Tag Archives: movie reviews

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I was in college when I went to see this movie on the big screen.  I thought it was great and over time, I am convinced that it is Tim Burton’s best.  It’s a perfect blend of horror, mystery, and light humor.

I caught it on Netflix tonight and was amazed at how young Johnny Depp looks.  I’m not sure how young he is in this movie but he’s got to be late 20s or at least no more than early 30s.  I remember being a teenager thinking he was an old man.  Sigh.  What time does to our perspective.

Christina Ricci plays Katrina, Ichabod’s love interest.  Christina is about my age (and was my age at the time I saw the movie for the first time)…I remember at the time thinking she was hot and would love to date her.  Now she seems like a baby in this movie.

Depp is great in this as he plays Ichabod as a science geek, someone ahead of his time with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos he uses for detective work.  He’s smarter than everyone yet he’s also lacking in common sense and often goes to great lengths with his gadgets to figure out what is obvious anyway.

Further, it takes place in 1799, a time when people were beginning to accept at least the most basic of scientific principles yet were still holding on to thoughts of witchcraft and superstition.  Thus, the pitting of Ichabod’s science against the horseman’s supernatural powers.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Rent it on Netflix today.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – The African Queen (1951) (And What It Taught Me About Love)

An oldie but a goodie, 3.5 readers.

In WW1 era Africa, British Methodist missionaries/brother and sister Sam and Rose Sayer (Robert Morley and Katherine Hepburn) run a religious village in Kungdu.  Alas, fighting breaks out between the Germans and British and then Germans will have nothing English in the region they control, so they burn the settlement down.

Sam dies from the shock of it all, leaving Rose with no one to depend on other than Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), a gruff, gin soaked riverboat captain who occasionally stops by to deliver the settlement’s supplies.

Charlie agrees to deliver Rose to safety on his junky boat, the African Queen.  The two are the original odd couple.  Charlie swigs booze and uses coarse language, much to the dismay of prim and proper, super religious Rose.

At first, the two hate each other.  Charlie looks at Rose as a pampered woman who wants to boss him around and make stupid moves that could get them killed, that she’s basically always been cared for and could never fend for herself so she should pipe down and let hnm be in charge.

Rose looks at Charlie like he’s a shaved baboon, that he can’t stop swigging gin for two seconds and he’s probably a pervert who wants her lady parts even though she’s covered in like twenty layers of clothing despite the hot African sun.

By the mid-point of the movie, the duo braves crocodiles, killer bugs, river rapids, murderous Germans and through it all, they start to grow rather fond of each other.

It is here where the film excels.  If the African Queen were to be remade today, there would probably be a five minute softcore scene where Channing Tatum bends Margot Robbie over a railing and has his way with her.

Here, we see Charlie and Rose kiss and then cut to the morning.  Maybe they humped.  Maybe they didn’t.  Honestly, given that it is a 1951 movie about 1914, they probably didn’t hump.  The kissing was enough for two people who just met in those days.

The film’s greatness as a love story comes through the fact that they portray love through, whodjthunkit, actual displays of love rather than banging scenes.

Charlie and Rose hated each other.  Now they dote upon one another.  They call each other “sweetheart” and “darling.”  Charlie learns that Rose likes tea so he never lets her cup go empty.  Rose learns to trust Charlie more and doesn’t assume that everything he does is a rouse to get under her twenty layers of clothing.

They work together to get the African Queen downriver.  They fight over who should do a dangerous duty, each demanding to risk their lives to spare the other, ultimately deciding to do it together when neither will back down.

It all culminates in a strangely touching scene when they are captured by Germans.  Sentenced to hang, they make one last request, that the German captain marry them.  They seem very happy in this instant, despite the fact that certain death is imminent.

I won’t spoil what happens next.  However, I think this film does more to display true love than what we see today, both on screen and perhaps even in our own relationships.

True, sex is the ultimate comfort.  It is the best experience that a human body can feel.  On screen, we like to see good looking people bone so we can imagine being one of them. Off screen, we look for partners who arouse us.

But it’s the times between sex that determine whether or not a relationship will last.  Do you call your other a pet name reserved only for him/her?  Do you hold their hand?  Tell them you love them?  Talk about the life you want to build together?  Get them a cup of tea and feel it is a blessing you have someone to get a cup of tea for rather than be made someone is making you get them a cup of tea?

These are all signs of long lasting love.  In 1951, the director of this film wasn’t able to show you that Charlie and Rose were in love by having them bone.  So instead, they showed all the things we all wish we had in a partner.  Ultimately, it all boils down to unconditional love, displayed through affection that is offered freely and never has to be asked for.

Because of this, I can picture Charlie and Rose moving away after their adventure and settling down together.  Meanwhile, all of these couples who meet and instantly bang in the throws of passion probably only last until they find someone else to bang.

Somehow, we all lost sight of what day to day love is.  Too much sex.  Not enough love.

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Movie Review – Colossal (2016)

Love and monsters!

BQB here with a review of the pleasant surprise that is “Colossal.”

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a mess.  She’s partying her life away and worse, she’s partied her boyfriend away.  Dumped and homeless, she returns to her home town only to reunite with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis).

Gloria and Oscar have a tumultuous relationship with a lot of leftover baggage from their younger days.  And worse, for some bizarre, mysterious reason…when their passion turns to violence, their alter egos appear in Seoul, South Korea and wreak havoc.

Yes, that’s right.  Everything Gloria does is copied by a giant monster.  Everything Oscar does is copied by a giant robot.

My one criticism is the fight scenes between Gloria and Oscar often turn brutal, more brutal than you’d like to see between any couple and especially when we see a man lose control and hit a woman.  However, the challenge was that Gloria and Oscar must fight so that their monstrous alter egos fight and unfortunately the only way for that to happen was for the filmmaker to put instances of all too real domestic violence on screen.

The film could have gone a number of ways.  When I saw the trailer, I thought this movie was a comedy but it is anything but.  Humorous things could have been done but ultimately the monsters destroying the city trope is used to parallel the destruction that a squabbling couple can wreak upon each other as well as the world around them.

My main compliment is the director does a lot with a little.  There are brief scenes showing the monsters so as to not break the budget.  Otherwise, once the rules are explained (i.e. when Gloria and Oscar go wild, their counterparts destroy a city)…we become shocked by the littlest movements.  In other words, for the low cost of Anne Hathaway falling down on the grass, we can imagine a corresponding monster falling down and destroying a city block in the process.

In a time of sequels and reboots, this film is original, mashing up the romance and monster stomping the city genres.  And after all, when love fails, don’t we all feel like monsters stomping around the city out of control?

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Dark Tower (2017)

Guns and magic!  Magic and guns!

BQB here with a review of the long awaited film version of Steven King’s “The Dark Tower.”

King’s Dark Tower is probably one of his best read works, a fan favorite for a long time.  Sadly, I’ve never read it but I have heard nothing but good things over the years.

At the outset, this film has a lot going on.  Magic.  Sorcery.  Old West Gunslinging.  Interdimensional travel.  A kid that can move between worlds.  Stuff happening in New York.  Stuff happening in a fantasy world.  At times, you want to shout, “Hey! Just pick a storyline and stick with it already!”

But there’s the rub.  A great write like King can weave all of these elements together flawlessly, while sometimes complicated plots don’t always pan out well on screen.  Critics have been harsh on this film.  Personally, I think that sucks.  I mean, I’ll be up front and say I didn’t quite understand everything that was going on.  The overall concept was hard to follow.

However, there’s a lot of style.  Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright) steals the show as “The Man in Black,” the charismatic villain you love to hate (or hate to love.)  He makes being bad look so easy, and also fun, so much fun that as a viewer he might persuade you into thinking that it might be a trip to put on a black suit yourself and try out being evil for awhile.

Meanwhile, Idris Elba excels as the focused, relentless, unwavering hero Roland, aka “The Gunslinger,” the only one who can stop The Man’s dastardly deeds.

Oh and there’s a kid whose name I don’t feel like looking up right now.  I assume he’ll either become famous and I’ll learn his name later or he’ll end up on Skid Row like other child actors in which case, who cares?  Or maybe he’ll just do something in between.  More power to him.

At any rate, the kid has magic powers and dreams about the other world where the Gunslinger fights the Man.  Blah, blah, blah.  Somehow the kid teams up with the Gunslinger and that’s cool.  As far as I can recall, this is the first “kid steps out of his childhood to be a hero in a fantasy world” story since the 1980s, a decade that was lousy with such tales, “The Neverending Story” being the primary one that comes to mind.

Come for the Man’s smooth talk.  Stay for the Gunslinger’s skills with the steel.  The gunslinging scenes make the movie and my only complaint is you do have to wait awhile before Roland lets loose with the steel.

I can understand how someone can be confused with all that is going on.  I know I was.  However, this film is probably the best big screen adaptation that could be made of King’s book.  Some ideas are so complicated that they work better when a skilled writer lays it all out for you, whereas films have limited time to get you all the information you need to know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Kidnap (2017)

Always keep an eye on your kids, 3.5 readers.  You never know when some weirdo might snatch them.

BQB here with a review of the thriller “Kidnap.”

Honestly, I didn’t want to see this movie.  I thought it looked stupid, like it was essentially an attempt to resurrect Halle Berry’s flatlined career.  Plus, the title.  Why not “Kidnapped?”  Kidnap in the present tense seems off to me.

The plot is weak, there isn’t much dialog but rather, Halle talks to herself a lot.  Key plot points are spoon fed to you.  There’s more tell than show.  At times, Halle over-acts in a dramatic fashion.

But somehow, the film grew on me.  Like that fungus on your bathmat, you’re not sure how it got stuck there, but it would be too much effort to throw it out and buy a new mat now.

Halle plays a divorced, single Mom who takes her kid to the park, looks away from her kid for a second and wham, her little boy Frankie has been kidnap…er kidnapped.  (Seriously, Hollywood, someone already owns the rights to “Kidnapped” is that it?)

Honestly.  Who takes their eye off a kid in this day and age?  #WorstMotherEver…then again, maybe not.  When Halle realizes her son has been kidnap…er napped…she morphs into a mama grizzly bear on PCP, a veritable T-1000 with tits, pursuing the kidnap…er kidnapper as the film becomes one great big long chase scene.

The chase makes up for it all.  It is intense and a mother’s love wins out over all.  Halle pushes her motherly mini van to the limit, pursuing the kidnappers relentlessly.  Car crashes and all types of danger do not slow her down.  At one point, her car breaks down so she just hops out and runs after the bad guys, her jumbo knockers jiggling to and fro under her shirt.

In short, she really is the T-1000 with tits.  These kidnap…er nappers messed with the wrong mother and she’s going to make them pay.

The plot holes are palpable.  Halle tears up the freeway, leaving a whirlwind of destruction in her path yet somehow the cops never catch up to her.  Also, I mean seriously, don’t take your eye off your kid.  Perverts and weirdos are everywhere, people.  Assume they are after your kids at all times.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  There is much about this film that sucks but the chase scenes make up for it and Halle’s hot pursuit is worthwhile.  Could this be the beginning of a Halle renaissance?

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Movie Review – Free Fire (2016)

Guns, guns, guns!

BQB here with a review of the two hour long gun fight movie, “Free Fire.”

I’m going to say this straight out of the gate.  This movie features a concept that is great in theory but fails in execution.  In this day and age of non-stop sequels and reboots, it was nice to see an original idea on screen, i.e., what would a feature length gun fight battle sequence look like?

The problem is none of the characters are particularly likable.  For me, I wasn’t really left caring enough about any of them to worry whether or not any of them buy the farm.  Brie Larsen’s character was the only one I rooted for but even then it was only because I wanted to bone her.

In the 1970s, an excessively large ensemble cast meets in a Boston warehouse to perform a gun deal.  I’m not an underworld gun salesman but the amount of people involved in this gun buy seems to be at least ten people too many.  It feels like the Hollywood suits just had a lot of actors they liked so they squashed them together and gave them superfluous, unlikely rolls in this transaction.

For example, Brie and Armie Hammer are brokers of some kind who are just there to make introductions. Sharlto Copley plays the South African gun runner while Cillian Murphy plays the IRA buyer.

Meanwhile, there’s a vast assortment of henchmen, drivers, lackeys, and so on.  The film begins with everyone saying a lot of superfluous things designed only to be stylish for style’s sake.

After the blah, blah, blah, a petty dispute between two henchmen leads to a gun battle that just gets worse and worse, at times comically so though I don’t think comedy is the film’s intention.  Once the initial shots are fired, there are accidental shootings that cause anger among the parties, adding fuel to the fire and causing battle lines to be drawn.  Literally at no time does anyone exercise some brain power and just says like, “Hey! This was just an accident.  Let’s all calm down!”

For most of the film, the actors are flat on their backs, hiding for cover, nursing gun shot wounds, limping along the floor on their elbows when they need to move, either whispering to allies or shouting at enemies.

At first, it’s interesting but after awhile it becomes hard to keep track of who wants to shoot who and why.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Plus points for originality.  Minus points for execution.  All the characters were lame cookie cutter criminal lowlife dicks and when you don’t care if they croak it’s hard to root for anyone to win the gun battle royale.

Just root for Brie.  Because she gives me tingly feelings in my pants.nnn

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Movie Review – Atomic Blonde (2017)

1980s music!  Jason Bourn-esque fight scenes!  Charlize Theron goes full lesbo!

BQB here with a review of “Atomic Blonde.”

It’s 1989.  The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse.  In Germany, the Berlin Wall divided the country is about to be torn down.

Set aside this end of the Cold War backdrop, MI6 agent Atomic Blonde (Charlize Theron) must work her way through a world of intrigue to secure a list of Western agents, lest they be killed if they fall into the wrong hands.

With classic 1980s jams playing in the background, Charlize engages in stylish, well-choreographed fight scenes, all the while wearing the latest in 1980s fashion.

Meanwhile, she works with devious allies like Percival (James McAvoy), Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) and Kurzfeld (John Goodman.)

There are a lot of twists.  You’ll feel contorted by the end.  At times it can be difficult to keep up with what is happening, but the music and action is fun.n

Also, you get to see Charlize’s tucas.  I assume it is hers.  I have no reason to believe it was a stunt butt but I have no means of verification.  It isn’t presented in a very erotic manner though but hey, a butt’s a butt.

I’m not sure it lived up to all the hype but it is a fun time just the same.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Ali G Indahouse (2002)

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

An oldie but a goodie.  Kind of a cult classic.

Before he found American fame as Borat, Sasha Baron Cohen was Ali G.  You know how sometimes white kids in the US pretend to be black in the hopes of looking cool?  Apparently that happens in England too, except the white kids pretend to be Jamaican.

At any rate, the guy who plays Tywin Lannister on Game of  Thrones plays the Deputy Prime Minister.  In a conspiracy to undermine the prime minister, he recruits total buffoon/white kid trying to be Jamaican Ali G run for parliament in the hopes he will embarrass the prime minister out of office, leaving him to take over.

As expected, Ali G douches his way to the top, teaches us all kinds of hilarious British swears (minga and batty the top two I remember) and despite his total incompetence, manages to save the day, as well as his favorite leisure center in the epically ghetto neighborhood of Staines.

Main thing that makes me sad is how time fast as gone.  That dude that plays the Hobbit plays Ali’s best friend and he looks so young.

Anyway, check it out.

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Is Comedy Dying? – Part 2

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  Is comedy dying?  Maybe not, but I fear it might be on life support.

Let’s keep pondering the question, shall we?

In my last post on this topic, I mentioned “Airplane” as an example of a hilarious movie that wouldn’t get past the PC police today.

Here’s an example of a funny scene from that film:

So, in the 1970s (this film was made in 1980 when the 1970s were still fresh), there was a “jive” culture.  Hip, happening black dudes would dress up in fancy, stylish outfits, hang out at discos and talk in a cool style.

In this scene, Barbara Billingsley, the actress who played literally the first TV sitcom mother ever, June Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver” overhears one of the jive dudes talking to the stewardess.  The stewardess can’t understand all of the hip lingo.

Babs, for some unexplained reason, does.  She starts speaking this super cool jive talk.  The jive dudes talk back and pretty soon they and the old gal are having a jive argument.

Why is this funny?  First, it pokes fun at that jive culture, but only tangentially.  If anything, it satirizes white people and old white women in particular.  This old white woman, essentially America’s first sitcom Mom, goes out of her element and speaks in this hip language typically reserved for the cool, happening black club scene.

The joke is basically an old white lady could never be that cool but here she is, being cool, out jiving the jive talkers.  Laughs often come when we are shown the absurd, the unlikely, the thing we’ve never seen before.

It’s a funny scene.  Would it fly today?  No.  Why?  Some Hollywood suit would see two black guys, assume they are being made fun of, assume that people are too stupid to get the joke as anything other than ridicule of black people (and sadly, many people are that stupid) and cut the joke.

Let me ask you this.  When you see these dudes talking jive, is your reaction to dislike them?  To think that something is wrong with them?  No.  Me, personally?  I kind of envy them.  They look like they led interesting lives, hanging out in busy city nightclubs, absorbing the music, the culture, learning a hip way to talk.

I regret that I’m more like the stewardess, too lame to understand what they are saying because I’ve never lived it up like they did.  Or worse, I’m like Babs, so old and uncool that people would laugh if I ever showed a hip bone in my body because it would be so surprising to people.

But there’s just no nuance anymore. No attempt to understand intent.  It’s just, “Oh no.  A black person is involved in this joke.  We must cut it.  If literally one person can infer that black people are being made fun of, it’s one too many.”

I dunno.  Am I right?  Am I wrong?  Hit me up on the flip side, 3.5 bloods.

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Movie Review – The Big Sick (2017)

A breakup, heartache, a coma and comedy?

Yes, it’s probably the funniest movie about a coma you’ve ever seen.

BQB here with a review of “The Big Sick.”

You’ve seen comedian Kumail Nanjiani on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” where he delivers jokes with a cunning, deadpan style, often only alerting viewers that a joke has even taken place with a subtly playful eye movement.

Now comes his big screen debut in an autobiographical story about how he and his wife Emily found their own happily ever after.

In this film, Kumail plays himself.  He’s a Pakistani immigrant, his parents having moved to the US when he was a boy.  He’s struggling as a stand-up comic in Chicago when he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan playing a fictional version of Kumail’s real life wife Emily.)

The duo hits it off, finding that brilliant romance most of us can only dream about.  Alas, there’s a problem.  Kumail’s family are very traditional, devout Muslims.  In particular, his mother will accept nothing less than his marriage to a Pakistani Muslim woman.  Whenever Kumail visits for family dinner, his mother arranges for a different prospective Muslim girl to “drop in” in to meet her son.

Ultimately, Kumail is pressured, forced to choose between disappointing his family or disappointing a woman he sees as the great love of his life.  A fight ensues, a breakup occurs and shortly thereafter, Emily is hospitalized and put into a forced coma as doctors wrack their brains trying to figure out how to cure a freak, rare infection.

None of this sounds like it should be good fodder for comedy.  Honestly, there are many tender, touching moments that highlight the gut wrenching pain that comes with love – the choices we must make, the comprises we must make, the decisions we must make, all in the name of figuring out how to stay true to ourselves while making another person happy.

Kumail loves this woman, so much so that he parks himself in the hospital, waiting for his love to wake up.  This is to the great chagrin of Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), Emily’s parents who fly in to care for their daughter in her time of need.

Beth and Terry only know that their daughter’s last pre-coma thoughts of Kumail was that he was a dick who’d screwed the whole relationship up – not a great first impression to make on your prospective future in-laws.

Meanwhile, Emily’s illness is so rare that someone needs to do the legwork necessary to research it and check up on the doctors to see if they are making the right decisions.

It’s up to Kumail to try to save the day, to save his love, to win over her parents….all in all, a very tall order that most people are ill equipped to handle.

It’s an ambitious scenario to be certain.  In another comedian’s hands, it could have fallen flat.  However, as Kumail reaches his boiling point outside a fast food drive-thru, beating the crap out of a trash can when a cashier refuses to put extra cheese on his burger as he tries to satisfy a stress eating binge, we laugh…and we can relate.  We all have had those moments where life freaks us out to our tipping point.

Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are great as the parents.  Ray’s character is epically lonely, in search of a friend that he finds in Kumail.  This is actually the most acting I’ve ever seen Ray Romano do. Holly dumps on Kumail with reckless abandon until other people start dumping on Kumail and her mama grizzly bear claws come out.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Good date film.  Time will tell if Kumail will be able to repeat this success, but he and Emily had such a unique, touching story that it really pays off on film.

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