Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…etcetera, etcetera…

BQB here with a review of Disney’s latest adaptation of a classic story about bestiality and Stockholm Syndrome.


3.5 readers, do you what the hallmark of a great salesman is?

The ability to sell you something you’ve already bought before.

Animation was once the last true bastion of creativity.  If you could imagine it, animators could draw it, no matter how ludicrous.  Today, that’s all changed thanks to CGI as it is now possible to make live action films that are just as ingenious as their animated counterparts.

And with live action remakes of their classic animated tales (Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon are just two recent ones that come to mind), Disney is making big bucks.

I presume that the cryogenically preserved head of Walt Disney, which still runs the company by the way, is laughing his way to the bank…or at least he would…if he weren’t just a head.

Anyway, at the outset, this movie is beautiful.  Emma Watson shines in her first really big post Harry Potter role as Belle.  Yes, I know she’s been in films since Harry but honestly, can you name any of them?  Didn’t think so.  Between this and The Circle with Tom Hanks, Emma is having a good year.

Kevin Kline, a blast from the 1980s past when he and his mustache were big and second only to Tom Selleck, is great as Belle’s father, Maurice.

Meanwhile, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of British celebrities playing French servants because our American minds here a British person speak and we instantly think, “European” and therefore it doesn’t matter if the actor is not French.

Highlights of the servant turned household item cast include Ian McKellan as Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.  German actress Audra McDonald brings her musical stylings to the singing wardrobe, Madame Garderobe while Stanley Tucci plays the piano (as in he literally plays the role of a piano), Maestro Cadenza.

Yes, it’s a tale as old as time, but new life is breathed to the animated cartoon.  We’re given a little bit more of an understanding as to why Gaston is such a villain, as well as more of an explanation as to how a beautiful young woman falls in love with a giant frigging hairy sasquatch man.

Luke Evans captures Gaston in all of his “in love with himself” glory.  Meanwhile, Josh Gad plays a super gay version of LeFou.  Whereas in the animated cartoon, LeFou was just a sniveling toady to Gaston, this version of LeFou clearly wants access to Gaston’s butt.

What?  What?!  That’s not PC to say that?  Sheesh.  I can’t keep up with all the rules anymore.

I mean, obviously LeFou doesn’t come right out and ask for access to Gaston’s butt.  However…the back rubs, the ear massages, the longing stares…LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

This actually leads me to think maybe Walt Disney’s frozen head isn’t in charge anymore, as he probably would not approve of such a thing.

It’s an interesting development to say the least.  As far as controversies go, this one kind of fizzles out.  Gaston and LeFou don’t come right out and play a game of pitcher vs. catcher or anything, but it’s definitely a shot across the bow from Disney in which they are testing the waters to see whether or not all hell would break loose if they were to make a movie with a gay lead character.

As this is a not a political blog, I’m not going to touch that one.  All I know is…LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

Arguably, LeFou wanting Gaston’s butt is not even the most controversial part of this movie.  After all, it is a story about a kidnapped woman who falls in love with her captor, a dog monster, thus promoting Stockholm Syndrome, abusive relationships, and bestiality.

Also, and I can’t say this enough, Gaston is the true hero, both in the animated version and the live action adaptation.  I mean, all the dude wants to do is slay the Beast and knock boots with Belle.  Belle gets kidnapped by a hairy dog monster and she doesn’t even thank the guy that’s trying to rescue her.  The nerve of some people.

Still, the tale that is as old as time does hold up after all these years.  Ultimately, the message is to not judge a book by its cover.  A handsome prince who treats ugly people like crap gets his comeuppance by becoming a super ugly beast, suffers for years as an ugly beast, learning how all the ugly people must have felt when he treated them like crap.  Eventually, he learns to not be such a jerk face and is rewarded with the love of a hot studious French chick.

Sadly, like most things in life, it falls apart after closer inspection.  Are we really to believe that Belle would love the Beast if there wasn’t a chance that he might turn into a handsome Prince?  Would Belle still love the Beast if he weren’t rich as all get out and the owner of a fat ass castle?

I mean, hell, women say they’d never touch an ugly guy all the time but then they usually do if the ugly guy has money.  Something tells me Belle wouldn’t stick around if the Beast was destined to remain a Beast forever while living in a rent controlled inner city apartment or in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere.

But then again, I am cynical.  Perhaps I am like the Beast, super jaded for no one will ever love me due to my super ugliness.  Maybe we are all like the Beast in one way or the other.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.  LeFou wants Gaston’s butt.

Tagged , , , ,

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

“It’s all in the reflexes.”

BQB here with a review of the action/comedy/martial arts fantasy, Big Trouble in Little China.

abustany-movie-reel-800px

Like Escape from New York, this is another film I got through my 1980s childhood without seeing until now.  Also like Escape, it features Kurt Russell being directed by John Carpenter.  However, while Escape’s Snake Plissken was a gruff man of few words, Big Trouble’s Jack Burton is a boisterous big mouth, thus allowing Russell to show off his versatility.

Our story begins with Burton, an overly confident truck driver who refers to himself in the third person via a radio show of sorts that he performs on CB radio, pulling into the Chinatown section of San Francisco.  After a long haul, he meets up with buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) for a night of rowdy drinking and gambling.

When Burton gives Wang a ride to the airport to pick up his fiancee who’s about to arrive from China, said fiancee is kidnapped by brutish kung fu thugs and the adventure is on.  As Jack and Wang follow the trail, they end up in a world of martial arts, monsters, and magic, culminating in an epic battle royal with the vile sorcerer Lo Pan (James Hong aka the old Asian guy in practically every movie that requires an old Asian guy.  Hell, he even voices the goose that adopted Po in Kung Fu Panda).

Along the way, Jack and Wang team up with good sorcerer Egg Shen (Victor Wong aka James’ Hong’s longtime rival for the part of old Asian guy in every film that requires one).

Jack even finds a love interest in Gracie Law, a lawyer who, I don’t know, is investigating the trouble in Little China.  It’s not really explained that well.  All I know is that it was nice to see a young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Kim Cattrall in this movie, long before she became jaded, unapologetically slutty Samantha on Sex in the City.

And yes, the character’s name is “Gracie Law,” because the writers really wanted you to know that she is a lawyer, but “Briefcase McCourtOrder” would have been too obvious.

I had a buddy in elementary school who gave me rave reviews about this movie.  He kept those reviews up long into adulthood, often telling me I needed to check this out.

I checked it out and…hmm…how to explain.

I don’t want to call it the worst movie I’ve ever seen, because it is far from it.  In fact, I can picture a 1980s audience full of big haired, big shoulder padded people being blown away by this film.  It has a lot of heart and there is a definite intent to entertain.  Even some of the cheesier moments of the film can be laughed off by remembering this movie isn’t just an action film, but it’s also an action comedy.

My main criticism is with the overall story, or rather, the film’s storytelling abilities.  Not much of an overall explanation is given about why this magic world of martial arts magic exists.

Instead, Jack, like the viewer, is thrust into the story face first,  He, and you, the viewer, learn bits and pieces of what is happening along the way.  Oddly enough, every Asian person in the film knows everything there is to know about this magical martial arts world, as if it has always been around and only dumb honkies like Jack are oblivious to it.  Even Wang, a restauranteur by trade, displays some off the chain, bad ass kung fu moves, yet there isn’t really any explanation as to why this guy who cooks food by day knows how to fly through the air with a sword at night.

I’m very, very far from politically correct, but I suppose the modern day social justice warriors have brainwashed me into thinking, “Huh.  This film seems to suggest all Asian people are kung fu masters.  That doesn’t seem very woke.”

But then I just tamp down social justice vibe down deep and eat a cookie for fear I’ll become some kind of gluten sucking, fedora wearing hipster.  Boo…hipsters.

Bottomline, it’s a fun romp and there some great scenes.  I just wish a little more work had been done on the story.  Then again, someone wiser than me might say that throwing Jack headfirst into the action and letting him catch up is a great storytelling device all on its own.

After all, how many times in your life has anyone really sat you down and told you everything you ever needed to know about a given situation?  That rarely happens, if ever.  Like Jack, we rush in, put on a brave front full of false machismo, and hold onto our butts, all the while hoping we’ll figure it all out before it’s too late.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Watch it on Netflix.

Tagged , , , ,

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Escape from New York (1981)

A big ass scoped revolver!  A silenced Uzi!  Kurt Russell in his prime!

BQB here with a review of the 1980s action thriller, Escape from New York.

abustany-movie-reel-800px

I’m surprised I never got around to seeing this one, 3.5 readers.  Made in 1981, it envisions a futuristic 1997, one where crime has risen so dramatically that the entire island of Manhattan has been turned into one giant prison to hold all the riff raff.

While the outskirts of the island are heavily guarded by a security team lead by Warden Hauk (Lee Van Cleef), prisoners on the island are allowed to wander about freely and do whatever they please – killing, maiming, and destroying as much as they want.

Seems like a foolproof plan for ridding America of it’s ne’er-do-wells…until the President’s plane crashes right in the middle of it.

As luck would have it, war hero turned bank robber, the ultra macho, constantly brooding, eye-patch wearing Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is about to be deposited on the island as a prisoner when the shit hits the fan.

Hauk and Snake play let’s make a deal.  If Snake saves the President (Donald Pleasance), he’ll go free.

High stakes, huh?  To double the stakes, the President was on the way to a conference with important information in his possession that could stop a nuclear war from breaking out.  Thus, the world will be screwed if Snake fails.

Moreover, to triple the stakes, a device is implanted in Snake’s neck that will blow his head off if he doesn’t return with the president within twenty-two hours.  No pressure.

It’s Snake to the rescue as he fights all sorts of weirdoes, and even makes some allies along the way.  Ernest Borgnine provides comic relief as Cabbie, a molotov cocktail wielding yellow cab driver.  Harry Dean Stanton stars as Snake’s frenemy (friend/enemy), “Brain” while Adrienne Barbeau is eye candy Maggie, although she has sort of an odd hair style that never really made it out of the 1980s.

What’s a movie without a villain?  That role goes to Isaac Hayes, “the Duke of New York,” who holds the president hostage.  He does his best to be menacing, though whenever he speaks, I have a hard time not thinking of Chef from South Park.

Meanwhile, Van Cleef’s Hauk is sort of a good villain, a man who puts the screws to Snake in order to get him to do something good.

Van Cleef, who passed away in 1989, was mostly known for playing villains, especially the roles he played opposite Clint Eastwood in For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I’ve seen these films, but it took me a minute to recognize him without a cowboy outfit on.

The 1980s is the Golden Age of action cinema.  The special effects were just starting to get good.  Audiences were less turned off by violence.  The country was still getting over Vietnam, so moviegoers were sympathetic to an action hero trapped in a shitty situation by forces bigger than he was.

As a kid, I grew up on a steady diet of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, so I am surprised it took me so long to see this one.  It’s got all the standard action tropes, but for whatever reason, I just don’t recall it being as popular as say, The Terminator, a film that everyone was talking about in those days.

One part that made me sad – the World Trade Center plays a prominent role in the film.  To avoid detection, Snake flies a silent glider into the city and lands it on the roof of one of the towers, with the intention of flying it off the tower later, seeing as how it is the only building tall enough for a glider to take off from.

It made me sad, seeing as how those buildings aren’t there anymore, though I suppose technically, the movie still holds up as they were there in 1997, the year the film is set in.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  There is some cheesiness and the special effects, though not up to modern snuff, were likely the best available at the time.  Also, it was directed by John Carpenter, who gave us the Halloween franchise.  Watch it on Netflix.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Trailer – The Kingsman: Golden Circle

Hey 3.5 readers.

The Kingsman is back.  After a couple years, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is back with Colin Firth and his band of British gentlemen spies.

I’m not entirely sure of the plot.  However, the trailer reveals a plethora of celebrities.  This is usually the case with a film like this.  When the original outperforms expectations, every actor and actress and their cousin wants to be a part of the sequel.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

Tagged , , , ,

TV Review – Mystery Science Theater: The Return (2017)

Lousy old time science fiction movies!  Snarky robots!

BQB here with a review of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return.

Big time nostalgia factor for me here, 3.5 readers.  When the original MST3K film came out in the 1990s, my buddies and I watched it over and over again.  Oh, how we laughed and laughed.  We used to run around quoting lines like, “Science!  Men with screwdrivers!  Twisting things…and turning them!”

Ahh, you had to be sentient in the 1990s to get it.

Hmm…now I think I realize why I ended up as a lowly blog proprietor with only 3.5 readers.

Anyway, if you’ve never checked it out before, now’s your chance.  It’s back, this time with a series on Netflix.  Oh, Netflix.  Is there anything you won’t green light?

The premise is basically the same as the original.  A human is trapped in a space lair of some sort, forced by an evil villain to watch terrible old science-fiction movies for hours on end, supposedly as part of some study of how the brain operates while watching crappy movies.

The majority of the show is devoted to the human, Jonah Ray (Jonah Heston) and robot sidekicks Crow and Tom Servo, watching these horrendous films and busting on them with reckless abandon.  When you watch, you’ll see the film in your screen, with just three little shadows of the hecklers in the lower right hand side.

The movies are awful, old, poorly thrown together, devoid of any kind of decent plot, and usually suffer from a combination of laziness and a lack of special effects technology, because, you know, they were made a long time ago.  Also, they’re often foreign.  At any rate, there’s a strong chance that but for MST3K, you would have never have even heard of any of these films, that’s how bad they are.

The movie is broken up with Jonah and his bot buddies in various segments, doing interesting, wacky things.  Noted Internet nerds Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt star as Kinga Forrester and TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (crazy name), the villains who are keeping Jonah and the bots captive.

The segments are produced with low quality, low budget effects, assumably to mock the films that are being watched, but more likely because the studio didn’t want to shell out the cash.

I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It may be that when I was younger, I had a less discerning sense of humor.  Or maybe the original movie was great and then other versions, i.e. the 1999 show, the web show, or this Netflix show, are just attempts to recreate the glory of one very awesome film.

Maybe the 1990s were just a happier time where people weren’t as jaded and thus they laughed easier.

Maybe the big joke behind the concept was original then, but now it’s sort of played out.

I’ve only watched part of the first episode, Reptilicus, thus far.  In this one, the boys heckle what is essentially the 1960’s Dutch version of Godzilla.  It’s about as 1960s as you can get, complete with male scientists being surprised that women might know anything about science.

Much to my surprise, Erin Gray, aka Kate Summers aka Ricky Schroeder’s step-mom on the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons, has a cameo.  I know.  I am ashamed of myself for knowing who she was.  Still, for a broad in her late sixties, she looks pretty good.  I would watch shitty movies with her anytime.

Overall, it’s a fun distraction and something to put on when you want to be entertained but don’t want to expend a lot of brain power.  It’s also a fun exercise to see what movies used to be and how far along they have come.

Moreover, it’s a tribute to the olden days, a time when networks would actually try to keep you entertained between commercials.  Local TV stations would often run a movie, then have some kind of weird character introduce it and talk about it between the commercials.  I mean, so I’ve heard.  I’m not that frigging old.

At some point we learned that the movies should not suck of their own accord and that a host shouldn’t have to keep the movie interesting.

STATUS:  It’s fun.  One issue is that the movies are, you know, long movies, so the episodes often run like an hour and a half.  That’s a big time commitment but hey, in true Internet style, if you put it up there, someone will check it out.  3.5 someones in my case.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review – The Promise (2017)

Romance!  War!  Fezes!  So many fezes.

BQB here with a review of The Promise.

In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a love triangle forms between Armenian medical student Mikael (Oscar Isaac or “Poe Dameron” as Star Wars fans know him), American journalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale), and French Armenian artist Ana (Charlotte Le Bon).

Both men yearn for Ana’s heart (and cooter) but there’s much more evil doings afoot.  The Ottoman Empire becomes Germany’s ally in World War I.  Now stronger than ever thanks to their German benefactors, the Turkish majority army sets its sights on the country’s Armenian minority.  Armenians are savagely executed, brutalized, rounded up, sent off to forced labor camps and so on.

Although the film is a love story and a war story, it’s much more than any of that.  As far as I know (and perhaps historians/film buffs can prove me wrong), it’s the best, most compelling story of the Armenian Genocide, a horrific chapter in Turkey’s history that should be more well known to the world than it is.

As the film states, the French Navy was able to rescue 4,000 Armenians.  However, a staggering 1.5 million Armenians were killed.  To this day, the Turkish government denies that the Armenian Genocide ever happened.  This sucks, especially since Turkey is a NATO ally.

It’s an Oscar-ish movie, though I doubt it will see any gold statues as it was released too early in the year.  Oscar Isaac gets to shine in a non-comic book/sci-fi movie. Bale is an impressive adventurer/man of the world.  Le Bon puts the filling in my Crepe Suzette and is so beautiful that you almost can’t blame Chris and Mikael for stopping periodically during the war to vie for Ana’s hand (and cooter).

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  A must see and it is a movie that does the world a service by shining a light on a tragic part of history.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Movie Review – Split (2017)

Oh my God, 3.5 readers.

After sucking for so many years, M. Night Shyamalan has returned to making good movies again.

It’s a Shyamalan renaissance!  A Shyamalan-aissance!

BQB here with a review of the horror thriller Split.

The year was 1999.  The Sixth Sense starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment premiered.  For most of the film’s run time, it seemed like a pretty decent film.  Not below average.  Not above average.  Just decent enough until…OMG!!!  Super mega did not see that coming at all surprise ending that fits with the whole movie, whoa!

And thus, director M. Night Shama…shamalama….whatever.  His career was born.

Alas, rather than try new and different things, M. Night just put himself on a quest to recreate that amazing Sixth Sense twist:

mknight

But it never happened.  While Signs was a good film, all his other post Sixth Sense films sucked the big one.  The twists were ridiculous, absurd, and just crowbarred in as if to say, “Hey look!  I’m M. Night and I’m the twist guy!  Don’t you love my twists?”

The evidence speaks for itself:

2004 – The Village – Super dumbass twist.

2006 – Lady in the Water – Incredibly shitty twist.

2008 – The Happening – The plants were the villains all along?  OK.  Go home, M. Night.  You’re drunk!

I’d long written M. Night off as a one (maybe two) hit wonder but low and behold, he’s back in a big way with Split and it’s about damn time, M. Night Shabadu.  About damn time indeed.

The setup – Three high school girls are kidnapped and locked in a basement room by a psychopath with multiple personalities played by James McAvoy.  At various intervals, McAvoy enters the room, each time pretending to be a whole other person.  Some of these personalities are friendly, others more dangerous.

Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is usually made fun of by Claire and Marcia, but now that they are all captives, Casey, who knows about pain and suffering all too well, is in her element.  If anyone has a chance to save the day, it’s her, but will she be able to?

Meanwhile, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), the madman’s psychiatrist, suspects her patient might be up to something, but can’t quite put her finger on it.  Will she be able to piece the mystery together before it’s all too late?

Plus, there’s an overall message to the movie – are people who have suffered pain stronger than those who haven’t?

An amazing performance by James McAvoy.  He shows great Oscar potential here with his ability to convincingly turn into other people.  It’s funny because he still looks the same, yet he is so good at taking on the various personalities that you almost begin to believe they’re real.

The suspense!  The thrills!  The chills!  M. Night’s first non-shitty movie since the Clinton administration!

Are there twists in this film?  Yes.  Many.  Will I tell you what they are?  No.  But the best part is they aren’t crowbarred and slammed in haphazardly in so many other films where M. Night tried to recreated his Sixth Sense glory.

The man has finally learned to let the twists flow naturally.  In fact, the biggest twist of this film is that it is directed by M. Night Shamalamadingdong and it does not suck.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Rent it today!  Oh, M. Night!  I’m so glad you don’t suck anymore!  I always knew you had it in you to stop sucking.  It was unfortunate that this movie was released in January, because January movies tend to come and go without much interest from the public.  I do believe this film will likely grow a following via word of mouth as people start to rent it.  Crack a beer, M. Night.  It’s the first one you’ve deserved since 1999.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

BQB’s Classic Movie Rewind – Fight Club (1999)

The first rule of this review is don’t talk about this review.

The second rule of this review is don’t talk about this review.

abustany-movie-reel-800px.png

Fight Club.  It’s been on cable lately.  I’ve caught it a couple times and I’ve become addicted to it.  I saw it when it came out and I realized even then that it was awesome and revolutionary, but I feel like I have a greater appreciation of it now that I’ve gotten older.

The general plot:  Edward Norton plays a corporate office drone.  We never get his real name. He’s a mopey sad sack, depressed with his life.  Feeling no sense of purpose, he goes to work, comes home, and spends his money buying useless crap for his home.  Stuff that he doesn’t need.  He hopes it will make him happy but nothing makes him happy.

One day, the highly opinionated, ultra violent, doesn’t give a shit about anything Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) walks into Norton’s life.  Tyler browbeats Norton into starting “Fight Club” and the first rule of Fight Club is to never talk about Fight Club.

The club consists of grown men meeting in a basement and beating the crap out of each other.  I suppose that film critics could argue about what exactly that means but the gist seems to be that the more physical pain these dudes endure, the less shits they give.

“Stop giving a shit” is essentially Tyler’s message to Norton.  Tyler informs Norton that he needs to give up on the idea that he’ll live forever, that he must accept that he’ll die one day, that everything is in a sense of decay and people just waste their lives doing pointless shit and coming up with excuses as to why they can’t do what they want.

Millennials, you guys think you’re depressed?  Please.  You don’t hold a candle to Generation X and in many ways, this film captures the ennui my generation suffered in our younger days.

Take Tyler’s “Great Depression” Speech, for example:

“Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who have ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. Goddammit, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man; no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t; and we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Shit.  I was just a youngster when I first heard Tyler say that.  I didn’t think much of it.  Many years later, I realize the meaning.  He’s right.  Generation X didn’t have World War II, or Vietnam.  Things were actually pretty good in the world and you’d think that’s a good thing but the problem that arises is when the people of a generation don’t have to worry about a great cause, or a big war or what have you, then they have time to focus on doing what they actually want…and sadly, it’s just human nature to come up with excuses to explain away why we aren’t doing what we want to do.  Even worse, try as we might, there just aren’t enough resources for everyone to do what they want to do.

Oddly, I’m in a weird place where I’m on the tail end of Generation X.  A few years later, I could have been a millennial.  Tyler may have been off a little bit.  Little did he know that two years after this movie, 9/11 would happen and that would change the world, especially people like me who were just becoming adults around that time.

In a way, the movie makes a lot of points about life and how its too easy to feel hopeless.  It captures the mood of Generation X well, but then again, after 9/11, it seems kind of sad that we felt bad that there wasn’t a great conflict.  Hell, I’d do anything to go back to the pre-9/11 days and be like Ed Norton with nothing to worry about but what useless crap to buy from the catalog.

Anyway, enough of the philosophy.  From a writing standpoint, the film is brilliant.  There are many twists and turns that are unexpected yet they blow you away.  The film also builds a formula and that it feeds on and uses to build itself.  Fight Club grows, the number of Fight Club members grow, they all become pawns for Tyler to move around in  the giant mental game of chess he’s playing.

Helena Bonham Carter stars as Marla Singer, a crazy lady loved by Norton but banged by Tyler, much to Norton’s dismay.

Meanwhile, a young Jared Leto appears in a supporting role as the platinum blonde Angel Face.  Even 1970s music legend Meat Loaf joins Fight Club as the large breasted Robert Paulson.

I dunno, 3.5 readers.  Check out the film.  There’s a lot of different meanings.  You can sort of get a sense of the purpose-less-ness (if that’s a word) that young people felt at the time, and then again, there’s the message of stop pursuing materialism, stop making excuses for why you aren’t doing what you want to do, stop living a boring life.  No, you don’t (and should not) start an illegal Fight Club turned widespread criminal organization, but you could realize that life is short and it is a shame if you don’t at least try to do what you want to do.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Movie Review – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

War!  Intrigue!  Nazis vs. Zoo animals!

BQB here with a review of The Zookeeper’s Wife.

Based on a true story, this film tells the tale of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, owners/operators of the Warsaw Zoo who used their property to save persecuted Jews during World War II.

Before the war, Jan (Johan Heldenburgh) and Atonina (Jessica Chastain), live an idyllic life.  They love animals and they take care of zebras, elephants, lions, tigers, all sorts of exotic animals on their sprawling property.  They even do a good business, charging admission.

Alas, all this changes because of the Nazis.  Oh you dirty Nazis, you’re always the turd in history’s punch bowl, aren’t you?

The Zabinskis’ zoo is partially destroyed by Nazi bombs dropped all over the city.  What’s left is confiscated.  The animals are shot and turned into meat and soap for the Nazi war effort.

Sidenote:  Whether it’s during World War II or more recently in Venezuela, once the government resorts to shooting zoo animals for food, shit is not good.

Back to the review.  Long story short, what’s left of the zoo is turned over to Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), a German zoologist who had once been a friend of the Zabinskis in happier times.  Sadly, once Lutz puts on a Nazi uniform and becomes Hitler’s official zoologist, he gets a little too drunk on power and becomes an insufferable douchen-dorfer.

You know you want to see this movie just because the villain is a Nazi zoologist, don’t you?

Anyway, being the good people that they are, the Zabinskis begin rescuing and hiding their close Jewish friends.  Pretty soon, they realize that with underground tunnels once used to house tigers, buildings and trucks, they have all the means necessary to run a Jewish rescue/hiding/smuggling to safety operation.

The danger comes from the fact that they must do all this right under the nose of their ex-friend turned Nazi.

Will the Zabinskis be successful?  Will they be caught?

You’ve got to watch to find out.

Overall, it’s a touching story.  So many stories came out of WWII and they continue even today.

Much credit is due to the Zabinskis.  They probably could have relied on their friendship with a Nazi to ride out World War II by just keeping their heads down and going about their business.  Instead, they put themselves into great danger and in doing so, saved the lives of hundreds of people.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  A good movie, sort of an Oscar-bait film designed to show off Jessica Chastain’s acting chops.  Not necessary to rush out to the theater but it’s worth a rental.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Movie Review – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Let my 3.5 readers go!

No, wait.  Bring my 3.5 readers back.  If they leave, then no one will read this terrible blog.

BQB here with a review of Exodus: Gods and Kings.

It’s Easter night and you know what that means.  Eating copious amounts of candy and watching the story of Moses.  For the longest time, you were able to watch The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston or since 2014, you can watch the Christian Bale version, Exodus:  Gods and Kings.

Yup, I’m a few years late in reviewing this film but hey, better late than never and I figure I might as well review it while I’m watching it.

This film is visually stunning.  It’s a little surprising it didn’t get an Oscar love.  I mean, I still can’t believe that pile of crap Birdman won an Oscar but this film didn’t get much recognition.

The interesting part of this film is that it is told to suit a modern audience.

Oh wait, you’re probably all heathens who don’t know any of this shit so let me give you the synopsis.

Baby Moses is floated down the river and honestly, I forget why.  Maybe his parents were in trouble.  Maybe someone was after Moses.  Maybe his parents were crackheads.  At any rate, when the little guy reaches shore, he’s found by the Egyptian royal family and adopted as the son of the Pharaoh.

Moses grows up and lives the life of a wealthy, arrogant Egyptian royal family member, looking down upon the poor and downtrodden, especially the Jews, who are whipped and beaten and used as slave labor to build the pyramids and shit.

Later, Moses learns that he is, in fact, Jewish, and suddenly he starts to feel bad about how the Jews are being treated.  God speaks to him via a burning bush.  The Pharaoh has died and Moses’ adopted brother, Ramses, becomes the Pharaoh.

The burning bush tells Moses to pass along a message to Ramses.  Sorry if I botch the message, but its basically, “Let my people (the Jews) go, or shit’s about to go down.”

Ramses scoffs at this.  He’s the mighty Pharaoh after all.  So God follows through.  Plagues, pestilence, frogs, locusts, all kinds of heinous shit happens to the Egyptians.  Even their first born sons are all killed.

Tired of all the bullshit, Ramses lets the Jews go, then thinks better of it, and sends his Army to recapture them.  Moses, now a mighty right hand of God, uses his power to part the Red Sea, allowing the Jews to escape to safety and then brings it down on the Egyptians, drowning them.

Boo-yah!  Sorry, but someone needed to bring that Pharaoh down a peg.

Anyway, I apologize if I got that story wrong but that’s the gist that’s in my mind anyway.

The Charlton Heston version provides a fairly true to the bible version.

This new version, Exodus, keeps the modern, skeptical viewer in mind.  There isn’t a whole lot of magic in the movie but rather, room to speculate and ponder.

For example, all the locusts and pestilence and kids dying could be God, or it could just all be the result of bizarre natural occurrences.  The times were bad and people lived in lousy, unsanitary conditions, so its not that surprising that a lot of kids would die or that a bunch of bugs would show up.

Moses (Bale) tells Ramses that this is all legit, that all the bad shit that’s going down is because of God.  Ramses accuses Moses of being a crazy charlatan, that he’s somehow bringing all the plagues and killing all the kids just so he can steal all his slaves.

As a viewer, you’re free to think either option.

Meanwhile, there’s no burning bush but rather, a boy who a) is definitely God who has taken the form of a boy to speak to Moses or b) a very religious boy who thinks he speaks for God or c) the result of some hallucination Moses is experiencing.  Again, your choice.

Further, the Red Sea is parted.  Moses might have done it…or it might have just been a giant tidal wave caused by super bad weather.

In other words, maybe Moses had powers and maybe he was God’s right hand man in freeing his people…or maybe Moses just lucked his way through a series of bizarre events and coincidences that made it look like he was working for God but in fact, just stumbled his way to glory.

I don’t know, man.  I wasn’t there.  All in all, it’s an interesting retelling and preserves the story for a new generation.

STATUS: Shelfworthy.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,