the end of time.

What if they had a phone that could DO the things you want done, before you even realize you want them done? What if your phone just knows you like French loafers and automatically calculates when you need a new pair and orders them?

What if your phone, capable of impersonating your voice and making all those grunt work calls you hate making, what if your phone, capable of doing actual tasks and making purchases and transactions in your name, took its mandate to fetch whatever its user wants before they know they want it…way too seriously? (Muah ha ha! Cue sinister foreshadowing.)

Grab your free copy of The Phone Did It this weekend on Amazon. Reminder – it is FREE.

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GET A FREE BOOK!

Hey 3.5 readers.

You know, the important things to remember in this brave new world are a) consumers of entertainment should never have to pay anything to be entertained and b) writers and all other entertainers should never make any money whatsoever.

That’s right. Everything should be totes free. FREE, I say! Totes FREE!

I kid. I kid. Writers should make money but alas, we have to put out a lot of FREE stuff first.

Anyway, get this book about a dude who jumps out of a plane only to discover his ripcord has been sabotaged:

AND GET IT FOR FREE!

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Movie Review – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

They’re dirty. They’re rotten. They’re scoundrels.

BQB here with a review. (Yes, it’s on Pluto TV. I’m really getting my money’s worth out of this app, which is zero.)

I remember thinking this movie was funny as a kid but now as a geezer, I think it is more clever. I was able to guess the jokes as they were coming, partly because they are memorable and partly because 2019’s “The Hustle” starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in a modernized female version with basically the same plot kept the jokes fresh in my head.

Michael Caine, looking rather dapper at roughly 55 here and man what a life you can live if you eat your Wheaties, plays Lawrence Jamieson, a master con artist who lives a lavish lifestyle in a wealthy town in the south of France. He finances his mansion, servants, travel, wardrobe, extravagances, etc. by bilking rich women out of their money, often by telling them he is a prince living in exile, trying to coordinate a rebellion against the communists who have conquered his non-existent nation. The ladies think they are donating to the cause of freedom, while Jamieson simply pockets the dough and gives the women the heave-ho.

Freddy Benson is also a con man, but on a much less impressive scale. He is an American, conning his way through Europe with stories about his sick grandmother and how he can’t afford lunch because he’s saving up for her operation. Freddy bilks rich women out of free lunches and pocket money.

When they meet on a train, Freddy demands that Lawrence take him on as a student, that he become Darth Vader to Jamieson’s Emperor, which is funny because Palpatine himself is in this flick. Ian McDiarmid plays Jamieson’s trusty butler Arthur, who assists in the cons. I know McDiarmid has a long career but personally, I believe this is the first non-Emperor role I’ve seen him in (at least that I can remember.)

Lawrence and Freddy go out on the con together but soon butt heads, finding it difficult to work together as they rarely see eye to eye. They settle their differences with a bet. First one to con super sweet soap company heiress Janet Colgate out of $50,000 gets to stay in town, while the loser must leave.

From there on, it’s a mad cap romp as Lawrence and Freddy constantly one up each other, telling one lie after the next and apparently they have no fear of burning in hell for there’s nothing, literally nothing that they aren’t willing to do to defraud this poor woman.

To the film’s credit, I remember it being a common trope in many films where a character sets out to defraud another character (sometimes it’s a man defrauding a woman or vice versa) and then after they get to know one another, they fall in love. Here, love does bloom amidst this twisted triangle, but (SPOILER ALERT) the duo is not rewarded for their treachery. The ending is rather ingenious and if you’re watching it for the first time, unexpected. I thought it was better than the old “Oh OK I forgive you for being a fraudulent piece of crap and will reward you with my love and trust now” ending that so many other movies go with.

The late, great Glenn Headley plays Janet and this movie reminded me of how sad I was to hear of her passing. She also played Dick Tracy’s Tess Trueheart and I always thought that movie illustrates the dilemma many a man finds himself in. Dick wants Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) because she’s hot, but knows she’s trouble as she can have any dude she wants. Tess, on the other hand, is true blue and will be there for Dick through thick and thin. Ultimately, you bang Breathless and marry Tess…or maybe just skip breathless and marry Tess because Tess will dump you if you knock up Breathless. Whatever. God, my knowledge of film stretches back to some super old movies. No one even gets these references I wager.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I do remember repeating Steve Martin’s bathroom at the dinner table joke over and over as a kid.

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Classic Movie Review – Stargate (1994)

It’s the movie that dared to cast French Stewart as a badass.

BQB here with a review of Stargate.

Long before the Internet took off (this was made in those early days where you didn’t dare to log on for more than 5 minutes lest your mom start harping on you about the phone bill), conspiracy theories still existed, though they weren’t as rampant as they are today.

One was the premise that the Ancient Egyptian gods were, in fact, space aliens who ruled over Egypt, subjugating the masses with their advanced technology. After all, how else could they have made all those pyramids without modern machinery? Spoiler alert – they did it through enslavement of the tribes of Israel which this film conveniently leaves out (enslaved subjects of another planet that resembles Ancient Egyptian are featured but the plight of the Jewish people is not mentioned specifically) but it did cast actors of Arabic and Middle Eastern descent rather than just put white dudes in brown face so honestly by 1994 standards, this flick was hella woke for its time.

James Spader, who made his bones playing the snobby rich kid in every 1980s teen movie, shows a softer side as Dr. Daniel Jackson. Honestly, as Spader got older, he traded in his snobby rich kid demeanor for an arrogant, full of himself and his genius villain persona, so unless I’m forgetting something, this is the one role I can think of where he actually plays a decent person, and in fact, a nerd. And he does it quite well.

Spader is a linguist recruited to decode the symbols on an artifact. The government has been trying to crack it since 1928 and Spadey Spades figures it out within minutes. Thus, the movie’s trend to dump on him for being smart begins as it is a running joke throughout the film that everyone despises a poindexter. (Sigh, as I have discovered in real life as well.)

Turns out, the artifact is a Stargate. Ancient Egypt really was ruled by aliens. Those aliens have since moved on to another planet. The gubmint calls on Colonel Jack O’Neill (Kurt Russell) to lead an expedition through the stargate and into the alien world, begrudgingly bringing Jackson as a tag-a-long as he’s the only one who will know how to decode the symbols on the stargate in the alien world. Oh, and they also bring a team of stereotypically rough commandos, including French Stewart, typically known for being a goofy comedian but he dumps on Dr. Jackson for being smart and again, I feel the doctor’s pain as everyone has been doing this to me my whole life.

Human vs. alien fights ensue. O’Neil and Jackson help the enslaved people of this alien world escape the tyranny of the evil aliens. If only O’Neil and Jackson had been around on earth many years ago. Exodus would have been a much different story.

Overall, it’s a pretty cool sci-fi flick and ahead of its time. I dare say it was original because most space films usually focus on space flight whereas the idea of a gate might, in theory, be more likely as a method for space travel as beings can’t otherwise fly for millions of miles without growing old and dying.

Bonus points for Russell, who also looks young here. He plays the grieving father of a son who accidentally shot himself while fooling around with an unsecured gun, presumably blaming himself for not locking it up. He cares for the young slaves who join his rebellion against the alien Ra but clearly looks after them as if they are his own kids, worrying about their safety.

This inspired a long-running syndicated TV show, which I never watched though I always heard was cool.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. And I watched it on Pluto TV!

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