Tag Archives: films

Daily Discussion with BQB – The Oscars Add Best Popular Film Category

You know, 3.5 readers, I’m actually old enough to recall when it wasn’t entirely impossible for a popular film to also be an Oscar film.  Sure, even when I was younger, the Oscars were known for pretentious snobbery, but movies like “Braveheart” or “The Departed” were well received by the public as well as having Oscar potential.

This is new category is laden with tacit admissions: 1) They’re admitting the films they nominate are basically just high falutin’ tripe 2) they’ll never, ever give the gold to a comic book movie.

You might forget that “The Dark Knight” was nominated for Best Picture in 2008 and funny, it was added to Netflix recently.  I rewatched it over the weekend and was struck at how relevant it is  – how longstanding evil can’t be defeated without great sacrifice, how sometimes defeating evil requires a man to get down into the muck, how there has to be darkness before there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, plus the immortal debate over whether or not all men are corruptible given the right circumstances.

Didn’t win.  Had an asshole dressed as a bat.

My guess as to why are they doing this? 1) Back in the day, people would actually become fans of a film and would watch the Oscars to see if their favorite movie wins.  Why, I recall people openly debating which films were the best…because they’d seen them.

No one saw the films this past year and if they did, the convo would be, “What, you think the film about the deaf woman who fucks a fish monster is better than the film about the grad student who statutorily rapes his employer’s teenage son?  How dare you?!”

Second, there is a movement in all walks of life for minorities to be treated equally everywhere and that should be no different in film.  So…the issue is that Oscar films usually deal with heavy subjects, so if a movie featuring black people wins, the black people are usually portrayed as slaves, or downtrodden, poor, caught in an oppressive system…and it’s not that I’m saying those films aren’t important but…

…oh well the hell.  They’re probably doing this because they want “Black Panther” to win an Oscar but they can’t bring themselves to give a gold statue for best picture to a movie about superheroes, even if the movie was able to use sci fi and comic book elements that a) appeal to young people and b) do a better job of explaining the historical arguments of how to obtain civil rights for African Americans.

Honestly, an argument could be made that BP deserves Best Pic outright and this could be Oscar night’s one chance to say hey, we aren’t snooty, we gave it to a super hero film.

But they just can’t do it.

Besides the Black Panther argument, black people (well, I don’t mean to speak for them so if I have any black readers feel free to educate me but I think I’m right)…they don’t ALWAYS want to watch TV and see black people as either slaves or downtrodden people.  Sometimes they want to see black people living life, having fun, going on adventures and so on.  To that end, a movie like “Girls Trip” might take home some gold.

Aside from the “Oscars So White” issue, I think the Academy is wrestling with its view that popular and/or comic booky/action/comedy/horror or fun or blockbuster popcorn films are taking on more and more social issues.  “Captain America: Winter Soldier” for example looked into whether we are sacrificing our right to privacy by putting so much of our lives onto the Internet – data for the government to mine and use and abuse.

I know the Academy prefers their precious, snooty little films about Cold War fish fucking but it wouldn’t hurt them to just give the award to a super hero movie one time…especially one like BP with a lot of cultural significance…and then they could go on to give the film to a snooty fish fucking film next year.

In the early 2000s, they gave the gold to one of the LOTR films, a popular, high grossing film, and then went on to give it to snooty films in following years.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Writing Choices – Fight Club and Characters with Multiple Personalities

The first rule of this discussion is don’t complain about spoilers.  The second rule of this discussion is don’t explain about spoilers.

Seriously, you’ve had 18 years to watch this movie.  If a movie has existed the exact amount of time it takes to bring a baby to adulthood then please, spare me your spoiler complaints.

Fight Club.  It’s a great film that has gotten better with age if you ask me.  Generation X has sort of become a lost generation.  The Baby Boomers are apparently going to stick around forever and the Millenials are leap frogging over the X’ers because they’ve all had access to some pretty sweet technology since they were babies.

Us?  We’re stuck in the middle, and that was the sense of ennui that this film was trying to portray.

If you don’t want to read about the main spoiler, then look ok.  Last chance. OK.  Here it goes:

Ed Norton’s nameless character and his new friend, the one that comes into his life, turns it upside down, urges him to start a fight club and fill it with dangerous domestic terrorist anarchists…are the same person!

I know, right?  #mindblown

Sometimes it is possible for a character to be more than one person at the same time.  Usually, this happens when a character has a split personality.  There may be other times, for example:

  • A character assuming a false identity to spy on or trick people will require the audience to keep up with which characters in the film believe the character to be Person #1 and who think he is Person #2.
  • Maybe the character is possessed by a demon or some kind of magic is involved to put two souls into one body.

Multiple personalities seems to be where this issue comes up the most and from a writing standpoint, it is a bear.

Personally, I believe it’s easier done in movie form.  When you watch Fight Club, you are taken through a series of twists and turns as it is slowly revealed that Tyler (Brad Pitt) is more than just a smooth, fast talker but in fact, he has a lot of bad things planned and the naive Ed Norton figures things out way too late.

Then, it all comes down to the ultimate reveal when Ed realizes he was Tyler all along.  Immediately, the audience starts going through all the interactions that Ed and Tyler had together and those will need to be sewn up.  Video footage, for example, shows Ed yelling at no one where cut scenes show him yelling at his imaginary friend, Tyler.

I’ve tried to write characters with false identities – people who go to one place where the people think he is A and another place where people think he is B.  It’s exhausting.  I’m not sure I’m even a good enough writer to pull that trick off yet but hopefully one day.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  Discuss your favorite Fight Club moments, or talk about another movie or book where there was a character who was, for whatever reason, more than one person.  What challenges will a writer face while trying to pull this off?

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Writing Choices – Manchester by the Sea and the Unhappy Ending

Hey 3.5 readers.  Welcome to the first ever Writing Choices column.  Warning, spoilers abound!  Oh wait, the title of this post is a spoiler.  Avert your eyes!

But seriously.  If you haven’t seen this movie, then read no further, unless you don’t care, then feel free.

Manchester by the Sea is by far the most depressing movie I’ve seen this year and quite possibly my lifetime.  It’s a story of pain, suffering, and great loss.  More specifically, the movie reveals a truth that movies often sugarcoat or brush to the side in the name of making the audience happy – when it comes to overcoming loss, people often lose the battle.

Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a blue collar family man who once had it all.  Nice house, beautiful wife (Michelle Williams as Randi) and adorable little kids.  One night, and remember, SPOILERS, he throws a wild, drug and booze fueled party in his garage until his wife breaks up the fun and tells everyone to get lost because she’s trying to sleep.

After his buddies go home, Lee is too wired too sleep.  He starts a fire in the fireplace, then sits for a spell in a reclining chair, then gets up and goes for a walk to a package store, because even though it’s after three a.m., he decides that the one thing he needs after a night of drunken debauchery is more beer.

When he comes back (SPOILER) his home is ablaze.  Firefighters managed to rescue Randi, but alas, his kids, including a newborn infant, are lost.  He drops to the ground and displays a face of inconsolable loss and later, steals a police officer’s gun from its holster but is tackled before he can shoot himself.

If you’ve seen it, did you think about the “show, don’t tell” angle?  A lot is said here without it being directly said.   Here were two thoughts I had:

#1 – Dude, you’re kind of a shit bag for throwing that party with your wife and kids in the house in the first place.  Second, what’s wrong with you?  Why are you such an alcoholic that you needed to go out for more beer after drinking all night anyway?  Who leaves their kids and wife alone with a fire going in the fireplace?  Maybe if you weren’t so drunk and irresponsible you would have realized this was a bad idea.  I know if I had a wife that looked like Michelle Williams, I’d be in bed next to her instead of walking to the liquor store.

#2 – How one mistake can ruin your life and the lives of others.  OK.  You’re a responsible person.  You’d never throw a wild drinking/drug party.  You’d never leave your family in the middle of the night with a fire in the fireplace going for more beer.  Fine.  Still, no one can be perfect a hundred percent of the time.  I know that in the back of my mind, there’s always a fear I might screw up so badly that it ruins my life or the lives of others.  There’s a voice like that in the heads of most people.  If there isn’t one in yours, there should be?  Maybe you wouldn’t have left for beer, but could you see yourself maybe, oh, I don’t know, falling asleep with the fireplace still lit and then the house goes up anyway?  Are you a perfect driver?  Do you ever worry that you might make one mistake and hit another car?  See?  You might not be a drunk but even so, it is entirely possible that one day you might make a single boneheaded move that destroys everything.  Obviously, keep a watchful eye out to prevent that from happening.  You don’t want to end up like Lee Chandler.

Where was I?  Show don’t tell.  Those two reactions above came to me and yet, they aren’t spelled out.  Instead, we just see Lee living his life of sullen, depressed, lonesome ennui.  Every minute of every day is clearly a nightmare for him.  He obviously thinks about the terrible mistake he made every second of the day.  There’s clearly a voice nagging him inside his mind, “Why did you have to go get beer, dumbass?  Why did you have to light that fire. idiot?”

Had he just stayed in that recliner and fell asleep, he probably would have sniffed the embers that fell out of the fireplace and snuffed them before the house went up.  But for that one decision, he lost his wife and accidentally killed his kids.  He never comes out and says, “Oh I wish this and that…” but if you’re paying attention, you know he must be thinking that.

I have strayed too far from the main point though.  Unhappy endings.  We want to make our audiences happy.  Their lives probably stink, to varying degrees.  At any rate, no one wants more sadness in their lives.  So often, a movie comes together in the end to deliver a happy ending.

Throughout this film, we wonder if that will happen for Lee.  A couple of women express an interest in him.  Will he be able to get over the loss of his ex-wife and find love again?

Moreover, Lee’s brother, Joe, the last family member he was able to rely on and confide in, who didn’t abandon him after he burned his family up accidentally, dies.  Lee returns to Manchester by the Sea, his hometown, a place where he had once built a life but now he has a hard time being there due to bad memories.

Lee is charged with taking care of Joe’s son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).  Patrick is having a rough go of it.  Not only did his father just die but his mother is, well, nuts, and so she’s out of the picture and not able to help.

Together, Lee and Patrick become a super depressing duo.  Lee drinks and occasionally starts bar fights just to feel something.  Patrick has two different girlfriends (unbeknownst to each other) and essentially uses girls at his high school for sex as a coping mechanism.

However, remember show and tell?  We see what Patrick is up to.  The people behind the movie depend upon us to make the connection.  “Oh, this kid is messed up in the head and he’s trying to feel better by having lots of teenage, pre-marital sex, which if anything, will just ruin his life and the lives of the girls he’s getting busy with.”

Throughout the film, we wonder if Lee will see guardianship of his nephew as a second chance – a way to prove that he’s not a complete waste of space.  He failed his children.  Perhaps he will man up and not fail his nephew.  After all, the kid only has a year or two of high school left.  Surely, anyone can put up with something for that long.

At times, Lee shows a few sparks of adulthood.  For the most part he turns a blind eye to Patrick’s shenanigans because he’s too exhausted to fight with the kid.  However, there are times when he grows concerned for the kid’s welfare and does some actual, honest to God parenting, telling Patrick the tough love words he needs to hear.

Further, we wonder if Patrick will ever see the light.  Yes, he lost his father and his mother isn’t much of a help.  Could he maybe realize his uncle has his own demons and step up to the plate?  Could he accept his Uncle as a father figure for the next year or so and not be a sneaky little shit to him?

Essentially, Lee and Patrick are two dudes down on their luck and all they have are each other.  We keep waiting for the moment to come when they will realize this.  We keep waiting for the happy ending…maybe one day, in the not so distant future, there will be a Christmas where a somber Patrick sits by the tree with a new lady friend and welcomes Patrick home from college and Patrick is in a stable, committed relationship with a nice girl.

Yeah.  Don’t hold your breath.  Lee gives up.  It’s too hard to be in Manchester by the Sea. Rather than stay in the house his brother left him and raise his nephew, he talks a family friend and his wife into doing it, then returns to his life as a broken down, incredibly ennui laden janitor.

There might be hope for Patrick.  He chooses the better of the two girls and at least he has a place to live with some kind of a stable adult and he’s going to go to college but for Lee?  Lee is screwed.

We don’t see if but we can imagine Lee back at an apartment complex like the one he was working at when the movie started, plunging toilets, drinking, getting into bar fights and flagellating himself over his lost family until the end of time.

Were you disappointed with the ending?  I was, for about a second.  Then I realized the point.  Life often does not have happy endings.  Movie endings aren’t all that realistic.  Sure, accidentally burning down your house with your family in it while you went out to get beer is the ultimate in psychological trauma that can’t be gotten over.

However, there are lesser traumas.  People often say “get over it and move on” because they have no idea what else to say and they think they are helping.  Truth be told, if you married someone and they divorce you, you may never get over that.  Even if you weren’t married, maybe you’ll always think about that lost boyfriend or girlfriend forever.

Maybe there’s a friendship or a relationship with a family member you lost because of some unkind words you wish you could take back.  Perhaps you made a foolish investment and lost a bundle and now you hate yourself.  Maybe someone you loved died of natural causes and you miss them constantly.

Mental anguish can’t just be alleviated with the snap of a finger.  I know, personally, I’ve been through some shit and after about the tenth time someone told me to, “Get over it and move on” I finally just stopped talking about it.  I’m not over it.  Time helps, not because it erases the bad memories but because the more time passes, the more you’ll forget about what troubles you and get a respite from it but even so…the pain is remembered.  The pain remains.  The sadness can’t be erased completely.

Some situations just don’t wrap up happily.  There can be no happy ending for Lee.  He can’t just go to a shrink and get a pill to help him forget this one.  There will be no new girlfriend for him.  There will be no redemption for him via raising his nephew.  He simply cannot forgive himself for what he has done, and who can blame him?

It’s not a happy ending but it is a realistic one.  Honestly, would a happy ending have come across as real here?  I don’t think so.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  In the comments, discuss the writing choices you saw in this movie or alternatively, if you’re a writer, would you ever consider an unhappy ending for one of your stories?  Is it better to provide readers with a realistic yet sad ending instead of an unlikely but happy one?

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Movie Review – Get Out (2017)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Actually, I lied.  This isn’t really a movie review because I don’t think I can really say much about it without giving the whole thing away.

The most I can say is that Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) head to a rural suburb to meet Rose’s wealthy parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford).

And then…shit goes down!

That’s about it.  That’s all I can say without ruining the whole thing.

Worth a rental.  It’s smart, filled with lots of twists and turns along with some dark satire.

 

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I Hate It When You Have to Sit Right Up Front of the Theater

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This fine youngsters are going to need neck rubs later.

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  Who else would it be?

Sit down for this, because it’s time for me to complain, Uncle Hardass style.

Have you ever gone to a big movie, only to find that the last few seats are right up in front of the screen?

Seriously.  What kind of BS is that?

I hate it when that happens.  You just don’t experience the same joy in watching the film as everyone else does.

First, you have to crane your neck so badly just to see anything, that I feel like I have to get a Shiatzu massage just to be able to move my head afterwards.

Second, you can’t see everything.  When you are further back, you can see it all.  When you are up close, you have to look at one character and then when another character starts talking, you literally have to turn your head and look at the other character.  This is madness!

Third, I don’t even sit that close to my television at home because it makes me sick so why would I do it with a ginormous screen?

This rant is coming to you because this has happened to me many times, most recently when I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 last night, the East Randomtown Cineplex was so full that I had to be jammed like a piece of meat right up against the screen.

This is crap.  Crap, I say!  It shouldn’t be happening in America and I know you all have causes that are near and dear to your hearts but I urge you to drop all of them and join with me in focusing on urging movie theater companies to make their theaters larger so that more seats can be put in the back.

No one should have to sit right up front like a jackass.  Literally no one enjoys this.  Seriously, if you can find one person who can pass a lie detector test while saying, “I like sitting in the front row at a movie theater!” then I will give that person 3.5 dollars.

(Offer not valid in America, Canada, Europe, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Earth, the Universe, or any concept beyond the universe we have yet to discover, so in other words, nowhere.)

3.5 READERS: But BQB, you should have gotten there earlier.   Then you would have gotten a better seat.

I have a life, 3.5 readers!  I have a job at Beige Corporation and I have all kinds of mythical characters I take care of.  I have a blog read by 3.5 people that I have to write.

Plus, so what?  So what if I do start showing up early?  What am I gonna do?  Sit in the back and not give a crap about the poor schmuck who has to sit in the front row because he has a life?  I can’t enjoy movies while I’m siting in the back of the theater while knowing that some poor person is sitting up front with a pained neck.

I’m sorry, people, but we’re either in this together as a collection of movie theater goers, or we aren’t in this as all.  Big Theater, the term I use to describe the theater industry, wants us all to start fighting each other like one big production of Lord of the Flies with popcorn but we need to stick together.  If one theater goer is not happy, then I am not happy.

Except the guy who isn’t happy because he’s asking seventeen questions about a scene that happened twelve scenes ago.  Eff that guy.  If you don’t get a scene, just do what I do and make some shit up to plug in the gap then go look up what you didn’t understand on the Internet when you get home.

3.5 READERS:  But BQB, movie theaters will have to shell out a lot of money to make their theaters bigger.  They make money by making smaller theaters and squishing more people into smaller spaces.  They can’t afford big expenditures in an environment where the entertainment market has become saturated with umpteen zillion live streaming shows and services.

Stop being a sheep, 3.5 readers.  No, you know what?  Here’s my impression of you.  “Bah!  Bah!  We’re 3.5 sheep!  Bah, bah!  Someone come sheer us and turn our wool into sports bras!  Bah!”

You can be a sheep or a shepherd, 3.5 readers.  Which one do you think Jesus picked, 3.5?

The theaters are shepherding you into believing this and you’re all just sitting in the front row with your necks craned up in the air, looking to the left when Rocket Raccoon talks and then to the right when Star-Lord talks and trying to contain the headache and neck pain you are experiencing because some corporate theater stooge felt it was perfectly fine to sell you a seat where your face is literally plastered to a fifty foot tall screen.

God, I wish I could start screaming like Sam Kinison right now.  He was a comedian from the 1980s that screamed a lot, 3.5 readers.  Go look him up.  I don’t have time to explain who people are to you.  Either Google things on your own without me having to tell you or get a time machine and go back in time and convince your parents to hump earlier so you’ll be older now and understand more things.

Besides, the fact that theaters have to compete with so many different live stream options now is all the more reason to make the movie theater experience a better one.  Do you think if they keep making TVs better and better that I’m going to keep going to movie theaters and crane my neck up like a jackass?

Yes.  I probably will.  Because I love movie theaters.  But most people won’t.  And that’s a problem, because movie theaters are facing a lot of stiff competition and I absolutely do not want to see them go the way of the dodo, the way that bookstores and movie rental stores went thanks to the Internet.  Movie theaters are one of the last true communal places we go as a society and if we lose them then we lose everything.

I’m here.  I’ve got neck pain.  I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking a seat up front anymore!

3.5 READERS:  BQB, when you walk in the theater and see there are only a few seats up front left, why don’t you go back to the ticket booth and ask for a refund then leave?

“Bahh!  Bahhh!”  That’s you.

First, what am I going to do?  Not see the movie?  Usually, I have someone with me who wants to see the movie, so what am I going to do?  Tell that person they can’t see the movie?

Second, I’ve bought popcorn and soda already.  What am I going to do?  Return it?  They can’t take that back.  I might have stuck an unsavory bodily appendage in there.  I mean, I didn’t, but they can’t know that for sure so they can’t refund me and then serve the popcorn to someone else without one hundred percent assurance that I didn’t drop a booger into my popcorn bag.

And what would I do?  Bring the popcorn home and eat it in my bed like an idiot, all because the theater did plan properly to accommodate all of their ticket purchasers?  No.  No, I think not.

Third, if it’s already a busy movie night where a big movie has been sold out, then that means I’m going to have to stand in a long line in the hopes of getting a refund, though in all likelihood, they’ll probably tell me they can’t refund it.  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.  I don’t know.

3.5 READERS:  BQB you whiney bastard, do you have any real solutions to this national nightmare?

Yes.

#1 – Build bigger theaters with more seats toward the back.  If not, then…

#2 – Put a sign in the lobby that a clerk is required to light up that tells prospective ticket buyers that only front row seats are available.  Better yet, make it so that the clerk knows that when he sells me a ticket so he can tell me, “Hey man, you’re gonna have a sore neck, just want you to know for sure.”  Let me decide if the movie is worth hiring a Swedish masseuse after.

#3 – The theater should provide complimentary neck pillows and Swedish masseuses named Inga to massage the necks of all who are forced to sit at the very front of the theater.

#4 – Just install some iPads in the front rows that are set to play along with big screen.  Put those in the front row.  I’ll listen to the sound and watch the film on the iPad.  Smaller screen, but my neck won’t be in traction for days later.

#5 – Just kick me in the nuts and take my money because that’s literally how it feels like when I walk into a theater and find that the front row seats are the only seats available.

What say you, 3.5 readers?  You’re all with me on this, right?  Share your tales of bad movie theater seats in the comments.

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Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…etcetera, etcetera…

BQB here with a review of Disney’s latest adaptation of a classic story about bestiality and Stockholm Syndrome.


3.5 readers, do you what the hallmark of a great salesman is?

The ability to sell you something you’ve already bought before.

Animation was once the last true bastion of creativity.  If you could imagine it, animators could draw it, no matter how ludicrous.  Today, that’s all changed thanks to CGI as it is now possible to make live action films that are just as ingenious as their animated counterparts.

And with live action remakes of their classic animated tales (Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon are just two recent ones that come to mind), Disney is making big bucks.

I presume that the cryogenically preserved head of Walt Disney, which still runs the company by the way, is laughing his way to the bank…or at least he would…if he weren’t just a head.

Anyway, at the outset, this movie is beautiful.  Emma Watson shines in her first really big post Harry Potter role as Belle.  Yes, I know she’s been in films since Harry but honestly, can you name any of them?  Didn’t think so.  Between this and The Circle with Tom Hanks, Emma is having a good year.

Kevin Kline, a blast from the 1980s past when he and his mustache were big and second only to Tom Selleck, is great as Belle’s father, Maurice.

Meanwhile, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of British celebrities playing French servants because our American minds here a British person speak and we instantly think, “European” and therefore it doesn’t matter if the actor is not French.

Highlights of the servant turned household item cast include Ian McKellan as Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.  German actress Audra McDonald brings her musical stylings to the singing wardrobe, Madame Garderobe while Stanley Tucci plays the piano (as in he literally plays the role of a piano), Maestro Cadenza.

Yes, it’s a tale as old as time, but new life is breathed to the animated cartoon.  We’re given a little bit more of an understanding as to why Gaston is such a villain, as well as more of an explanation as to how a beautiful young woman falls in love with a giant frigging hairy sasquatch man.

Luke Evans captures Gaston in all of his “in love with himself” glory.  Meanwhile, Josh Gad plays a super gay version of LeFou.  Whereas in the animated cartoon, LeFou was just a sniveling toady to Gaston, this version of LeFou clearly wants access to Gaston’s butt.

What?  What?!  That’s not PC to say that?  Sheesh.  I can’t keep up with all the rules anymore.

I mean, obviously LeFou doesn’t come right out and ask for access to Gaston’s butt.  However…the back rubs, the ear massages, the longing stares…LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

This actually leads me to think maybe Walt Disney’s frozen head isn’t in charge anymore, as he probably would not approve of such a thing.

It’s an interesting development to say the least.  As far as controversies go, this one kind of fizzles out.  Gaston and LeFou don’t come right out and play a game of pitcher vs. catcher or anything, but it’s definitely a shot across the bow from Disney in which they are testing the waters to see whether or not all hell would break loose if they were to make a movie with a gay lead character.

As this is a not a political blog, I’m not going to touch that one.  All I know is…LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

Arguably, LeFou wanting Gaston’s butt is not even the most controversial part of this movie.  After all, it is a story about a kidnapped woman who falls in love with her captor, a dog monster, thus promoting Stockholm Syndrome, abusive relationships, and bestiality.

Also, and I can’t say this enough, Gaston is the true hero, both in the animated version and the live action adaptation.  I mean, all the dude wants to do is slay the Beast and knock boots with Belle.  Belle gets kidnapped by a hairy dog monster and she doesn’t even thank the guy that’s trying to rescue her.  The nerve of some people.

Still, the tale that is as old as time does hold up after all these years.  Ultimately, the message is to not judge a book by its cover.  A handsome prince who treats ugly people like crap gets his comeuppance by becoming a super ugly beast, suffers for years as an ugly beast, learning how all the ugly people must have felt when he treated them like crap.  Eventually, he learns to not be such a jerk face and is rewarded with the love of a hot studious French chick.

Sadly, like most things in life, it falls apart after closer inspection.  Are we really to believe that Belle would love the Beast if there wasn’t a chance that he might turn into a handsome Prince?  Would Belle still love the Beast if he weren’t rich as all get out and the owner of a fat ass castle?

I mean, hell, women say they’d never touch an ugly guy all the time but then they usually do if the ugly guy has money.  Something tells me Belle wouldn’t stick around if the Beast was destined to remain a Beast forever while living in a rent controlled inner city apartment or in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere.

But then again, I am cynical.  Perhaps I am like the Beast, super jaded for no one will ever love me due to my super ugliness.  Maybe we are all like the Beast in one way or the other.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.  LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

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Movie Trailer – The Mummy (2017)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Have you checked out the trailer for The Mummy reboot?

I gotta be honest, The Mummy and it’s first sequel were two of my favorite films from, sigh, “the turn of the century,” if we have to get technical.  They were full of fun and whimsy and Brendan Fraser was an atypical nerdy hero.

Thus, I’m kind of surprised that Tom Cruise was picked as the young buck to replace Fraser, given that, as far as I know, Cruise is older than Fraser.

And in theory, a new movie about The Mummy doesn’t necessarily have to be considered reboot.  Hollywood was making movies about mummies long before the Brendan Fraser outing, after all.

Anyway, it looks hella legit and if it is half as good as the trailer then it will be considered shelf-worthy.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Glengarry Glen Ross: Self-Publishing Edition (Or, Always Be Self-Publishing)

BQB’s EDITORIAL NOTE:  3.5 readers, I heard a rumor you guys are struggling with your self-publishing ventures lately, so I invited a special guest speaker to come in and motivate you.  Please welcome a young Alec Baldwin in his prime.

Blake:

Let me have your attention for a moment!  So you’re talking about what?  You’re talking about…(puts out his cigarette)…bitching about that book launch you shot, some son of a bitch reader that doesn’t want to read your book, somebody that doesn’t want to read what you’re writing, some broad you’re trying to screw but she won’t screw you because writers never get laid and so forth.  Let’s talk about something important.  Are they all here?

Williamson:

All but one.

Blake: 

Well, I’m going anyway.  Let’s talk about something important.  (To Levene) Put that coffee down!  Coffee’s for self-publishers only.  (Levene scoffs).  Do you think I’m fucking with you?  I am not fucking with you.  I’m here from downtown.  I’m here from a primo e-book sales site.  I’m here on a mission of mercy.  Your name’s Levene?

Levene:

Yeah.

Blake:

You call yourself a self-publisher, you son of a bitch?

Moss:

I don’t have to listen to this shit.

Blake:

You certainly don’t, pal.  ‘Cause the good news is you’re fired from my platform.  The bad news is you’ve got, all you got, just one week to regain your jobs as self-publishers, starting tonight.  Starting with tonight’s word count session.  Oh, have I got your attention now?  Good.  ‘Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s self-publishing contest.  As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.  Anyone want to see second prize?  Second prize is a box of steak knives.  (Holds up box of knives).

Third prize is you’re fired.  You get the picture.  You laughing now?  You’ve got words.  That fuck who wrote the dictionary went to a lot of trouble to get you those words.  Think about the right word combinations and write them!

You can’t finish writing a book with the words you’ve been given then you can’t write for shit.  You ARE shit, so hit the bricks pal and beat it because you are going out!

Levene:

The words are weak.

Blake:

‘The words are weak.’  The fucking words are weak?  You’re weak. I’ve been in the self-publishing business for fifteen years.  That’s right.  I went back in time and told myself to start self-publishing before any of this shit was even invented.

Moss:

What’s your name?

Blake:

Fuck you!  That’s my name.  You know why, Mister?  Because you wrote your novel tonight on a bargain basement, second hand Dell and I wrote my novel on a state of the art, top of the line Mac Book Pro.  That’s my name!

(To Levene) – And your name is “you’re wanting to self-publish but you’re too chicken shit to get off your ass and do it.”  You can’t play in a man’s game.  You can’t close out a book.

(To Everyone) – Because only one thing counts in this life!  Get readers to read your books!  Do you hear me, you fucking losers?

(Blake points to a blackboard.  Two sets of letters are written on it:  “ABS” and “ADIY.”)

Blake:

A-B-C.  A-always, B-be, S-self-publishing.  Always be self-publishing!  Always be self-publishing.

A-D-I-Y.  Always Do It Yourself.  Stop waiting for those traditional publishing pricks to give you the keys to the golden kingdom because it’s never going to happen.  Are you going to do it yourself?  I know you are because it’s fuck or walk.  You self-publish or you hit the bricks!

Do it yourself!  Who else are you going to do it for?  Christ?  Take action.  Get out there!

You’ve got the readers coming in.  You think they came in to get out of the rain?  The guy doesn’t come to your online book sales page unless he wants to read.  He is sitting out there waiting to give you his money!

Are you gonna take it?  Are you man enough to take it?  (to Moss) What’s the problem pal?  You!  Moss!

Moss:

You’re such a hero.  You’re so rich.  Why are you coming down here just to waste your time on a bunch of bums?

(Blake takes off his gold watch and shows it to Moss).

Blake:

You see this watch?  You see this watch?

Moss:

Yeah.

Blake:

This watch costs more than your car.  I made $970,000 on self-publishing last year, mostly on one book that had a really descriptive scene about a giant pair of titties.  How much did you make?  You see, pal, that’s who I am.  And you’re nothing.  Nice guy?  I don’t give a shit.  Good father?  Fuck you.  Go home and play with your kids.

(To everyone) – You want to self-publish here?  Finish writing a book!  You think this is abuse?  You think this is abuse, you cocksuckers?  You can’t take this, how are you going to take it when your book gets a one star review?

You don’t like it?  Leave.  I can go out there tonight with the words you’ve got and write myself fifteen thousand books.  Tonight!  In two hours!  Can you?  Can you?  Go and do likewise!

A-D-I-Y!  Get mad!  Get mad, you sons of bitches!  You know what it takes to sell books?

(Blake pulls a set of brass balls out of his brief case and dangles it in front of his crotch).

Blake:

It takes a set of brass balls to sell books.

Go and do likewise, gents.  The money’s out there.  You pick it up?  It’s yours.  You don’t?  I have no sympathy for you.  You wanna go out on those word count sessions tonight and rack up big counts then those words are yours.  If not, you’re going to be shining my shoes.

Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar.  (Speaks in a sad tone).  “Oh yeah, I used to be a self-publisher.  It’s a tough racket.”

(Blake takes a stack of index cards out of his briefcase).

These are the new words.  These are the Glengarry words.  And to you, they’re gold.  And you don’t get them.  Why?  Because to give these words to you would be to just throw them away.

These words are for self-publishers.  I’d wish you good luck but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it.

(To Moss) – And to answer your question, pal.  Why am I here?  I came here because the book sales site asked me to.  They asked me for a favor.  I said, ‘The real favor?  Follow my advice and fire your fucking ass because a loser is a loser.’

(Blake heads into interior office).

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Could They Make It Today? – Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Happy Weekend, 3.5 readers.

Welcome to my new column, “Could They Make It Today?” in which I go back in time, take a look at the pop culture of my Gen X youth (we did exist though we seem to have been forgotten early) and discuss how movies and/or TV shows from the past couldn’t be made in the present (at least not without an extensive tuneup).

First up, Transformers: The Movie (1986).

Now, if you’re a member of Generation X, and again, millennials, I swear we existed…we are the Baby Boomers’ kids and you just know more about the Baby Boomers because they are hanging on for a really long time thanks to advances in science and medicine and shit.

Let me try again.  If you are are a member of Generation X, then you probably remember where you were when Optimus Prime died.

The year was 1986.  Transformers were a popular line of children’s toys that combined a childish love of vehicles and robots by having robots turn into vehicles.  Two toys in one.

There was a corresponding TV show in which Optimus Prime, a tractor trailer with a John Wayne style voice, commanded the Autobots in their war against the villainous Deceptions, lead by the evil Megatron.

So, after several years of a show where robots fired lasers at each other and missed, thus giving children a sense of excitement without burdening their young minds with thoughts of death, some dumb ass or collection of dumb asses got it in their heads to completely rewrite the direction of the series with a major motion film.

I went to it.  I was a little kid.  Had my popcorn.  Had my Transformer.  Had my seat.  I was ready to have a good time and then boom…literally every character I loved dies.

Seriously.  What the shit?  Who thought this was a good idea?

Optimus Prime and Megatron clash on the field of battle.  Megatron gets the upper hand and takes down Optimus.

OK.  That was sad.  I don’t think it was a great move for studio execs to kill off a beloved children’s character, especially the main one who carries the series.

But then it gets worse.  There’s a scene where the main contingent of Autobots (i.e. Ratchet and Ironhide, etc.), characters who had been with the series since the start, are flying a shuttle back to…I don’t know, Autobot Town, I’m an adult now so I don’t give as many shits as I used to.

Long story short, Megatron and his lackies break down the door and totally Wild Bunch the shit out of the Autobots.  I’m serious.  After years of lasers that never hit anyone, Megatron’s lasers hit everyone with great precision.

And it’s not just like, “Boom!  You’re dead!”  We see the lights in the Autobots’ eyes flicker and go out.  Smoke comes out of their mouths. Holes rip up their chassis.  It’s total carnage and mayhem.

Death has been a part of kids movies since the beginning of animation.  When Bambi’s mother dies, it introduces kids to concept they yeah, one day your grandparents are going to croak, then your parents, then pretty much everyone else you know until you end up all alone and the grim reaper puts his icy hand on your shoulder.

Personally, I didn’t even think it was cool for Disney to kill of Bambi’s mother but ok.  There’s a difference between Bambi’s mother dying and the stone cold political/ideological assassination that takes place in the Transformers movie.

By the end of the film, new Autobots take over.  “Rodimus Prime” takes Optimus’ place and as a kid, it’s basically the equivalent of your how you feel when your mom kicks dad out of the house and starts dating some new guy and wants you to call him “Dad.”

RODIMUS PRIME:  Autobots, roll out!

1980s’ Kids:  F%*k you!  Only Optimus can say that!  You’re not my real Autobot leader!

Like many cartoon shows, Transformers was a vehicle to sell toys.  Kids bond with the characters on TV, look at them as if they are friends, and then want their parents to buy them a friend they can play with in the form of toys.

But some young 1980s Baby Boomer screwed the pooch because kids were highly displeased, so much so that Optimus Prime is brought back to life by the end of the series.

The whole movie was intended to reset the series and bring it to a futuristic 2005 (which, sadly, is now in the past) with the robots turning into sleeker, more futuristic robots.

Clearly, the assumption in the board room was that they’ll kill off all the main characters (even Megatron and company get converted into new characters) and then the kids will throw away all their old toys and buy these new toys.

Just as clearly, these people did not know kids.  Have you ever tried to pry a beloved toy out of a kid’s hand?  Good luck.  Kids kept playing with their old transformers.  In the battles that played out on living room furniture, Optimus and friends were still alive.  T

The new replacements were seen as wannabe step-dads trying to buy our love with ice cream and thus, the series didn’t last much longer after that.  The movie pretty much blew up the whole enterprise.

The idea went over like a lead balloon and was so widely rejected by kids that a GI Joe movie that came out around the same time was quickly rewritten to prevent Duke from dying.  Those suits were totally gunning for Duke and he was only saved because Optimus’ death went over so poorly.

Could they make it today?  Well, they do make it today.  Now the Transformers films have become these grand scale Michael Bay action/disaster movies with plenty of action and very little plot.  And yes, occasionally a Transformer will buy the farm in these movies but the millennials didn’t grow up with them and Generation X is still too old to care.

Although personally, I was sad when Jazz gets ripped apart in one of the new films.

I think the film taught the toy/cartoon industry complex a valuable lesson.  You don’t have to kill off characters just to introduce new toys/characters.  There was no reason why the Autobots couldn’t have lived and still made friends with new characters/toys that could be sold at parental wallet draining prices.

This is what frustrates me with the millennials.  They think the baby boomers are mean and greedy and hey, I feel your pain.  I’ve been feeling it ever since some Gordon Gecko-esque fancy suit wearing 1980s baby boomer prick decided that subjecting my young self to a scene where all my favorite toy characters suffer from political assassination was a good idea.

In conclusion, Generation X exists, and while Transformers movies continue to go on strong, the powers that be have learned to not kill off beloved children’s characters all willy-nilly.

 

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Introducing the Shelfies – BQB’s Best Films of 2016

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I’m Bookshelf Q. Battler but for some reason, I review movies and rarely review books anymore.

Oh well.  We all have our idiosyncrasies.  Had I know what I was going to do on this blog when I started, would have called myself, “Moviescreen J. Watcher.”

But that would have been ridiculous.

In the spirit of, “Everybody Gets a Trophy Day,” I’m going to give every film I reviewed in 2016 an award of some sort, so enjoy.

 

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