Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – The Woman in the Window (2021)

Ugh. I wish this woman would get out of my window and off of my TV screen already.

Hollywood, what’s going on?

BQB here with a review of another stinker.

My 3.5 readers are aware I rarely give out the terrible “not shelf worthy” rating because as much as a movie might suck, it usually has some redeeming value and high, in the end, any movie that has been made is 100 percent better than the movie I didn’t make but some movies have little value and some are better off not made. The two films I watched the past weekend, Wrath of Man and The Woman in the Window, fit the bill.

BTW, this is a movie meant for people who have seen this film and the film it is based on, the classic Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart. If you haven’t seen either, look away, for SPOILERS ABOUND.

This isn’t a reboot of Rear Window but more of an homage. Rear Window is as close to perfect as a film can get and even by modern standards, the set design (which includes the construction of a whole host of apartments for the recovering Stewart to peep into) is fascinating.

Stewart’s character is a peeper but he has some redemptive qualities. He’s a famous photographer, laid up with a broken leg courtesy of a shoot gone wrong on his latest globetrotting adventure. He’s an older, gray haired man in this, but young Grace Kelly digs him because this was the time when Hollywood was like, “Yeah, young chicks like successful famous old dudes with money” whereas today they’d take like a 70 year old actor and slap hair dye on his plugs and try to make it look some young babe isn’t repulsed by him.

Sorry, I’m getting off on a tangent. Bottomline, Stewart while practicing his photography spies some odd doings with his neighbor that don’t quite up and the crux of the film is whether or not a heinous crime has been committed or if Stewart is just engaging in gossip and speculation over a lot of nothing.

I’m not sure why anyone would try to make a Diet Coke version of this film (I’m not sure why Universal (Hitchcock;s old stomping ground) didn’t sue either. It be like me making a movie about a farm boy turned space pilot who blows up the Bleth Blar and calling it Blar Blores but whatever.

The movie seems to go out of its way to set itself apart from Rear Window and maybe this is where it messes up. Here we have Amy Adams as child psychologist Anna Fox, an agoraphobic who, for reasons to be revealed later, is afraid to leave her house.

Anna spends her days watching old movies and peeping on her neighbors across the street. On one fateful night, she sees her neighbor’s wife, played by Julianne Moore get stabbed, cries “J’accuse!” at the husband, an evil Gary Oldham, only for the cops to be all like, hey pipe down crazy lady because the dude’s wife is here and alive – enter Jennifer Jason Leigh as the woman claiming to be the real wife who is A OK sans stabby wounds.

Look, I’m not a detective. I never went to the police academy or anything but I’m pretty sure even the most inept cop, upon hearing a neighbor say “I saw my neighbor’s wife get stabbed” wouldn’t stop at “but hey the wife is here.” You might, you know (SPOILER) ask around to see if there are any past wives, girlfriends, other women in the man’s life that the neighbor might have confused for a wife and find out if any of them are missing?

But ok. Sometimes movies require us to suspend disbelief.

SPOILER ALERT – the neighbor’s mentally ill son did it and I don’t know, I thought Hollywood was done with demonizing the mentally ill? While the big slasher flicks of long ago would feature a killer who went nutsy cuckoo, I’ve noticed slasher flicks in recent years usually have the slasher motivated by greed, money or what have you – i.e they’re sane and they are purposely killing to enrich themselves.

And hey, look, sometimes there might be a position where a cuckoo bird (sorry, is that PC? I’m old so I don’t know) flies off the handle and though it is sad that they experienced emotional trauma that turned them into a wack-a-doodle, sometimes it is either the main character or the goofball and you can’t blame the main character for defending themselves now and then we can all sit around and think about what tragic actions happened to make the killer a killer and how to keep them happening in the future so people get the help they need and don’t become killers.

Wow that was a long run on sentence.

Ultimately, the film is about a woman who is a child psychologist who spends half the film touting her child psychology credentials and then ends with a child psychologist throwing a teenager to his death through a skylight.

I don’t know. I mean, look, I know I’m not the most PC person in the world but even I thought like, hey, either have her use her child psychology skills to talk the kid into dropping the weapon and turning himself in so he can get the help he needs, or just make the bad guy Oldham and that it was all about money or whatever.

And then the movie just has threads that are pulled and never sewn back together. Like for awhile it looks like Oldham is the killer because in the last city he lived in, his assistant fell to her death back at his old job and he tranferred to a job in a new city after that. Suspicious…maybe this guy has a habit of killing the women in his life. It is never answered if that was an accident or a killing.

Plus Oldham is arrested in the end and it is never fully explained why. One might assume he helped the son cover up the murder and that’s a terrible thing to do so ok, book him…but if he didn’t know the son did it…I don’t know. They could have expanded and explained what exactly happened there.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy and I worry maybe COVID is really causing Hollywood to make a lot of stinkers. Plus, I worry about movie quality if movie theaters go bust because a lot of these streaming films are crap now.

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Movie Review – Wrath of Man (2021)

File under: when a movie looks good and turns out to be bad.

BQB here with a review of Wrath of Man.

I love Jason Statham. Really. I’ve been hooked since his Transporter films.

I like Guy Ritchie though sometimes he is hit – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and sometimes he is miss (King Arthur.)

With 2019’s The Gentlemen showing Guy Ritchie still had “it” and reuniting with Statham (also in LSTB), I thought this movie would be the bomb dot com but instead it’s the fizzle fo shizzle.

Why? It’s entirely too complicated, and unnecessarily so.

A good mystery can be fun…and oftentimes, when the mystery is too mysterious, I’ll suspend disbelief and nod and say to myself, “Yeah, I can’t really expend the mental energy needed to figure out if what everyone is doing/saying really does add up to X character being the culprit but I’ll smile and nod because overall this movie was fun.”

Just didn’t happen here.

Weird because the premise is cool and ironically, this is the most boring movie about armored car heists I have ever seen. Like, the bullets are flying and the bombs are exploding and I’m yawning because holy moly who cares.

Strangely, the premise is interesting. Fortico Security has had many of its armored trucks robbed as of late. Amidst this turmoil, Statham’s “Mr. H” is hired as a new security guard. The first ten-twenty minutes are a lot of exposition, presented badly, way too much telling and not enough showing, almost like one of those video games where your main character meets their BFF NPC who gives them a tour of the new digs and introduces you to everyone. Lame.

It starts to look like it might redeem itself when Mr. H’s truck is robbed and he displays some pretty badass skills against the robbers, kicking their butts easily and leaving everyone wondering how a poorly paid security guard can fight like a karate expert.

This is the grand question of the film and you watch and watch and watch as threads are pulled but never quite sewn back together. I waited for an explanation, weeding through possiblities like maybe he’s an undercover cop, maybe he’s a rival bad guy, maybe this, maybe that.

I never got the answer and ultimately had to google it to find out it’s in the middle of the film in a flashback that didn’t really seem like a flashback. It was a rather poorly placed flashback that seemed like part of the present if you ask me.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy, a rating I rarely give but it truly did suck – which is surprising because it includes a director I like, a main star I like, as well as a cast I like, full of big names – Josh Hartnett, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan and so on. But hey, pizza is good and orange juice is good but mixing two good things doesn’t always mean the result will be good.

I wonder if maybe this is, to my knowledge and I could be wrong, Ritchie’s first film set in America. Maybe all his dialogue sounds better coming out of Brits but I don’t think so. His dialogue is usually more stylish than this. And while he is from that Tarantino-esque 1990s school of directors who like to put the end in the middle and the beginning at the end and the middle after breakfast, it was just too much complication without enough payoff.

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Movie Review – Cruella (2021)

Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal BQB here. Just wanted you to know I just finished my screenplay for “Jeff!” a villain origin story about the fun adventures that Jeffrey Dahmer went on as a kid. What? No one wants to see a movie that would glorify a man who kidnapped and cannibalized a bunch of poor unsuspecting victims? Got it. That makes sense.

Whew. Good thing you warned me, 3.5 readers. I would have been very embarrassed if that movie had been made. But it’s not like Hollywood would have made such drek anyway, right? I mean, it’s not like they once greenlit a trio of films about the childhood and early adulthood of the man who would go on to be Space Hitler, the idea being that sure, he killed a lot of people but hey, he used to be an adorable little pod racer and what? They made it. Yeesh.

OK but surely, Hollywood would NEVER and I mean NEVER make a movie that glorifies a villainess who runs around trying to kidnap a bunch of Dalmations so she can skin them and turn their hides into coats and fashion accessories and wait…they’re doing it? THEY ALREADY DID IT?

Huh. OK then. BQB here with a review.

Part of me gets why Disney makes movies like this. They have a great big catalog of characters that fans love and the more media they make about these characters, the happier the funs are and besides, if they don’ t keep whipping out schlock based on their IP, then some other rival studio might make something similar. No, some other studio couldn’t make their own film about Cruella, but give Cruella enough time in the vault and out of the public’s eye and some other studio might just get away with making a film about their own villainous fashionista and we can’t have that now, can we?

Part of me doesn’t get it. Villains are bad and to make movies about their early years, the ones that molded them into the evildoers they are today seems to send the wrong message. I suppose it’s silly to read too much into it, though these films sort of suggest that evil adults are allowed to justify their misdeeds of the present as long as they had rough childhoods in the past and if that’s true, then I guess we all get away with being supervillains, don’t we?

Not quite.

At least in Maleficient (spoiler alert) we learn that we’ve been misunderstanding Disney’s favorite witch and secretly, she was trying to protect the princess all along. DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT – here in Cruella, we learn that Cruella doesn’t really have a penchant for turning puppies into coats (her villainous behavior is an act to attract publicity for her fashion label). Even so, if you watch the original 101 Dalmatian films, it doesn’t seem like an act. It seems like she really wants those puppies to become designer handbags.

But movies are all about the suspension of disbelief I suppose.

The plot? It’s a battle of the Emmas as Emma Stone plays the titular Cruella, born Stella to a kind mother who tries her best to parent Stella out of her evil ways. When said mother dies tragically, young Stella is orphaned and hits the streets of London, meeting the dudes who would become her henchmen, the trio becoming grifters and living off the spoils of trickery, fraud and petty crime.

Eventually, Stella is taken under the wing of London’s then leading fashionista, The Baroness (Emma Thompson), and it seems like all of Stella’s dress designing dreams will come true until she learns that the Baroness is actually a horrible person whose comeuppance is due. Enter Cruella, Stella’s secret (and eventually, only) identity who lives to upstage the Baroness at every fashion show at every turn.

Were there a lot of people clamoring for what ultimately boils down to a Disneyfied version of The Devil Wears Prada? Probably not and there’s the problem with this film. Most of these Disney flicks depend on cute animals. Readers, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but kids really like cute animals. Adults like cute animals too but are savvy enough to understand that cute animals poop and pee and love to chow down on expensive furniture and so on.

In other words, the main selling point of 101 Dalmations were, you guessed it, all the adorable puppies. Dogs are part of the act here, but not as prominently. If you were hoping for lots of cute canines in every frame, you’ll be disappointed. The point of Cruella was to just put the puppies in peril so you, the viewer, end up with a better appreciation for the puppies upon their inevitable rescue…so take away the puppies and you’re left with…dueling fashionistas? Yes, I know. Every kid is dying to rush out and see movies about fashionistas.

I do have to give the movie points for great costumes, some funny moments, and a fantastic soundtrack, basically a sampler of 1960s and 70s counterculture songs. The film spans both decades, from Cruella’s 1960s youth to her young adulthood in the 1970s as sort of a punk rock type figure. Yes, the great irony of Disney making a punk-ish, counter-culture film.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but I’m not sure who the movie is for. Adults who are into fashion have more choices for media about fashion. Kids who love puppies have more choices when it comes to movies that feature puppies. That’s mainly my chief complaint about this movie – it needed more puppies. Otherwise, Emma Stone provides a fabulous Cruella impersonation.

Is it worth the $30 rental fee on Disney Plus? Unless you’re really dying to find out how Cruella became Cruella, I’d say you could wait until this one’s streaming for free or at least for the regular Disney Plus subscription price.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Point Break (1991)

Whoa, like, gnarly, bro. Totally radical.

BQB here with a review of this bro-tastic film.

Sometimes people goof on this movie and I’ll admit, there is a lot you have to suspend disbelief for (namely, that it is pretty obvious from the get-go that Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah is a narc from the get go and it is unlikely that Bodhi’s (Patrick Swayze) gang of radical extreme sports loving, parachuting and wave surfing dudes who rob banks to support their globe trotting endless summer lifestyle would be fooled but whatever. Movies are all about suspension of disbelief, aren’t they?

This movie is a lot of things. It’s Reeves at his California bro-iest, where they allowed his surfer dude accent to fly free. I wonder if his accent wasn’t the inspiration for this film altogether. Someone somewhere in Hollywood must have been like wow we have this famous actor who sounds like a surfer dude. What can we do with him? That’s my guess anyway.

It also has Gary Busey in, my opinion, his best and most memorable role. Go ahead. Name another film Busey has been in. I know he’s been in a lot, but this is the one I remember him for, as Utah’s partner, older mentor who tells all the younger agents he was in Vietnam when they were in diapers or catching bad guys when they were popping zits or whatever. Also, he’s so hungry that he orders two meatball sandwiches because he could eat the ass end out of a rino. Now that’s real hunger right there.

It has bank robbers that are funny (the ex presidents who wear president masks while doing impressions, Nixon’s “I am not a crook” line stealing the show as well as the cash. Frankly, I think this movie set the standard for bank heist films and every other bank heist film since has been trying to copy it, with no one coming close to creating a group as funny yet also as scary as the ex-prez gang.

Young Utah infiltrates the gang, falls in love with Bodhi’s ex Lori Petty and falls in bro-love with Bodhi, admiring Bodhi’s free spirited, rejection of the work a day 9 to 5 chain yourself to a desk culture, yet also realizes the dudes can’t just be allowed to flaunt the law and put people in danger just to finance their lifetimes of fun.

It’s a great film and BTW, did you know it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who won best director for The Hurt Locker? Seriously, Point Break is literally one of the most testosterone fueled, kick ass, bad ass films ever made, filled with gun fights and bank robberies and explosions and dudes in Ronald Reagan masks turning gas station pumps into flame throwers so they can set cars on fire and its got one of the dudes from the Red Hot Chili peppers as part of another gang of bad dude surfers except this one deals drugs and I could go on and on and on…and it was directed by a woman!

I’m not sure of the backstory there. I wish I knew more. Frankly, I think after Point Break, Bigelow should have been able to get her hands on many an action film, directing them through the 90s and 2000s at a rapid clip but her next memorable one doesn’t come until 2009’s The Hurt Locker, close to 20 years later. What’s up with that, Hollywood? This is a woman who clearly gets the action genre, who knows how to keep action lovers like me chomping on the popcorn so y’all should have given her more films to helm.

Not that anyone reads this blog anyway, I’m not saying Hollywood didn’t or what the case was. Just its odd to me that its Point Break in 91, then she did other stuff, but nothing really that stands out to me until The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Unless there were some films in the middle that I’m forgetting about.

STATUS: Shelf-worth, bro. Radical. BTW, there’s a speech that Bodhi gives about projecting strength that stuck with me this recent time I watched it. Every few years I dust off this gem and give it a go. I watched it as a kid (probably shouldn’t have) and thought it was pretty cool but didn’t understand everything. As an adult, I get Bodhi’s speech about strength. He says he projects strength to get what he wants out of life. If you act weak, people will treat you weak. If you act strong, people will give you want you want just out of fear of your strength.

Does this apply to everyday life? I mean, no you shouldn’t walk around like you’re ready to kick everyone’s ass. However, if you, say, go into a job interview dressed nicely, looking sharp, your fitness is on point, you’ve sought out the right experience and credentials for your field and you don’t come off as desperate, said employer might be like wow we need to scoop this person up before someone else does.

Also, I forget the actor’s name but Utah’s boss telling the young Utah that he’s young and dumb and doesn’t know anything and the worst part he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. As I get older, I realize many problems that arose in my youth came from me not even knowing what I didn’t know. Like I kick myself for not doing X but then I have to admit that I had no clue Y result would happen or that I even had options A B C D or E, so hate on myself as much as I want but sadly, when you’re young, you have a lot less info to go on, which is sad because ironically, this is also the time when you are called on to make the most important decisions in life that will follow you forever.

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Movie Review – Army of the Dead (2021)

Zombies! Run!

BQB here with a review of Army of Darkness.

This is the first instance I can remember where a movie tricked me into thinking it was going to be good, only to end up bad.

The first 5-10 minutes are pretty great. We see Vegas become overrun by zombies. Set against Elvis’ classic gambler’s anthem, Viva Las Vegas, we see impersonators of various Vegas icons, from Elvis to Liberace, getting trapped in the brain biting melee.

We see slot machine junkies become dinner for the undead.

We even see boobs! Do you have any idea how long it has been since I’ve seen an honest to god boob in a motion picture release? I didn’t even think boobs were allowed on screen anymore but there they were. The zombie showgirls were set loose, free to feast on gray matter.

It all sets the scene for what should be an awesome Vegas themed horror flick. America’s pleasure city is overrun by the undead and a rich casino owner has hired a team of mercs led by Dave Bautista to infiltrate the damned city (it’s closed off and due for a nuke to protect the rest of the country from being overrun) and recover the 200 million in his vault.

Vegas heist film with zombies. Got it. Sounds cool.

Then the plot meanders, as Zack Snyder films so often do. Suddenly, its not so much about the heist. It’s about Dave Bautista’s character’s relationship with his estranged daughter. The daughter has a friend she was to save. Except, suddenly the movie isn’t about that. It’s about the Army of the Dead who have taken over the city. Apparently, there are super smart zombies who boss around the dumb zombies and they rule. Alright, so now its about defeating the leaders of this evil army.

Wait, its also about this character you get to know for five minutes whose name you won’t remember and this character you get to know for five minutes whose name you won’t…you know what? Forget it. Zack Snyder doesn’t believe in tying up loose threads, so if you see a trail of bread crumbs, don’t expect it to lead anywhere except to more bread crumbs…either that or it just stops and there is no more bread.

Comedienne Tig Notaro offers bits of needed comic relief as a fast talking helicopter pilot but other than that…this is a movie that could have been good and just…wasn’t. Maybe zombies have been done to death (pun intended) or maybe this movie could have settled on one plot. When you have zombies in vegas plus a heist you don’t really need that much more.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but just remember you’re coming for a diversion, not to really experience anything. I worry about a world where movie theaters go out of business and streaming services like Netflix take over, because you might get an occasional good film, but you’ll also get a lot of schlocky filler. Bad writing. Non-existent character development. I mean, if you spend two and a half hours watching a movie, you should be able to remember one character’s name, right? I can’t remember any of them, who they are, what they want. The whole time it’s just oh that guy. Yeah that guy, and that gal and oh we saw them before, now they’re back. OK.

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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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Movies I Have Watched Recently

Hello 3.5 readers.

Been totes busy lately but have had time to catch some flicks. Don’t think I’ll find time to review, so here are some quick thoughts:

The Courier – Historical drama/real life story of an Average Joe British salesman recruited to deliver messages between the CIA and MI6 and a high ranking Russian government official during the 1960s, helping to bring the Cuban Missile Crisis to a resolution in the process. Not a fun movie but you’ll learn stuff, so that’s good.

The Marksman – Liam Neeson as a bitter old rancher and ex-Marine who feels like his life doesn’t matter much anymore in the wake of his wife’s death and the bank’s foreclosure on his home. Finds a purpose in rescuing a young Mexican immigrant boy from a cartel who is chasing him.

Above Suspicion – I think this movie is below the Khaleesi. HBO alums Emilia Clarke and Jack Hudson (she of Game of Thrones and He of Boardwalk Empire) star in this glorified Lifetime channel for women movie and true crime story about Mark Putnam, the first FBI agent to ever go to jail after killing an informant he was having an affair with. There are parts of the story that are gripping, but you do have to put up with a) two Brits doing their best Southern caricatures and b) it portrays, at least in my opinion, Putnam as this poor guy who had it all – married family man with an up and coming career and this evil temptress had to go and ruin and it by seducing him and I don’t know…don’t FBI agents/married men have a duty to rebuff their female informants advances and go home and take a cold shower? And if they don’t, isn’t the better option to confess to your superiors and take whatever legal and or career ending punishments coming to you before things turn violent and ugly?

Nobody – This stars Bob Odenkirk so I thought it’d be funny but it wasn’t. The overall plot is a seemingly mild mannered Dad loses his family’s respect when a pair of robbers break into his home and he does nothing to stop them. When we learn Dad was once a highly trained government assassin who has long since left that life behind, he falls back on those kills to go on a vigilante spree….and it sort of looks like it’s going to become a copycat of Deathwish but then it devolves into this meandering plot about Odenkirk taking on the Russian mob and his brother RZA and father Christopher Lloyd also have assassin skills though how this happened is never quite explained other than brief references to them having served in the Army. I like Odenkirk and while the film is worth a watch, I think this movie suffers from not knowing what it wanted to be so it tried to be too much and needed to settle on a plot.

Mortal Kombat – First ten minutes where bitter martial arts rivals Sub-Zero and Scorpion fight in Ancient Times over who is Asia’s greatest warrior are pretty kickass. If they had made this the entire movie, it would have been spectacular. Alas, after this, it devolves into the standard video game based movie mess where they crowbar in all the characters, all the punchlines, all the special moves and what have you. Most video game movies are terrible largely because what makes a video game great (brainless, repetitive drivel) makes a movie bad (brainless, repetitive drivel) but there’s a lesson here for Hollywood that if a game has a nugget of awesome storyline, focus on that. An entire movie about two ancient ninjas fighting to the death to be named Asia’s greatest warrior sounds pretty cool to me.

King vs. Godzilla – Fast forward to the last twenty minutes. Eat some popcorn to the fight scene. Ignore all the parts with the humans talking. You’re welcome.

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Movie Review – Nomadland (2020)

See you down the road, 3.5 readers. BQB here with a review of this year’s Oscar winner.

I’ll say from the outset that if you’re looking for a neat plot where everything falls together perfectly, or clear-cut happy ending (SPOILER ALERT – whether there is one here, is debatable, as are most aspects of this movie) then this isn’t for you.

I’ll also say that in many ways, it’s a yawnfest. Boring. Meandering. Drifting. Sometimes pointless…although I think this is the point – that this is, for most, the way life is. You do some stuff. Stuff happens. Sometimes because of the stuff that happened, you have to change and do new stuff. Sometimes you’ll look back and wonder if you should have done other stuff. Then again, you would have done different stuff if you knew the changing stuff was coming and OMG how exhausting.

Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman who lost everything due to the great recession of 2008 – her job, her town, her friends and her husband. When the gypsum plant in Empire, Nevada closed, the town literally closed with it, causing residents to flee in mass numbers to the point where the post office cancelled the area code. Alas, when it rains it pours, for while dealing with unemployment and financial woes, Fern’s husband dies and she’s on her own.

She becomes a nomad, and apparently there are many senior citizen nomads roaming America. They live in vans and campers, take seasonal work, then enjoy some semblance of a retirement for the rest of the year – driving around, visiting natural wonders, attractions, and so on. Ultimately, in today’s economy, the joys of a dignified retirement, one where Grandma and Grandpa living out their golden years in the house they bought and paid for long ago, going on fancy vacays and so on are no longer to be hoped for.

The film is more of a fake documentary. We see the way Fern lives and it doesn’t look great. She considers herself houseless, not homeless, but around the point when you see her (SPOILER ALERT) poop in a bucket, or wonder if she’s going to lose it all when a fist raps on her door, said fist belonging to a cop (will he tell her to move along? will he arrest her for vagrancy? Oh, the tension!) you begin to realize you’ve taken your home (and your toilet) for granted.

They say the best writers show and don’t tell but usually, in most mainstream Hollywood packaged films, there’s a bit of spoonfeeding here and there. Some character or some plot twist will happen that wraps it all up in a neat little bow where we all nod and say “ah” but that doesn’t happen here.

For example, as the story progresses, we see that Fern has options. Her sister and brother in law, well-off homeowners, disapprove of her lifestyle and offer to let her live with them. Not a bad option for someone who poops in a bucket but …and it’s never quite said and here’s where the film is a Rohrshach test – you can believe what you want. Maybe Fern is an idiot for not taking sis up on the offer of a roof over her head. Or, maybe Fern is smarter than everyone else. After all, nothing good in life is free. To live with sis means to live by someone else’s rules. You’ll never be fully in control of your life while you live under a roof someone else pays for. Maybe pooping in a bucket gives her more independence than we can ever hope for.

You might think Fern is a loser, only working part-time and then spending her little savings on road trips instead of, oh, I don’t know, spending it on rent or saving up for a down payment on a house. But then again, Fern thinks you’re a dummy for wanting all those things. She’s been through it. She lived life by society’s rules once. All those things you here as a kid. Work hard. Do good and do good things will happen. She built a home and a life that was taken away from her and at her age, she’s not about to do it all over again.

STATUS: Not really a happy fun time flick and not exactly rollicking good entertainment. I’m not sure it’s even up to Best Picture snuff though it did win and I can see why as it shines a light on how seniors are thrown away, how homeless people are thrown away, how not every homeless person is a “bum” and how behind every poop that ends up in a bucket, there’s a story about how that person lost their toilet. Sad.

DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT – though there were points where I wanted to fall asleep, I do think the ending was another one of those “it’s whatever you want it to be” things but I can see it being interpreted as Fern, given her situation, was right and everyone else was wrong all along. We never get that Hollywood spoonful of sugar to tell us what to think though so we don’t know for sure, or maybe we do. We never get to know for sure if what we did was right in life either so, yeah, fun times.

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Classic Movie Review – Stargate (1994)

It’s the movie that dared to cast French Stewart as a badass.

BQB here with a review of Stargate.

Long before the Internet took off (this was made in those early days where you didn’t dare to log on for more than 5 minutes lest your mom start harping on you about the phone bill), conspiracy theories still existed, though they weren’t as rampant as they are today.

One was the premise that the Ancient Egyptian gods were, in fact, space aliens who ruled over Egypt, subjugating the masses with their advanced technology. After all, how else could they have made all those pyramids without modern machinery? Spoiler alert – they did it through enslavement of the tribes of Israel which this film conveniently leaves out (enslaved subjects of another planet that resembles Ancient Egyptian are featured but the plight of the Jewish people is not mentioned specifically) but it did cast actors of Arabic and Middle Eastern descent rather than just put white dudes in brown face so honestly by 1994 standards, this flick was hella woke for its time.

James Spader, who made his bones playing the snobby rich kid in every 1980s teen movie, shows a softer side as Dr. Daniel Jackson. Honestly, as Spader got older, he traded in his snobby rich kid demeanor for an arrogant, full of himself and his genius villain persona, so unless I’m forgetting something, this is the one role I can think of where he actually plays a decent person, and in fact, a nerd. And he does it quite well.

Spader is a linguist recruited to decode the symbols on an artifact. The government has been trying to crack it since 1928 and Spadey Spades figures it out within minutes. Thus, the movie’s trend to dump on him for being smart begins as it is a running joke throughout the film that everyone despises a poindexter. (Sigh, as I have discovered in real life as well.)

Turns out, the artifact is a Stargate. Ancient Egypt really was ruled by aliens. Those aliens have since moved on to another planet. The gubmint calls on Colonel Jack O’Neill (Kurt Russell) to lead an expedition through the stargate and into the alien world, begrudgingly bringing Jackson as a tag-a-long as he’s the only one who will know how to decode the symbols on the stargate in the alien world. Oh, and they also bring a team of stereotypically rough commandos, including French Stewart, typically known for being a goofy comedian but he dumps on Dr. Jackson for being smart and again, I feel the doctor’s pain as everyone has been doing this to me my whole life.

Human vs. alien fights ensue. O’Neil and Jackson help the enslaved people of this alien world escape the tyranny of the evil aliens. If only O’Neil and Jackson had been around on earth many years ago. Exodus would have been a much different story.

Overall, it’s a pretty cool sci-fi flick and ahead of its time. I dare say it was original because most space films usually focus on space flight whereas the idea of a gate might, in theory, be more likely as a method for space travel as beings can’t otherwise fly for millions of miles without growing old and dying.

Bonus points for Russell, who also looks young here. He plays the grieving father of a son who accidentally shot himself while fooling around with an unsecured gun, presumably blaming himself for not locking it up. He cares for the young slaves who join his rebellion against the alien Ra but clearly looks after them as if they are his own kids, worrying about their safety.

This inspired a long-running syndicated TV show, which I never watched though I always heard was cool.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. And I watched it on Pluto TV!

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