Hey 3.5 readers.
So, I’m a couple days late, but I hope you enjoyed (or at least, survived) Friday the Thirteenth.
Hey 3.5 readers.
So, I’m a couple days late, but I hope you enjoyed (or at least, survived) Friday the Thirteenth.
Have you ever looked the other way on a friend or loved one’s mental illness because they have money?
Maybe you rationalized taking an insult because they pay the rent. Maybe you sucked it up and turned a blind eye to their abuse because you have nowhere else to go.
As the story of “Team Foxcatcher” unfolds, you realize that there were numerous early warning signs that multi-millionaire John du Pont, heir to the vast chemical company fortune, was one hair’s breadth away from snapping like a twig.
And while in hindsight, it’s easy to blame the wrestlers, the estate employees, the coaches, the local police, the Wrestling Association and so on, one has to remember that financial security is the end all/be all of life and few will be willing to bite the hand that feeds them until the abuse just can’t be ignored anymore.
The boiling point came when du Pont shot and killed Dave Schultz, an Olympic wrestler and family man who he’d invited to train on his property. Once the gun was fired, everyone surrounding the murderous madman realized they should have seen it coming and yet, in the years leading up to it, no one did.
This documentary does a great job of telling the story of du Pont’s long descent into madness, and how so many people who depended upon him were willing to look the other way on his mental illness because he was their goose who laid the golden egg. (And in many respects, while money initially got them into his life, love for the man got them to stay.)
We learn that Du Pont has been socially isolated and sheltered his entire life. He grew up in posh wealth with his mother, but never had any friends and never met a sticky situation that he couldn’t buy his way out of. Although a man of great wealth, it was his father and others before him that built the company and so, he has spent his life as an eccentric, awkward weirdo, desperately wanting to do something that would leave his own mark, earn him respect independent of his family name and money, and so on.
Ironically, he almost got there. A sports fan who didn’t make it as an athlete himself, he builds an athletic complex on his large, sprawling PA estate and invites America’s greatest Olympians to come and train. He is quickly hailed as a hero, especially to wrestlers, who are typically dominated by the Russians. We are told that wrestling is a rather complicated sport, taking years to master, and by the time a wrestler really gets the hang of it, he has to quit and find a paying job to support his family. Russia pays its wrestlers and du Pont solves the problem by paying the wrestlers a salary out of his own pocket and even given them homes on his property.
Though truly a loon, he might have gone down in history as a great benefactor for American sports. But alas, as the documentary unfolds, he gets crazier and crazier until tragedy strikes.
The documentary tells the tale of a man coddled by everyone, for he has coddled them with his money and so they are essentially returning the favor. Not happy to sit back and take praise the way so many other pro sports team owners do after a major win, Du Pont wants to get involved and train with the wrestlers, though he has zero skill to offer and is an old man.
He says weird things. He does weird things. He has guns. A lot of guns.
The warning signs were there. Perhaps not so much that he would kill someone, but there were situations where had it been a poor person doing what he did, people wouldn’t stand for it.
For example, du Pont develops a strange fear of anything colored black, and demands that anything black be removed from his estate. No black clothes. No black cars. No black paint on buildings. He even fires all the black wrestlers. Du Pont argues it is nothing personal or racist, he just can’t stomach the color black anymore. As a high ranking wrestling official (I forget the name of the organization) explains, that moment should have been the point where his group should have cut ties with du Pont but alas, there just wasn’t another way for wrestlers to train and afford a decent living.
Local law enforcement is aware that du Pont is a loon too but du Pont has helped them with his money over the years.
Du Pont becomes paranoid and hires serious, big time security agents. He’s convinced there are secret tunnels on his estate and spies hiding in his walls and though they agents realize these beliefs are crazy, they investigate his strange claims anyway…and the viewer is left to debate whether or not they should have just told him he’s an idiot or if they were just doing a job they were hired to do.
It all comes to a head when du Pont becomes increasingly jealous of Dave Schultz, the wrestler that everyone on the team rallies around and views as their leader. Du Pont wants to be loved just as much, but no matter how much dough he doles out, he just can’t get as much love…and eventually breaks down and sadly, shoots Schultz, killing him.
The Foxcatcher movie with Steve Carrell was great, but I think the documentary did a better job of showing how people around Du Pont realized he was nuts and should have removed themselves from him….but its one of those things where you support your crazy uncle figure until his craziness consumes him.
And ultimately, it is a sad story. Schultz could have gone one last victory before retirement and being with his family. Du Pont could have maybe seen a shrink and gotten some help and gone down as a respected sports philanthropist but…sadly, mental illness took its toll.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t like the It movies.
However, I admit that I don’t like them because they scare me on a psychological level, which is, I suppose, Stephen King’s overall goal, thus quite ironically, what makes the movie a success makes me not want to watch it again.
Both films deal with how children grow up and confront their fears, how they either overcome the obstacles that hold them back and succeed or if they don’t, are eventually consumed by them.
Frankly, the first film would have been enough, but I suppose the second shows how in a weird way, even as adults, we are still kids inside, unsure of ourselves, scared of the future, afraid to confront our demons.
“It,” a demonic being that often takes the form of uber scary clown Pennywise, takes great joy in exploiting the fears of a group of kids, later turned adults, in Derry, Maine. As the second installment progresses, each adult will have to face a fear that has paralyzed them since childhood, and the old clown is there at every turn, rubbing their fears in their faces.
So, on a psychological level, yeah, the movie will mess you up. I’m an adult man and I had trouble sleeping after this one, though less so than after the first one. Sometimes too much of anything and while Pennywise had me shitting my pants in the first one, and for most of the second, I eventually just felt by the end of the second that someone should just drop a nuclear missile on this dumbass clown’s head and be down with it already.
There’s a lot of things I don’t like. For example, kids getting murdered. Kids getting their heads chomped off by a clown. I get that its about confronting the fears that have plagued you since childhood, but come on, we don’t need to see children being murdered in such gruesome detail. Maybe split the difference and have the clown’s big teeth coming at the kid, then cut away, but no, they show the kids getting chomped in horrifying detail. Gross, disgusting and unnecessary.
Some great performances by the adult losers – Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and the guy who plays Young Professor X being the only ones I recognize, though all did well.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, though please keep it off my shelf. I never want to see it again, which I suppose means King did his work.
This review will be brief.
As action movies go, its OK. It’s worth the price of admission and fun to watch on the big screen. On the other hand, it isn’t something that I’m clamoring to watch again.
The Fast and Furious movies have always required suspension of disbelief in their brand of putting awesome stunts above little nit picky things like laws of physics and gravity and so on. Probably the most unlikely suspension though is that the Fast and Furious team accepts Shaw (Statham) as one of their own even though in a previous film, he openly murders one of their teammates in a gruesome way. I guess eventually that becomes something we’re supposed to forget and frankly, I think most people do because it is silly to expend too much brain power on these films.
Hobbs (The Rock) a government agent who sometimes chases and sometimes works with rhe F and F crew, teams up with Shaw to help save Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) who has been implanted with a capsule containing a virus that could destroy the world. Once a pair of awesome badasses, now they kind of look like old bald men going off on an adventure with some young chick paid to act like they are interesting.
Idris Elba picks up a payday as the villain but we won’t hold it against him.
There are some great scenes and it is fun and at one point, The Rock pulls a helicopter down with a chain. Like I said, it’s fun and worth a ticket but it’s not something you’d want to see again and again.
Grab your time travel machine, 3.5 readers. It’s time to go back all the way to 1969.
BQB here with a review of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film.
I’ve been a longtime Tarantino fan, 3.5 readers. I suppose most Gen Xers are. His films have always been known for 1) time jumps, i.e. starting at the end and working back to the beginning, so that the end of the movie becomes essentially how the whole mess started 2) long pieces of expository dialogue where characters drop key plot points by word of mouth in passing and 3) 1960s and 1970s pop culture references galore.
Remember Inglourious Bastards? This film is another alternate history project. Just as Tarantino rewrote WWII, so too does he give the infamously terrifying Manson family murder of actress Sharon Tate a rewrite. The tale centers around down on his luck actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his trusty stuntman/errand boy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt.) Together, they are a pair of old Hollywood legends who once put out a popular 1950s cowboy show, only to fizzle in the middle of their lives. Rick is having a tough time finding work, and if he can’t work then Cliff can stunt.
Long story short, Sharon Tate and her husband, director (later turned on the run pervert) Roman Polanski, are Rick’s neighbors, and I could tell you more but suffice to say, during their quest to restart their careers, Rick and Cliff get sucked into the Manson family madness in a big way.
Having studied Tarantino’s movies for a long time, I have to say this one is far different. His 1960s pop culture references are there, but there a but more subtle, with the occasional hint toward what is being referred to for the millennial generation. Tarantino’s adoration of the 1960s and 1970s was already a bit stale in the 1990s when he got his start, and I remember as a teenager, watching his films was the first time I learned of some of the 60s/70s references to which he was referring. So, his work is cut out for him in trying to stay afloat in a sea that is now dominated by young adults who were in short pants at the turn of the century.
Somehow, he pulls it off. And he also, much to my surprise, refrains from the heavy, heady dialogue that is his trademark. True, his dialogues were often a joy to behold, but here, he focuses more on showing rather than telling. Ironically, it’s almost like this grandmaster blew up all the writing rules in his youth, only to begin grabbing hold of them in his old age.
It’s in the showing where this movie excels. We see Leo as Dalton sitting on a float in his backyard pool, reviewing his lines for a part in a movie that he needs to remain relevant in the acting game. This shows us that Dalton is desperate. He’s old but he isn’t ready to quit just yet, and wants to give it his all before his final curtain call.
We see Cliff Booth sitting alone in a dingy trailer, his only friend a big dumb dog. His house is a mess, looking as though he never cleans. He cooks a pot of mac and cheese, then sits down before the TV to eat it straight out of the pot. He is a consummate bachelor. Unlike Dalton, he is used to a shit life. Aspirations of anything else don’t compute with him.
And finally, we see Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. So proud of herself for making it in the movie business is she that she goes to a cinema and takes in one of her films, in awe of her accomplishment. It’s a sweet moment.
Overall, this is Tarantino’s love letter to his favorite flicks, genres, actors, directors…really, his kiss for that period of time in Hollywood history that formed the foundation of his work.
Ultimately, Rick and Cliff have to take everything they thought they knew about the movie business and turn it up on its ear to keep going in a world that’s changing, and Tarantino does that here as well.
After all, this is a movie that starts at the beginning and ends at the end.
Briefly, 3.5 readers, I’m not sure I get Disney’s remake everything with live action initiative, even though I assume they’re generating a ton of revenue and not having to spend money on writing new stories as they’re just taking the old stories and re-doing them.
It sort of makes sense when there are human characters but something about a talking CGI animal cast is odd. That’s the fun part of cartoons. Why cartoon animals talking doesn’t seem silly I don’t know. Maybe just the idea of real-ish looking animals talking seems weird.
But at any rate, it’s fun, though again, for some reason, cartoon lions fighting seemed ok but something about letting kids see real lish lions fight seems strange.
It was a good time but I don’t know. I’m not sure CGI-ing everything is the way to go. Don’t believe me? Check out that Cats trailer. I’ll probably rant about the Cats trailer at some point.
Spiderman’s taking his show on the road, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review.
I think the overall success of the new Spiderman franchise is that they dove us into the action without bogging us down with another origin story. By now, these superhero movies have been done to death so we know who they are and where they come from. We don’t need to see baby Superman crash on the farm again. We don’t need to see Batman’s parents get shot. We don’t need to see Spidey’s uncle get shot. We know.
By trusting the viewers know, the movies can delve into further action and that is what’s done here. Peter Parker is going on a summer class trip to Europe, hoping to get a break from saving the world and all the woe that comes with it. Alas, Nick Fury tracks him down and wants him to carve out some time from his sightseeing schedule to help Mysterio fight elementals – giant monsters made out of earth, wind, fire and other 1970s bands. Or were the 1960s? I think 70s. I don’t know.
The movie integrates itself into the post Avengers: Endgame well, but my fear is that (SPOILER ALERT) Endgame offed a lot of key characters, so where the whole franchise goes from here without them is uncertain.
If I go deeper, I’ll give the movie away but suffice to say, I think this incarnation of the web slinger is a model for others to follow. We don’t need the origin story anymore. Just dive in.
Hey 3.5 readers.
Something about watching MIB: International made me nostalgic for the good old days when the MIB films were first released. I watched the first last night and the second tonight, so here’s my review of the original with a review of the sequel coming later.
At the time, this movie was super original and it broke some barriers by blending science fiction with comedy and knocking both out of the park.
On a personal level, it reminds me of my high school days, a time that was happy and safe and my life was ahead of me and anything was possible. Sad that I squandered it all to become a blog proprietor with only 3.5 readers but oh well. What can you do?
In the first film, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is the top veteran agent in MIB. His partner gets old and accordingly, gets his memory wiped. Looking for new blood, K recruits an NYPD officer (a young Will Smith in all his glory) to become Agent J.
As Agent J, Smith conveys the sense of surprise we all feel as we enter the MIB world for the first time. Confusion and awe of a myriad of humorous and or scary things about the world around us, all revolving around the fact that we aren’t alone in the universe. We aren’t even alone on this planet, for alien beings live among us in human suits, animal suits, dog suits and what have you. It’s all the best kept secret there ever was and MIB keeps the beans from being spilled so humans can go about their lives without fear of the constant threat of alien invasion.
A plot unfolds involving the fate of, well, not our galaxy but a galaxy. The Arkellians want to save it and a bug monster who turns a farmer (Vincent D’Onofrio) into a poorly fitted skin suit are at odds over it. To the rescue comes Agents K and J, with the help of mortician Laurel (Lindo Fiorentino) who K has mind erased way too many times because, let’s face it, those alien bodies keep piling up.
Feels like just yesterday I saw this and now so much of my life is gone. Sigh. So much suckage.
This is Will Smith’s best work and I remember being young and watching him run down that alien in the beginning of the movie and thinking I’d love to be that fast when I grow up and now I’m old and wish I could be like that so I guess Will’s lead a pretty enviable life.
There’s a bittersweet scene in which J and K pull over an alien couple who are on their way out of New York City. They’re on a rural road. K is outside the car, questioning the driver. Alas, the wife goes into labor. J sticks his head into the backseat to help and before you know it, he’s being slammed all over by an octopus tentacle, presumably having popped out of the lady’s nether regions.
It’s hysterical because it’s all happening in the background. K and the driver chat, totally oblivious to J’s plight.
But it’s also sad because the Twin Towers are so prominently seen in the background. Damn you, Al Qaeda!
Here come the Men in Black…galaxy defenders.
Sorry. That’s so 1990s.
BQB here with a review of the latest MIB film.
I’m not sure if this counts as reboot. If anything, it must be a sequel. I assume the past adventures of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones from the originals are still in MIB’s history logs, but now, new characters are going on new adventures.
In this rendition, Agent M (Tessa Thompson) is a rookie, and a non-traditional one at that. While most MIB agents are recruited, she finds the agency on her own. As a child, she had an alien encounter and has ever since dreamed of joining the mysterious, clandestine alien investigation organization.
Long story short, the agency gives her a shot and pairs her with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) of the London bureau. Together, they trot the globe, aiming to unravel a complex plot that involves the member of an alien royal family, shape shifting aliens, an arms dealer who literally has a lot of arms (Rebecca Ferguson) and, horror or horros, a mole inside MIB. Add in a diminutive sidekick voiced by Kumail Nanjiani for good measure. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson stop by as MIB higher ups.
Naturally, there are social justice updates, which is ironic because MIB was always one of the more woke franchises to come out of the 90s. Agent J was, after all, played by Will Smith, who rapped the infamous theme song and he and K were eventually joined by a female agent. In this go around, the title of the organization is questioned. Why are Men in Black? Why aren’t they People in Black? Funny, Dark Phoenix asked the same question about the X-Men. I suppose we should start looking for People in Black or X-People movies soon.
Anyway, I’d heard some bad reviews but I don’t agree. It was a good installment and honestly, I did think Men In Black 3 from 2012 kinda sucked, thus showing signs that the franchise was in need of an overhaul if it was to continue. Also good to see Hemsworth and Thompson working together again, since they first appeared together in Thor: Ragnarok.
She’s a phoenix. She’s dark.
BQB here with a review of the latest X-Man movie.
The reviews have been calling this the crappiest X-Men movie to date, but here’s my take, 3.5 readers. If you view the movie as a stand alone, it’s pretty good. Lots of good action, special effects and what have you.
If you view it as part of a long, drawn out, lengthy timeline saga that the studio has asked you to consider, then it all falls apart.
You’ve got the early 2000s movies with Jackman, Patrick Stewart and so on. You’ve got the newer, younger yet older timeline based movies with the quote unquote “new class.” To date, nerds have been happy to see the timelines work but it falls apart here.
I could go on and on with the timeline errors. At this late point in the timeline (I believe this takes place in the 1990s though there aren’t any guideposts to show it), Magneto and Professor X should be played by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, rather than their younger counterparts, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. There are other little nagging things that don’t make sense to a nerd who is paying attention and ultimately, the “older” version of Jean Gray from the 2006 “The Last Stand” film (Famke Janssen) already became the Dark Phoenix so if the X-Men in that film were surprised she went dark then it doesn’t make sense if she already did it in the past, which is this film, which OK, now my head is starting to spin and I realize I need a life.
At any rate, in the early 2000s, older people were more accepted in lead roles in movies. By the 2010s, every hero had to be barely out of puberty. The conundrum FOX had is that according to the X-Men source material, Professor X and Magneto were two old men who had recruited their bands of mutants to fight one another and well, we couldn’t have old farts on screen for any length of time anymore so to make sense, the studio came up with historical flicks where Prof. X and Magneto were young.
To everyone involved’s credit, the idea went off largely without a hitch and there was an effort to keep the timeline in order but caution on the timeline was thrown to the wind with this one.
It’s unfortunate because again, on a surface level watch, it’s not a bad movie. It just falls apart if you consider it in connection with the rest of the franchise. Unfortunate, because I believe this is the last X-Men flick, at least in this go-around and any future ones, I assume, will be part of a reboot.
Sophie Turner and friends do their best and Jessica Chastain is great as a villain/alien who wants the dark phoenix power for herself. There’s an unnecessarily placed F-bomb, which, if it works, I’m not against but it seemed like it was just placed here for shock value and one wonders why since, by and large, these movies are for children.
I don’t know. Sometimes I think these movies are great. Sometimes I wonder why I spent so much time watching a bunch of blue assholes (Mystique, Nightcrawler, Beast, etc) run around like idiots for two hours.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, but you do have to watch it as a normal person and not as a nerd who with an in-depth memory of the timeline. Going forward, I think given Hollywood’s base hatred of anyone over 40 (or really, 35), they’re probably just going to have to deviate from the source material and have Prof. X and Magneto be a couple of 20 somethings leading other 20 somethings and everyone over 30 can go F themselves. So in other words, the new flicks will mirror today’s world.