Tag Archives: emma stone

Movie Review – Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Men vs. Women…and a naked man holding a tennis racquet!

BQB here with a review of “Battle of the Sexes.”

It’s the 1970s and women’s lib is all the rage.  Women are burning their bras as tools of oppression against their jugs and telling men to make their own sandwiches.  Really, it was anarchy.

Amidst this backdrop, tennis legend Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) becomes a feminist folk hero when she defies tennis great Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) by leaving the already established women’s tennis league and leading fellow female players to create their own, all over a pay dispute as women players were paid much less than their male counterparts.

Meanwhile, washed up, formerly great tennis pro Bobby Riggs is now in his mid-fifties.  He’s found a new life with a beautiful and rich wife Priscilla (Elizabeth Shue who, sidenote, gave this reviewer one of his first boners and continues to do so even though she’s getting up there in years).

You’d think that would be enough, but Bobby is bored.  He misses his heyday, a time where he drank, partied, lived it up and gambled…so much gambling.  Unlucky for Bobby, Priscilla does not approve of his gambling and has made it known that he needs to either settle down or lose her.

Long story short, Bobby, seeking a second chance at fame and fortune, challenges Billie Jean to a “battle of the sexes” – man vs. woman on the tennis court.  He hams it up for screen, telling women they need to get back in the kitchen, make his dinner, etc.

I won’t spoil it any further but suffice to say, good writing usually makes the audience root for both opponents.  Billie Jean feels she can’t stand idly by as this dummy makes a mockery of the women’s lib movement.  As for Bobby, what begins as a chance to grab the attention he craves turns into a quest to prove this his wife that it’s ok for him to gamble and live large and engage in get rich quick schemes because he’s really, really good at them.  Bobby makes this point known at a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting where he tells a bunch of down and out degenerates that their problem isn’t that they’re gamblers but that they are bad gamblers.  Bobby’s schemes make money and therefore he thinks he should be acclaimed as a hustler, not a mere gambler.

SIDENOTE: Sarah Silverman turned my head as Billie Jean’s manager, Gladys.  If Sarah could drop the whole “I say dirty things in a sweet voice” act (as she does here), there might be bigger roles in more serious films for her.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Between Billie Jean wanting to be accepted by the public without having to keep her sexual preference a secret and Bobby wanting to be accepted by his wife as the larger than life big mouthed baller that he is, the movie has a lot to say about the boxes life places us in, how we have to do backflips to prove ourselves and get out of them and overall, wouldn’t it be great if the world we just let us all live as we choose?

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The Coalition Against Nerface – Battle of the Sexes

Hey 3.5 readers.

As you all know, I am, among other things, a dedicated philanthropist and public activist.   I have more causes than you can shake a stick at and if you don’t have a stick, perhaps I’ll donate you stick to you so that you can shake it.

My latest cause is, “The Coalition Against Nerdface.”  “Nerdface,” a term that, as far as I know, I coined, happens when a beautiful actress or handsome actor dons the guise of a nerd to play a nerdy role rather than just, oh I don’t know, stepping aside so HOLLYWOOD CAN GIVE A JOB TO AN ACTUAL NERD!

Nerdface.  It’s the world’s number one problem and frankly, everyone should stop working on all the other problems until this one is solved.

Case in point.  Emma Stone?  Super beautiful.  Who is she playing?  Tennis player Billie Jean King.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Billie Jean was a great tennis player, a feminist, women’s rights icon etc. but she was no looker.  That was actually OK in the 1970s, believe it or not.  People who did great things would just be liked and respected for doing great things and they didn’t need to look like supermodels while they did them.

What is Hollywood doing?  Do they hire, oh I don’t know, an actress that’s kind of butch with glasses?  No.  They just whip a freaking pair of glasses on Emma.

You know what?  New rule.  If a character in a movie has glasses, then said character should only be played by a person wearing actual prescription glasses.  Otherwise, hate crime!  Hate crime, I say!

Nerdface.  It’s the worst.  Call it out when you see it.

Can you think of any Nerdface examples, 3.5 readers?  Discuss in the comments:

 

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Movie Review – Aloha (2015)

Recently, one of my noble 3.5 readers accused this blogger of mincing words.  I described San Andreas as “not the best film I’ve ever seen but not the best either.”

The aforementioned reader had a point.  As a reviewer, I need to take a side.

Luckily, Cameron Crowe’s romcom Aloha makes it easy for me to be clear:

Bookshelf Q. Battler here with a review of one of the worst damn movies he’s ever seen in his entire life.

Aloha – Sony Pictures 

Some movies are entrees – served up with expert precision, arranged on your plate in such a beautiful manner that you almost don’t want to eat them out of fear that once you do, the experience will be over.

Then, some movies are like a five dollar all you can eat buffet.  You shove a little bit of everything in your cake hole and the only result is that you leave feeling bloated and gassy.

With several storylines that meander all over and never quite hit their mark, Aloha, I’m sad to say, is one of those buffet movies.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

I’m sad to say it because it’s not the star studded cast’s fault.  Bradley Cooper (Gilcrest) is charming, Emma Stone (Captain Ng) is adorable, and Bill Murray (Welch) is his usual zany self, though he’s more reserved these days as an elder statesman of comedy.  Rachel McAdams (Tracy) aptly plays Gilcrest’s long lost love while John Krasinski provides one of the funnier (dare I say redeeming) scenes of the film as Woodside, Tracy’s husband who, despite his strong silent type demeanor is able to communicate all he needs to say to Gilcrest with a few looks and a shoulder grab.

Plot lines are tossed at the audience like they’re tennis balls stuffed into a serve-o-matic machine stuck on the automatic setting.

Gilcrest and Tracy have to deal with their baggage.  Woodside has to learn how to communicate with his wife with actual words.  Ng is all business and is a zealous defender of native Hawaiian culture, Gilcrest has to choose between his job or his new love interest.  Welch is trying to launch his own space weapon in the guise of a communications satellite and those are just the highlights.

Character development isn’t the film’s strong suit.  We’re shown a brief Afghanistan flashback scene where Gilcrest is so distraught over his life that he doesn’t care when he’s shot by (I guess they were terrorists?  It wasn’t really explained).  Welch lobs an accusation that Gilcrest took a hundred thousand dollar bribe during his time in Afghanistan and that enormous plot line is never fully resolved, thus putting me in the awkward position of being expected by Hollywood to hope that an alleged traitor to his country will overcome the obstacles standing between him and his new lady love in true sappily sweet romantic comedy fashion.

No thanks.

Sadly, the film has two important messages that get lost amidst all the tomfoolery:

1)  All those vacation brochures you drool over that make you wish you could be in Hawaii right now are all well and good, but America isn’t in it for the macademia nuts and pretty scenery.  Hawaii serves as the lynchpin of America’s sphere of influence in the Pacific.  Seeing as how the islands play a vital role when it comes to U.S. global interests, we could probably do more to help the native people who call it home, many of whom aren’t exactly thrilled that we’re there.

2)  Over the past several years, space exploration has moved from government to private business control, with the claim fed to the populace that this is somehow a great move, that the uber rich will be able to dump more money into space technology than governments can.  That may be true, but as this film warns, people like Welch might use that power for unsavory purposes, though a billionaire trying to launch his own weaponized satellite seems like it’s more fitting in a James Bond film than a romcom.

Overall, the movie isn’t so much a cooked to perfection filet mignon so much as it is a bubbling over gumbo where Crowe, as chef, just tossed everything in his kitchen into the pot.  Is this a story about one man’s attempt to find hope again after the world has put him through the ringer?  Is it about love?  Is it about the military industrial complex?

The best description I can give is that Crowe took his signature work, Jerry Maguire, mixed it up with one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, then went heavy on the romantic comedy angle, shortchanged the seedy, dirty military contractor angle and left the audience thinking that sadly, the no plot action film starring the ex-wrestler in the theater next door might have been the better choice this weekend…

which isn’t saying a lot.

STATUS:  Not shelf worthy.

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