Tag Archives: history

Movie Review – The Promise (2017)

Romance!  War!  Fezes!  So many fezes.

BQB here with a review of The Promise.

In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a love triangle forms between Armenian medical student Mikael (Oscar Isaac or “Poe Dameron” as Star Wars fans know him), American journalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale), and French Armenian artist Ana (Charlotte Le Bon).

Both men yearn for Ana’s heart (and cooter) but there’s much more evil doings afoot.  The Ottoman Empire becomes Germany’s ally in World War I.  Now stronger than ever thanks to their German benefactors, the Turkish majority army sets its sights on the country’s Armenian minority.  Armenians are savagely executed, brutalized, rounded up, sent off to forced labor camps and so on.

Although the film is a love story and a war story, it’s much more than any of that.  As far as I know (and perhaps historians/film buffs can prove me wrong), it’s the best, most compelling story of the Armenian Genocide, a horrific chapter in Turkey’s history that should be more well known to the world than it is.

As the film states, the French Navy was able to rescue 4,000 Armenians.  However, a staggering 1.5 million Armenians were killed.  To this day, the Turkish government denies that the Armenian Genocide ever happened.  This sucks, especially since Turkey is a NATO ally.

It’s an Oscar-ish movie, though I doubt it will see any gold statues as it was released too early in the year.  Oscar Isaac gets to shine in a non-comic book/sci-fi movie. Bale is an impressive adventurer/man of the world.  Le Bon puts the filling in my Crepe Suzette and is so beautiful that you almost can’t blame Chris and Mikael for stopping periodically during the war to vie for Ana’s hand (and cooter).

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  A must see and it is a movie that does the world a service by shining a light on a tragic part of history.

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Movie Review: Live By Night (2017)

Tommy guns!  Dizzy dames!  Ben Affleck in a white suit mumbling incoherently.

Youse guys better check out this movie if youse know what’s good for youse, see?

BQB here with the 1930s period piece/screen adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s historical crime novel, Live By Night.

Ben “Look At Me, I’m From Boston So I Have to Be in All the Boston Movies, Kid” Affleck stars as stick up man Joe Coughlin, a petty thug/World War I veteran who, despite being Irish, rises up through the ranks of the Italian mob on a mission of vengeance against the rival mobster who killed the maul he loved.

It’s a great premise.  It’s fun to see the past brought to life on the big screen.  Historic films rarely do well at the box office anymore, so it’s great to see Hollywood sticking up for them anyway.

Further, we’ve seen gangster era New York on screen, but its rare to see somewhere like Boston in the thirties.

My main complaint is the film tends to wander.  The whole point of the film is Joe seeking revenge, but he takes a roundabout zig zag approach to it instead of a straight line.  Halfway through the film you start to forget what Joe is up to.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Probably the best you’re going to see on screen in January.

 

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Movie Review – Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Sometimes a conscientious objector can still be a badass, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Hacksaw Ridge.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

This film tells the story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic who became the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor after saving seventy-five men during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge in World War II Japan.

Having experienced too much violence as a young man, the devoutly religious Doss vows to never commit violence and would rather die than hurt anyone, even if that someone is about to hurt him.

Naturally, the Army is puzzled as to why the hell he voluntarily signed-up if he won’t carry a rifle.

His superiors, played by Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington, go out of their way to get him tossed out of the army as they can’t fathom the idea of a soldier who is unwilling to learn how to shoot a weapon.

Will Doss earn their respect in the end?

The first half of the film is a tad hokey.  Lots of war movie cliches mixed in with Doss’ battle with the brass to pass basic training without touching a gun.

The second half is a blood and guts fest. Explosions and gun fire galore. Stabbings, mutilations, flame throwers, grenades, missing limbs, all kinds of gore.

Movies are able to speak with images and the message the director is giving us is, “war is hell.”

Some films and the overall media try to capture what it is like to be a soldier and fail.  Patriotic movies are all well and good but this movie takes us onto the battle field in all of its “Holy shit my friend just got his face blown off and now a guy is stabbing me and holy crap my face is on fire and my leg just got blown off!” butt puckering glory.

Thus, if you want to join the army, make sure you’re joining for the right reasons (not just because a spiffy uniform is involved) and understand there will be many butt puckering moments you won’t be able to even comprehend until you face them.

Further, politicians should consider what soldiers must go through during war time and avoid war at all costs.

That’s the message I took away from it, anyway.

It’s definitely an underdog story as Doss takes heaps of abuse from his unit for his non-violent ways only to prove his bravery and save tons of men on the battlefield.

Speaking of underdogs, Mel Gibson’s career is also on the line here.

You remember Mel, don’t you?

Beloved actor/director. Starred in and directed a lot of great movies. Had a reputation of “Well, if Mel’s in it then it will be good” and then he had some, well, I won’t get into the details but let’s just say some well documented breakdowns.

Since then, he’s starred in some films that were sort of blah.  This is Hollywood letting him at the helm with a big budget and a great script so…I mean the film is fabulous Oscar bait and though I don’t wear my emotion on my sleeve, even I found myself crying as Desmond proved all the naysayers wrong…

…but, it is still hard to get over those nasty rants, Mel.  I don’t know.  You might have to cure cancer or something.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy and worth a trip to the theater for the explosions, but skip the popcorn if you don’t want to hurl once the guts and limbs and assorted body parts start flying.

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Remember the Zombamo – Part 2 – William Travis

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William Travis is a man who believes in himself…perhaps a little too much.

Suffering from delusions of grandeur, Travis borrows big bucks to fund his law and newspaper offices.  (He likes to keep his business affairs separate.)

Unable to pay his enormous debt back, he becomes a pariah in his hometown and is to be arrested and sent to debtor’s prison.

But even when his wife and everyone else tells him to stop believing, Travis keeps believing.  So convinced is he that he is destined for greatness that he hightails it to Texas, where an officer’s commission awaits him.

Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7          Chapter 8

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Remember the Zombamo – Part 1 – Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

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General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna charges into a battle against an army of marauding Spaniards hell bent on retaking Mexico for King Ferdinand.

A cannon blows off the general’s leg.  With death appearing to be a near certainty, the mysterious vampire Isadora makes her way to Santa Anna’s bedside and turns him into a vampire.

Quickly, we learn that Isadora represents, “The Legion,” an organization of vampires who have done the devil’s bidding for ages.

A bargain is struck.  Santa Anna may rule Mexico, but he must unleash Satan onto the world.

Under Isadora’s counsel, Santa Anna takes advantage of the chaos created by a coup to execute the president and vice-president to declare himself Mexico’s chief executive.

The loyal but chagrined Colonel Arroyo gets promoted to General, but is dismayed that the people go along with Santa Anna’s chicanery.

Also…werewolves.

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4

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Remember the Zombamo – Chapter 1

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1829

Tampico, Mexico

The Spaniards had returned for what they deemed was rightfully theirs. An army of nearly three thousand men loyal to King Ferdinand approached with rifles at the ready.

Sitting atop his horse, the middle-aged Colonel Javier Arroyo peaked at the uninvited guests through a spy glass.

“Madness,” the Colonel said. “General, we have no choice but to…”

Before Arroyo could say “surrender,” his commander, the brash, young General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was off, charging his steed towards the invaders with his saber drawn, a battle cry pouring out of his lungs, and a thousand of his own men in tow.

“Dios mio,” Colonel Arroyo said as he drew his sword and pointed it at the Spaniards. “Attack!”

The air grew thick with the scent of gunpowder as shots rang out from both sides. Swords clanged. Blood was spilled, staining the soil crimson.

Before long, the Colonel and the General found themselves fighting in close proximity to one another.

“I find myself questioning your sanity, Antonio!” the Colonel cried as ran his sword through a Spaniard’s gut.

Santa Anna fired his pistol at one Spanish soldier, then, lacking sufficient time to reload, socked another square in the jaw with his bare fist.

“And I question your intestinal fortitude, Javier,” Santa Anna replied.

“My…”

The general’s sword clanged against a Spanish rapier. Parry…parry…thrust! Another Spaniard down.

“Your guts!” Santa Anna said.

“There are too many of them!” Arroyo shouted. “There’s cowardice and then there’s using the head that God gave you!”

Pow! A Spanish cannonball emerged from a cannon perched on a hilltop, tore through the air, and landed twenty feet away, causing a contingent of Mexican soldiers to erupt in an explosion of blood and viscera.

Santa Anna picked up a dead Spaniard’s rifle and fired a shot, opening up a giant hole in the middle of a Spanish officer’s head.

“Fighting to keep what is yours?” Santa Anna asked. “If you think that’s a bad idea, then you’re the one who has something wrong his head, amigo.”

Pow! A second cannonball landed. It was closer this time. Ten feet away. More blood. More guts.

Arroyo ducked just in time to avoid getting his faced smashed in with the butt of a rifle. He returned the favor by jamming his sword through his opponent’s stomach.

“I think its a good idea to live,” Arroyo said.

“And you will,” Santa Anna said. “Trust me, tonight we will celebrate by…”

Pow! A third cannonball landed less than a foot away. It exploded.

The general was on the ground. His ears were ringing. His sight was blurry.

“Antonio!” Arroyo shouted as he fought his way to his fallen leader’s side.

Santa Anna looked to his left. A bloody, shredded leg laid in the dirt. Even with all the pain and confusion, he could tell the limb looked all too familiar.

The general looked down. His right leg was still there. His left leg was not. Scraps of flesh and bone jutted out of the left side of his pelvis where his leg once was.

“Antonio?” the Colonel asked. “Antonio!”

Santa Anna’s eyes closed and he slipped into a deep, dark state of unconsciousness.

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Remember the Zombamo – Introduction

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Jim Bowie. Sam Houston. William Travis. Davy Crockett. Juan Seguin.

When the West was young, a series of unlikely events occur, pushing these men to Texas as if guided by a well-intentioned divine hand.

Texas is in a state of revolution as Texans decide that the dictatorial rule of Mexican President Santa Anna can be stood for no longer.

Four out of the five will throw down against a vampiric Santa Anna’s army of zombies at the Alamo, defending the old Spanish mission with their lives and fending off the evil that lies below it – an evil so powerful it could consume the planet.

The fifth will later confront Santa Anna’s zombies on the field of battle.

Will our heroes save the day? Find in the first book of BQB’s Zombie Western Series.

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A Note on Remember the Zombamo

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Hey 3.5 readers.

Well, I’ve done it again.

I’ve started a new story before finishing my other open stories.

Oh well.  I’ve been thinking about Zombie Western for months now, how to tie it all together and I finally decided I need to go way, way, way back in time to the early 1800s, to the Battle of the Alamo to get things started.

One thing I want to make clear – I’m lying…a lot.

You should take nothing I say in these books as historical fact.

If you read these Zombie Westerns and are inspired to look up the actual history in books written by actual historians then I’m glad.

But I am doing a whole helluvalot of fibbing just to fit everything together in a tale that is interesting to the reader.

Santa Anna, for example, is getting lied about a lot:

  • He did fend off a Spaniard invasion at Tampico but he did not lose his leg until long after the Battle of the Alamo.  He lost his real leg in a battle against the French.  He then lost his prosthetic leg while trying to retake Texas in the 1840s.
  • However, for purposes of this story, him dying in the beginning and then being brought back by a vampire seemed like a good way to begin and to introduce the readers to, “The Legion” the evil organization that commits heinous acts throughout the series.  So I rewrote history to make him lose his leg much earlier.
  • He didn’t kill Guerrero or Bustamante.  He did engage in dictatorish activity, but the scene where he kills these two didn’t happen.  I figured the presence of werewolves and vampires would have caused you to draw that conclusion but just making sure.
  • He did have a General Urrea who was a good soldier but stood up against bad things, i.e. saved some Texans from Santa Anna’s execution orders as he thought they was a violation of basic rules of war to execute opponents who have given up.  So at the start of this story I had a fiction General Arroyo and then I changed it to Urrea.  My plan is this is a human who remains loyal to Santa Anna until he can’t bring himself to support him anymore. Not sure if I’ll keep him as Urrea or perhaps I’ll avoid maligning Urrea by reverting to the fictional Arroyo.  Also, Urrea sounds like a penile disease.
  • Going forward, we’ll see the lives of Jim Bowie, William Travis, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett, what they were all doing pre-Alamo and what events led them to end up in Texas.  There will be a lot of grabbing at history and/or mythology interspersed with made up stuff to keep the story going.
  • If (when?) I publish this book I’ll make a series of posts sharing the real history and how I made it fake history so hopefully people won’t believe the parts I made up, except for the shit about zombies, because that totally happened and your history teacher was probably working for the Legion when he didn’t tell you about the zombies at the Alamo.

 

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Remember the Zombamo – Chapter 1

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1829

Tampico, Mexico

The Spaniards had returned for what they deemed was rightfully theirs. An army of two-thousand-six-hundred men loyal to King Ferdinand approached with rifles at the ready.

Sitting atop his horse, the middle-aged Colonel Javier Arroyo peaked at the uninvited guests through a spy glass.

“Madness,” the Colonel said. “General, we have no choice but to…”

Before Arroyo could say “surrender,” his commander, the brash, young General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was off, charging his steed towards the invaders with his saber drawn, a battle cry pouring out of his lungs, and hundreds of his own men in tow.

“Dios mio,” Colonel Arroyo said as he drew his saber and pointed it at the Spaniards. “Attack!”

The air grew thick with the scent of gunpowder as shots rang out from both sides. Swords clanged. Blood was spilled, staining the soil crimson.

Before long, the Colonel and the General found themselves fighting side by side.

“I find myself questioning your sanity, Antonio!” the Colonel cried as ran his sword through a Spaniard’s gut.

Santa Anna fired his pistol at one Spanish soldier, then, lacking sufficient time to reload, socked another square in the jaw with his bare fist.

“And I question your intestinal fortitude, Javier,” Santa Anna replied.

“My…”

The general’s sword clanged against a Spanish rapier. Parry…parry…thrust! Another Spaniard down.

“Your guts!” Santa Anna said.

“There are too many of them!” Arroyo shouted. “There’s cowardice and then there’s using the head that God gave you!”

Pow! A Spanish cannonball emerged from a cannon perched on a hilltop, tore through the air, and landed twenty feet away, causing a contingent of Mexican soldiers to erupt in an explosion of blood and viscera.

Santa Anna picked up a dead Spaniard’s rifle and fired a shot, opening up a giant hole in the middle of a Spanish officer’s head.

“Fighting to keep what is yours?” Santa Anna asked. “If you think that’s a bad idea, then you’re the one who has something wrong his head, amigo.”

Pow! A second cannonball landed. It was closer this time. Ten feet away. More blood. More guts.

Arroyo ducked just in time to avoid getting his faced smashed in with the butt of a rifle. He returned the favor by jamming his sword through his opponent’s stomach.

“I think its a good idea to live,” Arroyo said.

“And you will,” Santa Anna said. “Trust me, tonight we will celebrate by…”

Pow! A third cannonball landed three feet away. It exploded.

The general was on the ground. His ears were ringing. His sight was blurry.

“Antonio!” Arroyo shouted as he fought his way to his fallen leader’s side.

Santa Anna looked to his left. A bloody, shredded leg laid in the dirt. Even with all the pain and confusion, he could tell the limb looked all too familiar.

The general looked down. His right leg was still there. His left leg was not. Scraps of flesh and bone jutted out of the left side of his pelvis where his leg once was.

“Antonio?” the Colonel asked. “Antonio!”

Santa Anna’s eyes closed and he slipped into a deep, dark state of unconsciousness.

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The Illiad Rebooted – Chapter 5

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Tyndareus and the Dioscuri enjoyed goblets of wine around a table in the king’s chamber as Odysseus regaled them with tales of his daring do.

“So I was all like, ‘Damn Medusa,’ you got a butter face.’”

“Ha,” the king said. “And what, pray tell, is a ‘butter face?’”

Odysseus sipped from his goblet. “Its when a woman has a smokin’ bod ‘but her’ face? Whoa nelly! Put a bag on it!”

Tyndareus and his lads erupted into laughter.

“I’m serious,” Odysseus said. “I literally had to put a bag on Medusa’s face. I wasn’t trying to be rude but the bitch had snakes for hair. Plus there was the whole ‘turn you into stone if you so much as look at her’ vibe she had going on. It was all very awkward.”

“Oh Odysseus,” Tyndareus said. “Seeing you and my boys having such a rollicking good time brings back happy memories of days long past.”

The king’s face turned grim as he set down his goblet. “But I’m afraid we must move on to a more pressing matter….Helen.”

The Dioscuri gasped.

“Oh for the love of the gods,” Castor said.

“Has she been kidnapped by another pervert already?” Pollux inquired. “I haven’t even had a chance to take a bath yet.”

“I can tell,” Odysseus said as he pinched his nose. “Not for nothing but you two smell like you just murdered a couple of crusty old fucks.”

The king shook his head. “No. Helen is safe, but as we all know, not for long. It will only be a matter of time before another crafty pervert circumvents our security, maneuvers past the mighty Spartan army, and takes off into the night with our dear Helen.”

“We’ll be ready, father,” Castor said.

“We always are,” Pollux said.

“Yes,” Tyndareus said. “But there will not be another rescue mission for you, Dioscuri, for the time has come for Helen to be married.”

Gasp. Gasp. Gasps all around.

“Well,” Castor said. “Helen certainly won’t want for suitors.”

“The line will surely back up all the way to Asia,” Pollux said.

“Indeed,” Tyndareus said. “However, I have already decided who the groom shall be.”

The Dioscuri and Odysseus took turns guessing.

“Ajax the Great?” Odysseus asked. “Word around the Aegean Sea is that the man is packing a jumbo wang. We’re talking third leg territory. Obviously I don’t have visual confirmation but they don’t call him ‘great’ for nothing.”

“I always assumed it was because he is great at battle,” Castor said.

“No,” Odysseus said. “Stop talking nonsense. Its because he has a great big jumbo wang.”

“It is not Ajax the Great,” the king said.

Castor snapped his fingers. “Who is that fellow…the one from Arcadia?”

“Agapenor?” Pollux asked.

“That’s him,” Castor said as he pointed at his brother.

“Aww shit,” Odysseus said. “Agapenor the Arcadian. Those Arcadians are some swarthy ass muthafuckas. Sappy romantics. Good choice, Pops.”

The king sighed. “It is not Agapenor the Arcadian.”

Odysseus leaned back in his chair. “Just tell me its not Ascalaphus, because if you ask me, that guy is a real ‘Ass-cala-hatus.’”

“Helen can surely do better than the underworld’s orchard keeper,” Castor said.

“It is not Ascalaphus,” the king said.

“Well who is it?” Odysseus asked.

“Yeah,” Castor said.

“Don’t keep us in suspense,” Pollux added.

Tyndareus rose to his feet and leaned over the table. “Helen’s husband…shall be…Menelaus.”

The faces of all three men turned red with anger.

“Booo!” shouted Odysseus. “Booo!”

“Minotaur shit!” Castor cried.

“Total minotaur shit,” Pollux added, rather needlessly.

Odysseus made a cone with his hands and shouted into it. “Booo! Do over! Do over!”

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