Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Capone (2020)

Time for a review of a modern day take on the old timey gangster movie 3.5 readers, see?

(SPOILERS)

I don’t know what to make of this movie, other than, who the hell wanted this?

Al Capone, the man who basically invented American organized crime, has been featured in films and TV shows for decades, so much so that there probably wasn’t much of a chorus of voices calling for another Capone story.

But not having much else to do, I gave it a shot.  The premise is that it takes place during the last year of Capone’s life. He’s 48 and in bad shape.  Though late forties isn’t normally the time when the average man turns into a doddering codger (at least by modern standards), Al is in poor health.  He suffers from syphilis of the brain, which has lead to strokes, which has led to declining mental health.

By the start of the film, Al has been released from his ten year stint in prison for tax evasion. He has run off to his estate in Florida with his wife and family, and is constantly annoyed by the presence of workmen who are packing up his precious statues so they can be sold, the family apparently in need of the dough.

Overall, the movie is a vehicle for Tom Hardy to flex his acting chops.  Hardy is able, through facial contortions, make-up, prosthetics and voices.  He becomes almost like a living breathing cartoon version of a gangster brought to life here.

But other than that, there isn’t much to the movie and honestly, it was a chore to watch it. I checked my clock regularly, just praying for the damn thing to end.

Plot wise?  There isn’t a lot to it.  There are occasional mentions of Al having stashed $10 million away, and sometimes various characters try to break past Al’s scrambled mind to find out where he has hidden the loot.  An old henchman played by Matt Dillon wants to find it, on the auspices that he’d like to help Al seeing as how Al and his family are in need of money, yet said henchman doesn’t exactly come across as the type of person you’d want to trust with your loot.

There’s also a doctor who is being pushed by G-Men into trying to get the info out of Al, though what the Feds have on the doc is never explained.

That’s the movie in a nutshell.  Threads are pulled but never sewn back together in the end.  The side plot about hidden money might have been interesting if it was ever explained one way or another where it is, or if it isn’t anywhere, then why.

There’s also a side plot that Al has an estranged, secret son who wants to reconnect with his father, though why the son is estranged we never know.

The climax of the film features a demented Al stalking the grounds of his Florida estate in his bathrobe and diaper, using his tommy gun to pump rounds into the workmen who have so vexed him.  You wait for the G-men who have been watching him to swoop in and arrest him but, spoiler, even that is a red herring as we learn that was just one of Al’s fever dreams.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of coughing, choking, and shit.  So much shit.  Al shits the bed. He shits his pants.  He is forced to wear adult diapers and shits those too.  I mean, though Capone is often portrayed as a Robin Hoodish folk hero, he was a gangster who killed and stole and committed atrocities for personal profit, so yeah, who gives a shit if he is left to spend his last year sitting in his own poop but holy crap…did I need to see it?

I mean, seriously, was there a great public outcry for a movie about Capone pooping in his bed?  I think not.

It is hard to watch because, setting aside that the character is Capone, it is sad, in general, how health problems can destroy the body and mind.  It just isn’t something I want to see.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy.  Hardy is skilled and talented, but I think there was a better vehicle for him.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – True Grit (1969)

Fill your hand, you 3.5 sons of bitches.

BQB here with a review of John Wayne’s best movie.

Ahh, corona. I’ve watched a lot of flicks during you that I otherwise would not have, and I have spent more time than usual with a particular old person, who has wanted to watch John Wayne non-stop after learning it is possible to do a John Wayne search on your TV now and have his whole catalog pop up.

As a film buff, my feelings on Wayne have always been mixed. I like him, and I know he was Hollywood’s first action movie star.  I watch old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies like this old person watches old John Wayne movies, and I know that without Wayne there would have been no Arnie.

That being said, to me, Wayne always came across as stiff and wooden. Maybe that was the point. He played stiff and wooden tough guys. Men who ate nails and shit iron bricks and didn’t flinch in the face of danger.

Still, maybe most of his flicks are lost on me because I’m not from that generation.

At any rate, I gave True Grit a chance and found it to be way above and beyond anything Wayne ever did and it is no surprise this film earned him his only Oscar, a surprise because he was the king of the Western genre, and for the first 50 years of Hollywood, the industry was carried by the Western.

So, what put Wayne over the top with this one?  Simple. He shows his soft underbelly here.

Wayne, I want to guess would be 60 something in this movie, is an old, curmudgeonly, one-eyed U.S. Marshall by the name of Rooster Cogburn. He lives in a Chinese shopkeeper’s spare room, the shopkeep and cat that he names General Sterling Price being his only friends.  He has no family and when he isn’t shooting at bad hombres, he crashes on a backroom bed, gets drunk and sleeps all day – a far cry from the typical white hat that Wayne usually played.

One fateful day, a teenage girl named Mattie (Kim Darby) tracks Rooster down, seeking his help in bringing villain Tom Chaney to justice. Chaney was taken in by her father as a field hand on his property only for Chaney to shoot him in a drunken stupor.

Mattie hires Cogburn to chase after the scoundrel, who has fled to “Indian Territory” or what came to be known as Oklahoma.  Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Pronounced in the film as La Beef, played by Glenn Campbell) joins forces with Cogburn, for he has also been hunting Chaney because he shot a Texas state senator prior to taking employment with Mattie’s father.

You’ve heard of an odd couple but this is an odd trio, as they are constantly at odds. Mattie is young and headstrong, long on smarts but low on experience. She backseat drives the law men, insisting on tagging along to make sure the job is done, but doesn’t know the first thing about hunting down ne’er-do-wells.  Meanwhile, LaBeouf and Cogburn trade constant jibes, a major point of animosity between them being that they served on opposite sides of the Civil War.

Young Robert Duvall plays the uber villain of the film, gang leader Lucky Ned Pepper who has taken Chaney under his protection, and a young Dennis Hopper also has a small role as a gang member.

I don’t claim to be a Wayne expert and there are people who could blow me out of the water with their Wayne knowledge, but there is a scene toward the end (SPOILER) that really humanizes both Cogburn and Wayne.

In that scene, Cogburn and Pepper are on horseback, on opposite sides of a field. Pepper has three goons with him while Cogburn is on his lonesome. Cogburn advises the hoodlums to give up, while Ned’s reply is something to the effect that he isn’t scared of a fat one-eyed marshal.  The look on Wayne’s face, that he isn’t taking that bullshit and then he says, “Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” i.e. here’s your warning to grab your gun because I’m charging.

Charge he does and I’ll leave it to you to watch it on your own for the results.

As other reviewers have noted, 1969 was a transition year for Hollywood.  Hell, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was basically an ode or lamentation about that time.  The 1960’s saw political assassinations, riots, civil rights struggles and a seemingly endless quagmire in Vietnam and Americans, as a result, were feeling less than willing to accept hokey, put a smile on your face drek from Hollywood.

This film does have its hokeyness, for sure, but it does tip a toe into that “grittiness” (pun intended) in that Wayne plays an anti-hero, someone you probably wouldn’t want to trust or invite into your home yet you need to pat him on the back because the job called for an SOB and he won against Pepper using his SOB skills.

And he got a much deserved Oscar for it, for going out of his comfort zone. Cogburn isn’t one of the vast array of squeaky clean heroes that Wayne has played. He’s a chubby, booze swilling, falling down drunk who seems rather annoyed that anyone ask him to do his job unless extra reward money is offered above and beyond his salary.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  The 2010 remake isn’t bad either, but as a film buff, it is cool to watch Wayne play against type and seemingly have fun do it.

SIDENOTE: Obviously, there is stuff that wouldn’t hold up today. There’s a part that creeps me out, where La Beouf tells Mattie that he had been thinking about stealing a kiss from Mattie even though she’s young and not pretty but now he wants to spank her.  A grown ass man telling an underage girl that a) he wants to kiss her but b) he wants to kiss her without her consent c) he is withholding the forced kiss as a punishment for her backsass as if his unwanted kiss would have been some kind of treat d) that she should be thrilled that anyone would kiss her because she isn’t pretty, like he’d be doing her a favor, e) that he wants to spank her i.e. perform corporal punishment on her….I mean, holy crap, that whole line is just gross. So gross.  I know it takes place in 1880 but holy shit, even then I think someone might have told La Beouf that he’s an effing pervert.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – The Dream Team (1989)

Hit the road, 3.5 readers.

This flick was on all the time when I was a kid and now, as an adult, it mostly holds up.

When a psychiatrist decides to spring four of his group therapy patients from an asylum for the mentally ill to go to a baseball game in New York City, what could possibly go wrong?

Turns out, a lot. I mean, holy shit. In retrospect, Dr. Weitzman (Dennis Boutsikaris) was really bad at his job. Maybe this is why asylums don’t have field trips.

Billy (Michael Keaton) is a pathological liar with violent tendencies. Henry (Christopher Lloyd) is an obsessive-compulsive. He cannot stand disarray of any kind and if something is slightly amiss, he lets the perpetrator have it.  So addicted to order is he that he actually dons a lab coat and deputizes himself as an unofficial psychiatrist, taking notes on all the infractions committed by his fellow inmates and submitting reports to the facility’s actual shrinks.

Jack (Peter Boyle) is an ex advertising executive who had it all, but walked away from it one day when he began believing that he was Jesus Christ, reborn again in human form.

And finally, Albert (Stephen Furst) is mostly catatonic, unable to communicate unless he speaks in the manner of baseball commentator Phil Rizzuto.

The plot thickens when, on the way to the game, the good doctor is jumped in an alley upon witnessing a murder.  After he is rushed to the hospital in an unconscious state, the four mental patients become the obvious prime suspects, and from thereon, it is a mad dash for them to nab the real culprits, clear their names, and save the doc’s life, as they learn the killers (including a young James Remar who you may know as Dexter’s dad) plan to visit the doc in the hospital to rub him out so as to make sure that no witnesses to their crime are left.

This is a movie that probably wouldn’t fly today as it makes fun of the mentally ill, though ironically, even today, horror films abound where the villain is someone with a mental illness they couldn’t have avoided.

Meanwhile, once you get past all the jokes that goof on this quartet and their mental challenges, the film actually becomes somewhat of a touching cautionary tale.  Often in flicks, there’s a backstory, a chilling tale behind how someone flipped their lid. Here, these are just men who, for whatever reason, were just living normal lives when they just up and lost it one day. Billy had a girlfriend that he reconnects with (a young Lorraine Bracco before she began treating Tony Soprano).  Harry had a wife and kid before he became difficult to live with.  We never learn why Albert can’t speak, but Jack had a life too.

And sure while there often is a single moment that someone can point to as the creation of all their problems, just as often, there isn’t. Sometimes people just have mental breakdowns.  The mind breaks down, just as a vital organ breaks down.

None of these men are quote unquote “bad,” they’re just sick.  (Although, to be honest, Billy is probably one massive freakout away from committing an actual crime). A tender hearted moment where Henry stops by his old house to ask his wife for help and realizes he could one day move back home if he could just learn to control his OCD is touching.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Oh and there’s a sad reference where Billy points to the twin towers and lies about being the head architect on the project, and that it was his idea to built a second tower. Damn you, Al Qaeda!

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Quick Change (1990)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB’s corona movie marathon continues.

I loved this movie as a kid. If you’ve never seen or heard of it, you’re in for a treat. In fact, you should drop what you are doing and stop reading this and go watch it and then come back. If you read on then without seeing it, the surprise will be spoiled for you.

Ok, for those who stayed, Bill Murray stars as Grimm, a NYC city planner and ultimately, an average guy who, with the help of his girlfriend, Phyllis (Gina Davis) and longtime friend, Loomis (Randy Quaid) rob a bank.

The opening bank robbery scene is clever, hysterical and full of twists, so again, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it.

Ironically, while the bank robbery is a success, the trio have the worst time making a getaway. Loomis is jarringly stupid and that stupidity catches up with them, but on top of that, the city conspires against them at every turn.  Their goal is to catch a flight to the Caribbean, but mobsters, gun wielding citizens, muggers, cab drivers who are terrible at their jobs, incompetent city workers who don’t know how to put up directional signs, bus drivers who demand exact change and convenience store owners who won’t give change unless they buy something are among the many challenges they must face as what should be a quick trip to the airport turns into a night long nightmare.

As if that isn’t enough, they are being chased by legendary police chief Walt Rotzinger (Jason Robards) a veteran lawman with reputation for always getting his man.

The cool thing about this movie is you end up rooting for both sides. While in reality, you should never root for someone to get away with a crime, it is hard not to, on a fictional level, root for Grimm and friends to make their escape because these are not hardened criminals but rather, just a trio of average schmoes who up and said screw it one day and decided to cheat a system that has long been cheating them.

On the other hand, retirement looms large on Rotzinger’s mind, and though he has successfully closed a number of historic, headline grabbing cases, he fears that if he does not nab this robber (a robber who dressed like a clown gets a lot of media attention), the press will have a field day and his career will have been for naught.

I’ve always thought this movie didn’t get as much credit as it deserved. Murray tends to be remembered for his franchises like Ghostbusters, or one and dones like Groundhog Day or What About Bob but if it hasn’t gotten it already, this one deserves your attention.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Wrong Missy (2020)

Careful what you text, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the Netflix comedy, “The Wrong Missy.”

Adam Sandler and friends, his coterie of 90s era comedians who usually do his Happy Madison production company movies, have had their share of hits and misses, and sadly, in recent years, its been more misses. Their style of comedy (silliness for the sake of silliness without much else thrown in) has by and large gone the way of the dodo, and we can have a debate over whether or not that’s a good thing another time.

This one is a hit.  That’s my opinion, but its topping the charts of Netflix’s offerings today, it’s release day on the streaming service. I think eventually, people will agree.

It’s got two things that Sandler’s flicks have been lacking during their last few (eh, make that several) outings – heart, and actual laughs.

David Spade plays Tim, a brokenhearted bank executive who has given up on love, unable to get over a breakup with ex-fiance Julia (Sarah Chalke). One night, he goes on a blind date Melissa #1 – (Lauren Lupkus of Orange is the New Black Fame who I always confuse with comedienne Kristen Schaal, so much so that I wonder if Kristen and Lauren’s agents are in a perpetual war over who can race to get their client any and all roles that call for a crazy, wild eyed brunette.)

Anyway.  That blind date doesn’t go well, for many wacky reasons but the chief one that comes to mind is that she carries a Crocodile Dundee sized knife in her purse and whips it out often, threatening to use it willy nilly.

Tim brushes Missy #1 off as a psycho, but while in an airport one day, he meets the woman of his dreams, also named Missy, or Melissa (Molly Simms) when he and she mix up their bags at the airport.

Long story short, Tim, urged by BFF Nick Swardson, texts his preferred Melissa with an invited to come on his company retreat to Hawaii. only to be aghast when “The Wrong Melissa” shows up on the flight instead.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. This Melissa is nuts. Tim’s job is at stake because his boss is basically using the retreat as a means to choose between Tim and another candidate for a promotion but Melissa can’t stop saying and doing crude, obscene things and the rest is history.

I think one of the better decisions made with this movie is that Spade cancelled his “I just like to rag on everyone even though deep down inside I wish I was them but I can’t because even though I’m awesome on the inside I’m short on the outside” routine.

Instead, Spade plays Tim as the straight man, the foil to Melissa’s absurdity.

Indeed, there’s plenty of room for criticism. Spade, God help me, is 55 now, and less well preserved, less famous and less wealthy men of his age generally grab hold onto whatever they can get, whereas in this film, Spade is juggling two Melissas as well as his ex who begins to wonder if she missed out on something good if all these Melissas are after her ex’s hanglow.

But Lupkus shoots a cannon in the name of this film’s self awareness at that age difference early in the movie, saying, “What are you? 65? I don’t care.”

I’ve checked some other reviews and the criticism is fairly standard.  Spade should be playing opposite some age appropriate women and how dare Melissa #2 be presented as the end all be all just because she’s uber beautiful.

Part of me wants to point out that old rich men are able to land hot younger women because, all arguments about equality aside, men tend to be more attracted to beauty while women tend to be more attracted to security (the biggest cavemen thousands of years ago, or the man with the biggest wallet today.)

That of course, doesn’t apply universally and it probably doesn’t even apply here. Hollywood wants those hot babes on screen, whereas male actors can be schlubs (although ladies if you think you have it hard trying to live up to Hollywood standards of beauty, try competing with the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine if you’re a man and ok…I’ll be quiet now).

If this is a spoiler, then so be it, but what I did like about this movie is it didn’t go the road that rom coms usually go in when a main characters is forced to choose between two love interests. Inevitably, the writers always make the decision for the character, making one of the interests do something so awful and unforgivable that the choice becomes clear.

Technically, that doesn’t happen here. Spade has to make a choice between two women he loves and he makes it….though you do have to suspend your grip on reality to believe that a successful businessman is going to choose a woman who force feeds him dog tranquilizers and speaks in devilish tongues as part of a she’s so quirky routine would not just go for the demure Miss USA contestant.

Lauren Lupkus is great in this and hopefully Hollywood will take further notice.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Watch John Wick for Free on Lionsgate Live

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just wanted to pass it along – in about, oh 20 minutes by my clock, there’s a free screening of John Wick on Lionsgate Live.  Apparently, Lionsgate has been showing one of their movies every Friday night, and asking for donations from viewers to help movie theater employees who have been furloughed due to COVID-19

So, I know there’s only 3.5 of you, but if any of you haven’t seen it yet or want to see it again, John Wick is a great movie worth checking out.

I do worry about the future of the movie theater industry. Going to see a movie in the theater was one of my favorite things, but with streaming services on the rise, and now the shutdown, plus Hollywood postponing the release dates of movies that should have been out now, well, let’s hope this among many other problems will be solved and soon.

https://lionsgate.live/

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – The Birds (1963)

Watch out for those birds, 3.5 readers

You’ve probably seen bits and pieces of this movie over the years, but in case you haven’t, spoiler alert.  I’m working my way through Peacock’s Hitchcock collection (say that five times fast) and you should too, so if you don’t want the chills and thrills ruined, look away, go watch, then come back.)

On the surface, this movie sounds like crap. Somehow, it isn’t. Frankly, as I watch it, I see how it builds practically every horror movie trope that modern horror takes for granted today. Hitchcock is to the American horror film what Poe was to the American horror story (as in scary lit, not the TV series.)

A young, wayward and wealthy socialite party girl, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hendren) meets a handsome and successful lawyer, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) by chance in a pet shop in San Francisco.  Hoping a romance might blossom, Melanie arranges for the pet shop to obtain and sell her the “love birds” that Mitch was looking for but unable to find as a present for his young sister. Melanie then drives up the coast to the small, seaside town of Bodega Bay to deliver the feathered friends.

Once in Bodega Bay, a romance indeed blooms between Melanie and Mitch, but alas, this gets fucked up when birds start freaking the hell out, first singling out Melanie as their victim, then turning their beaks on the populace.

The effects, by today’s standards, are silly, though I imagine in 1963, they were some truly scary shit.  I actually found the scenes without effects to be scarier. There’s one scene in particular where Melanie goes to Mitch’s sister, Cathy’s school to check on the girl. As Melanie sits on a bench and has a smoke, waiting for class to let out, she slowly realizes that the birds are slowly but surely landing on and hanging out on the playground – perching on the monkey bars, the swing set.  These birds aren’t just resting their feet, they’re casing the joint, ready to strike.

In another scene, the birds manage to cause a gas pump to leak across the street, when an unsuspecting man is lighting a smoke and kaboom!  The street erupts in a line of fire, cutting off the townsfolk from fleeing their vile beaks.  Yup. The birds are intelligent. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If you came for explanations, there are none to be found here. At times, there are possible hints. It all starts when Melanie arrives, but if its because of her or a coincidence, we never know for sure, and if it is because of her, we never learn why the birds hate her so much.

I briefly flirted with the idea that somehow, Mitch’s mother, Lydia (played by a middle-aged Jessica Tandy, the youngest I’ve ever seen her) controls the birds with her mind. She is one of those smothering mothers who detests the idea of their son getting married and spending his time with anyone else (combine this with Psycho and I wonder if Hitchcock had mother issues) but its not that either.

We never know why the birds go postal, though I imagine if there is ever a modern remake, it will be due to climate change.  The birds will peck the shit out of humans because they are tire of the sky they fly in being polluted.  Who can blame them, really?

What you will see in this movie is, to the best of my knowledge, a lot of firsts. A better movie buff might disagree, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the film that has the first scene where the heroes have boarded up their house and the baddies are trying to break in (you wouldn’t have all those movies with zombie fists punching through boarded up windows if Hitchcock didn’t have all those beaks pecking through the walls first), the first movie where a character walks upstairs despite common sense telling you that in a house siege, you want to be as close to an exit as possible (sigh, some dude in a 1963 movie theater was probably the first audience member to yell, ‘No! Don’t go up there, bitch!”) and overall, its the first horror film, or at least the first I can recall, where something bad is happening, the explanation is outlandish, the heroes try to warn but are laughed off as idiots until sure enough, the rest of the masses have come to find out that outlandish explanation is true.

Hitchcock took a lot of risks here. Killer birds is a stupid idea today, so it must have been considered absurdly stupid in 1960s.  But he took the chance and it paid off. Ironically, this isn’t just one of the earliest and best standard setting horror movies, it is also, IMO the forerunner of movies like Sharknado – i.e. if you run with a ridiculous premise long enough the audience will eventually suspend disbelief long enough to see where you’re going with it.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  And if you want to be cheered up, you’ll be happy to know that Tippi Hedren is still alive! Yes, as I watched, I was sad, thinking, boy, everyone in this movie has probably croaked but sure enough, Tippi, at 90, lives.  The birds remain no match for her.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Psycho (1960)

Stay out of the shower, 3.5 readers.

BQB here, still checking out Peacock’s Alfred Hitchcock collection as I wait for corona lockdown to wind down.

It’s funny, I’ve seen the original movie, but I and I bet most people know the gist of the story.  I did see the 1990s remake and I recall bits and pieces of the 1980s sequels and of course, the movie has been parodied extensively, especially that shower scene.  Honestly, who among us hasn’t had a moment where we are taking a shower alone and take an extra peak out the shower curtain just to make sure no one’s trying to slice and dice us?

The plot? Marion Crane and her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (Janet Leigh and John Gavin) are very much in love. Unfortunately, they can’t get married because of money woes – Sam has to pay his ex wife so much alimony that he can’t afford to care for a new wife, and it is 1960, so they just can’t openly bang, they have to sneak around and bang in seedy motels lest they get labeled by the public as unsavory ne’er-do-well unmarried bangers.

In a moment of weakness, Marion does a bad thing. Though she’s lived a relatively good life, when he boss asks her to deposit a customer’s $40,000 cash in the bank, she gives in to temptation and skips town with the loot. While on the run from the law, she checks in to an old, dumpy hotel aka the Bates Motel and the rest is super scary history.

If there was ever a reason to wish you were around in 1960 (let’s not delve into a discussion of the many reasons why you wouldn’t want to be) it would be to be a member of the original audience when this flick was shown the first time.  Since it is embedded in the pop culture, you pretty much know what’s going to happen from the start, but people who saw it for the first time must have literally crapped their pants.

Hitchcock pulls the rug out from his audience many times. First, it seems like the film is going to mostly be about Marion and what she is going to do with her ill gotten gains. Then she’s ganked by Norman Bates’ mother in the shower and then the film changes gears, making you feel bad for Norman, that he’s this poor young man, stuck in a shitty life, having to take care of his miserable pain in the ass mother who bosses him around all day and even worse, pulls off the ultimate cockblock by stabbing the shit out of any woman who gives Norman the time of day.

Spoiler alert if you’ve been living under a rock: the film changes gears yet again when we learn that Norman, as the title suggests, is a psycho, and that he has been impersonating his mother, who has been dead for years.

What a movie.  It’s funny, take all of today’s CGI, all the special effects, and this movie is scarier.  The music (ree ree ree!) is scary, the plot is scary, and I mean, really, what is scarier than the idea of getting stabbed in the shower?

I mean, holy shit.  Think about it. You’re butt naked. There’s water and soap in your eyes. There’s a frigging plastic sheet that’s going to get wet and cling to you when you try to move. When the killer gets in front of the shower, you’re trapped in an enclosed space…holy shit. Hitchcock really put a lot of thought into this shit.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, and its funny, I only knew Anthony Perkins as an older actor, but it was interesting to see him so young here, and there are times before the story unravels where you really feel sorry for him.

I get that today we’re trying to not demonize those with mental illness. That guy is crazy is therefore evil is a double edged sword in film because, you know, feeling bad for the guy trying to stab the shit out of you doesn’t lead to your shit being less stabbed out of you.  Its still scary.

Hitchcock spins a lot of plates and they all land successfully.  How we all think we are good until we reach that one moment where we are tempted by a certain set of circumstances to do wrong. How we fear being trapped by circumstances, torn between wanting to be happy and wanting to please our families. How you never know when you might be trying to hose down your junk only for a crazy ass bastard to do some ginsu action on your ass.  Egads.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Bernie (2011)

What if someone committed a murder and no one cared, 3.5 readers?

It’s the 1990s and assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is the most beloved citizen of the small town of Carthage, Texas. An unmarried man in his late 30s, Tiede excels at giving the dearly departed the best funerals possible, and finds a legion of adoring fans in the form of the town’s elderly widows who leaned on him after their husbands passed.

Rumored, though not proven, at least in the movie, to be gay, Bernie prefers the company of old women, often befriending them and squiring them around town.  The movie is shot in a documentary style, and as the interviewed residents note, the area is quite conservative, so if Bernie had been gay, he would have most likely kept it to himself out of fear of public reprisal.  Then again, he may very well have been a straight man who liked to hang out with old chicks. The movie never tells, and I’m too lazy to look it up on my own and yes, this is based on a true story.

The most ornery widow of all was Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine).  Her late husband was loaded and she meets Bernie after his passing.  Literally everyone in town despises the old buzzard, as she goes out of her way to insult and push people away, especially in her role as the owner of the town bank, where her favorite hobby is turning down loans.

Bernie and Margie became unlikely friends. Marge, having ample financial resources, whisks Bernie away on international travel, and Bernie, though he claims to just trying to be a good friend to the old woman, clearly enjoys being spoiled rotten by her generosity.

In fact, he enjoys it too much, for he takes Margie up on an offer to cut his hours at the funeral home down to part time, so that he can devote the rest of his time to being her personal manservant. Though she is generous on Bernie with gifts and money, she is also controlling and domineering, obscenely jealous of every second he spends away from her.  Though he’s the only one around willing to speak to her (her entire family refuses to talk to her because she’s so mean) she insults and harangue’s Bernie incessantly, minor screwups in fulfilling her commands become fodder for her to dump on him endlessly.

One day, in the midst of one of Margie’s temper tantrums, Bernie snaps and loses it, grabbing a rifle usually used for garden varmint control and shooting the old lady dead.

He immediately regrets it, but his attempts to cover it up show he is no master criminal. Alas, he throws the poor old woman in a chest freezer, tells everyone who asks that she had to be checked into a nursing home due to a stroke, and then goes wild with her money, not on himself, but on the community, donating the old woman’s money to every cause and charity and helping those in need.

All this good will, under the auspices of it being wished by Margie but carried out by Bernie at her command, seems out of character for the old skinflint, and naturally, townsfolk take notice until Bernie is caught.

Ah, but the rub is, sadly, when Bernie is caught. no one cares, except for DA Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey.)

The Mattster has been in a lot of great roles, but this is a great performance lost to the ages because the film was just not that popular. Buck, who as a politician, is a masterful headline grabber, but his interest in pursuing justice in this case is genuine. As Buck is harassed by townsfolk all day who want to know why he can’t just let Bernie off the hook, Buck, in the movie’s best line, tells one angry resident that if she were ever to be shot four times and shoved in a freezer, wouldn’t she want someone to care about her?

Overall, the movie is a good study of personality, how in many ways, it is everything, but also, the value of life i.e. isn’t the life of even a not-nice person valuable?  Did Bernie have a one time freak out that could have happened to anyone given the right set of circumstances, or is there a monster under the surface, one that could kill again if left unchecked?

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  I know comedies rarely get Oscar recognition but if Black was ever to get some Oscar love it would have/should have been for this.

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Movie Review – Bad Education (2019)

Talk about being hoisted on your own petard, 3.5 readers.

Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is a superhero of a superintendent, having taken the once lowly Rosslyn school district in New York all the way to being the #4th highest ranked district in NY state. He does this by handling himself like a politician – fancy suits, plastic surgery, lots of glad handing, lots of charm, all designed to garner public support and get his initiatives done.

The town’s politicians couldn’t be happier, as the school’s high status has caused property values to skyrocket with lots of wealthy folk willing to move to town so their kids can attend the school system, willing to make the longer commute in NYC just to do so.

Thus, if you owned property in Rosslyn prior to all this, and then saw your property value go up, you made a lot of money, ergo, the community is pretty much willing to rubber stamp anything their rock star superintendent wants.

Tassone’s achievements are great that he’s been interviewed all across the media, newspapers and television, and his wall is lined with photos of himself being congratulated by celebrities.

All this comes crashing down because…he had to go and encourage a student. That’s what any good educator does, right? Part of his routine is to urge students to do their best, so when high school newspaper reporter Rachel interviews him for what she refers to as a “puff piece,” about a skywalk project that would lead to the construction of an 8 million dollar walkway to connect school properties, Tassone encourages her to think bigger, to give the story her all.

Rachel, who at first, never took her participation in the paper seriously, seeing it as just an elective hoop to jump through, rolls up her sleeves and starts digging, all the way until she uncovers the most massive school embezzlement scandal in US history.

I can’t help but think that Tassone wishes he’d just allowed Rachel to stick with her phone it in attitude.  Instead, Rachel learns that the superintendent has created multiple phony companies, charging off big bucks for expenses the district never incurred, using the money instead for his personal benefit, plastic surgery being the most expensive of his vices.

Believe it or not, this is the school’s second embezzlement scandal. The first involves Asst. Supt. Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney), Tassone’s right hand who has embezzled plenty of her own. When she is caught, town fathers, led by School Committee President Bob Spicer (Ray Romano doing some serious dramatic acting) are talked into sweeping it under the rug by Tassone, who argues the kids will be unfairly punished when all the school’s awards and accolades are taken away.

Alas, once Spicer and the school board agree to make it all go away quietly, they essentially become complicit, and look like fools asleep at the switch when Tassone’s malfeasance is discovered.

Oddly enough, as bad as these actions are, the filmmakers manage to still make you feel bad for Tassone. He is, very much like a politician and expected to do a politician’s work but lack’s a politician’s resources to pay for it all. You can’t be ugly and shoddy looking when you give rousing speeches on behalf of your school district, after all. Eh, but then you are snapped back into reality when you see that school buildings are falling apart while he’s getting facelifts on the taxpayer’s dime.

Kudos to the teenage reporter who dug it all up first, beating the state and national media to the punch.

STATUS: Shelfworthy. A bit dry, boring at times, though the scandal itself is salacious, the details behind it are yawn inducing, so I give credit to the film makers for making scenes about a kid pouring through mounds of financial documents fun.

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