Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Rough Night (2017)

Sex!  Drugs!  Crazy women!

BQB here with a review of Rough Night.

Sigh.  I really wanted this movie to be great.  The commercials made it look like it was going to be an all female version of The Hangover but it just didn’t get there for me.

There were many parts that were mildly humorous and oddly, even amidst all the debauchery there were some touching moments but overall, when I judge a comedy I go with how many times did I laugh?  Laughter, after all, is the most honest emotional reaction.  If something is funny, you can’t help but laugh, whereas you can always feign happiness, sadness, etc.

But honestly, I didn’t laugh that many times and ironically, in a “Women can be funny too!” style movie, the most laughs the movie got out of me involve the parts where ScarJo/Jess’ fiance Peter (Paul W. Downs) goes on a mad cap, cross country trip to investigate what his bride-to-be and her gal pals are up to.

It’s not that I’m saying “Oh, blah blah blah, women aren’t funny and only men can be funny.”  I’m just saying, this movie kind of fizzled for me.  I know women can be funny.  I’ve seen Bridesmaids.  I’ve seen Spy.  Shit.  Now that I think of it, this movie probably could have benefited from a little Melissa McCarthy action.  Oh well, you live and you learn.

Oh right, the plot.  Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married, so her college friends Alice (Jillian Bell of “Workaholics” fame), Frankie (Ilana Glazer of “Broad City” fame), Pippa (Kate McKinnon of SNL fame) and Blair (Zoe Kravitz of Lenny Kravitz’ daughter fame) get together and throw her a bachelorette party in Miami.

Things go south when a freak accident kills a male stripper.  Rather than come clean, the girls proceed to make a series of choices that makes things so much worse.

Overall, the plot is reminiscent Very Bad Things (1998).  As a youngster, I thought that movie was super funny and received less credit than it deserved.  Basically a group of dudes (Christian Slater, Jon Favreau, Jeremy Piven, Leland Orser, and Daniel Stern) throw a wild bachelor party in a hotel suite in Las Vegas, during which a stripper is accidentally killed.  Rather than come clean, the dudes make a series of bad choices that, you guessed it, make things worse.

I was actually thinking about starting this review by channeling David Spade (he was on SNL in the 1990s, millennials) and saying “I liked ‘Rough Night’ better when it was called ‘ Very Bad Things’ but that seemed kind of bitchy.  Plus, I have no way of knowing whether the people behind this film were trying to copy the film.  Hell, maybe I’m the only old bastard who even remembers that movie.  All I know is that the the boys did the “accidental dead stripper during a pre-wedding party” better than the girls.

Again, that’s not me being sexist.  The twist is that I know several of these women are funny.  I have laughed many times at Ilana Glazer’s antics on “Broad City.”  I have guffawed at Kate McKinnon’s SNL sketches and ultimately, I think she and Leslie Jones saved the Ghostbusters reboot from being a crap show.  I have laughed at Jillian Bell’s shenanigans on “Workaholics.”

And yet, somehow, when all these funny women were put in the same room like a comedic dream team, the movie turned out to be a swing and a miss.  Maybe I can’t even blame them.  Maybe it was just bad writing.  Maybe it’s me and I’m becoming like my Uncle Hardass and not laughing as much as I used to.  I don’t know.

I just know that I didn’t laugh that much and you know, you’re supposed to, because it’s a comedy.

I give ScarJo some credit.  This is the first time she stepped out of her comic book/summer blockbuster popcorn movie and attempted to exercise her comedy chops.  She is, for the most part, the film’s straight woman (or in comedy terms, “the straight man” or the person whose normalcy and shocked reactions to the wacky antics of everyone around her are meant to make the film funnier.  Spoiler alert – it doesn’t happen, but ScarJo tried.)

A final thought on the whole female raunchy comedy idea.  My general thought when it comes to movie ideas is this – if it works, then it was a good idea.  I’m not saying a female raunchy comedy where women act just as gross and low class as a bunch of boozed up male perverts at a bachelor party can’t be funny…I’m just saying this movie isn’t it.  Maybe someone else will try that idea and score a win someday.

Aside from film, what about women acting like a bunch of boozed up male perverts in life?  All I can say is, it’s a free country and women’s rights have come a long way, so if women want to do that, then they should.  I know women don’t want a man telling them what to do so this isn’t advice so much as it is a thought but here goes – men aren’t always right about everything.

Know how I know that?  Because I’ve yet to meet a woman who was the slightest bit shy about telling me I’m not right about everything.  When men get boozed up and do wild, crazy, piggish and perverted things at parties…they’re wrong!  Sure, it’s fun in the moment but more often than not that kind of fun can lead to an arrest, or an unbeatable addiction, an STD that can’t be cured by pennicillin or best case scenario, the breaking up of a friendship when someone does something shitty to someone else because they’re drunk.

I guess what I’m trying to say is women, you may look at men doing messed up things at bachelor parties and think that looks fun, but trust me, in the long run, it isn’t.  So if you think you want to do that, then do it because you want to, not because you think that men are great when they act that way, because when you think about it, they aren’t.

Men aren’t always right about everything, and nights fueled with perverted drunken debauchery are one of the ways men aren’t wrong.

We’re always right when it comes to driving though.  Our penises always point true north so we have no need to pull over and ask for directions.

STATUS:  Borderline shelf-worthy.  Don’t bother running out to the theater but it’s worth a rental later.

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Movie Review – The Mummy (2017)

Women can be mummies too, people.  Come on.  It’s 2017, you misogynist bastards.

BQB here with a review of The Mummy.

It’s hard to call this a reboot of the 1990s Brendan Fraser films, partly because those films were, themselves, reboots of Universal’s much older Mummy movies and partly because, in theory, mummies belong to us all.  I have a feeling that Universal might try to slap you with a legal stick if you were to call your next book, “The Mummy” but otherwise, there’s no reason why you couldn’t pen a tale where mummies run around with reckless abandon.  It was the Egyptians who invented mummies, after all, not some Hollywood suit of the Golden Age of Film Era.

Another reason why I hate to compare this film to the Fraser films (which I really loved at the time they came out and even to this day if I catch them on TV, I’ll watch them until the end) is that they’re both very different movies.  Fraser’s were epic fantasy while this is an attempt to make a more serious, modern day monster film.

It’s also the first installment in Universal’s “Dark Universe” series, which I just learned, is a thing.  I don’t know how this one got by me, seeing as how I am a reviewer of pop cultural happenings and all, but I assume Universal is trying to compete on Disney’s success of the ongoing Marvel movies and Warner Brother’s semi-success (the verdict is still out) with the DC films.

Universal was a pioneer in bringing movie monsters to life, wowing audiences of the long bygone black and white era with films about Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Creature of the Black Lagoon and so on.

Apparently, Universal intends to bang out a bunch of these monster flicks in the coming years.  Will the films tie in together?  Will the monsters work together or fight one another in a great, big “let’s get all the big actors for one movie” type of film?  Your guess is as good as mine.

In this version of “The Mummy,” Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a soldier/scumbag who robs historic sites in Iraq of their ancient riches only to get away with the dirty deed knowing that terrorists will attack the sites and anything looted will be blamed on them. This is a rare role for Cruise as this essentially makes him an anti-hero.  He’s not a good guy, but he does a good deed in the film, i.e. fights the Mummy.

Blah, blah, blah, Tom has a partner, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) who is mainly in the film for comic relief and a love interest, archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis).  Shenanigans ensue when a lady mummy (Sofia Boutella) is released and seeks to carry out an evil plan that she hatched thousands of years ago.

Rounding out the cast is Russell Crowe who (SPOILER ALERT) plays Dr. Henry Jekyll.  That’s right.  The Henry Jekyll as in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  I found this to be a curious role and as I watched the film, I wondered if somewhere there was a writer who couldn’t decide if this film should be a Mummy movie or a Dr. Jeykll movie and then after I googled “Dark Universe” when I got home, I realized that Universal is raiding its long shut tomb of public domain/famous literary monster adaptations and bringing them together for our viewing pleasure.

It’s an interesting gambit and one that I hope works out for Universal.  Disney/Marvel seems to be playing a game that other studios want in on.  Though I’m not sure they’ll ever be topped, this movie is a solid attempt and arguably, a better one than the turd sandwich “Batman vs. Superman” that Warner Brothers dropped on us.

I’m sorry.  I will never stop saying bad things about “Batman vs. Superman.”  How do you screw that premise up?  How?  Someone tell me.  Seriously.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.  Tom Cruise might be a closet mummy as he is well-preserved for his age.

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Writing Choices – Fight Club and Characters with Multiple Personalities

The first rule of this discussion is don’t complain about spoilers.  The second rule of this discussion is don’t explain about spoilers.

Seriously, you’ve had 18 years to watch this movie.  If a movie has existed the exact amount of time it takes to bring a baby to adulthood then please, spare me your spoiler complaints.

Fight Club.  It’s a great film that has gotten better with age if you ask me.  Generation X has sort of become a lost generation.  The Baby Boomers are apparently going to stick around forever and the Millenials are leap frogging over the X’ers because they’ve all had access to some pretty sweet technology since they were babies.

Us?  We’re stuck in the middle, and that was the sense of ennui that this film was trying to portray.

If you don’t want to read about the main spoiler, then look ok.  Last chance. OK.  Here it goes:

Ed Norton’s nameless character and his new friend, the one that comes into his life, turns it upside down, urges him to start a fight club and fill it with dangerous domestic terrorist anarchists…are the same person!

I know, right?  #mindblown

Sometimes it is possible for a character to be more than one person at the same time.  Usually, this happens when a character has a split personality.  There may be other times, for example:

  • A character assuming a false identity to spy on or trick people will require the audience to keep up with which characters in the film believe the character to be Person #1 and who think he is Person #2.
  • Maybe the character is possessed by a demon or some kind of magic is involved to put two souls into one body.

Multiple personalities seems to be where this issue comes up the most and from a writing standpoint, it is a bear.

Personally, I believe it’s easier done in movie form.  When you watch Fight Club, you are taken through a series of twists and turns as it is slowly revealed that Tyler (Brad Pitt) is more than just a smooth, fast talker but in fact, he has a lot of bad things planned and the naive Ed Norton figures things out way too late.

Then, it all comes down to the ultimate reveal when Ed realizes he was Tyler all along.  Immediately, the audience starts going through all the interactions that Ed and Tyler had together and those will need to be sewn up.  Video footage, for example, shows Ed yelling at no one where cut scenes show him yelling at his imaginary friend, Tyler.

I’ve tried to write characters with false identities – people who go to one place where the people think he is A and another place where people think he is B.  It’s exhausting.  I’m not sure I’m even a good enough writer to pull that trick off yet but hopefully one day.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  Discuss your favorite Fight Club moments, or talk about another movie or book where there was a character who was, for whatever reason, more than one person.  What challenges will a writer face while trying to pull this off?

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Movie Review – Wonder Woman (2017)

Amazon warrior babes!  Evil Germans!  The best female superhero ever!

BQB here with a review of Wonder Woman.

Let me just say it right off the bat, 3.5 readers.  This is a great movie – a really great movie.

It was a high stakes film for DC and Warner Brothers, a make or break film in their quest to create a Justice League franchise that would rival the success of Marvel’s Avengers.

The first attempt, last year’s Batman vs. Superman was an economy sized stink burger with extra poop cheese.  The second attempt, Suicide Squad, was not a critical success, though I liked it personally.

Luckily, WB/DC not only avoided a third strike with Wonder Woman – they knocked it out of the park.

Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) lives an idyllic, peaceful life on a secret island filled with super hot, boner-inducing Amazon warrior babes.  For years, she’s been told a tale by her mother, Queen Hippolyta and aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright) of how men were once kind and noble but alas, their minds were poisoned by Aries, the God of War, to fight one another.

The Amazons found safety on an island paradise but that is disturbed when WWI pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on their territory.  When Steve informs the super hot warrior babes that World War One (or just, the World War at that time) has broken out, Diana is convinced that this is the handiwork of Aries and teams of with Steve to save the day.

Great action, amazing special effects and plenty of humor as Diana adjusts to life in the early 1900s, a time when women were expected to be obedient to men and only speak when spoken to. (Ah, those were the days!  Wait, who said that?  Surely, not me.  Crap.  I’m going to get complaint letters now.)

Gal Gadot was the perfect choice for this role and she can wrap me up in her lasso of truth anytime.  Alas, I just wish I had more interesting stories to tell her.

The story is great, a real blend of history and fiction to come up with something unique on its own.

Frankly, I wish this film had been the start of WB/DC’s foray into Justice League territory. Marvel has been making bank for nearly a decade with a tried and true formula, namely, give each hero their own movie, then put all the heroes into one movie, then give each hero their follow up movies, then do another movie where all the heroes get together and repeat.

Admittedly, DC had a higher mountain to climb.  Batman and Superman are so well known that no one needed another movie where little Bruce Wayne sees his parents get shot or another movie where baby Kal-El crash lands in an Iowa cornfield.

Still, there could have been some standalone films where we are introduced to the latest incarnations of Batman and Superman.  True, we did get that with Man of Steel, but otherwise, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were all tossed into a big crap sandwich in the super sucky Batman vs. Superman before we ever got to learn what makes any of them tick.

And really, Wonder Woman was the only part of B vs. S that did not suck the super big one.

This is the first critical success for the Justice League franchise and what I hope will be the beginning of a winning streak.  Unfortunately, from the trailer of this November’s Justice League, I fear the winning streak won’t last long, as characters like Cyborg, Aqua Man and the Flash are all lumped together before we get movies that tell us who these characters are and what they are all about.

At least, no matter what, we can say we know what makes Wonder Woman tick, thanks to this film.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Best film of the year thus far.  Get off your butts and see it in the theater, 3.5.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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Movie Review – Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)

Hey 3.5 readers.

I’m not going to write much of a review other than to say it was funny, a good time, and kinda short, which, hey, if you’re an adult, then that works for you.

That’s it.  End of review.  Tra la la!

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Writing Choices – 10 Cloverfield Lane and Keeping the Audience Guessing

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here with another “Writing Choices” column.

We’re writers.  We have to make choices, so make them already.  No big whoop.

Today I want to talk to you about 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  It’s been out for over a year but if you haven’t seen it yet, beware reading on for SPOILERS ABOUND.

Do you want to keep your audience in suspense?  Cool.  Try posing a question to them at the very beginning of the tale.  Then, take them down different paths, throw out some red herrings and presto, your audience will have no choice but to keep watching (or reading) until the question is finally answered.

At the beginning of this movie, Michelle (Winstead) gets into a car accident.  When she wakes up, she finds herself in a bunker owned by the incredibly disturbing Howard (John Goodman).

Howard informs Michelle that he found her on the road and brought her to his underground bunker.  Oh and also, he did so just in time to avoid an alien invasion.  That’s right.  An alien invasion.

Sorry, Michelle, but you can’t leave the bunker now because if you go to the surface, you will become alien food.  Sigh.  I bet you ladies wish you had a nickel for every time a fella tried the ole, “You gotta stay in this bunker with me to avoid the alien invasion” routine.

Show, don’t tell, right?  Here, the folks behind the film hope you’ll start asking questions.  “Hmm…an alien invasion seems implausible.  The more plausible explanation is that Howard is a pervert who kidnaps young women to bring to his pervert bunker.  Then again, what if he’s right about the aliens?”

As the movie progresses, the audience is fed little bits and pieces of information, along with some red herrings.

  • We find out that Howard, through his government work, was in a position to know about incoming aliens.
  • We find out there’s another person in the bunker.  Surely, a second person wouldn’t be putting up with this unless there really had been an alien invasion.  Then again, the guy is easily duped and stupid, so maybe Howard tricked him.
  • Howard seems incredibly weird and a big conspiracy theorist.  Perhaps he’s a weirdo who made a bunker and just lucked out when aliens came?
  • Howard seems to want to control everyone’s every little move.  Maybe he really did just make up the stuff about aliens.  Maybe he is just a perv who kidnaps people.
  • Howard may have done some evil shit regarding a previous bunker inhabitant – thus a new question – maybe Howard is right about the aliens but he’s still a psychopath that you don’t want to share a bunker with anyway?

That’s how to do it, 3.5 readers.  Start with the question – “Are there aliens outside this bunker or is Howard a lying pervert?”  Then, start throwing nuggets of info at your audience and soon, their brains will fill up with all kinds of theories and questions.  It will soon be worth their while to stick with your work until the conclusion.

SIDENOTE:  I think the Academy really dropped the ball here by not giving this movie some love.  At the very least, John Goodman could have gotten a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.  The screenplay deserved some recognition as well.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT: In the comments, tell me about a movie or a book you liked that kept you guessing.

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Writing Choices – Manchester by the Sea and the Unhappy Ending

Hey 3.5 readers.  Welcome to the first ever Writing Choices column.  Warning, spoilers abound!  Oh wait, the title of this post is a spoiler.  Avert your eyes!

But seriously.  If you haven’t seen this movie, then read no further, unless you don’t care, then feel free.

Manchester by the Sea is by far the most depressing movie I’ve seen this year and quite possibly my lifetime.  It’s a story of pain, suffering, and great loss.  More specifically, the movie reveals a truth that movies often sugarcoat or brush to the side in the name of making the audience happy – when it comes to overcoming loss, people often lose the battle.

Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a blue collar family man who once had it all.  Nice house, beautiful wife (Michelle Williams as Randi) and adorable little kids.  One night, and remember, SPOILERS, he throws a wild, drug and booze fueled party in his garage until his wife breaks up the fun and tells everyone to get lost because she’s trying to sleep.

After his buddies go home, Lee is too wired too sleep.  He starts a fire in the fireplace, then sits for a spell in a reclining chair, then gets up and goes for a walk to a package store, because even though it’s after three a.m., he decides that the one thing he needs after a night of drunken debauchery is more beer.

When he comes back (SPOILER) his home is ablaze.  Firefighters managed to rescue Randi, but alas, his kids, including a newborn infant, are lost.  He drops to the ground and displays a face of inconsolable loss and later, steals a police officer’s gun from its holster but is tackled before he can shoot himself.

If you’ve seen it, did you think about the “show, don’t tell” angle?  A lot is said here without it being directly said.   Here were two thoughts I had:

#1 – Dude, you’re kind of a shit bag for throwing that party with your wife and kids in the house in the first place.  Second, what’s wrong with you?  Why are you such an alcoholic that you needed to go out for more beer after drinking all night anyway?  Who leaves their kids and wife alone with a fire going in the fireplace?  Maybe if you weren’t so drunk and irresponsible you would have realized this was a bad idea.  I know if I had a wife that looked like Michelle Williams, I’d be in bed next to her instead of walking to the liquor store.

#2 – How one mistake can ruin your life and the lives of others.  OK.  You’re a responsible person.  You’d never throw a wild drinking/drug party.  You’d never leave your family in the middle of the night with a fire in the fireplace going for more beer.  Fine.  Still, no one can be perfect a hundred percent of the time.  I know that in the back of my mind, there’s always a fear I might screw up so badly that it ruins my life or the lives of others.  There’s a voice like that in the heads of most people.  If there isn’t one in yours, there should be?  Maybe you wouldn’t have left for beer, but could you see yourself maybe, oh, I don’t know, falling asleep with the fireplace still lit and then the house goes up anyway?  Are you a perfect driver?  Do you ever worry that you might make one mistake and hit another car?  See?  You might not be a drunk but even so, it is entirely possible that one day you might make a single boneheaded move that destroys everything.  Obviously, keep a watchful eye out to prevent that from happening.  You don’t want to end up like Lee Chandler.

Where was I?  Show don’t tell.  Those two reactions above came to me and yet, they aren’t spelled out.  Instead, we just see Lee living his life of sullen, depressed, lonesome ennui.  Every minute of every day is clearly a nightmare for him.  He obviously thinks about the terrible mistake he made every second of the day.  There’s clearly a voice nagging him inside his mind, “Why did you have to go get beer, dumbass?  Why did you have to light that fire. idiot?”

Had he just stayed in that recliner and fell asleep, he probably would have sniffed the embers that fell out of the fireplace and snuffed them before the house went up.  But for that one decision, he lost his wife and accidentally killed his kids.  He never comes out and says, “Oh I wish this and that…” but if you’re paying attention, you know he must be thinking that.

I have strayed too far from the main point though.  Unhappy endings.  We want to make our audiences happy.  Their lives probably stink, to varying degrees.  At any rate, no one wants more sadness in their lives.  So often, a movie comes together in the end to deliver a happy ending.

Throughout this film, we wonder if that will happen for Lee.  A couple of women express an interest in him.  Will he be able to get over the loss of his ex-wife and find love again?

Moreover, Lee’s brother, Joe, the last family member he was able to rely on and confide in, who didn’t abandon him after he burned his family up accidentally, dies.  Lee returns to Manchester by the Sea, his hometown, a place where he had once built a life but now he has a hard time being there due to bad memories.

Lee is charged with taking care of Joe’s son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).  Patrick is having a rough go of it.  Not only did his father just die but his mother is, well, nuts, and so she’s out of the picture and not able to help.

Together, Lee and Patrick become a super depressing duo.  Lee drinks and occasionally starts bar fights just to feel something.  Patrick has two different girlfriends (unbeknownst to each other) and essentially uses girls at his high school for sex as a coping mechanism.

However, remember show and tell?  We see what Patrick is up to.  The people behind the movie depend upon us to make the connection.  “Oh, this kid is messed up in the head and he’s trying to feel better by having lots of teenage, pre-marital sex, which if anything, will just ruin his life and the lives of the girls he’s getting busy with.”

Throughout the film, we wonder if Lee will see guardianship of his nephew as a second chance – a way to prove that he’s not a complete waste of space.  He failed his children.  Perhaps he will man up and not fail his nephew.  After all, the kid only has a year or two of high school left.  Surely, anyone can put up with something for that long.

At times, Lee shows a few sparks of adulthood.  For the most part he turns a blind eye to Patrick’s shenanigans because he’s too exhausted to fight with the kid.  However, there are times when he grows concerned for the kid’s welfare and does some actual, honest to God parenting, telling Patrick the tough love words he needs to hear.

Further, we wonder if Patrick will ever see the light.  Yes, he lost his father and his mother isn’t much of a help.  Could he maybe realize his uncle has his own demons and step up to the plate?  Could he accept his Uncle as a father figure for the next year or so and not be a sneaky little shit to him?

Essentially, Lee and Patrick are two dudes down on their luck and all they have are each other.  We keep waiting for the moment to come when they will realize this.  We keep waiting for the happy ending…maybe one day, in the not so distant future, there will be a Christmas where a somber Patrick sits by the tree with a new lady friend and welcomes Patrick home from college and Patrick is in a stable, committed relationship with a nice girl.

Yeah.  Don’t hold your breath.  Lee gives up.  It’s too hard to be in Manchester by the Sea. Rather than stay in the house his brother left him and raise his nephew, he talks a family friend and his wife into doing it, then returns to his life as a broken down, incredibly ennui laden janitor.

There might be hope for Patrick.  He chooses the better of the two girls and at least he has a place to live with some kind of a stable adult and he’s going to go to college but for Lee?  Lee is screwed.

We don’t see if but we can imagine Lee back at an apartment complex like the one he was working at when the movie started, plunging toilets, drinking, getting into bar fights and flagellating himself over his lost family until the end of time.

Were you disappointed with the ending?  I was, for about a second.  Then I realized the point.  Life often does not have happy endings.  Movie endings aren’t all that realistic.  Sure, accidentally burning down your house with your family in it while you went out to get beer is the ultimate in psychological trauma that can’t be gotten over.

However, there are lesser traumas.  People often say “get over it and move on” because they have no idea what else to say and they think they are helping.  Truth be told, if you married someone and they divorce you, you may never get over that.  Even if you weren’t married, maybe you’ll always think about that lost boyfriend or girlfriend forever.

Maybe there’s a friendship or a relationship with a family member you lost because of some unkind words you wish you could take back.  Perhaps you made a foolish investment and lost a bundle and now you hate yourself.  Maybe someone you loved died of natural causes and you miss them constantly.

Mental anguish can’t just be alleviated with the snap of a finger.  I know, personally, I’ve been through some shit and after about the tenth time someone told me to, “Get over it and move on” I finally just stopped talking about it.  I’m not over it.  Time helps, not because it erases the bad memories but because the more time passes, the more you’ll forget about what troubles you and get a respite from it but even so…the pain is remembered.  The pain remains.  The sadness can’t be erased completely.

Some situations just don’t wrap up happily.  There can be no happy ending for Lee.  He can’t just go to a shrink and get a pill to help him forget this one.  There will be no new girlfriend for him.  There will be no redemption for him via raising his nephew.  He simply cannot forgive himself for what he has done, and who can blame him?

It’s not a happy ending but it is a realistic one.  Honestly, would a happy ending have come across as real here?  I don’t think so.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  In the comments, discuss the writing choices you saw in this movie or alternatively, if you’re a writer, would you ever consider an unhappy ending for one of your stories?  Is it better to provide readers with a realistic yet sad ending instead of an unlikely but happy one?

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The Coalition Against Nerface – Battle of the Sexes

Hey 3.5 readers.

As you all know, I am, among other things, a dedicated philanthropist and public activist.   I have more causes than you can shake a stick at and if you don’t have a stick, perhaps I’ll donate you stick to you so that you can shake it.

My latest cause is, “The Coalition Against Nerdface.”  “Nerdface,” a term that, as far as I know, I coined, happens when a beautiful actress or handsome actor dons the guise of a nerd to play a nerdy role rather than just, oh I don’t know, stepping aside so HOLLYWOOD CAN GIVE A JOB TO AN ACTUAL NERD!

Nerdface.  It’s the world’s number one problem and frankly, everyone should stop working on all the other problems until this one is solved.

Case in point.  Emma Stone?  Super beautiful.  Who is she playing?  Tennis player Billie Jean King.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Billie Jean was a great tennis player, a feminist, women’s rights icon etc. but she was no looker.  That was actually OK in the 1970s, believe it or not.  People who did great things would just be liked and respected for doing great things and they didn’t need to look like supermodels while they did them.

What is Hollywood doing?  Do they hire, oh I don’t know, an actress that’s kind of butch with glasses?  No.  They just whip a freaking pair of glasses on Emma.

You know what?  New rule.  If a character in a movie has glasses, then said character should only be played by a person wearing actual prescription glasses.  Otherwise, hate crime!  Hate crime, I say!

Nerdface.  It’s the worst.  Call it out when you see it.

Can you think of any Nerdface examples, 3.5 readers?  Discuss in the comments:

 

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Movie Review – Baywatch (2017)

Boobs!  So many boobs!  Did I mention the butts?

BQB here with a review of Baywatch.

It seems like every generation has a show that is terrible of terms of plot, yet beloved and watched anyway.  And in the next generation, that show is destined to be parodied and adults who used to love the show will love the parody.

The Brady Bunch, for example, was one of the silliest shows on TV in Uncle Hardass’ day. By the time I was a young man, the show was lampooned in a series of films where the Brady Bunch keep acting like they’re in the 1960s but in modern times.

Add Baywatch to the list of TV shows turned movie parodies.  Honestly, the premise of the original show was so silly that it’s hard to believe that it, in and of itself, was not a parody.  David Hasselhoff of Knight Rider fame used to parade his pecs around a California beach while Pamela Andersen and a bevy of other scantily clad beauties would show off their personal flotation devices.  (Psst!  I’m talking about their knockers!  Awooga!)  Somehow, the lifeguards would end up fighting desperadoes and solving beach related crimes in between rescues.

In this reimagining of the show, The Rock flexes his ridiculously awesome muscles as the new Lt. Mitch Buchannon, leader of the plucky young Baywatch crew.  Zac Efron, also packing some fab abs himself (which I noticed purely in a speculative way and not in a gay way although I’m told there’s nothing wrong with that anymore) is new recruit Brody, a once beloved Olympic swimmer who has since hit the skids after an embarrassing occurrence at the Rio games.

Mitch and Brodie but heads throughout the film.  Brody thinks he’s the best swimmer ever and has nothing else to learn.  Mitch points out that Brody has the swimming part down, but needs to work on teamwork and life saving skills.

Also, to Brody’s surprise, fighting crime.  Yes, as the group’s newcomer, he’s shocked to learn that whenever the lifeguards see crimes they don’t just, you know, call the police.  Instead, with no law enforcement training whatsoever, they take it upon themselves to follow leads, track down suspects, and bring down bad guys themselves.  The running joke of the film is that Brody is the only one who finds this odd.

Additional new recruits include Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass.)  To the film’s credit, Baywatch, whether in TV form or this version, has always been known for putting the hottest beach bodies on TV.  This time, the crew adds Ronnie the tech nerd, the only lifeguard with a flabby physique that requires him to run through the sand with his shirt still on.  Naturally, he’s the comic relief and butt of many jokes because, you know, a nerd could never be just, really awesome and a super important member of the team but hey, baby steps.  They let a chubby guy get a role in a film for beautiful people so you got to start somewhere.

Meanwhile, Alexandra is hot while Kelly Rohrbach is an epic inducer of boners in her reprisal of Pam Anderson’s CJ Parker role.  Boi-yoi-yoi-yoi-yoing!

Cameos by Pam and Hoff themselves.  Pam’s is somewhat humorous.  Hoff’s is as well, though it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

In fact, little of the film does.  Much of it is slapped together simply so you can enjoy the beautiful beach scenery and all of the hot boobs and butts and wonder where you went so wrong that you didn’t hit the gym more and get your ass out to California while you could have.

Hell, if you’re still breathing maybe it’s not too late.  Start working out now and invest in hair dye.  Also, find Pam’s plastic surgeon.  Sigh.  Do you know I don’t think there was a single man in the 1990s who wasn’t tugging it to the Pamster 24/7?  Ahh, memories, like the corners of my mind…

Did I mention there are a lot of boobs and butts?  There’s also a…uh…well I’ll let you see it for yourself but suffice it to say, there is one scene that I was surprised didn’t earn the film a XXX porno rating.

STATUS:  Split decision.  If you came for humor, action, boobs and butts, it’s an A+.  If you came for something serious, you picked the wrong movie.  Personally, I find it shelf worthy due to the boobs and butts.  FYI none of them are uncovered but you know, close enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Arr!  Avast ye scurvy 3.5 readers.  Trim the main sail and batten down the hatches, fer it’s off to Davey Jones’ locker with ye, arr arr, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum and so forth, arr!

BQB here with a review of Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Men Tell No Tales.

3.5 readers, it feels like it was just yesterday when the first Disney Pirate film came out.  The year was 2003 and I was a young man, filled with vim and vigor and a head full of crazy ideas like “life is fair” and “good things happen to good people” and “the world is a great place” and “hard work always earns a just reward and so on.”

We hadn’t yet entered into the whole “reboot” nonsense, yet sequels were still prevalent, and even then Hollywood was often lampooned for a lack of originality.  Even in those days, if one type of film scored big, then you’d soon see a hundred more films just like it.

I didn’t expect much out of that movie.  It was, after all, named after a ride at Disney World, and if video game movies always sucked then a ride based movie would surely suck.

But suck, it did not.  It was an original, creative, fun adventure that propelled Johnny Depp into super stardom with his ingenious take on pirate Jack Sparrow.  Pirates were the rock stars of their day, Depp would opine, and so with a Keith Richards impression, a blockbuster movie franchise was born.

The second and third films were fun, though for me, it was hard to recapture the first film.  It was a time in my life when I felt inspired and I was seeing a film that was inspiring.

The series carried on sans Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley), the lovebirds that were inevitably being saved by or were saving Jack.  2011’s On Stranger Tides was, to me, an OK film, but somewhat forgettable.  Other than Salma Hayek was in it, I couldn’t really tell you what it was about.

This go around, the stakes are raised and Disney apparently felt a need to bring their A game to keep the profitable franchise afloat.  Disney makes mad, crazy cash off these pirates, not just with park rides but also with Disney Cruises featuring “pirate night” where pirates take over the cruise liner and Jack Sparrow saves the day.  Thus, these pirate movies will be milked for all they are worth and then some.

In this, the fifth film of the series, young Henry Turner, son of Elizabeth and Will, seeks to remove a curse from his father’s head.  To do it, he’ll need the legendary trident of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea, but naturally, he’ll have to team of with Jack Sparrow to lead the way.

Throw in Henry’s love interest Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a plucky young lady scientist whose intelligence is often seen as a sign of witchcraft by the film’s non-stop avalanche of dullards, villains Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem as a ghostly undead pirate) and fan favorite Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and you’ve got a worthy film that’s a fun ride and will definitely keep audiences interested in as many sequels as Disney deems necessary to dish out.

Still, as I sat there watching it, I yearned for 2003, a time long gone by, a time where the world had yet to say no to just about every last hope and dream I had, and watch that original film – a new kind of adventure the likes of which had yet to be seen on screen, as seen through the eyes of a person who still believed in the general goodness of the world.

Sorry to sound like a bummer.  The good news though is that as I looked around the theater, I saw wonder in the eyes of younger viewers, the same wonder I once had.

I guess the good news is that every time a flame in someone’s heart burns out, another flame is lit in someone else’s heart somewhere else.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater. I do miss Will and Elizabeth though as they were key to the original films’ success.  I don’t want to give it away, but the movie left me with some hope that those two might return in the inevitable sixth installment.  I hope I’m not wrong.

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