Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Ad Astra (2019)

Space.  There’s a lot of it.  BQB here with a review.

Similar to Interstellar, this film gives us a peak into the future of so-called “doable” space travel, i.e. there are no space operatic ships that fly at warp speed or laser sword battles or what have you.  Instead, it focuses on the idea that deep space travel is indeed possible if man is willing to invest the time and money.

Brad Pritt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut who has been recruited for a sensitive mission – to find his long lost father (Tommy Lee Jones as Clifford) who, thirty years prior went on a mission to Neptune to search for alien life and then disappeared, never to be heard from again.

The first half of the film starts out strong, meditating on a number of blunders that humans would likely export from earth to outer space, namely America’s moon base has become commercialized with fast food joints on every corner and warring factions fighting over resources back home are fighting over moon resources as well.

The film is visually beautiful and inspiring, reminding us that, at least in terms of getting to the far reaches of the Milky Way, doing so doesn’t have to be the stuff of science fiction as long as we open our hearts, minds, wallets and are able to find people who are willing to spend long chunks of their lives on space travel.

While I don’t want to give away spoilers, I’ll say that the second half of the film is riddled with gaping plot holes and though I’m but an amateur, I’ll just say there are parts where the science doesn’t add up and the doings are unlikely.  There are points where it feels like the writers pushed hard through most of the movie only to take a nap at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Gets a little disappointing at the end.

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Movie Review: It: Chapter 2 (2019)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t like the It movies.

However, I admit that I don’t like them because they scare me on a psychological level, which is, I suppose, Stephen King’s overall goal, thus quite ironically, what makes the movie a success makes me not want to watch it again.

Both films deal with how children grow up and confront their fears, how they either overcome the obstacles that hold them back and succeed or if they don’t, are eventually consumed by them.

Frankly, the first film would have been enough, but I suppose the second shows how in a weird way, even as adults, we are still kids inside, unsure of ourselves, scared of the future, afraid to confront our demons.

“It,” a demonic being that often takes the form of uber scary clown Pennywise, takes great joy in exploiting the fears of a group of kids, later turned adults, in Derry, Maine.  As the second installment progresses, each adult will have to face a fear that has paralyzed them since childhood, and the old clown is there at every turn, rubbing their fears in their faces.

So, on a psychological level, yeah, the movie will mess you up.  I’m an adult man and I had trouble sleeping after this one, though less so than after the first one.  Sometimes too much of anything and while Pennywise had me shitting my pants in the first one, and for most of the second, I eventually just felt by the end of the second that someone should just drop a nuclear missile on this dumbass clown’s head and be down with it already.

There’s a lot of things I don’t like.  For example, kids getting murdered.  Kids getting their heads chomped off by a clown.  I get that its about confronting the fears that have plagued you since childhood, but come on, we don’t need to see children being murdered in such gruesome detail.  Maybe split the difference and have the clown’s big teeth coming at the kid, then cut away, but no, they show the kids getting chomped in horrifying detail.  Gross, disgusting and unnecessary.

Some great performances by the adult losers – Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and the guy who plays Young Professor X being the only ones I recognize, though all did well.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy, though please keep it off my shelf.  I never want to see it again, which I suppose means King did his work.

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Movie Review – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Grab your time travel machine, 3.5 readers.  It’s time to go back all the way to 1969.

BQB here with a review of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film.

I’ve been a longtime Tarantino fan, 3.5 readers.  I suppose most Gen Xers are.  His films have always been known for 1) time jumps, i.e. starting at the end and working back to the beginning, so that the end of the movie becomes essentially how the whole mess started 2) long pieces of expository dialogue where characters drop key plot points by word of mouth in passing and 3) 1960s and 1970s pop culture references galore.

Remember Inglourious Bastards?  This film is another alternate history project.  Just as Tarantino rewrote WWII, so too does he give the infamously terrifying Manson family murder of actress Sharon Tate a rewrite.  The tale centers around down on his luck actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his trusty stuntman/errand boy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt.)  Together, they are a pair of old Hollywood legends who once put out a popular 1950s cowboy show, only to fizzle in the middle of their lives.  Rick is having a tough time finding work, and if he can’t work then Cliff can stunt.

Long story short, Sharon Tate and her husband, director (later turned on the run pervert) Roman Polanski, are Rick’s neighbors, and I could tell you more but suffice to say, during their quest to restart their careers, Rick and Cliff get sucked into the Manson family madness in a big way.

Having studied Tarantino’s movies for a long time, I have to say this one is far different.  His 1960s pop culture references are there, but there a but more subtle, with the occasional hint toward what is being referred to for the millennial generation.  Tarantino’s adoration of the 1960s and 1970s was already a bit stale in the 1990s when he got his start, and I remember as a teenager, watching his films was the first time I learned of some of the 60s/70s references to which he was referring.  So, his work is cut out for him in trying to stay afloat in a sea that is now dominated by young adults who were in short pants at the turn of the century.

Somehow, he pulls it off.  And he also, much to my surprise, refrains from the heavy, heady dialogue that is his trademark.  True, his dialogues were often a joy to behold, but here, he focuses more on showing rather than telling.  Ironically, it’s almost like this grandmaster blew up all the writing rules in his youth, only to begin grabbing hold of them in his old age.

It’s in the showing where this movie excels.  We see Leo as Dalton sitting on a float in his backyard pool, reviewing his lines for a part in a movie that he needs to remain relevant in the acting game.  This shows us that Dalton is desperate.  He’s old but he isn’t ready to quit just yet, and wants to give it his all before his final curtain call.

We see Cliff Booth sitting alone in a dingy trailer, his only friend a big dumb dog.  His house is a mess, looking as though he never cleans.  He cooks a pot of mac and cheese, then sits down before the TV to eat it straight out of the pot.  He is a consummate bachelor.  Unlike Dalton, he is used to a shit life.  Aspirations of anything else don’t compute with him.

And finally, we see Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.  So proud of herself for making it in the movie business is she that she goes to a cinema and takes in one of her films, in awe of her accomplishment.  It’s a sweet moment.

Overall, this is Tarantino’s love letter to his favorite flicks, genres, actors, directors…really, his kiss for that period of time in Hollywood history that formed the foundation of his work.

Ultimately, Rick and Cliff have to take everything they thought they knew about the movie business and turn it up on its ear to keep going in a world that’s changing, and Tarantino does that here as well.

After all, this is a movie that starts at the beginning and ends at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Men in Black (1997)

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Something about watching MIB: International made me nostalgic for the good old days when the MIB films were first released.  I watched the first last night and the second tonight, so here’s my review of the original with a review of the sequel coming later.

At the time, this movie was super original and it broke some barriers by blending science fiction with comedy and knocking both out of the park.

On a personal level, it reminds me of my high school days, a time that was happy and safe and my life was ahead of me and anything was possible.  Sad that I squandered it all to become a blog proprietor with only 3.5 readers but oh well.  What can you do?

In the first film, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is the top veteran agent in MIB.  His partner gets old and accordingly, gets his memory wiped.  Looking for new blood, K recruits an NYPD officer (a young Will Smith in all his glory) to become Agent J.

As Agent J, Smith conveys the sense of surprise we all feel as we enter the MIB world for the first time.  Confusion and awe of a myriad of humorous and or scary things about the world around us, all revolving around the fact that we aren’t alone in the universe.  We aren’t even alone on this planet, for alien beings live among us in human suits, animal suits, dog suits and what have you.  It’s all the best kept secret there ever was and MIB keeps the beans from being spilled so humans can go about their lives without fear of the constant threat of alien invasion.

A plot unfolds involving the fate of, well, not our galaxy but a galaxy.  The Arkellians want to save it and a bug monster who turns a farmer (Vincent D’Onofrio) into a poorly fitted skin suit are at odds over it.  To the rescue comes Agents K and J, with the help of mortician Laurel (Lindo Fiorentino) who K has mind erased way too many times because, let’s face it, those alien bodies keep piling up.

Feels like just yesterday I saw this and now so much of my life is gone.  Sigh.  So much suckage.

This is Will Smith’s best work and I remember being young and watching him run down that alien in the beginning of the movie and thinking I’d love to be that fast when I grow up and now I’m old and wish I could be like that so I guess Will’s lead a pretty enviable life.

There’s a bittersweet scene in which J and K pull over an alien couple who are on their way out of New York City.  They’re on a rural road.  K is outside the car, questioning the driver.  Alas, the wife goes into labor.  J sticks his head into the backseat to help and before you know it, he’s being slammed all over by an octopus tentacle, presumably having popped out of the lady’s nether regions.

It’s hysterical because it’s all happening in the background.  K and the driver chat, totally oblivious to J’s plight.

But it’s also sad because the Twin Towers are so prominently seen in the background.  Damn you, Al Qaeda!

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review: Men in Black: International

Here come the Men in Black…galaxy defenders.

Sorry.  That’s so 1990s.

BQB here with a review of the latest MIB film.

I’m not sure if this counts as reboot.  If anything, it must be a sequel.  I assume the past adventures of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones from the originals are still in MIB’s history logs, but now, new characters are going on new adventures.

In this rendition, Agent M (Tessa Thompson) is a rookie, and a non-traditional one at that.  While most MIB agents are recruited, she finds the agency on her own.  As a child, she had an alien encounter and has ever since dreamed of joining the mysterious, clandestine alien investigation organization.

Long story short, the agency gives her a shot and pairs her with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) of the London bureau.  Together, they trot the globe, aiming to unravel a complex plot that involves the member of an alien royal family, shape shifting aliens, an arms dealer who literally has a lot of arms (Rebecca Ferguson) and, horror or horros, a mole inside MIB.  Add in a diminutive sidekick voiced by Kumail Nanjiani for good measure. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson stop by as MIB higher ups.

Naturally, there are social justice updates, which is ironic because MIB was always one of the more woke franchises to come out of the 90s.  Agent J was, after all, played by Will Smith, who rapped the infamous theme song and he and K were eventually joined by a female agent.  In this go around, the title of the organization is questioned.  Why are Men in Black?  Why aren’t they People in Black?  Funny, Dark Phoenix asked the same question about the X-Men.  I suppose we should start looking for People in Black or X-People movies soon.

Anyway, I’d heard some bad reviews but I don’t agree.  It was a good installment and honestly, I did think Men In Black 3 from 2012 kinda sucked, thus showing signs that the franchise was in need of an overhaul if it was to continue.  Also good to see Hemsworth and Thompson working together again, since they first appeared together in Thor: Ragnarok.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Dark Phoenix (2019)

She’s a phoenix.  She’s dark.

BQB here with a review of the latest X-Man movie.

The reviews have been calling this the crappiest X-Men movie to date, but here’s my take, 3.5 readers. If you view the movie as a stand alone, it’s pretty good.  Lots of good action, special effects and what have you.

If you view it as part of a long, drawn out, lengthy timeline saga that the studio has asked you to consider, then it all falls apart.

You’ve got the early 2000s movies with Jackman, Patrick Stewart and so on.  You’ve got the newer, younger yet older timeline based movies with the quote unquote “new class.”  To date, nerds have been happy to see the timelines work but it falls apart here.

I could go on and on with the timeline errors.  At this late point in the timeline (I believe this takes place in the 1990s though there aren’t any guideposts to show it), Magneto and Professor X should be played by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, rather than their younger counterparts, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.  There are other little nagging things that don’t make sense to a nerd who is paying attention and ultimately, the “older” version of Jean Gray from the 2006 “The Last Stand” film (Famke Janssen) already became the Dark Phoenix so if the X-Men in that film were surprised she went dark then it doesn’t make sense if she already did it in the past, which is this film, which OK, now my head is starting to spin and I realize I need a life.

At any rate, in the early 2000s, older people were more accepted in lead roles in movies.  By the 2010s, every hero had to be barely out of puberty.  The conundrum FOX had is that according to the X-Men source material, Professor X and Magneto were two old men who had recruited their bands of mutants to fight one another and well, we couldn’t have old farts on screen for any length of time anymore so to make sense, the studio came up with historical flicks where Prof. X and Magneto were young.

To everyone involved’s credit, the idea went off largely without a hitch and there was an effort to keep the timeline in order but caution on the timeline was thrown to the wind with this one.

It’s unfortunate because again, on a surface level watch, it’s not a bad movie.  It just falls apart if you consider it in connection with the rest of the franchise.  Unfortunate, because I believe this is the last X-Men flick, at least in this go-around and any future ones, I assume, will be part of a reboot.

Sophie Turner and friends do their best and Jessica Chastain is great as a villain/alien who wants the dark phoenix power for herself.  There’s an unnecessarily placed F-bomb, which, if it works, I’m not against but it seemed like it was just placed here for shock value and one wonders why since, by and large, these movies are for children.

I don’t know.  Sometimes I think these movies are great.  Sometimes I wonder why I spent so much time watching a bunch of blue assholes (Mystique, Nightcrawler, Beast, etc) run around like idiots for two hours.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy, but you do have to watch it as a normal person and not as a nerd who with an in-depth memory of the timeline.  Going forward, I think given Hollywood’s base hatred of anyone over 40 (or really, 35), they’re probably just going to have to deviate from the source material and have Prof. X and Magneto be a couple of 20 somethings leading other 20 somethings and everyone over 30 can go F themselves.  So in other words, the new flicks will mirror today’s world.

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Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

King of the Monsters?  More like King of the Stinkers, am I right?

BQB here with a review of this turkey.

So, ever since the success of the Avengers, all the other studios want in on the “cinematic universe” idea, though ironically, with all the money and talent that Tinsel Town has to offer, no one but Disney/Marvel has yet to do it effectively.

Still, they try.  This film is set in the world of the 2014 “Godzilla” and 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island.”

Now, I actually liked the latest Kong movie.  It had a decent story.  A Vietnam War Colonel, angry that his country did him wrong, sees the fight against Kong as a way to achieve the victory his incompetent leaders denied him.  Add in a subplot about a WWII soldier who got lost on the island and the Monarch Initiative and it wasn’t a total waste of time.  It wasn’t my favorite movie but if I happen to be flipping channels and need something to watch in the background while doing other things when I come across it then sure, I’ll leave it on.  It was fun.

The problem is this Godzilla film suffers the fate of all Godzilla films.  Namely, they are all the same.  You get occasional awesome fight scenes where the big lizard fights other big monsters intermixed between long, drawn out scenes where scientists bicker about man’s audacity in thinking he control nature, his pollution and destruction of the earth, whether or not Godzilla is a villain or hero, and so on.

Here, the scientists take opposite viewpoints, that Godzilla may be looking to kill us all or maybe the destruction he does is to an end, namely, though he does take out entire cities, he only does so while fighting monsters who would take out the whole world.  He has to bitch slap these monsters to get them to behave and unfortunately, that means a lot of death, destruction and property damage but hey, it would be worse if these monsters weren’t bitch slapped and he’s got to bitch slap them.

The plot centers around a husband/wife scientist team who are at odds over the beast.  Vera Farmiga thinks titans, or any large monster, are earth’s response to a sickness.  Just as a fever helps burn off illness, so to do monsters smash the shit out of humanity and once our cities are destroyed, pollution is reduced and the world is saved.

In her quest to let the titans rule, she is joined by a British soldier turned eco-terrorist played by legendary baddie Charles Dance of Tywin Lannister fame, who is too good for this drek and no doubt is just collecting a paycheck.

Vera’s husband, played by Kyle Chandler, thinks this idea is stupid and humanity should be saved and the titans destroyed.  And so it goes.  Scientists bitch and moan and wax philosophical for long stretches of time and then once in awhile you are treated to a cool monster fight.  They could actually just cut the talking, show you 20 minutes of monster fights and call it a day and everyone would be happy.

Also, Millie Bobby Brown, as the couple’s child, has to overcome her fighting parents to save the day.

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy.  I think Godzilla movies are just born to suffer the same fate.  Many years ago, when the film industry was new, some Japanese dudes figured out that if a guy gets in a rubber lizard suit and stomps on a model of a city, it looks cool.  It was awesome for its time but unfortunately for Godzilla, its not something that impresses us in today’s CGI laden landscape.  Maybe one day Hollywood will come up with the plot that will make us want another Godzilla movie, but they haven’t done it yet.

Although, there seems to be talk of an upcoming sequel, “Godzilla vs. King Kong” so…maybe….

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – West Side Story (1961)

Gee Office Krupke, Krup You!

BQB here with a review of “West Side Story,” 3.5 readers.

Though it won the Oscar for best picture, this movie has been criminally underrated ever since, basically being lost to the annals of musical aficionados rather than watched by everyone as it should be.

Every generation thinks it is the first to discover a whole host of societal issues – race, crime, poverty, immigration and so on.  Truthfully, each generation deals with these issues in their own way and the older folk are left to babble on, reminding everyone these issues have been around forever.

In the 1960s, the Jets (white kids) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican kids) fight for turf in the Upper West Side of New York City.  Their “fights” are well choreographed dance routines where they dance at each other with reckless abandon.  Both sides feel the other is encroaching on their turf and trying to change their way of life.  Neither side realizes they all are looking for the same things and if they’d just talk, they could work on improving their lives together.

See?  Times never change.

Amidst this backdrop, Tony, a Jet who to his gang’s dismay, has gotten a job and is trying to go legit, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Shark leader Bernardo.  Theirs is a Romeo and Juliet type story – two star crossed lovers from groups that historically hate each other.

Somehow, they must find a way to keep their love going against all odds and the pressures that their respective gangs put on them to break it off.

There’s two great musical numbers that, when you watch them today, you realize that these problems have faced our society for many years.

First, in, “Gee, Officer Krupke” the Jets parody the whole system that juvenile delinquents go through.  Posing as adults, Riff is passed through the police, a social worker, a psychiatrist, and the prison system.  Each “adult” or a kid posing as an adult, has a different opinion on why Riff is so screwed up and none of the adults consult with each other.  They tell Riff that he’s screwed up because of his parents, because he needs a job, because he’s inherently bad.  Treatment options range from he needs to talk to a shrink to he needs to find work to he’s got no good in him and needs to go to jail.  The system becomes a joke as the kid is just passed from one part of the system to another and ends up no better than when he started.  This pretty much still happens today.

Second, in “America,” the Sharks square off on their differing opinions of the immigrant experience.  The pro-America argument is that the country is great.  Washing machines and apartments and jobs and so on.  The anti-American argument is you have to ruin your credit to get the washing machine, the apartment is so expensive you have to put 20 people in it to afford it and the best jobs you’ll get are waiting tables and shining shoes.  This debate rages on even today, doesn’t it?

“America” is especially fun to watch.  The choreography is great as the dancers all match their movements together and turn on a dime.

Anyway, last I knew it was on Netflix, so check it out, 3.5 readers.

 

 

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Heartbreak Ridge (1986)

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Hey 3.5 readers.

Yet another Clint movie and I don’t think I’ll spend too much time on it.  This one wasn’t his best but it wasn’t bad either.  Worth your time but nothing to rush to get to.  In the grand scale of Clint’s catalog, it’s somewhere in the middle.

Here, Clint is an aging gunnery sergeant who once won the medal of honor at Heartbreak ridge in the Korean War.  While Clint’s character, Sgt. Highway, kicked ass in the corps, his personal life suffered greatly.  His wife left him, not able to take him being gone for so long.  Meanwhile, the modern corps, in his opinion, has become pussified, bogging him down with red tape and rules and overall, a bunch of pansies who haven’t seen battle are showing him their gratitude for his service by trying to get rid of him.

He gets one last assignment – training a bunch of doofus recruits which include Mario Van Peebles, who wants to be a rock star more than a marine.  Long story short, he whips the chumps into shape and ships off with them to Grenada.

Typical Clint fare in another movie where he bitches about how things have gotten too modern, which if he didn’t like 1986, he probably wouldn’t like things today.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Play Misty for Me (1971)

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Bitches be cray, 3.5 readers.

My Clint Eastwood kick continues and this time I’m talking about the Clintster’s 1971 flick, “Play Misty for Me.”

My generation knows Jessica Walter as Jason Bateman’s booze soaked, trash talking mother on “Arrested Development” or in cartoon version on “Archer.”

But many years ago, she was the woman who refused to go away.

Clint plays Dave, a small town radio disc jockey in Carmel, California.  He plays jazz music, reads some poetry, and hopes that one day his show will take off and he’ll find fame and fortune.

Alas, he’s also an epic poonhound and let’s be honest.  We all are.  All men like sex but while it’s easy to find a dealer to feed your drug addiction, it’s not so easy to feed that sex need.  Most of us can just find one special someone and commit.

Clint or Dave, rather, is a hunky stud who gets it all the time.  And unfortunately, this causes a rift between him and the love of his life, Tobie (Donna Mills).  He loves her and she him, but she’s tired of his philandering ways and has already left him at the start of the film.

Meanwhile, every night a sultry voiced woman calls into Clint’s show and asks the host to play the jazz song, “Misty.”

On one fateful night, Dave, while chilling at his favorite bar, picks up Walter’s Evelyn.  The two start a casual fling but differ on how serious it is.  Dave thinks they’re just friends with benefits.  Evelyn is ready to walk down the aisle.

As the film progresses, Evelyn becomes increasingly jealous, needy and well, insane, chasing everyone in Clint’s life, from his cleaning lady to his love with a big ass knife.

By today’s standards, you might criticize the film, arguing that it is basically saying women are nuts and will chase you around with a butcher knife if you jilt them.

But I think on a closer look, when we peel back the layers of this onion, we reveal some fears that we all have when it comes to romance, love, relationships and dating.

On one hand, dating can feel like a magical thing.  You meet someone.  They deem you worthy of their time.  You get that intimacy that you crave.

On the other hand, maybe the relationship won’t work out.   Maybe you’ll damage that person by leaving.  Maybe the damage won’t be on the surface but maybe that rejection will hurt them on an emotional level.  Or worse, maybe they just won’t take no for an answer.

Maybe it won’t happen with such a dramatic flare but sure, it’s entirely possible that an ex might go from trusted friend to psycho stalking your every move and chasing you around with sharp kitchen implements.

On another level, probably one thing we as a society need to think about is this rush to bed we all do.  Sex after a few dates is pretty standard now and yet how could you possibly know a person until you’ve spent more time with them?  We share our bodies with people who we think we know but let’s be honest, we barely do.  If you wouldn’t share your bank account, key to your house, or other things requiring trust with someone then you probably shouldn’t share your body with them.

Unfortunately, people who want to wait to get freaky are deemed odd and that’s where we are.  And maybe sex right away won’t necessarily lead you to running away from a knife wielding Jessica Walter, but you know…once you start boinking only to find out someone you’re dating is a weirdo, it becomes that much harder to leave.

There’s a scene where Clint cradles Jessica in his arms.  I won’t give it away but she’s gone so nutty that he feels bad and is now scared to dump her.  There’s a look in his sad, sullen eyes as he holds her that says, “Wow.  That pussy was not worth it.”

It isn’t.  And ladies, I assume the penis isn’t either.  I doubt this post will start a movement but to anyone reading, let’s all put sex on the shelf until we get to know someone.  Until you’re sure, really sure, absolutely sure that you could leave without getting chased around with a knife, you shouldn’t whip your privates out and invite your date to go to town on them.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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