Movie Review – The Bubble (2022)

Aw sweet! Cliff Beasts 6 is out already, 3.5 readers!

Come with me for a review of…The Bubble, not Cliff Beasts.

My first reaction is this is typical Netflix fanfare combined with typical Judd Apatow fanfare. Large ensemble cast. Basic structure but largely improvised dialogue. Too long. Could have benefitted from some editing. Not very coherent but it ended eventually. I assume Netflix likes such movies because they can spend heavy on the cast and not so much on anything else.

But that’s where I was wrong. This is a very special effects intensive film, largely because they are making fun of Hollywood, the film production process, pretentious actors and of course, action flicks. The ensemble, featuring the likes of Karen Gillian, Keegan Michael-Key, Fred Armisen, Leslie Mann, David Duchovny, that girl who played Borat’s daughter, Pedro Pascal and plenty of others who I’m probably too old to know their names star as the cast of the Cliff Beast franchise, a series of lousy action films in which a team of heroes assemble again and again to defeat evil dinosaur like creatures who dwell on cliffs.

This fact alone leads to the biggest laughs of the film as we get a comparison between how CGI scenes look very cool once rendered vs. what buffoons everyone involved looks like when they are shooting such scenes.

The overall premise is that at the height of the pandemic in 2020, back in the early days of the rona when everyone was so worried that they were wiping down their potato chip bags, a major studio dares to be one of two companies still willing to produce a major film. Accordingly, the cast is cloistered in a posh hotel in the British countryside and are forced to live together, not go anywhere or do anything fun for fear of coming down with the dreaded rona. Hotel staff have to pamper these rich entitled bums who are used to getting their way and are willing to throw outrageous temper tantrums over trivial things whereas the rest of us working stiffs have grown used to not getting our way.

Hijinx ensue that’s pretty much where the coherence ends. Each character has their own subplot and it all culminates in the ensemble yearning for a way off the set, for the film itself becomes a nightmare. Mistakes and errors cause the production to drag on for months and months and there’s no exit from the hotel in sight. The actors try almost every option to get out of the film except, you know, being good actors.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Not really a great film and not something I’d want to watch twice. It does have a lot of laughs and parodies Hollywood extensively. The behind the scenes looks at actors working on a green screen set are a laugh riot. I suppose we’ve come a long way in two years, from the time when people wearing scuba type helmets on dry land seemed like a great idea to now, when a film can laugh at such silliness.

SIDENOTE: I’m not entirely sure a dry land scuba helmet is a terrible idea. I’d wear one if it were socially acceptable.

Tagged , , ,

Movie Review – Nightmare Alley (2021)

Never be a geek, 3.5 readers. Believe me, the last thing you want to be, at least in this film’s definition of the word, is a geek.

BQB here with a review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Oscar buzzed noir flick.

It’s the early 1940s and drifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper in a fedora, see?) has just snatched up a paying gig, he’s a carnie and accordingly, all the freaks and geeks of a traveling show will educate him on the ways of flim flam, fakery, deception and of course, the con.

His professors in this master class include Zeena and Pete (Toni Collette and David Strathairn) – a couple who perform as a fortune teller and her assistant bilking the crowd of boku buckeroos with claims of communication with the great beyond. Meanwhile, “geek keeper”) Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe) educates the lad (Cooper is referred to throughout this movie as young buck but isn’t he pushing fifty? Oh well, if you’re handsome enough…) on how no one gets ahead without getting their hands dirty. (Sidenote: in this movie, “geek” does not mean “person who collects many Star Wars action figures” as it does in modern times and I’ll leave it at that.)

Rooney Mara rounds out the cast as Molly, she who claims an astounding ability to absorb electricity and Ron Perlman stars as strong man Bruno, Molly’s father-appointed protector who promised to beat up anyone who hurts Molly, thus putting Stan the Man in line for a knuckle sandwich with extra beatdown sauce if he misbehaves.

Long story short, the film is actually two films. The first half, Stan learns the art of the con and the second half, flash forward years later to a time when Stan has perfected the con, performing a mysterious mentalist act with the help of assistant Molly to large, sold out halls in the big city.

Enter Dr. Lillith Ritter (Cate Blanchett). Molly describes her as a stone-faced bitch and frankly, that’s the best description of Blanchett’s typical role I’ve ever heard. In addition to being a stone-faced bitch, Ritter is also a psychiatrist, who views her profession as a legalized con and recruits Stan to use his BS skills to bilk uber wealthy but hella gullible rubes out of their bucks in exchange for Stan tricking them into believing he can communicate with their deceased loved ones.

Then again, the uber rich aren’t people you want to piss off…and I’ll leave it there, another than to mention turns by Richard Jenkins, Holt McCallany and Mary Steenbergen.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I saw this offered on HBO Max and for a long time I assumed it was some sort of new series that I didn’t feel like investing time in. The movie was long and at times I actually wondered if it would have worked better as a series with Stan conning a new mark every week. I’m not sure it’s Oscar worthy and may not have been in the running had it not been for Del Toro’s direction.

DOUBLE SIDNOTE: In the first half of the film, it is always raining. In the second half, it is always snowing. At any rate, bad weather abounds.

TRIPLE SIDNOTE: Based on an old novel turned into a 1940s film that makes me want to go check out the old film. I doubt I will though because I am incredibly lazy.

SPOILER ALERT:

LOOK AWAY UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN IT!

There’s two endings. I can’t get too deep into them other than to say the first ending required me to suspend disbelief as it seemed unlikely someone so adept at conning would do what they did.

As for the second ending, that was great and fitting and it added some symmetry, bringing it back to the beginning of the film which I felt laid out something terrible and made me wonder if they had just forgotten this part only to go back to it at the end.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Death on the Nile (2022)

And the murderer is…

You’ll have to watch for yourselves, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of a surprisingly good movie for Hulu.

You might remember in 2017 Kenneth Branagh breathed new life in the seminal work of the great mistress of the whodunnit, she who gave birth to the modern mystery novel and perhaps the modern mystery film by association – the great Agatha Christie. Five years (how have they gone by so quickly) later, Branagh is back as Christie’s signature protagonist, the brilliant (both in mind and mustache) Detective Hercule Poirot.

This film has more stars than your favorite constellation, so part of me is surprised it has flown under the radar. It came out on February yet I just realized it was on my second favorite streaming service which to me is like saying my second favorite bag of doggy doody (but I’ll get into my love/hate relationship with streaming services another time.)

The other part of me isn’t surprised the fanfare for this flick has been lackluster. It’s a historical piece, and a thinker at that. Like most whodunnits, it follows Christie’s tried and true formula of putting several flamboyant personalities into one location, giving them all a motive and then, egads! Murder most foul! Lock the doors and bring in Detective Poirot! You’ll have to follow the clues, take notes and keep track of the evidence…or just be lazy like me and munch popcorn while Poirot does all the work and take his word for it.

Here, the dessert loving stache man has been invited on a pleasure cruise of the Nile, at the behest of newlyweds played by Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer. (Sidenote, there’s a scene where Gal grinds her tucas on Armie’s junk on the pyramids so hey, that’s fun. Oh, sorry for the spoiler…then again maybe you’ll watch for the grindage.)

Long story short, these two are absurdly good looking, absurdly successful and absurdly rich, such that they draw the envy of many a cruise guest and drive one of them commit a most heinous crime.

Letitia Wright of Black Panther’s sister fame, that wild snow girl who dated John Snow in Game of Thrones whose name I can’t remember, Annette Bening, Russell Brand and more whose names I don’t feel looking up. This flick really was a get for the Hoo to the Loo.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Come for the mystery. Stay for the suspense. Feel free to pause it on Gal grinding her hiney. Curse your family’s bad genes that prevented you from being a handsome actor like Arnie who gets paid to have his junk grinded on by Gal Gadot. Oh and eat more cookies. That always helps.

Tagged , , , ,

This Fine Blog Has Been Sold

Dear 3.5 Readers,

It is my sad duty to inform you that I have sold this fine blog for seven million dollars to a Papua New Guinean guava juice manufacturing consortium. Actually, this is good news for me, but bad news for you as you will no longer be entertained by this fine blog…unless you found reading this fine blog to be a terrible, burdensome chore, in which case it is good news for you.

From now on, there will only be info about guava juice manufacturing on this exceptional blog. How the guavas are picked. How they are peeled and squeezed. How they are juiced. How delicious the juice is. Mmm. Yummy delicious guava juice.

Should you cry for me, Argentina, now that I will no longer be the proprietor of this fine blog? Yes, for a respectable mourning period. After that, be happy for me, knowing that I am now the proprietor of seven million Papau New Guinean kinas, which I am told is quite close to having seven million U.S. dollars if you apply the exchange rate, carry the one, divide by the denominator and…aw crap. Oh well, at least they sent me a free carafe of guava juice. Mmm boy! That’s good guava juice.

Tagged

Will Slaps Chris at the Oscars

Hey 3.5 readers, your old pal BQB here.

Wow. I didn’t bother to watch the Oscars last night, only to wake up and read about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on live TV.

So, without further ado, my thoughts:

1 – My first reaction was it must be a publicity stunt. Oscar ratings are dwindling. Hollywood rarely, if ever, puts out big blockbuster historical type epics like Titanic anymore that made big money while putting butts in theater seats and have Oscar appeal. On this fine blog, I used to opine about the Oscars all the time but eventually stopped because, well, literally every year I had never seen any of the movies nominated so it’s not like I have an incentive to tune in and root for flicks I’ve never seen before.

So I wondered if this was designed to boost ratings, like “you never know what could happen at the Oscars so better tune in next year.”

Also, if you watch the video, Chris Rock barely flinched. He doesn’t skip a beat. He just goes on with the show. I wonder if most people wouldn’t have been flustered and not sure what to do next. Then again, Chris Rock isn’t most people. He has performed live for many years and as a pro he is trained in keeping a show running even under bad circumstances.

2 – Thus, I hate to say it but I think it was genuine, which makes me sad. I always liked Will Smith. I liked him because I feel like he’s an underdog story, like kind of a comedy nerd who put himself out there and hit it bigger than ever. When I went to bed and read he won for King Richard I thought good for him. About time. Now it will be hard to not view him as anything but an a-hole.

3 – A lot of people saying Chris deserved it. First this assumes Chris knew about Jada having a condition that causes hair loss. He might have just thought he was making a silly joke to roast an actress about her hair cut. Who among us has never put our foot in our mouth, said something that, once we learn a new fact, we immediately regret saying it? This would have been handled better with Will talking to Chris backstage, letting him know the facts and maybe Chris could have apologized later.

But still, if he knew, the better approach would have been for Will to just respond verbally. Explain how the joke was low class.

4 – I don’t know. Hollywood has been trying to cultivate a real person image like they’re people like the rest of us and then when a guy slaps another guy on live tv and gets away with it with no charges pressed…this wouldn’t happen amongst regular Joes. Slap a guy in a bar and there’s a chance you’re going to end the night in handcuffs.

Anyway, Chris Rock and Will Smith. Two celebs I have always liked and it makes me sad.

Tagged , , , , ,

Seagulls Stop It Now

I’m late to the party on this but it has been so long since I laughed this hard at anything:

Tagged , ,

FREE BOOK!

I’m Crazy BQB and my book prices are INSANE!!!

Get this free book and don’t forget, it’s FREE!

“But BQB,” you say. “I’m trying to save money because gas prices are higher than a clone made from a mix of the DNA of Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Woody Harrelson.”

Good for you! Then you shouldn’t be spending money on books. You should be getting this free book instead:

Tagged , , , ,

TV REVIEW – The Thing About Pam (2022)

Gotta watch out for those soda slurping middle aged moms, 3.5 readers.

Usually I wait until the end of a season before I opine on a series, but this is a true crime drama based on real, well publicized events that I’ve already looked up and self spoilered for myself, so I’m not worried about spoilers. If you are, you might want to look away.

The show is about the actual case where midwestern mom Pam Hupp stabbed her cancer stricken BFF Betsy Faria some 50 odd times with a knife, then framed Betsy’s husband Russ so she could collect the insurance money.

The third episode, which aired this week, gave us a look at the horribly conducted trial and IMO, is enraging because it gives a clear view into the horrors of confirmation bias, i.e. once the powers that be decide something is X, they put on blinders and refuse to consider any and all evidence that it might be Y.

In this case, Russ Faria has a room full of fellow dungeons and dragons nerds who all testify they were pretending to be elves and orcs with Russ until 9. A late night stop at Arby’s provides a time stamped receipt indicating that Russ would have to have driven like Mario Andretti on steroids to have returned home and stabbed his wife all in time for the 911 call.

Other evidence against Russ’ involvement abounds, while evidence against Pam emerges. I mean, holy crap, Betsy switched her insurance beneficiary from Russ to Pam, ostensibly because she trusted Pam would give the money to her daughters upon her death…but no one in law enforcement thinks to look more into this.

The DA’s office, the police, they all agree – Russ fits the profile. He kinda looks like a mean guy, he and his wife argued a lot (because no other couple ever argued before) and so obviously he must have done it. Big city attorney Joel Schwartz is astounded as he comes down to the close knit community where all the police and DA lawyers know each other, went to school with each other, have each others’ backs and form a wall against any and all common sense i.e. why will no one even consider Pam as a suspect?

Meanwhile, Pam plays the role of sweet, middle aged and caring Betsy friend well.

We haven’t gotten there yet, but my understanding is Russ does go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit while Pam gets emboldened by her first murder that she got away with that she kills again, first her elderly mother for more insurance money and then some random guy who she tried to pose as a hitman in a sad attempt to try to frame Russ again.

Rene Zellwigger is heavily made up to look like a frumpy old lady, yet another role where someone beautiful plays someone ugly. Oh well. That’s hollywood for you.

The show goes by quick and has some typical network TV formulaic stuff. But ultimately, it really is scary how so called professionals in the legal system can get so convinced of x’s guilt that they refuse to look at y evidence staring directly at them.

STATUS: Shelfworthy.

Tagged ,

Movie Review – The Batman – (2022)

Riddle me this, 3.5 readers.

What’s only going to be read by 3.5 readers and full of SPOILERS?

THIS REVIEW!

(SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS ABOUND)

This isn’t the worst Batman film ever made. I doubt the late 1990s’ Batman and Robin, what with its bat nipple suit on George Clooney, will ever be unseated from that distinction.

It’s far from the best either. 2008’s The Dark Knight has some big shoes that may never be filled while 1989’s Batman, though silly by today’s standards, paved the way for Hollywood to start thinking there might be gold in them thar superhero flicks, so I doubt you’d have any of the Marvel success today without it.

This movie is somewhere in the middle. It’s worth the price of admission, there are some fun twists and turns. However, it’s not something I want to rush to watch for a second time and at 3 freaking hours long, it’s a time commitment. Seriously, the movie is so long that when I walked out of the theater I wondered if so much time had passed that the world had been conquered by damn dirty apes.

My best description? Imagine a noir detective Batman. Like so many 1930s fedora clad private dicks, Batsy narrates the film, explaining to the audience what he’s up to.

It’s also, God help us, millennial Batman. The Caped Crusader fights for social justice and against white privilege (including his own) with his mighty Bat-Fu skills.

There’s even a twist of emo Batman – Robert Pattinson broods with long hair in his face and dark eyeliner.

To the film’s credit, it’s not an origin story. I think Hollywood is finally grasping that we don’t need to see origins of superheroes that we’ve seen a hundred times before. No need to see Mr and Mrs Wayne murdered. No need to see baby Superman’s little spaceship crash in the Kents’ backyard. No need to see Spidey’s Uncle Ben shot by a mugger again.

Yet (SPOILER), the Waynes’ untimely demise(s) feature prominently in the film as part of a larger mystery, so there’s still at least one Hollywood suit out there who is worried there might be one viewer left in the world who doesn’t know Batman became Batman because he’s sad about his dead parents.

Paul Dano brings The Riddle to life in a major creepy way heretofore unseen on film. Past incarnations of the human question mark have always just been a wacky version of The Joker (Jim Carrey’s career making goofball performance in Batman Forever, for example.) Here, Paul Dano plays every millennial’s worst nightmare, the unloved, socially inept incel who broods behind a screen all day, exposing big time dirt on Gotham’s elite with a side of murder and violence to increase online viewer counts. (Gee whiz, even the Riddler gets more readers for his blog.)

Zoe Kravitz is Catwoman though is never called Catwoman, yet she becomes a sidekick/love interest for Batsy as she searches for justice for her deceased friend caught up in the madness. Meanwhile, Colin Farrell is completely unrecognizable as crime boss henchman The Penguin. I literally did not know it was Farrell until I googled it at home. Good performance, yet another handsome guy robbing an ugly guy of an ugly role with the aid of prosthetics and make up. Sigh. If only prosthetics and make up could make an ugly guy handsome, then again who has that much time to sit in the makeup chair every day?

A lot of weirdness. A lot of heavy handed exposition. A lot of telling instead of showing. At times we are spoon fed helpings of backstory and while many films have been able to pull off a three hour run time by keeping you on the edge of your seat, this one doesn’t. By the two hour mark, I wanted to go already.

Though it avoids origin story silliness, it’s still new, early in his career Batman. He makes mistakes. Literally falls on his face at one point. If you came for super awesome grappling hook, zipline, flying around while making it look easy Batman, you came to the wrong place and ultimately…yeah while there’s a decent amount of action but there’s more talking than action.

Andy Serkis plays a believable Alfred. Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) plays buddy cop to Bats, but it almost reminded me of the cheesy 1960s Batman where Batman would work directly with the police while in full costume and no one thought it odd a mystery man in cape and cowl was consulting with the police. Here, everyone does think it is odd, but its like the writers felt there needed to be some obligatory lines like “Hey why are we working with this costumed guy” and so on.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It’s acceptable but not great. It builds a world that I’m not, at this time, really chomping at the bit to see and it’s not just because I’ve seen it a hundred times before. And I’ll admit, I’m old, and comic book movies are for the young, so maybe the younguns will enjoy Millennial Batman fighting for truth, justice and wokeness.

I would point out though that back in the day, I thought 2005’s Batman Begins was great but at the time, I thought it would just be a one and done. That film paved the way for 2008’s powerhouse the Dark Knight so you never know, with a little tweaking this franchise might (I’ll believe it when I see it) but might just have a masterpiece sequel on the way if everyone plays their cards right.

Tagged , , , ,

FREE BOOK

GET IT TODAY, 3.5 READERS

Tagged , , ,