Tag Archives: Movies

Movie Review – Coffee and Kareem (2020)

This movie is just awful.  I really can’t say enough bad things about it.

On the surface, it seems like it would be good, because it has a lot of good actors in it.  Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson, Betty Gilpin, David Alan Grier.

But just as pizza, ice cream, orange juice, and Mountain Dew all taste good on their own, they are destined to explode into a pile of crap when you put them together.

The plot, if you can call it one, is that Ed Helms (Officer Coffee, given that unlikely name for no reason other than to create a catchy buddy comedy movie title)  is dating Vanessa, the mother of the rambunctious and foul mouthed 12 year old, Kareem (Terrence Gardenhigh.)

Long story short, Kareem witnesses a murder, Coffee gets framed for it, and its a madcap romp to fight the bad guys and score the evidence that will get Coffee off the hook.

It sounds simple enough yet, it all falls apart at a comedic level.  I don’t know when it became popular for kids to say raunchy things in movies.  I’ve noticed it as a growing trend more and more in movies over the past decade.  Someone, somewhere decided it would be funny to have a kid swear and say naughty things and then movies just kept upping the game, having kids swear more, saying naughtier things until you have this travesty.

Feel free to disagree, but I just think that having kids being foul mouthed for the camera is just gross, a stupid gimmick that Hollywood should have had enough decency to have never gotten involved with in the first place.  How do none of the adults behind this movie not say, “Hey, kids shouldn’t be saying such terrible things and we shouldn’t make one do it for the camera?”

To be honest, I was going to switch it off in the first 20 minutes and I only stuck with it because of Betty Gilpin, who I think is an underrated national treasure, but even she couldn’t save this mess.

I don’t know what else to say.  Rarely do I give a bad review, but Netflix should give subscribers a free month and a formal apology for making this crap.

STATUS: NOT SHELF WORTHY.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Night Hawks (1981)

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Hey 3.5 readers.

As an aficionado of 1980s action flicks, as well as everything Stallone, I was shocked to find this movie starring Stallone and Billy Dee Williams as two cops chasing a terrorist, Rutger Hauer as Wulfgar.

So, I watched it and I have to say, overall I was impressed.  It has a degree of seriousness, almost in the vein of “Day of the Jackal” where a London based terrorism expert moves to NYC to educate Stallone and Williams on how to track Wulfgar, that this cunning sociopath is a master of disguise and deception and could be anywhere at any time.

The key plot point is that Stallone, as a cop, is also a master of disguise and deception.  The film begins with an old woman about to get mugged.  She kicks the muggers’ asses, and rips off her mask to reveal that she is Stallone and Billy Dee jumps out of the shadows to provide backup.

My main complaint is about halfway through the film, the subterfuge or cat and mouse angle of the film is blown and it goes from an understated mystery thriller to an all out action flick.  At the beginning, I thought the point was Stallone was going to lull Wulfgar into a trap, but he just goes at him guns a blazing.

Still, there are some riveting action scenes, as well as some prophetic discussions of terrorism and how terrorists operate that seem eerily accurate post-9/11.

Ironically, I think with a few tweaks and perhaps a more serious title, this film could have gone down as one of the great ones.  Instead, it became lost, at least to me, until I found it on Netflix and only then I was on a coronavirus inspired deep Netflix dive.

And I’ll give it this – the ending makes the whole thing.  I don’t want to give it away, but it really is a great, unexpected, and redeeming ending.

STATUS: Shelfworthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Tootsie (1982)

Hey 3.5 readers.

So I’ve been watching movies to pass the time during the coronavirus outbreak, and last night I settled on Tootsie on Netflix.  It’s funny how movies you saw as a kid come across differently to you as an adult all these years later.

Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an actor with immense talent who can’t get steady work because he’s an unwavering perfectionist, refusing to obey the most basic commands of his directors if he disagrees with them.

When his friend, Sandy, a fellow thespian (Terri Garr) auditions for and is denied a part as a hospital administrator on a soap opera, Southwest General, Michael, desperate for money to produce his roomate’s play (Bill Murray as Jeff) decides on a lark to don a dress and wig and try out for the part, introducing herself as actress Dorothy Michaels.

Miraculously, he nails it and while the rest of the women on the show are portrayed as brainless females who swoon at the first sign of male authority, she plays the part as a tough talking, no nonsense feminist.

A star is born, but along the way, Michael will have to figure out his feelings for co-star Julie (Jessica Lange) who only knows him as her BFF Dorothy, and fight off advances from Julie’s father and a male costar.

It’s interesting to watch the film in the light of the MeToo era.  There’s a point in the film where Michael confides in Jeff that being a woman is exhausting, that he has to spend his money on countless products just to look pretty, and that all day long, he’s fending off men who are trying to force themselves on her.  Maybe all men should have to walk a mile in Tootsie’s heels.  (Tootsie being an unflattering name the chauvinist director Dabney Coleman gives her.)

There are some things that don’t hold up in modern times.  Men who learn they have kissed a man pretending to be a woman are horrified.  Julie’s father openly states that the only reason he never killed Michael is because the two didn’t kiss.  While these sentiments would likely be felt even today by a straight male who kisses a woman who is, in fact, a man, the looks of panic and horror wouldn’t be appreciated on film.

And of course, it’s important to note to these men that “Dorothy” never tried to kiss any of them.  Pervs.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Coronavirus E-Mails

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Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here, hunkering down in BQB HQ as we ride out the coronavirus pandemic.  Don’t worry about me.  I’m fit as a fiddle.  COUGH COUGH!  Whoa?  Is that phlegm or a Jackson Pollock painting?

Anyway.  Fun fact about the social media age.  Literally, everyone is an epidemiologist know, and everyone has an opinion they want to share, immediately, directly to you, right away.

Worse, every company I have ever given my e-mail address to wants to tell me what they are doing about the coronavirus.  In case you haven’t received these missives, allow me to summarize:

  • My preferred pizza parlor wants me to know that if I so desire, I can choose the “no contact delivery” option while placing my order, and the driver will set the pizza down on my stoop, ring the doorbell, and then run away, really fast, with his arms flailing about, to and fro as he screams about how we are all doomed and the end times are here.  For five dollars more, I can get the super extra no contact delivery, which means the driver will slow down to 30 mph and throw the pizza out his window, allowing it to splatter all over my front door.  I tried this once and found the pizza box on my front lawn, while the pepperoni ended up on the grass and the cheese was in my neighbor’s rose bush.  Not the best way to eat a pie, but the good news is, I am coronavirus free.

 

  • My local car dealership wants me to know that if I want to test drive a new car, I can do it online.  They have some type of app where I can virtually drive the new car off the lot, virtually wince as the sticker value decreases by half, virtually get cut off in traffic, and virtually get honked at when the light turns green and I wait one fraction of a second to hit the virtual gas because the honker, as you know, is a very important person and needs to get where he is going right away.  He is probably on his way to a meeting where he will announce his invention of a device that will cure global warming and not just some ass hat on his way to buy a bag of Fritos and a gallon of Mr. Pibb.  Oh, and if I need any service done on my car, I can choose the no contact service option.  That’s right.  I can just point the car at the dealership parking lot, slow down to like 10 mph and jump out at the last minute before the car rams into a brick wall and sure, the car will need major body work after that buy hey, there was no contact…with other humans.

 

  • My favorite big box store emailed to let me know they have spritz down everything in the store with sanitary goo, as opposed to the years and years where this goo was not applied and I was allowed to shop in what essentially was a steaming cauldron of airborne fecal matter.  Also, they are working overtime to make sure that additional rainforests are being chopped down so that all the nervous nellies out there can fill their basements with toilet paper, because, God fordbid the apocalypse comes and you might have to wipe your ass with a leaf or a newspaper or a magazine or your neighbor’s cat or something.

 

  • My movie theater wants me to know that they are selling only half the seats because they don’t want it on their conscience if anyone catches the coronavirus while watching such masterpiece works like “Brahms: The Boy Part 2” or that Fantasy Island reboot where someone thought it would be a good idea to bring a lighthearted 70s romp into a horror movie.  It’s probably due to the coronavirus and not because everyone was already at home watching Netflix anyway.

 

  • My florist will also offer a no contact delivery option.  If I want to cheer up the special lady in my life, they’ll be happy to fill a cannon full of daffodils and shoot it at her front door.

 

  • Finally, my psychotherapist emailed to tell me the joke’s on him, for all these years, it turns out I was right about social distancing, and everyone was so very, very wrong.

Have you received any fun coronavirus emails from your favorite places of business, 3.5 readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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Movie Review – Bloodshot (2020)

Hey 3.5 readers.  Your old pal BQB here, braving the Coronavirus so you don’t have to.

Also here with a review of Bloodshot.

Hollywood has mined so much gold out of the Marvel and DC universes that they’re turning to the lesser known Valiant comics.  Did you even know they existed?  You’re not a true nerd if you didn’t.  Could this be the start of a Valiant comic cinematic universe?

Anyway, Vin Diesel plays Ray Garrison, a soldier who dies in battle and is resurrected by a team of scientists.  He now benefits from nano-tech in his blood, which reconstitutes his flesh in seconds after he is shot, stabbed, injured or what have you.  Looks cool on screen.

From there, he joins a group of ex-soldiers who have all died and been brought back in larger than life ways thanks to technology.

I have to admit, for the first half-hour or so, the film seemed pretty basic.  Not dull but not really grabbing me.  However, without delving into spoilers, a surprise twist occurs that left me on the edge of my seat for the rest of the film.  I thought it was clever and worth watching as the twists and turns keep coming at a rapid clip after that.

I’m sad critics don’t seem to agree and unfortunately audiences might not get to vote with sales due to the pandemic.  However, I hope word of mouth spreads because I think it is a great flick that could be the start of an awesome franchise for Diesel.  Obviously, he’s done great with Fast and Furious, though attempts to double that momentum with Riddick fizzled.  I think he’s got something here with Bloodshot though the critics disagree.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Way Back (2020)

Booze and hoops.  Booze and hopes.

BQB here with a review of the Ben Affleck drama, “The Way Back.”

 

It’s a story we’ve seen again and again in a film.  A curmudgeonly coach takes on a new team.  He’s doubtful at first but as he gets to know the kids, he learns they are winners and just need someone to guide them.  He provides that guidance and in doing so, finds his own redemption.

That essences is here, and yet…not.  This isn’t the Bad News Bears.  There’s no humor and there’s no schmaltz.  Alcoholism has gripped Affleck’s Jack Cunningham in its icy hand and it is not letting go without a knock down, drag out fight.  From the booze he hides in his office to the cases upon cases that fill his fridge, Jack is a rummy through and through.  We see how this disease weighs him down, tearing his life apart, destroying his relationship with his family and making it nearly impossible for him to find any real meaning.

There’s no overnight miracle here.  Coaching the kids helps and Jack finds he isn’t as useless on the court as he is in most areas of life.  But there’s no happy, feel good moment where Jack pours out the hooch, quits cold turkey and becomes the greatest coach of all time.  As any recovering addict will tell you, fighting that monkey on your back is a daily grind, and this film shows that grind in all its gross glory.

This film might have also been about Affleck exercising his own demons.  Affleck has spoken publicly about his own battle with alcohol.  Jack has to come to grips with his divorce and estrangement from his wife, and Affleck has said publicly that he regrets his divorce Jennifer Garner.  In fact, coping with regret is a big part of the film – accepting what we cannot change, learning how to improve upon our mistakes where we can, learning how to not tear ourselves apart over the proverbial spilt milk where we can’t.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  It’s a decent film.  Not something I’d watch over and over.  Not something that’s Oscar bound.  Affleck exercises his dramatic chops and it might give you some food to thought if you’re battling your own demons.  Other than that, I wouldn’t call it a good or bad movie, just somewhere in the middle.

 

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Movie Review – Spenser Confidential (2020)

“Hawk is the name of a motherfucker with a cool gun.  Spenser is the name of the guy who does your taxes.”

I might have mangled that line, but it’s the closest approximation I can remember from a scene in the new Netflix movie.  Mark Wahlberg is reviving the 1980s Boston based private detective TV show based on the series of novels by Robert Parker.  Winston Duke of Black Panther fame plays his trusty sidekick, and the line above is from a part where the dynamic duo squabble over who gets to wield the coolest gun in a shootout with nefarious ne’er-do’wells.

The setup?  Spenser went to prison 5 years ago for kicking his Captain’s ass.  So frustrated was he with his captain’s corruption and unable to prove anything that would stick, he resorted to violence and paid the price.

5 years later, he’s been released and is trying to get his life back on track.  His friend, Henry (Alan Arkin) who trained him in his gym, gives him a place to stay, allowing him to room with Hawk, a fighter he is training.

Spenser is about to leave Boston for good, saying goodbye to his old life of fighting crime, choosing to be a truck driver instead when the captain whose ass he kicked is murdered and a good cop is framed for the deed.

Unable to put himself over his need to do the right thing, Spenser recruits Hawk to help him on a quest to bring down the baddies and clear a good cop’s name.

There’s action.  Thrills.  Dogs.  Lots of dogs.  Marc Maron stops by as a blogger willing to spread tales of Spenser’s daring do.

Comedienne Ilza Schlesinger doesn’t just steal the show as Spenser’s perpetually angry ex-girlfriend, Cissy  She hijacks it and comes back for more and more.  Angry at Spenser one second for his refusal to think of himself and let crimes go unsolved one second, loves him and wants to support him the next.  A scene where she points out that Spenser, Hawk and Henry are basically three grown adults trying to play Batman is particularly funny.

The movie is worth watching and it also sets up a formula.  Spenser can step into the role of a private eye now, being a man who really wants to settle down and have a normal life, yet knows how to solve crimes and can’t sit by while injustice is afoot.  Hawk provides the muscle while Henry and Cissy stop by for comic relief.

Hopefully, this will be the start of a series.  I could seeing it being a TV show, though perhaps Wahlberg is too big for that.  A film series that builds on the formula could be interesting.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Parasite (2019)

Get lots of references for your new hires, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of this Oscar Winner for Best Picture.

I know a lot of people won’t watch movies with subtitles, not out of an aversion to foreign films but because if they want to watch a movie, they don’t want to read.

I get it and I admit, the subject matter really has to intrigue me to watch a subtitled movie.  Ultimately, to read the subtitles requires a lot of concentration.  You can’t do other things during the movie, and you definitely can’t get up to take a wizz or microwave a chimichanga.

Thus, I waited for an evening where I could give my TV my full, undivided attention and I’m glad I did.

This movie starts out strong as a fun, lighthearted comedy.  The Kim family are poor in cash but rich in spirit, taking their impoverished lives as basement dwelling pizza box folders in stride, making jokes as they search for free wi-fi, all the while dodging the various bug and homeless bum urine streams that threaten to wreak havoc on their cramped home.

When Son uses forged credentials to defraud his way into a position as a tutor to the daughter of the wealthy Park family, inspiration strikes.  One by one, the Kims paint a humorous masterpiece of deceit, setting up the Park family’s servants to be fired so that they can, whilst posing with fake identities, take on those jobs themselves.  Sister, Dad, Mom all get in on the act and before you know it, they are all on the Park family payroll and able to pay for luxuries like wifi and pest extermination.  Alas, the peeing bum never stops peeing.

It’s hard to not root for the Kims.  They are poor through no fault of their own.  We learn that Dad has suffered through one lousy job after the next, being laid off or having companies he worked for go out of business.  The world economy has suffered greatly over the past several years, and when there is a mention of a security guard position that gets 500 applicants with college degrees, one can’t help but think that poor folk like the Kims can’t pull themselves out of the gutter without a bit of subterfuge.

Meanwhile, the Parks are lovable but hopelessly naive and trusting.  Having not suffered much in life, they never developed that inner bullshit detector that causes them to question certain situations so as to avoid being duped.  Mother Park is all about fancy parties and doting on the children while servants do all the heavy lifting.  Father Park is all about business.  You eventually come to love both families.  You want the Kims to succeed, but you don’t want the Parks to be hurt.

Unfortunately, at the midpoint, the film takes a dark turn and goes from witty comedy to blood soaked horror fest.  The laughs are lost and the mayhem ensues.  While I get the film had to go somewhere, I don’t agree with the direction it went at all and feel there were plenty of other options.

I won’t give it away, though I’m not sure it jived with the film’s overall message, or at least my interpretation of it.  I thought the film was trying to say a) sometimes a family can do everything right and still be poor and when the economy tanks, it’s hard to blame them for trying to fib their way to the top.  B)  When you juxtapose the plenty of the Parks with the little of the Kims, it can be easy to hate on the rich and demand they turn over all of their shit to the poor.  But then again, keep in mind that there are nice rich people and kneecapping the people who are winning the race of life doesn’t really do much to help those who are losing win.

A happy ending would have been great but….for some reason, there was just a lot of murder.  Maybe there are no happy endings when it comes to class warfare.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  I’d like to see a re-cut with a happy ending.  There was actually one point in the film where I thought it was going to ramp up the silliness and lead to a silly ending but…nope.  That point was abandoned for murder.  So much murder.

Maybe after you 3.5 readers have a chance to see it I’ll say how I thought it should have ended.

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Everything You Need to Know About Life Can Be Found in Call of the Wild (And Why Harrison Ford Should Get An Oscar)

Hey 3.5 readers.

This won’t be so much of a review as an opinion piece.

Having seen the ads for Call of the Wild earlier this year, I read Jack London’s classic novel of the same name.  If you haven’t, you should.  It’s only like 60 pages, but he covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

For the uninitiated, it’s the story of Buck, a pampered dog who lives a life of luxury as a pet on a rich judge’s California estate.  His carefree life is uprooted when a dirtbag swipes the pooch and sells him into doggy servitude, sending him up north where he ends up on the dog sled team of a pair of French Canadian mail carriers.

From there, he’s passed from one owner to the next, beaten and abused, forced to fight for his life and so on.

Essentially, it’s a story about learning to adapt and persevere when life throws a monkey wrench into the machinery of your plans.

The movie is good, though it’s a Disney product full of schmaltz.  It has to be to cater to its primary audience of kids. While in the book, Buck goes from being weak and timid to becoming a murderous, killer alpha dog, whereas in the film Buck grows in spirit and strength by doing good deeds and saving others along the way.  Further, I’ll admit the book has plenty of politically incorrect moments (it was written in early 1900s after all) that understandably had to be cut out in the movie version.

Anyway, see the movie, but also read the book and just try to ignore the non-PCness and learn the various lessons.  Don’t crumble when life throws you a curve ball.  When you learn something new, you’ll fail and it will hurt but stick with it and you’ll get better (how Buck sucks at first as a sled dog but keeps at it and becomes a great sled dog, for example.)

Also, lessons about leadership, from Buck’s early masters who get his obedience through club beatings, to John Thornton, who is just such a good man that he inspires Buck to blind loyalty.

Is this movie an award winner?  Not really.  It will probably come and go without a lot of fanfare.

However, I think Harrison Ford should be considered for a Best Actor award for this one.  He was in some great films in the 70s and 80s, not just nerd faves like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but thrillers and dramas as well.

Then in the late 90s, early 2000s he, no offense because it happens to all of us, but he got old and seemed in many of his roles like he’d rather not be there, like he was phoning it in.  Ironically, I know that’s part of his personality and charm, that he comes across as though he could take or leave fame.

Long story short, he shines in this role and is full of emotion.  As a depressed old man who moves to the Yukon to get away from humanity only to find his humanity again with the help of Buck.

Overall, Ford looks like he enjoys what he’s doing in this movie and that he had a good time making it.

At 77, I doubt he will get a chance at many more plump, juicy roles, so I think a case could be mean that he deserves it for this one, if not for the performance but to recognize his body of work.

Hopefully someone in the Academy is one of my 3.5 readers and will make this happen.

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An Ode to Robocop

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Robocop!  Oh, Robocop.

You are the oft-forgotten,

Not nearly celebrated enough gem of 1980s times,

What with the way you defeated those who would dare to commit crimes.

In Old Detroit you patrolled,

While OCP used its mind control,

Though you could never let go of the man you used to be,

And that man was once named Murphy.

 

Yes, Murphy!  A beat cop with a kid and a wife,

A cop who came to the end of his life,

When he was shot to hell by that guy who went on to play Eric Foreman’s dad.

No, that experience was not very rad.

But thanks to OCP, your survival was a guaranteed lock.

They brought you back as a cyborg, a man-machine without a…penis.

Is life worth living without a ding dong?

At that point, it could become insufferably long.

 

Robocop, you were #MeToo before there was a Twitter.

The way you shot that rapist in the Johnson made my heart flitter.

You put an anti-violence against women message on the silver screen,

Nearly 40 years before the mass media had to come clean on Harvey Weinstein.

 

Robocop!  Anne Lewis was your number two.

Not that hot by today’s standards but in the Reagan era, she’d do,

Though it’s not like it would have mattered to you, for you did not have a bait and tackle anyway.

She was your friend and confidant and together you overcame many challenges to take down OCP and Eric Foreman’s old man.

Then peace and harmony erupted all over Old Detroit Land.

Until Robocop 2 and the Nuke drug crisis almost destroyed you.

Robocop 3 is when your franchise began to flounder.

Though honestly, I don’t think we can blame C.C.H. Pounder,

For an actress is only as good as the script she is given, for words are used like a smith uses a tool.

And your 2014 reboot is the only reboot that I ever found cool.

Will they ever make another?

I sincerely hope so my steel clad brother.

But in the future, I hope OCP gives you a robo-wang that will make the ladies hollar.

No doubt they will cry, “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

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