Tag Archives: movie reviews

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Deliverance (1972)

Grab your banjo and hide your butts, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Burt Reynolds’ most critically acclaimed drama (as opposed to his many car chase movies), Deliverance.

It’s every straight man’s worst nightmare – getting forcibly butt blasted against his well by a pair of drunken redneck perverts.

Yes indeed, Hollywood has created a number of monsters over the years.  However, if you’re a straight, red blooded American male who dreams of titties and vag 24/7, the scariest, most unimaginable nightmare you can possibly think of is to be forced to “squeal like a pig” as what happened to Ned Beatty in a scene that is, frankly, hard to watch.  Honestly, you might want to fast forward through it.  I watched this movie years ago and would watch it again but for that scene that I never want to see again.

Four friends and city slickers (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voigt, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty) go on a canoe trip to explore the great outdoors.  When they reach town, they have a banjo duel with a creepy local boy, setting the eerie tone of what is about to transpire.

At first, it’s fun.  Beer, canoeing and fishing.  Burt’s character, Lewis, is actually an experienced outdoorsman who carries the rest of the crew on his back and his scenes where he shoots bad dudes with his bow and arrow are iconic.

Long story short, one canoe gets lost.  Ned and Jon are accosted by dirty mountain man perverts who attack Ned’s tucas while Jon is forced to watch.  Lewis saves the day by shooting one of the rapists in the heart with an arrow.

Alas, the other perv escapes and stocksthe rest of the canoers as they try to make it down the river to civilization.  Ergo, the city slickers must band together to protect their lives and more importantly, their butts.  Yes.  These are manly men who will fight to the death to protect their butts from illicit invasions.

I doubt Hollywood would make this movie today.  First, it implies the South is an awful place….eh, that’s probably a debate for another post, though Hollywood has never been shy about dumping on the South.  But the main reason they wouldn’t make it again is because they’d be afraid people would assume that all homosexuals are looking to rape straight men’s butts which really is far from the truth.  Just because these particular homosexuals were butt attackers doesn’t mean all are and surely audiences can be trusted to direct their disdain at these two outliers who deviated from the field containing the vast majority of homosexuals who only engage in consensual butt related activities.

Anyway, it’s a loaded subject matter.  No, straight dudes shouldn’t fear gay dudes.  But yes, straight dudes are going to fight like hell to protect their butts when in the presence of the very occasional, not representative of the norm, gay rapist because to a straight man, getting your butt invaded by another dude is a fate worse than death.

Hollywood, if they were to remake it today, would probably have Ned Beatty’s character be scared of butt activity only for him to decide he quite enjoys it and then he celebrates the butt invasion and then he moves to the country and opens up a bed and breakfast with his attackers.

Not gonna lie.  Even by 1970s standards, the film’s a little freaky.  They probably could have just made the rednecks a couple of crazed, homicidal murderers who like to kill people and the audience would have been given the requisite sense of dread without adding the butt attack scene which really, you’ll feel like you have to bleach your brain just to forget that terrible, terrible scene.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, but I’ll never watch it again.  Cool as Burt is with his bow and arrow, I just can’t watch Ned get butt attacked again.  Frankly, Ned should have gotten an Academy Award just for having the courage to play, as far as I know, the first male on male rape victim caught on film.  That’s some shit that even Daniel Day Lewis won’t do.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Howdy, 3.5 readers, y’all got your ears on?

BQB here with a review of Burt Reynolds’ greatest movie.

It’s the late 1970s.  The Bandit (Reynolds) is a notorious driver, known along the open road by truckers as an awesome dude.

The fabulously wealthy (and eccentric) father/son duo, Big and Little Enos get their kicks off of betting drivers that they won’t be able to transport booze across state lines within a certain time period.  Although alcohol is legal, transporting it in large quantities across state lines without the proper permits is considered illegal bootlegging.

Bandit takes the bet, agreeing to move 400 cases of Coors from Texas to Georgia within 28 hours.  He runs blocker car in a badass Trans-Am, while his buddy, Cledus (Jerry Reed) drives the rig full of beer with his hound dog Fred in the passenger seat.

Along the way, Bandit picks-up hitchhiker Carrie (Sally Field), and this infuriates Texas Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason aka the Smokey) as Carrie was about to marry his son until she got cold feet and ran.

It’s obvious that Gleason loved playing this character.  Outside of playing bus driver Ralph on “The Honeymooners” this role is the one other role that he’ll be remembered for.  Buford’s character essentially invented the movie stereotype of the fat Southern Sheriff who thinks a little too highly of himself and lives to persecute unsuspecting motorists….except in this instance, Bandit probably deserves it yet you root for him anyway.

The movie is essentially a series of skits and stunts strung together as drivers throughout the country get on their CB radios to cheer Bandit on and pull of schemes to get in Justice’s way so its smooth sailing for Bandit.  There’s one cool scene in which a series of rigs coordinate to hide Bandit from the Smokey.

Anyway…it’s cool.  It’s funny.  And Burt was allowed to play Bandit as a man…a manly man…a dude who likes beer and fast cars and he doesn’t get the girl by crying or being a metrosexual or sharing his feelings.  He gets her by being a manly mustache wearing stud who occasionally offers a witty remark or funny one liner.

God, I hope Hollywood never remakes this.  They’ll probably make a female Bandit or something.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – White Boy Rick (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.  Do me a favor.  If any of you are in Detroit, MOVE ok?

BQB here with a review of “White Boy Rick.”

Based on a true story, it’s the 1980s and Rick Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) is a small time gun runner, doing illicit arms sales on the sly in the hopes of raising enough money to pull his family out of poverty.  His wife has left him.  His son, Rick Jr. (Richie Merritt) is going nowhere and his daughter, Dawn (Bel Powley) is a junkie.  Oh, and his parents (Piper Laurie and Bruce Dern) live next door and pull no punches in letting Rick know how disappointed they are in him.

Blah, blah, blah, I won’t give away too much but suffice to say that Rick Sr.’s petty dabbling in crooked schemes gives his 15 year old son a taste for the criminal underworld.  Alas, Rick Jr. is a better crook than his old man ever could be and is quickly welcomed into a black gang who affectionately dub their new recruit as “White Boy Rick.”

Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Chaos ensues.  The FBI (Jennifer Jason Leigh in a potential comeback role) sets up Rick with the “product” he needs to get in deep and become a major player, allowing him to keep his profits while he informs on kingpins.

After awhile, it all gets confusing and it is hard to keep track of who is playing who.  Rick Jr. is portrayed well by Merritt, who plays the character as a dope who doesn’t really understand the gravity of the situation he’s in and sort of just lucks his way into a life of crime, “luck” being a dubious word as the money is nice for awhile until the luck runs out and the shit hits the fan as it always does.

McConaughey turns in a great performance as Rick Sr. who truly loves his kids but…maybe it’s out of desperation, maybe out of stupidity, maybe out of a need to be somebody, goes along with Rick Jr.’s schemes and is tortured as to what is right and wrong.  Is it right to stand by while his son gets deeper into a life of crime?  Is it right to try to make him stop when all he has to offer is a life of poverty?

SPOILER: There’s a scene where Matthew really exercises his acting chops, caring for his daughter while she’s coming down off of drugs.  She screams at him.  Curses him.  Fights him.  Pukes all over.  Matthew just takes it with the face of a father showing his kid unconditional love.  Now that’s acting.

I have mixed feelings because while Rick Sr. and Jr. are portrayed as poor folk who fall prey to lack of economic opportunity, desperation to get ahead, and being duped by the criminal justice system.  In many ways I feel for them because yeah, holy shit, it’s tough out there and perhaps Rick got a raw deal given that, according to this movie, the Feds basically pushed the kid into a life of crime and if they hadn’t he probably would have just been a regular poor teen staring at the ceiling of his bedroom.

On the other hand, you know, they did sell guns and drugs and in doing so most likely got a lot of people hurt…I don’t know.  It’s not up to me to moralize.  Overall, a good film, good story….interesting subtext that White Boy Rick is instantly taken in not just by a black gang, loved and treated as one of their.  Not exactly sure this was Dr. King’s dream when he said he wanted black and white people to come together in peace and harmony but hey, it’s a movie.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Didn’t really get what Rick’s stoner accent was all about.  Possible Oscar bait.  Matthew’s already got one but he really brought the “I just don’t want my kids to think I’m a loser dad anymore” game.  Bruce has got one too and although he’s not in it for long, he does steal a few scenes as the irate grampa trying to teach his son and grandson a thing or two.

Tagged , ,

Movie Review – Peppermint (2018)

It’s Deathwish with Tits!

BQB here with a review of the vigilante justice film, Peppermint.

Jennifer Garner is one bad mother in this flick, 3.5 readers.  (SPOILERS)

In the early 2010s, life is good for Riley North.  She’s got the typical lower middle class lifestyle.  She and her husband have jobs that are a grind but they get by.  They have a cute daughter, the works.

Alas, all this goes FUBAR when criminals gun down daughter and husband, only to leave J-Gar wounded.

Feeling defeated after the hoodlums go unpunished, Riley goes underground.  She travels the world.  She trains.  She fights.  She learns hand to hand combat.  She learns how to shoot.  How to survive.

And then she brings all that planning back to the US, where she unleashes a fat can of whoop-ass on all her done her wrong.

Admittedly, the movie starts off a little hokey.  The whole part where the justice system fails Riley seems like it was written by a high schooler with a low level understanding of the law, although, if the writers had delved deeper into the legal wranglings, it would have put us to sleep, so I take back my criticism.

At any rate, this is one of those movies that makes you sad in the beginning, then makes you roll your eyes a bit at the hokey-ness, but then…damn.  Just…holy crap.  Jennifer Garner may have slowed down since her Alias days, but she is back, kicking ass and taking names.

Hell, I’m going to predict right here and right now that this movie is J-Gar’s “Taken” moment.  Remember 2010?  Liam Neeson was on his way to obscurity then he did a movie about a man with a particular set of skills and now he’s an action movie extraordinaire?

I think…or at least I hope, that’s what happens for Jen here.  Fuck those Capital One commercials.  J-Gar doesn’t need to ask what’s in your wallet anymore.  That badass bitch can just take your wallet and make you thank her for doing so.

If you can sit through some early writing hackery, it gets good.  So good.  So fun to watch as she hunts everyone down, literally everyone, like all the bad guys, anyone who has ever helped the bad guys, everyone who like, ever gave the bad guys a cookie, even the lawyers and judge and other corrupt officials who helped the bad guys get off on a technicality.

She slices. She dices.  She juliennes.  She blows shit up.  She blows people up.  She shoots.  She scores.  She wracks up a body count that would make Charles Bronson blush.

And that’s what this film basically is.  Deathwish with Tits.  Honestly, if I had been the studio exec on this one, that’s what I would have called this.  “Deathwish with Tits.”  “Peppermint” is ok, but really, it’s misleading.  Someone who just glances at the marquee might think the movie is about a tasty yuletide treat and not a mother’s last good memory of her daughter who happened to be eating peppermint ice cream when evil criminals did their evil criminal deeds.

Sure, there’s room to poke fun.  Jennifer Garner is a hot chick and also, a dignified chick.  She’s a proper lady, damn it.  She’s always carried herself with poise and class.  Thus, at times, she gets messed up while she’s living on the mean streets, so that means, in J-Gar’s world that like, a few hairs are out of place, and you know she brushed the shit out of those hairs as soon as the film was in the can.

Maybe there’s a market these days for vigilante justice movies, I don’t know.  Bruce Willis’ Deathwish remake from earlier this year was universally panned, though loved by this writer, but then again, I love vigilante justice movies.

I suppose there’s a PC argument against this movie.  It’s two hours of a white lady slaughtering impoverished latinos but then again, the universal standard of right and wrong is at play.  In other words, it’s made clear these particular and only these particular latinos did bad and there are other latinos and minorities and people of all races and colors and backgrounds who, from behind the scenes, try to help the woman they refer to as an “angel.”  Yes, rich and poor alike watch the mayhem ensue on social media and cheer the angel along and come to her aid once in awhile.

Still, I’d love it if we could flip the script.  Someone should make a vigilante justice movie where a black character loses his or her family and then shoots down anyone who participated in the evildoery.  Hell, I cheered for Gabby Union when she was kicking the ass of white dudes who were trying to rob and kill her family in “Breaking In,” just as I cheered for J-Gar here.

You know what?  Forget it.  I shouldn’t have even brought up race.  Maybe the SJWs are brainwashing me.  Who knows?

Point is, September is a month where Hollywood’s crappiest movies come out, well, not as bad as January, but still, after summer, you can’t hope for much fun at the box office until November.  This movie was a surprise.

SIDENOTE: There’s a scene where, to show J-Gar is losing focus on taking care of herself and putting her life into her mission, she eats a meal consisting of a swig of vodka and an unwrapped cupcake.  That’s how hot Hollywood actresses slum it, apparently.  Me?  That’s just Monday morning breakfast at BQB HQ.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , ,

Movie Review – Operation Finale (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just a quick review here.

World War II may have ended in 1945, but for many Jewish people, “closure” (if that was even possible) didn’t come until the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” i.e. the Nazi official who devised the Holocaust.

In the early 1960s, an ex-patriot community of Germans still carrying a torch for Hitler has formed in Argentina.  Hiding out among them is Eichmann, having found a new life as an auto factory foreman.

Enter Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) who leads a team of Israeli spies on a mission to identify and kidnap the Nazi and bring him back to Israel for trial.  Unsurprisingly, it’s a high stress situation, as Malkin faces flack from all sides, from his backseat driving bosses in Israel, to the Argentine government who don’t take kindly to foreign espionage missions being carried out on their home turf, to the local pro-Nazi community who want to protect Eichmann at all costs.

The worst enemy of all is Eichmann himself, who, as a captive, goes out of his way to get into Malkin’s mind.  To Malkin’s disgust, Eichmann argues they aren’t that dissimilar.  Eichmann was “just following orders” and it’s not like there was much opportunity for a Nazi to voice dissent.  Worse, he argues the Holocaust was “humane,” i.e. his instruments of death, ovens and gas chambers, though vile, were better than putting Jews in ditches, shooting them, then burying them, which as we see in a flashback, happened before Eichmann got his efficient system of death up and running.

Malkin, on the other hand, was a young boy during World War II, but he saw the death and destruction first hand, having lost family in the most gruesome of ways.  He knows there’s no excuse for the atrocities. It’s up to Malkin to stay strong against the mind games and get Eichmann to break before he does.

This is another Oscar worthy role for Isaac, allowing him to prove he’s got the acting chops the Academy likes to see.  The film will probably come and go quickly out of theaters, but just as he did in 2016’s The Promise, he’s out to prove that he’s more than his swaggering, trigger happy fly boy character in the latest Star Wars films.

It was odd to see Nick Kroll, a comedian and master of gross out humor, as Malkin’s fellow Israeli operative.  It’s a serious role in a serious film yet somehow, you expect Kroll to break out in fart noises any minute.  He does well with the character, but if he’s transitioning to drama, he might need to get a few more roles under his belt before I stop seeing him as his character in The League.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.  Obviously, due to the subject matter, it’s not exactly the feel good movie of the year, but it provides some history of a dark time and how the Israelis worked to locate Nazis all over the world and bring them to trial.

Tagged , , , ,

Darkest Hour – Why People Need to Watch It, Why Politicians Need to Make Decisions and Accept Consequences

Hey 3.5 readers.

I reviewed it last year, but Darkest Hour has been on HBO, so I’ve been watching it constantly, leaving it on in the background whenever it is on while I do other stuff.

I don’t think people really understand the bind England was in at the height of World War II.

First, and I don’t mean to dump on the French, but France screwed the pooch.  Part of me doesn’t blame them.  It’s easy for backseat drivers almost eighty years later to say, “I would have fought those Nazis!” but for the people who actually had the Nazis coming for them, I get why they surrendered.

The problem is the Brits had sent their army to France on the idea that it would be better to back the French up and stop the Nazis in France before they reached the French coast, thus gaining access to the English Channel.

So…with 300,000 British troops in Dunkirk, on the coast of France, the Brits had to make a decision.  Negotiate a surrender or lose the Dunkirk troops and lose the United Kingdom.

Amidst this backdrop, Sir Winston Churchill has been recently named Prime Minister.  Churchill is wise and experienced, having served in war himself, but also intelligent, having written a number of books.

Unfortunately, personality wise, he’s boorish and considered a buffoon.  He drinks non-stop, he’s chubby, overeats, smokes too much, and doesn’t have much of a filter to hold back from offending people.

Here’s why people need to watch it.  It really illustrates why politics suck.  They really do. Essentially, it’s all just a big game played by scheming scoundrels, all trying to get something done, everyone prepared to take the credit for a job well done but also trying like hell to avoid any blame.

The problem is that anything worth doing comes with good and bad consequences.  No matter what you do, there’s always room for celebration and blame.  You’ll never avoid a bad consequence unless you hide in a closet for the rest of your life.

Churchill understands this.  As a former military man, he understands war is hell and victory can’t be wrapped up in a nice little package.  He has been haunted by the failure of Gallipoli, where under his command, Brits died in World War I.  Throughout his life, his political rivals hold it over his head.

At any rate, while Churchill maintains that surrender to the Nazis is not an option, he is henpecked by politics all the way.  Parliamentarians Neville Chamberlain (the previous prime minister) and Viscount Halifax, constantly try to browbeat Churchill into negotiating “peace” with Hitler, though Churchill knows “peace” is code for surrender and a UK under Nazi rule is an unbearable idea.

Sorry to be longwinded.  Halifax and Churchill want to surrender.  They have a point.  Why risk so many British lives?  Defeat looks inevitable.  To save 300,000 army men in Dunkirk, Churchill must sacrifice 3,000 to draw the Nazis attention and buy some time for civilian ships to reach Dunkirk and pick the Army up.  Halifax argues why sacrifice 3,000 when defeat is inevitable?

So, here’s the thing.  At any time, parliament had the ability to boot Churchill and name a new prime minister.  Halifax and Chamberlain know this.  Churchill knows this.  Not in so many words, but he basically tells his detractors, “Come at me, bro.”

If Halifax and Chamberlain want to surrender to the Nazis, they can make it happen.  They can go to parliament and make the case.  Tell them that Churchill is a dick who is going to get us all killed and it would be better to be a Nazi subject than to be dead.  Halifax and Chamberlain can say they’d be willing to become the prime minister and do the surrendering.

By that they don’t want to do it.  They believe strongly in surrender but they do not want the blame for it.  They feel Churchill is a dummy that they can push and bully into surrendering, make him be the fall guy, harass him into giving in and then when all the Brits are in leiderhosen, staring at a swastika flag flying over Buckingham palace, then Halifax and Chambelian can stand around and be like, “Well, Churchill’s the one who surrendered!”

Churchill suffers a great deal of internal anguish until….SPOILER ALERT…he gets out of the office and gets around London, talking to common folk.  Do they want surrender?  No.  Would they rather die in an invasion than let Hitler win? Yes.

LESSONS:

  1. If you’re a politician and you think you are right, you MUST be willing to stand up and push your idea yourself.  It’s understandable that Halifax and Chamberlain fear Britain will lose, but if they felt that way, they should have stood up and been willing to wear the, proverbial “I support surrender” badge.
  2. If you’re a politician under pressure to do what you think is wrong, you must seek out what the people think and hopefully, they’ll support you even if what is right might lead to a bad result.
  3. The people have to be willing to support leaders in doing the right thing even if it results in a bad end.

BOTTOMLINE: Politics is the game of how decisions are made and unfortunately, making a decision is like a hot potato.  A decision, and the ensuing responsibility, is passed around and around.  No one wants the potato when it’s burning hot.  They only want it when it is warm and smothered in sour cream and bacon bits.

Politicians push each other to decide how they want, but they won’t make the decisions themselves for fear of backlash if the decision goes wrong.  If it goes right, they can say they supported it.  If it goes bad, they can say they avoided it.  Meanwhile, the people are schizophrenic.  They’ll shout to do this or that and if it works out, great and if not they complain.

Churchill made a decision.  He said we’re going to fight the Nazis.  He knew it could lead to certain doom.  He decided it would be better to risk seeing the UK bombed into the ground and conquered, its citizens dead,  if there was a chance the island could be saved and Hitler beaten back.

In a stirring scene, he shouts, “I will take full responsibility!”  No one else around him was willing to.  That’s what politicians need to do.

Deciding to fight the Nazis could have easily lead to the total destruction of Great Britain, just as deciding to not fight them could have lead to thousands of years of subjugation to Nazi rule.

All decisions have consequences.  I can tell you in my personal life, my biggest failing has been putting off decisions, avoiding that role of the dice and letting life pass me by rather than to just get in the fight and find out what happens at the end.

Bottomline is Halifax and Chamberlain weren’t willing to accept the consequences of the decision they wanted to be made.  They wanted a surrender, but they didn’t want to go down as the dorks who surrendered.  Meanwhile, Churchill wanted victory, but had that led to ruin, he most likely would have stood up and said, “Well, hey I tried.  Sorry fighting the Nazis didn’t work out.”

OK I’ll stop ranting.  I just see this a lot even today.  Politicians fight and demonize each other but when it comes to, you know, actually writing and passing a law that backs up their vitriol, they rarely do it.  “You should do what I want!” but few, if any, are actually just willing to step up and make it happen, put their name on a decision and accept the credit if it goes well and the blame if it goes bad.

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Movie Review – Alpha (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.  A quick review here for a quick movie.

You don’t see many movies based in pre-historic times.  I don’t know why.

Anyway, separated from his family and tribe after a bull attack makes everyone assume he’s dead, young Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) most navigate treacherous terrain in order to see his loved ones again.

Along the way, he meets and tames a wolf he calls Alpha, turning the animal from fierce attacker to loyal pet.

One thing that struck me from a writer’s perspective is the show don’t tell aspect.  For much of the movie, it’s just a boy and his dog.  When characters do talk, they speak caveman (how does anyone today speak caveman?) so you have to read what they say in English.

So the filmmakers trust the audience to figure things out.  Throughout his journey, Keda does a lot of gross things that we take for granted that we don’t have to do anymore, thanks to modern luxuries.

For example, there’s no KFC or pizza delivery, so when he’s hungry, Keda eats worms and bugs…happily…without complaining…like, “Oh boy, thank goodness that worm crawled by, I was starving.”

When he’s injured, he packs a wound with maggots, presumably to eat the infection…because there are no hospitals, although on occasion I’ve met a couple of doctors who are so incompetent that stay at home maggot care is preferable, am I right?

Oh, and there’s a scene involving poop you don’t want to know about.

It’s short and a little sappy but a good film and a short one that won’t take much of your time.  Worth a rental.

Main problem – all the cave people wear animal skin coats that are cut so well they look like they came off the rack at a cave LL Bean.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , ,

BQB’s Movie Reviews – Passenger 57 (1992)

Always bet on black, 3.5 readers.

abustany-movie-reel-800px

I caught this blast from the past last night after not seeing it since I was a kid and it is amazing the things you notice as an adult.

First, it features a young Elizabeth Hurley as a flight attendant and she’s so young that I didn’t even recognize it was her until just now when I looked the film up on IMDB.  Ahh, Liz.  You were the subject of so many of my 1990’s boner fantasies.  I fapped to you before anyone knew what fapping was.

Sorry for perving out there.  Moving on, it also stars a young Tom Sizemore, looking physically fit and strong, long before he succumbed to Hollywood excess.  Eh, then again excess or not we all get old I suppose.

Except Wesley Snipes seems like he never ages so he must be drinking some special health juice or something.  Back in the 1990s, Wesley Snipes was a legit action movie star, complete with the karate moves, the one liners uttered upon defeating a villain, the works.

Here, Snipes plays John Cutter, an airline security expert hired to head up security operations for a major airline.  He suffers from a tragedy, namely he lost his wife when he confronted a robber and has always regretted trying to be the hero.  Thus, in security classes he teaches to airline staff, he advises everyone to cave in to any and all hijacker demands.

Ironically, this movie gives us a view into the pre-9/11 world of airline hijacking.  It’s funny, every once in awhile, a young person in the extended BQB family will ask me why didn’t the people on the planes that were used in the 9/11 attacks just kick the asses of the bad guys?

Well, because pre-9/11, airplanes were hijacked all the time and it was standard procedure that everyone was expected to just shut up and do whatever the bad guys wanted and usually the hijacker either was trying to make a political statement or he was trying to get the plane to fly somewhere he otherwise could not have gotten to.  Often, compliance with hijacker demands led to a safe resolution (though not always.)

I’m serious, kids.  This shit was on TV all the time in the 1980s and 1990s.  Hearing a TV anchorman say “A plane got hijacked today” was like “The sky was blue today.”  In retrospect, the government should have done more to stop hijackings, but the old thought process was that it was unlikely that hijackers would crash the plane because then they’d die to and unfortunately it took a new kind of hijacker who was willing to die to convince the powers that be to get off their asses and provide safe, secure airline travel.

In addition to increased security measures, the passenger mindset has also changed.  Today, I think passengers are so scared of another 9/11 that if a dude were to pull a gun on a plane, they’d jump him and kick his ass, fears of getting shot be damned.  I could be wrong on that.  Hopefully, there won’t ever be a case where found out.

Getting back to the story, Cutter has to rethink his compliance strategy when Charles Rayne (played by the similarly named Bruce Payne), a British terrorist being transported by the FBI on the same plane as Cutter, escapes custody and takes control of the aircraft.

There are some awesome fight scenes though once the plane lands, it’s mostly Snipes and Payne running around a Southern hick town fairground trying to kick each other’s ass while a stereotypically incompetent Southern sheriff botches the entire situation.

There are some un-PC things that happen in the movie though I’ll let you decide if they are or are not OK given the context.  First, that iconic line, “Always bet on black.”  That’s Snipes’ career building catchphrase, perhaps the line he’ll be remembered most for.

Today, it seems silly for a character to even mention his race.  “Bet on me” would be the proper response to a villain, yet 1990s action flicks really depended on witty one-liners being said by the hero to the bad guy who is usually smug and didn’t see his comeuppance coming.

Second, Snipes’ love interest, a flight attendant (Alex Datcher) who initially can’t stand him, seeks revenge by seating an annoyingly chatty old lady next to Snipes.  The old woman talks and talks and talks, much to Snipes’ chagrin and finally when she mentions “I love your show” we learn (millenials won’t get it) that the old woman believes Cutter is Arsenio Hall.

That joke continues throughout the movie even to the end, when Cutter saves the day and the old woman does the “Woo woo woo” dog barking sound/hand gesture that Arsenio’s audience was known for.

Is the joke politically incorrect?  Yes.  Does it also mock passive racism, thus showing that sometimes white people who truly believe they are the least racist people ever might accidentally let an unconscious racial offense slip through?  Yes.  The woman is a sweet old lady but obviously, thinks all black people are interchangeable and so any black man she meets must be the only black man she knows, and the only one she knows is on TV.

Utlimately, the joke is funny and for people my age who remember Arsenio, it lands.  Cutter suffers the offense with dignity and it’s a teachable moment that probably wouldn’t be allowed today.

Finally, plot holes abound, though they don’t necessarily ruin the film.  For example, Rayne is such a dangerous criminal, a mastermind who has escaped before and they put him on a plane with one inept FBI agent watching him?  Give me a break.  They’d put him in a Hannibal Lecter suit and wheel him around tied whilst strapped to a hand truck.

Also, it’s an early example of bad product placement in movies.  Literally, every five minutes, someone is drinking a Pepsi.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Mile 22 (2018)

Say hello to your mother for me.

BQB here with a review of “Mile 22.”

I’ve been watching Mark Wahlberg’s acting career since the 1990s and inevitably, he always plays that same charming South Boston tough guy in every film – literally every film from serious roles in “The Departed” to silly throwaway stuff like “The Transformers.”

Here, he tried something different and made an effort to become someone else.  I’m not sure he achieved it or if he just came across as MW trying really hard to be someone else but at least he tried.

In this movie, Mark plays James Silva a clandestine special agent who is…well, I don’t know if we find out what exactly his problem is.  He’s hyperactive, highly intelligent, he might have some kind of personality disorder but at any rate, he’s brilliant when it comes to strategy but on a personal level, he’s a dick.  He speaks rapidly, blurting out facts and stats a mile a minute, bogging his subordinates down with info and orders and lacks diplomacy, insulting and berating them into submission.

I almost wanted to call it “Rain Man Meets Homeland” except Carrie was never this mean or testosterone fueled, and he is more functional than Dustin Hoffman’s character.

The plot?  A foreign government agent comes to an American embassy with information on where a weapon of mass destruction is located.  The catch – he’ll only tell if he is allowed to defect to America and freedom.  Thus, Mark and his elite special ops unit must fight their way through 22 miles of mayhem to get the operative to safety and away from the various baddies trying to kill him.

This movie is Lauren Cohan’s  (she of “The Walking Dead” fame”) big break to shine on the silver screen.  Though she has had others, this is probably the most memorable.  She plays Wahlberg’s number two, an agent struggling between her desire to do what she does best (fight international baddies) and what she wants to do (i.e. be a mom.)

Her husband, seen through various Facetime chats, is portrayed as a Dick Cheeseburger for moving on with his life and marrying another woman who takes an active role in step-mothering their daughter while Alice is traveling the world on one mission or another.

Cohan acts the crap out of this and you feel her pain so I’m not knocking her, but it just seems like there’s an ongoing film industry double standard.  If a male character chooses work over family, he’s usually portrayed as a dick and the woman who dumps him and moves on is a hero.  On the other hand, if the man gets tired of being alone and finds someone who will be there for him, he’s made out to be a total Turd McMuffin.

SIDENOTE:  I think at some point we, men and women, were sold on this sham that we can “have it all.”  Marriage. Kids.  Family.  High level career.  A rare handful of people make that happen and they are usually the lucky ones who find that special supportive someone willing to be alone, sometimes months at a time for the greater good.  Most can’t make it happen and inevitably, time is in short supply and we all must choose between career and family.

Back to the action, Ronda Rousey rounds out the cast as MW’s number three agent and I’m going to assume that it’s because action movie fans love RR and not because it’s 2018 and that means for every male character taking charge, there must be two females taking charge – a ratio of 2 vags for every 1 peen, as it were.

Overall, the movie mimics MW’s character’s style – it moves fast, very fast, sometimes too fast.  You barely have a second to breathe, eat popcorn, or pick your nose.  Blink and you might miss something.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy but it’s more character driven than plot driven.  There are a lot of fancy, pretentious lines thrown out suggesting that the writers are like, “Hey we watch cable news and we worked in some buzz words we heard so that makes us smart and witty.”  At any rate, it’s a good movie but I think it might have worked better as an HBO series as the film quickly sets up the characters, how their special ops unit operates, and from there, they could face a new threat each week.  Oh well, maybe now that I put that idea out into the Cosmos, HBO might pick it up.

Plus, there is a message how war has changed, how it’s more often ops working behind the scenes rather than uniform wearing soldiers meeting on the field of battle.  The rules of warfare we once knew are over and it’s every man and/or woman for him/herself.

DOUBLE SIDNOTE:  Ladies, I love you.  It’s not that I don’t want you to pick up guns and shoot bad guys it’s just that…eh, I wish you didn’t want to.  I get that you felt left out for many years and men got to do things you wanted to do but men weren’t right about everything and I don’t know, maybe I’m a sexist pig but seeing Lauren and Ronda fight bad guys like barroom brawlers, getting all messed up and bloody and battered and so on…I don’t know.  I’m not telling women they have to get back in the kitchen but not everything men traditionally did is something to aspire to and violence isn’t one of them.

That isn’t to say Lauren and Ronda aren’t fun to watch on screen doing their thing but just, you know.  OK, I’ll shut up now.

Sheesh.  It’s a good thing only 3.5 people read this blog or else I’d get a lot of angry letters.

Tagged , , ,

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Put on your bell bottoms, 3.5 jive turkeys.  It’s time for a review of Spike Lee’s latest joint.

It’s the 1970s and a young Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) has become the first black police officer on the Colorado Springs force.  Alas, his dreams of defeating villains with kung-fu moves gleamed from his favorite flicks come to a grinding halt when he’s assigned to the epically boring records room.

One day, whilst fending off boredom by reading a newspaper, he spots a recruitment ad for the Ku Klux Klan.  On a lark, he calls it, requests information on how to join and down the rabbit hole he goes.

Naturally, Ron can’t show up to a KKK meeting and expect to get out alive, so he teams up with fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a man whose Jewish heritage is also not looked at fondly by the Klan.

Together, Ron and Flip become two halves of one whole klansman.  Flip infiltrates the Colorado Springs chapter of the racist hate group in person, pretending to be a fellow hater of all non-white, non-Christians.  Meanwhile, Ron handles all phone communications with the klan on behalf of the made-up klansman, and even strikes up a long, ongoing telephone friendship with the head klansman, David Duke (Topher Grace), allowing Ron to obtain all sorts of info.  He also gets Flips back, tracking the baddies and helping out where he can from behind the scenes.

I won’t give too much away but suffice to say, it’s educational, thrilling, full of action, suspense and yes, even as you might imagine based on the premise, comedy.  A scene where a police sergeant matter of factly explains to Ron that he will likely be figured out if he shows up to a klan meeting as himself is one of the funnier parts of the film.

In my opinion, this is the greatest of all of Spike Lee’s films or “joints” as he calls them.  It’s a shame it was released in August as it does have Oscar potential, though who knows, perhaps the Academy will have a long memory this year.

Shout out to Washington, who nails it in this (as far as I know) his first major big screen role.  I could be wrong on that but at any rate this is a big breakthrough performance for him.  Adam Driver continues to prove that he does his best acting when he isn’t playing Kylo Ren and Topher Grace banks on his patented ability to play smarmy weasels.

One criticism.  Nick Turturro is a great actor and has long been a regular in Spike Lee joints.  I’m not faulting him or his abilities it’s just that he usually plays characters of either Italian or Hispanic descent, usually with a New York accent and, well, here he plays one of the klansmen.

In this day and age of social media outrage, I have to be clear.  It’s not that under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t want Nick to attend your dinner party or be part of your organization, it’s just that, in this case, you have a movie that’s exposing the inner workings of a group of people who hate anyone who isn’t a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) and in that respect, it seems like a character played by Nick would be more likely to be lynched by the klan than to be embraced by them.

I don’t know.  Again, not faulting NT as he has a number of great performances, but I think in this film, he might have been better as a cop or in a non-klan role.

Come on.  Don’t send me angry letters.  “You don’t look like you belong in the KKK” is a compliment.

A final thought – one (of many) positive messages I took from this film is that when people from different backgrounds come together, they can achieve great things.  Ron came up with the idea to infiltrate the KKK, but to pull it off, he needed Flip, as well as other police officers who assisted with equipment, surveillance, etc.

In other words, I hope one day we can reach a point where it isn’t about color or race or religion but rather, just good people doing good and keeping bad people at bay.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,
Advertisements