Tag Archives: hbo

Larry David’s Younger Women

Pretty good, 3.5 readers. Pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay good.

BQB here to talk about Curb Your Enthusiam and specifically, how is Fictional LD able to pull so much fictional trim?

For the uninitiated, Curb Your Enthusiasm is an HBO show starring comedian Larry David, who plays a fictional, semi-autobiographical version of himself as he clowns his way through life. He’s the creator and producer of Seinfeld and Seinfeld fans who watch the show instantly realize this is basically Seinfeld with more swearing and not safe for network TV plots.

I remember even as a kid having a hard time suspending disbelief at Seinfeld. Each week, Jerry and George, both big time schmucks, at least on the show, would date gorgeous, charming, sophisticated women who for whatever reason, adored these dum-dums. Yet, each week, these fools would find some slight, miniscule flaw and the relationship would be over. It just seemed so unlikely to me, that these nudniks would actually give up so many attractive, wonderful women over irrelevant folderol, but thus was the ongoing joke of the show. It was a show about nothing about idiots who got caught up by nothing and like a comedy set in Dante’s Inferno, they were forever doomed to a life of meaningless nothing because they couldn’t get past their own problems long enough to develop something, literally anything.

Larry David basically summed his entire career up in an SNL monologue a few years back. LD said his entire life, he’s basically Quasimodo – unattractive and creature like, he should be happy if any female pays attention. When a friend says, “Hey Quasi, I’ve got the perfect woman for you,” he’ll schlump over and say, “Has she got big juggs?”

And therein lies the raw material that LD has been mining and refining into comedy gold for many decades now. He is inherently flawed in so many ways, physically and mentally and yet, he won’t stand for anything less than perfection in his women. Deep down, he knows this is wrong but he can’t help it and his inability to compromise even a little causes him a lifetime of loneliness, as it did for George and Jerry…sometimes even for Elaine and Kramer.

But the older LD gets, I have to admit, the gag gets less and less believable. Curb has put out 11 seasons over 20 years and even when LD was in his 50s, it was hard for me to believe that younger women were attracted to him.

I guess…on some level it’s somewhat believable. There’s an old saying that men are attracted to beauty and women are attracted to security. That’s why a man will leapfrog over a 50 year old self-made wealthy woman to get the phone number of an attractive 20 something waitress. That’s why an attractive late 20 or early 30 something year old woman might look at the hunky studs in her orbit who just sit around and play video games all day and decide that the silver and/or balding hair of an older man can be overlooked if he has his shit together enough that he can pick up a check and pay a bill once in awhile.

To be fair, the show does nothing but insult Larry to great comedic effect. Without fail, literally everyone LD meets inevitably ends up hating him to the point that they call him an “old bald fuck.” If Larry isn’t called an old bald fuck at least 10 times a season, then the season isn’t over. And it’s sort of implied that if Larry wasn’t a hundred millionaire from his Seinfeld days, no woman would ever give him a second or third look.

So in that respect, I suppose it’s believable that a younger woman might look at Larry, shrug her shoulders and be like, “Meh. OK I have to touch old gross man balls but I get to live in a big house and he’ll buy me whatever I want. Deal.”

Then again, I don’t know. The older Larry gets, the harder it is to suspend disbelief. I thought it was very unlikely when the show had him date Lucy Lawless when he was in his 60s. This season, they had him date Lucy Liu for an episode and I just felt bad for Lucy Liu – how a mere 20 years ago she was kicking ass and taking names as a Charlie’s Angels hottie. She still looks good as ever but she’s 50 now so the best Hollywood will offer her is an old weirdo’s date. Sure, the whole crux of the episode is that Larry accidentally does a feeble thing in front of her and she dumps him, the joke being that one moment of looking in front of a hot woman with options is all it takes for it to be over, but still. It’s Lucy Liu. I know Larry has money but there are other dudes in Hollywood with money…hotter, younger and with hair.

Meanwhile, Larry had a date with Julie Bowen of Modern Family and Happy Gilmore fame last week and I just…I don’t know. It’s just getting harder and harder to believe that Larry could even get one date with such uber babes even with all his dough.

To be fair, the universal running joke of the show is that Larry keeps finding himself in too good to be true situations with these women but he’s such a dope that he inevitably finds a way to screw it up to hilarious results. If he could just tell his stupid, foible finding inner voice to shut up for five minutes, he might be happy for once in his godforsaken life.

What gets even more unlikely is Larry’s BFF/agent on the show, Jeff (Jeff Garland) is a fat, ugly (the running joke last season was that he looks so much like Harvey Weinstein that everywhere he goes, women shout at him, slap him, throw drinks in his face, etc.) yet somehow he’s constantly getting younger women. There was a whole episode about how he constantly gets to bang a hot younger real estate agent, that it’s the “perfect crime” in that he can cheat on his wife under the pretense that he’s with this woman so he can buy his wife a house and then they’re going on a date to a place where they can get it on. This season, Jeff has a fling with a dental hygienist, gets her pregnant, pays for the abortion and other expenses but fears he’s being fleeced, thus sending Larry the spy in to find out if the paramour really needs the money or if she’s taking advantage and I just…I don’t know.

I can sort of suspend disbelief for Larry. This version of Larry is at least trying to find a wife. Sure, he’s old, decrepit, rude and gross but all these women he dates, his end goal is to find someone to have and to hold, love and cherish and protect and make happy, albeit with his limited emotional ability to do so. He inevitably screws it up due to his insecurities but his goal isn’t to use them and loose them. He’s trying to find a wife. And though old and ugly and bald, he’s rich and connected and people in Hollywood know him, so it’s not entirely impossible that a younger woman might be able to get over the old man vibes to have financial security.

Meanwhile, Jeff is married…unhappily. His wife Susie is a comedic genius who mostly serves the need for someone to tell Larry that he’s a stupid old bald fuck at least 5 times a season. She is a caricature of a domineering shrew, so while it is understandable as to why Jeff would want to cheat…I mean he’s rich and powerful, perhaps not as rich and powerful as Larry but he’s still got it going on…but he’s not offering these women anything other than his gross old penis and flabby belly flopping around on top of them. It just seems unlikely that a real estate agent babe or a dental hygienist babe, both hot and half his age, would just want to be with him for the joy of being with him.

I doubt Larry will ever read this fine blog but I wonder if maybe a season where the script is flipped might not be in order. Larry, hire me and I’ll write you a new, fresh season. Picture it. For some crazy reason, Larry loses all of his cash. With it, he loses all his power and fame and glory and he no longer gets invited to hang out with all the cool kids. Instead, he moves to a retirement community and has to live the life most old people his age live – i.e. he has to go to bingo games and watch Matlock and eat dinner at 4 at the early bird special. Even worse, he has to date an age appropriate woman. Larry struggles with the desire for a younger, attractive woman and winces as his 70 something date has to put on a wig and put in her false teeth in the morning. On the other hand, this old broad gets all his jokes and references and likes doing all the old person stuff Larry does so…is this the one? Will he finally act his age and give up the chase for young tail now that he has found someone who finally gets him? No, he’ll screw it up somehow.

Maybe Jeff could lose his money too. Susie kicks him out of the house and he can only find women who have a similar look. Jeff dates a chubby woman and has an internal debate about whether or not he should stick with a woman who understands his struggle and accepts him as is, or if he should try to get all his money back so he can bang hot real estate agents. Still, it’s never explained what the real estate agent is getting out of this. Are women that attracted to money and success that they’ll just bang a dude and ask for nothing in return? It feels like comedy gold isn’t being mined in that one of these babes that Jeff bangs doesn’t come around demanding money lest they tell on him to Susie.

Either way, Leon will still be Larry’s forever house guest. Leon is getting up there in years too now, but somehow, given his style, he’s the only one whose non-stop train of booty is believable.

I’ve noticed that the show doesn’t really try to hide the fact that Larry is old. He’s constantly watching movies that only old people would be into. He does impressions of actors from 50 years ago. Every episode, he’s at the golf course. Even so, he’s always chasing the young babes and I just wonder if one season where Larry wrestles with an attraction to an age appropriate woman wouldn’t be hilarious.

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Movie Review – Dune (2021)

A desert planet! Space wizards!

No, I’m not talking about Star Wars….I’m talking about Dune.

BQB here with a review.

I tried to watch the 1980s Dune movie once. It starts immediately with some floating space broad giving a full on, fact filled lecture, like I’m expected to take notes and prepare for an exam on space politics and space economies. Eff that. Hasn’t that floating space broad ever heard about show, don’t tell? Needless to say, I turned it off posthaste.

There is a little bit of an up front exposition dump in this new version as well, but it’s small and overall it’s a good film, if not cumbersome with deets on space politics, space money, space mining, space geopolitical intrigue and so on.

The plot? Paul Atreides, some sort of space prince, is gifted with space mind control powers, a genetic trait passed down to him by his space whore mother (Rebecca Ferguson and I’m sorry, space concubine is the preferred term.)

When House Atreides is called upon to take over spice mining operations on a desert planet, House Harkonnen, comprised largely of fugly bald dudes, is pissed, for that planet was theirs.

Blah blah blah, chaos ensues…we must discover if Paul will be able to save the day and use his mind control powers in doing so.

I gotta be honest. I didn’t dig too deep into understanding the weeds of this picture. It’s pretty. Lots of fancy colors and special effects. Enjoyable…though I have to be honest, I wonder if two of my favorite franchises, Star Wars and Game of Thrones, might have stolen from it heavily.

Star Wars – desert planet. Space wizards and space magic. Space worms. All happened in Dune first.

Game of Thrones – Royal families fighting each other for money and control. Well, I guess Dune stole that idea from the world if anything.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but I’ll be honest, not my fave. The royal families, the space economy, the space politics, the space magic, the space worms – it feels like it tries to do too much and maybe Star Wars took some of these aspects and boiled it into something simpler and more watchable. To that end, Dune has long deserved more credit than it gets.

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Movie Review – The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

Woke up this morning, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the long awaited Sopranos prequel.

Being the fan of an HBO series is a lot like being the kid of an estranged father. When you were younger, Dear Old Dad was always around, and you loved every minute of it, from playing catch to riding all the rides at the carnival together. Ahh but alas, much like the showrunners, actors and everyone behind these shows, Dad got distracted by some shiny new thing and went off to chase it, leaving us wondering for years why we weren’t good enough for Pops to stick around.

And then…so many years later, when finally, we gave up, moved on, and accepted that we’ll never get any closure to the longstanding questions that loomed over our relationship, the Old Man returns, now as a geezer, asking for us to love him again, no questions asked, and we can’t help but think this is probably a desperate ploy to shake us down in one last cash grab because God knows, the up and coming next generation doesn’t give a crap about him.

In all seriousness though, if you were a sentient adult in the late 90s-early 2000s, you either watched this show religiously or heard all the yammering from the people who did. It essentially gave rise to the so-called new golden age of TV that we are experiencing today (though I wonder if it might be in decline as of late). When I was a young man, I watched the show and just thought it was funny there was a show on TV that showed a lot of boobs and butts and people saying and doing horrible things and certainly such taboo material would never be seen on NBC, so it felt like it was almost subversive to watch it. The rest of Hollywood took note and realized that cable was the way to go for long form series storytelling where the characters could be allowed to say and do much more naughtier things.

Alas, HBO has a tendency to cash in and cash out on these shows. Although there are some who think the Sopranos’ fade to black finale was brilliant (for those uninitiated, the show that posed a ton of questions about mobster Tony Soprano’s life – will he get killed by rivals? will he end up in jail? will his marriage fail? will his kids stand by him or realize he’s a scumbag and abandon him?) – decided to answer these questions with a non-answer, i.e. a do it yourself ending where the family goes to dinner at a restaurant, an ominous man goes to the bathroom, and maybe said individual comes out blasting or maybe he’s just a random diner who needed to take a dump. The choice is yours.

Personally, I was one of the many, many viewers who jumped up and smacked my TV, thinking a cable went loose at the worst possible moment.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised when Game of Thrones wowed us throughout the 2010s, only to rush through the last season. They did it with the Sopranos in the 00s and GOT in the 2010s. It’s the 2020s now and Home Box Office is due to give us the series of the decade that will leave us captivated in awe, only to one day decide that they’ve snatched up enough cash, that dumping more cash into the series is not cost effective, and to send us on our way with a lackluster rushed final season and lame finale.

Where was I? Oh right. Now that I got my rant out, let’s move on to the review.

There are so many reasons why it was a tragedy that James Gandolfini died young in his early fifties, but as a Sopranos fan, and looking at how Hollywood, thanks to streaming services, has become obsessed with bringing back old stuff, it makes me think that HBO might have finally ponied up the dough necessary to make a new Sopranos season, one that tells us where the New Jersey crime family is today and what happened after the fade to black moment. Such a show would probably bring so many fans to HBO Max that the service would time out, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Instead, veteran producer and great storyteller David Chase brings us a prequel, the Many Saints of Newark. Originally, I thought this title was a tongue in cheek way to refer to all the mobsters in young Tony Soprano’s life, but it actually is in reference to the name Moltisanti, fans remembering that Michael Imperioli’s Christopher was the tragic comic relief of the show, unable to free himself of his addictions, at war with himself over how he could win his Uncle Tony’s approval and how he could make enough money to strike out on his own.

The prequel movie focuses on Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola finally getting the recognition he deserves so many years after humorously dining on Tiramisu as one half of Nic Cage’s villainous brother duo in the classic so bad it’s good sci-fi flick Face/Off).

Dick and young Tony Soprano (played aptly by James Gandolfini’s son Michael, in many respects, the face, the voice, the gestures, you are convinced this is young Tony) have a relationship similar to that of Tony and Christopher in the show. Dickie is a rising star in the New Jersey mob. Young Tony thinks his uncle is pretty cool, but is too young to understand that the car, the clothes, the babes, all the things that make Dickie cool come from blood money.

The film focuses on a friendship between Dickie and African-American gangster Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.) The 1960s, as students of history know, were a turbulent time, when civil rights were demanded and injustices often led to riots and violent, civil unrest. In all walks of life and professions, African Americans stood up and demanded more and well, though crime isn’t exactly a noble profession by any means, McBrayer demands more, pushing away from his role as Dickie’s henchman and striking out in illegal moneymaking schemes of his own, which eventually sets Dickie and Harold on a path to war.

To the movie’s credit (or discredit, whatever your opinion may be) it revels in fan service, fan service, and more fan service. We see young versions of the show’s characters. Though these performances are largely caricatures, one might argue that the whole series was one great big caricature of the mob to begin with. At any rate, we see a youthful Paulie Walnuts (Billy Magnussen) worried about getting blood on his suit and a spry Big Pussy Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola) before he digged too deep into the lasagna tray. We see a young Silvio (John Magaro) combatting hair loss with a variety of wigs. We see characters say and do things that were talked about in the series.

You might have to re-watch it to get some of the jokes and nods. The casual fan will still enjoy it, though it takes a re-watch to truly sit in anticipation of Corey Stall’s youthful rendition of Uncle Junior, just waiting for him to harangue Young Tony with his constant criticism of how Tony “doesn’t have the makings of a Varsity Athlete.”

Vera Farmiga, who I admit I have a longstanding crush on ever since her turn in The Departed) doesn’t just steal the show as a young version of Tony’s overbearing, aggressively passive-aggressive mother who would go on to force middle-aged Tony to spend a mint on psychotherapy with Dr. Melfi. It mad me sad to see that the beautiful Farmiga had to undergo all kinds of makeup to ugly her up and one might say she’s doing a caricature of the incomparable Nancy Marchand, the late actress who played Tony’s elderly mother in the series. At any rate, those of us who have gone through the not so fun experience of having parents who get old, who demand that we take over and just handle everything for them because they are too old to handle it now, yet they still want to be in charge because damn it, they’ve got more years than you do, can relate to Tony’s suffering. All in all, it’s equally eerie and funny when we sit in anticipation of Farmiga’s rendition of Livia’s “Oh, poor you!”

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. The movie has its moments. Lots of action. Plot twists. In many ways it does feel like an extended Sopranos episode, though with a star studded cast of actors and actresses who lend their talents to it largely because they probably wanted to be attached to such a well known property. Sidenote: Ray Liotta does an interesting turn as twin brothers, the gross old pervy Moltisanti patriarch who marries a younger woman and the twin brother who went to jail as a young man but somehow found wisdom wasting his life away in jail, wisdom he can never use to benefit himself but can impart it to Dickie if he’ll listen.

It’s worth a watch for fans, though in many ways, it does feel like we’re that 40-year old adult child who finally figured out how to move on from our beloved estranged father/series who left us too soon because they felt the time and resources were better spent on other things (like the middle aged dad who abandons his kids and buys a Ferrari and chases 20 something babes, showrunners and actors often leave popular series to chase after movie roles that rarely are as memorable as their series) and now the show has come back to us as a withered old 70 year old man, begging to take us to Coney Island and we have to decide whether we want to go because we’ll never get another chance to go or say no thanks, because we aren’t kids anymore and we can buy popcorn and cotton candy and ride tickets on our own, so no thanks, Pops. We hope those hot babes and Ferraris were worth it.

Double sidnote: As I watch the trailer, I can see how a viewer might be tricked into thinking this show is very Tony centric. Unfortunately, it’s all Dickie with occasional Tony. Going into it, I thought maybe we’d see Young Tony being called on to commit crimes, perhaps he wanted to steer clear of the crooked life, only for some big reason that draws him into it. It’s more a focus on the life of Dicki Moltisanti with a meditation on him not being sure how to help his nephew in his formative years, debating on whether he should be a bigger part of his life because the kid needs an adult to advise him, or to steer clear because the more involved he is in the kid’s life, the more he might pick up his uncle’s bad habits.

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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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Movie Review – Bad Education (2019)

Talk about being hoisted on your own petard, 3.5 readers.

Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is a superhero of a superintendent, having taken the once lowly Rosslyn school district in New York all the way to being the #4th highest ranked district in NY state. He does this by handling himself like a politician – fancy suits, plastic surgery, lots of glad handing, lots of charm, all designed to garner public support and get his initiatives done.

The town’s politicians couldn’t be happier, as the school’s high status has caused property values to skyrocket with lots of wealthy folk willing to move to town so their kids can attend the school system, willing to make the longer commute in NYC just to do so.

Thus, if you owned property in Rosslyn prior to all this, and then saw your property value go up, you made a lot of money, ergo, the community is pretty much willing to rubber stamp anything their rock star superintendent wants.

Tassone’s achievements are great that he’s been interviewed all across the media, newspapers and television, and his wall is lined with photos of himself being congratulated by celebrities.

All this comes crashing down because…he had to go and encourage a student. That’s what any good educator does, right? Part of his routine is to urge students to do their best, so when high school newspaper reporter Rachel interviews him for what she refers to as a “puff piece,” about a skywalk project that would lead to the construction of an 8 million dollar walkway to connect school properties, Tassone encourages her to think bigger, to give the story her all.

Rachel, who at first, never took her participation in the paper seriously, seeing it as just an elective hoop to jump through, rolls up her sleeves and starts digging, all the way until she uncovers the most massive school embezzlement scandal in US history.

I can’t help but think that Tassone wishes he’d just allowed Rachel to stick with her phone it in attitude.  Instead, Rachel learns that the superintendent has created multiple phony companies, charging off big bucks for expenses the district never incurred, using the money instead for his personal benefit, plastic surgery being the most expensive of his vices.

Believe it or not, this is the school’s second embezzlement scandal. The first involves Asst. Supt. Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney), Tassone’s right hand who has embezzled plenty of her own. When she is caught, town fathers, led by School Committee President Bob Spicer (Ray Romano doing some serious dramatic acting) are talked into sweeping it under the rug by Tassone, who argues the kids will be unfairly punished when all the school’s awards and accolades are taken away.

Alas, once Spicer and the school board agree to make it all go away quietly, they essentially become complicit, and look like fools asleep at the switch when Tassone’s malfeasance is discovered.

Oddly enough, as bad as these actions are, the filmmakers manage to still make you feel bad for Tassone. He is, very much like a politician and expected to do a politician’s work but lack’s a politician’s resources to pay for it all. You can’t be ugly and shoddy looking when you give rousing speeches on behalf of your school district, after all. Eh, but then you are snapped back into reality when you see that school buildings are falling apart while he’s getting facelifts on the taxpayer’s dime.

Kudos to the teenage reporter who dug it all up first, beating the state and national media to the punch.

STATUS: Shelfworthy. A bit dry, boring at times, though the scandal itself is salacious, the details behind it are yawn inducing, so I give credit to the film makers for making scenes about a kid pouring through mounds of financial documents fun.

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Game of Thrones Review – Season 8, Episode 5 – The Last War

Holy crap, 3.5 readers.  What an episode!  SPOILERS!

Well, here are my thoughts:

#1 – It’s hard to complain because it was riveting, edge of your seat and really grabbed your attention.

#2 – But I’ll complain anyway.  The complaint I keep seeing is wasted character development.  Khaleesi has spent 7 seasons being good only to go berserk at the last second.  True, I suppose the capacity to snap is in all of us.  Her second dragon and best friend were just killed.

Still, the set off of her snap was Varys’ treachery?  I don’t know.  Seems weak.  Then again, I suppose there have been inklings throughout that she might flip out.  Her father did flip out and there was always a fear that she might flip too.

Also on character development, Varys was long portrayed as the realm’s top spymaster, like an old fashioned CIA chief.  Ergo, it’s hard to believe that he would just walk right up to Jon Snow and tell him what’s what.  If Varys wanted Khaleesi out, he wouldn’t have told her boyfriend.  He would have orchestrated some kind of intricately detailed behind the scenes coup that left him 20 steps away from it all.  He would have had a servant poison the Khaleesi’s soup or something then would have been all like, “What treachery is this?  Oh, shit.  Our beloved Khaleesi is dead.  Oh well, Jon Snow, hate to say it but you’re up now, buddy.”

#3 – I think we have to be honest that the show always promises A then delivers not even B but Z.  So we should have never really expected a happy ending where Khaleesi farts rainbows out of her butt.

#4 – There were some payoffs that longtime fans have been waiting for, from the Cleganes finally duking it out, to the wildfire deposits getting burned up to Arya looking to check Cersei off her list.

#5 – In true form for the show, they managed to make you feel bad for Cersei.  She’s done some bad things over the years and yet, in her final moments you’re like, “Well, maybe her ass shouldn’t be ate the hell up by a damn dragon.”

CONCLUSIONS:

Snow, Tyrion and Davos all look sad at the side they chose.  And there’s still a few episodes left so where this goes next will be interesting.

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Game of Thrones Recap – Season 8, Episode 2 – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Hey 3.5 readers.

So, there was a lot of payoff in this episode.  A lot of things that rewarded you if you’ve been watching since the show began:

#1 – Jaime now feels like a dick for pushing Bran out the window all those years ago.  The show is a miraculous piece of writing that it has a character who started out the series pushing a kid out a window to cover up for his incestuous affair with his sister and now all these years later you feel sorry for him because he has grown and become a better person, a person who wouldn’t do such a thing now but he will always carry the guilt of having done so.

#2 – Jaime isn’t trusted by Dany because he killed her father though that seems silly because even she admits her father was a dickcheese.  Brienne of Tarth vouches for him, rewarding you for watching that season where she and Jaime became the traveling odd couple.

#3 – Brienne is formally knighted.  It seems like a sleight of writing hand to make it so any knight can appoint another knight because she’s known so many damn knights for so long.  Then again, maybe she just needed to vouch for one and then he owed her a favor.  It was a nice feminist moment though the show has long had women in positions of power.  The GOT world is ancient and backward but damn if it doesn’t let women be in charge of things.

#4 – Arya and Gendry get freaky.  This is bizarre and I’m not sure they should have done it.  Problem is the actress who plays Arya still looks very young for her age though I guess she is of age now.  I assume Gendry is her age but he looks like a full grown man getting down with a kid in this scene.  I believe the characters are both of age at this point.  I don’t know.  They might have handled this scene better.  Maybe they could have just alluded to it.  Masie Williams just looks too young.

#5 – Khaleesi seems to really be up Tyrion’s ass for every little mistake.  Jorah Mormount who doesn’t like Tyrion stands up for him, pointing out that no hand would ever not make a mistake and he as at least gotten her this far.

#6 – Sansa and Khaleesi are at odds.  Also, she isn’t happy to learn Jon Snow is a Targaryen.

#7 – Tormund is a giant titty sucker.

#8 – Overall you just had a lot of characters who finally come together after years of infighting and so far the last season is progressing well.

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Game of Thrones Recap – Season 8, Episode 1

Well, 3.5 readers, the final episodes are here.

I’ve been blogging about this show since this fine blog began.  Come to think of it, HBO probably owes all their success to me, since I sent my 3.5 readers their way.

So now, the end begins and we begin to watch the end.

Spoiler alert.

Jon Snow and Khaleesi are in Winterfell and the Northerners don’t like all the new people.  Jon learns that his bae is also his aunt so now he is an auntie fucker.

The dragons aren’t eating enough, the White Walkers are at the door, Cersei’s still a bitch.  I don’t know.  That’s about it.

My, how fast the past decade has flown.  This show has always been a welcome favorite, something riveting enough that I was always able to turn it on Sunday nights and for a brief hour, get lost in another world.

Six episodes doesn’t seem long enough to tie up the loose ends, but here’s hoping they will be.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Binge Watching Marathon

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” put out a new season recently after a six year hiatus.  It made me so happy to see Larry David back in action that I ended up watching the whole series, a few episodes a day, for the past month.  I’ve seen them all before and remembered the gist of the best ones but it’s been so long it was like watching them all for the first time.

If you’ve never seen it, the quick rundown of the show is that Larry David was the co-creator and producer behind the popular 1990s sitcom Seinfeld.  While he only appeared on that show in the occasional bit part, he was largely a behind the scenes man.  Fun fact: the character of George Costanza is based on Larry.

On “Curb,” Larry plays a fictional version of himself though I can only assume there is a grain of truth in any form of comedy.  As you might recall, George Costanza was a bald loser, fully aware of his unattractiveness and shortcomings, yet often angry over the fact that he couldn’t form a decent relationship with a woman because he’d always freak out over the most trivial of flaws (even though they usually pale in comparison to George’s problems.)

Larry is essentially the same way.  For most of the series, he is married to hot, younger wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) who suffers Larry’s douchebaggery with grace and dignity.  In later seasons, Larry and Cheryl divorce, though she remains a returning character.  Larry dates a variety of hot babes, women so attractive who have so much going for them that you want to shout out that clearly Larry would never be getting them if not for his vast “Seinfeld” fortune and Hollywood connections…and yet he usually screws things up over a trivial flaw.  (In one episode, he dates a ridiculously hot restaurant hostess only to ruin it all when she borrows $40 only to forget to pay it back.  Before you take Larry’s side, keep in mind that a quick Google search of Larry’s net worth puts it at $900 million so yeah, let the hottie keep the $40 Larry.)

Frankly, I’m impressed by how much money Larry made. The number of people who became near billionaires off of being funny must be few and far between.

My other random observations, in no particular order:

#1 – The first three seasons take place in the early 2000s, the first season in 2000.  The experience is surreal.  Flip phones.  Tube TVs and computer monitors.  No GPS.  In a first season episode, Larry and Cheryl get lost on the way to a dinner party, with nothing but a friend’s handwritten directions to guide them.  Anyone else remember trying to find a place with nothing but a friend’s shitty directions and no GPS, having to drive around, hope to find a landmark, stop for directions and hope to find someone who can help you?  If you’ve never done that, you have no idea how lucky we all are to have cell phones that can tell us how to get where we want to go today.

#2 – Larry self-deprecates the crap out of himself.  It’s a big man who is willing to make himself look like a schmuck.  It would be one thing if Larry called himself a different name, i.e. Gary Schmavid but here, he’s saying this is me, playing myself and I hate to get into his head but I can only assume that somehow he feels comfortable portraying himself as a goofball, a man who constantly bucks societal norms, schemes to get out of social conventions only to make things so much worse.

# 3 – It’s “Seinfeld” with swearing.  If you liked “Seinfeld,” and don’t care about swearing, you’ll like this.  The characters rarely grow or improve or better themselves.  No special episodes where a character gets sick.  No morals or lessons.  Just humor for humor’s sake.  The goal is to make you laugh and nothing more.

#4 – It made me feel bad to see how time screws us all in the looks department.  Not to knock Larry but he more or less looks like he does at the beginning as he does 17 years later.  Larry is bald with gray side hair for as long as I can remember.  He does appear a bit younger looking and more spry in the beginning episodes.  He’s early 50s when it starts and 70 now.

Richard Lewis, veteran neurotic comedian of the 1980s, plays himself and appears handsome at the start of the series.  Black hair, strong features, looks like he belongs in movies.  In later seasons, he looks old, gray, balding and decrepit.  Still has his wit but makes me sad what time does to us.

Not dumping on anyone but you can see it in all the recurring characters, how youthful they all long in the earliest seasons.

#5 – So much political incorrectness.  Many of the jokes from past seasons would not fly today.  The irony is that Larry does and says many shitty things, but if you get offended too early and walk away, you’ll miss the part where Larry gets his comeuppance for saying and doing such shitty things.  Never assume Larry gets away with anything.  He never does.  Cue ending scene where the theme music plays with closeup of his eyes as he realizes how much shittier he just made a shitty situation.

#6 – On the other hand, it’s not always Larry.  Sometimes it’s Larry as a victim of circumstance.  People are so tied to social norms that a minor deviation makes them go ballistic.  He’ll accidentally do or not do something, through no fault of his own, and despite apologies, people will go ape shit on him.  Perhaps we can give people a break if they don’t always act 100 percent of the way we want them to.

#7 – Jeff Garland (Larry’s manager Jeff Greene) and Susie Essman (Jeff’s she-devil wife Susie Greene) are great.  Susie goes ballistic over the littlest things, though often she sniffs out when Larry and Jeff have joined forces in a joint scheme and exposes them.  “Fat fuck” and “bald fuck” or “four eye fuck” are her names of choice for the duo.

#8 – Larry has Peter Pan syndrome.  It’s surreal to see a man with gray hair acting like a youngster, but he has so many young-ish habits.  Throughout the series, he’ll meet old, gray haired people and talk to them as one would a grandparent and it leaves me wondering if he’s aware that he’s old himself.  Then again, he’s got mad cash, so that keeps you young.

Conclusions – It’s an awesome show.  If you need something to binge watch, I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

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