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TV Review – Harley Quinn – (2019 – ?)

Grab your baseball bats, 3.5 puddins.

It’s time for a review of Harley Freakin’ Quinn.

At the outset, I have to say this show is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Some thoughts on why that is, in no particular order:

#1 – It’s a Gotham based, DC character infused show, that’s for adults and when I say it’s for adults, I mean, it’s for adults. It’s weird. Watch with the sound down for a minute and you might be lulled into thinking it’s a kids show. I mean, superheroes are for kids, right? But no…there’s swearing and sex and uber violence like very serious graphic violence. You don’t want to let your kids watch this. I know, Batman and Co. are for kids, right? Nope, not this show, which brings us to…

#2 – It’s a parody of the DC Universe and the comic book genre. It focuses on Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and in season one, we see Gotham’s top she-clown break up with The Joker (ala Birds of Prey) and come out from Mr. J’s shadow, fighting to be thought of as a supervillain who stands on her own evil merits and not as the Clown Prince of Crime’s sidekick. Along the way, DC’s long laundry list of main characters (heroes and villains) are trotted out and poked fun of…but the best jokes are reserved for the lesser knowns, the goofy characters you’ve unlikely ever heard of before, or maybe heard of once in passing.

Examples? Harley’s BFF Poison Ivy dates Kite Man, and that’s his power. He has a kite that pops out of the back of his suit so he can fly around. Pretty useless character, right? You’d think so until you meet such lackluster Batman opponents as Calendar Man, Condiment Man, and so on.

Overall, the writers had a fun time pointing out the silliness of the comic book world and yet…

#3 – The plots are well laid out and surprisingly riveting. In season 1, we see Harley recruit a crew of lesser knowns like Dr. Psycho, King Shark and Clayface to take on Gotham’s worst villains and fight her way up to the top of the food chain. In season 2, Gotham lies in ruins and Harley and Friends team up with Commissioner Gordon, Bat Girl and yes, even Batman to prevent the city from meeting its doom. This leads me to…

#4 – It saddens me what DC decided to do with its theatrically released movies. Here, in this cartoon, the writers set out to parody DC and comic book culture and yet, created a more coherent plot than the DC films did. As you watch, bread crumbs are laid out and they lead to something. There’s a laundry list of characters yet they all get their time to shine. Slowly but surely, the writers introduce you to their silly versions of these characters and then build up their silly version of Gotham. Watching actually pays off and you don’t leave feeling like you were jerked around. Ultimately, that’s all the fans wanted from the DC movies.

#5 – At first, I did wonder whether maybe an adult version of the DC universe was something worth making. After all, aren’t these characters for kids? Shouldn’t adults grow up and put away childish things? Drop the F bombs, cut out the uber violence and naughtyness and create something the whole family can enjoy? But then again, that leads me to…

#6 – This is the hands down funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in awhile. Somehow, it walks a fine line between keeping the wokesters happy and delivering jokes that push PC boundaries. For more of what I’m talking about, see Poison Ivy’s takedown of the Condiment King with the help of her sidekick, Frank the Plant (JB Smoove stealing the show as a man eating Venus fly trap). “Change of plans, sauce fucker.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: In the end, all we fans ever wanted is for writers to build a world. Yes, the DC characters reside in a world that we know ad nauseum, so no, we don’t need to see young Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot by a mugger outside the theater for the 1,000 time. We don’t need to see Superman’s baby sized space ship crash in a cornfield behind the Kents’ house for the 1,000th time either. With new TV shows and movies comes new versions of old characters and all we ask is to be introduced to your new versions, get to know them, then let things build. Comedy writers did that here and one day DC might figure out how to make a cinematic universe that the whole family can enjoy.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Bonus points for Kaley Cuoco who I think is great in everything she does and is underutilized by Hollywood. See this show on HBO Max.

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Movie Review – Tenet (2020)

I have no freaking idea what this movie is about, but let’s give a try, 3.5 readers.

At the outset, let me say this. Tenet isn’t a movie you watch. It’s a movie you study. It’s work, like actual hard work. It doesn’t have to be. You can just sit back and watch the pretty pictures fly by, but if you are one of those people who feels a need to understand what they are seeing, good luck.

I love Christopher Nolan films and applaud him for being ambitious. Even so, I postponed watching this one for awhile. Even when it was like one of the first blockbusters you could rent at the height of the pandemic, when Hollywood wasn’t really offering anything, I put it off because the trailers seemed so confusing and I knew it would be a lot of effort.

I actually did try watching it one time and after 20 minutes was like, “Nope!” Click. Not that it was bad, just that I’d had a long day and when I’m down for the count, I need something mindless to stream. Bring on the silly cat videos.

But I finally got through it. (BTW it’s two and a half hours long). So let’s talk about it. (SPOILERS – I think they are spoilers. Honestly, I may have no clue what happened here and what I’m saying doesn’t make sense).

John David Washington plays “The Protagonist” and that’s a pretty cool name for a secret government agent. He’s been recruited to serve in the Tenet program and as explained early on by a scientist, people from the future have figured out how to send objects from the future into the past. In this movie world, things from the future and the past have different energies or “entropies” meaning, and I’ll botch this, but meaning that everything is opposite. Things from the future, when they reach the past, move backward. (Why doesn’t this mean that things from the past move forward when they reach the future? Well, they do, but why isn’t it like fast forward? Well, things from the future that reach the past don’t move in super slo mo so alright, I just answered my own question.)

The scientist urges the Protagonist to not waste too much time trying to understand how this all works but just accept that it is happening. Personally, I have to believe that quote is also Nolan’s invitation to his viewers to feel free to just sit back, chomp on some popcorn and throw your notes and flowcharts away and just have a good time watching all this hullabaloo happen.

And a lot of wacky stuff does happen. You have bullets that have been already shot going backwards, from the hole in the wall where they are lodged, back into the gun. Car chases where cars drive in reverse (could happen now if the driver looks over his shoulder the entire time). Car crashes in reverse. People traveling through time to fight each other.

Oh, right, there’s some sort of overall plot about people from the future who hate people from the past so that’s why they are trying to kill everyone in the past and you might ask, well won’t that kill everyone in the future and the answer is the people from the future don’t believe that will happen so maybe they’re right and it won’t or maybe they are dummies and it will. Belief or “tenets” i.e. key parts of faith that you hold close and trust are true even during the darkest of times when no light can be seen is a big part of the film.

Add in a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) the arms dealer who sells the backwards bullets and is pitting the future and past sides together. His wife/hostage Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) and the Protagonist’s BFF/fellow agent Neil (Robert Pattinson in a role where it looks like he’s really grown into himself as an actor and shed off his youthful Twilight years.)

I think the idea of past and present at war is an interesting concept. I think the idea of future people sending lethal objects to the past to kill the past peeps and vice versa is interesting and a new take on time travel. It gets confusing when our heroes and villains travel between past and future and there are rules, like you have to wear an oxygen mask because the air moves differently on so on.

I don’t know. It’s a new, different take on the time travel genre and I suppose we can’t give Nolan guff for being original in a world of reboots and sequels but wow, I have no idea what happens in this movie. While the effects are cool and it was intended as a summer blockbuster where the big screen explosions would have made up for the what the heck is going on plot and unfortunately it got sidelined due to covid.

John David Washington is really coming into his own as an actor too. Criticism is that they didn’t really tell us much about who The Protagonist is or any personal details but perhaps there just wasn’t enough time with everything else going on. He does have a budding romance or friendship or romantic friendship with the villain’s wife. There’s no sex scene (wouldn’t that be cool to see in reverse?) but and not to give a spoiler but there are times when she is in peril and you can tell the Protagonist really cares. That caring is just based on emotion rather than sex because they haven’t had any which makes it interesting. He wants to save her because he cares about her. There’s no promise of booty to come later upon risking his life for a successful rescue. Good for you, Protag. What a stand up guy.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Give a try but take the scientist’s advice and don’t try to understand it. Some of your questions will be answered if you watch long enough. Others won’t be unless you watch it again and again and honestly, I don’t have the time or brain power to do that. Others won’t be unless you venture into articles and videos by people who took the time to parse through it and figure things out.

A final thought. We do need faith, or to believe in tenets. Faith gets us through our darkest hours. Believing your happy ending is on the way – to keep exercising though the pounds never drop, to keep applying for jobs when the HR reps laugh at your resume, to keep writing blogs even when only 3.5 people read them…and yes, to keep watching a movie that begins with a scientist telling you to not attempt to understand for it defies explanation.

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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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