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BQB’s Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

As you know, I have long been an advocate for ugly rights and this year, I have no doubt that ugly actors will be snubbed yet again.

But moving on, my thoughts on Best Picture:

THE NOMINEES:

Black Panther

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

A Star is Born

Vice

WHAT I DID NOT SEE:

I didn’t see The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice.

Vice, to me, seems like just one big long early 2000’s era SNL sketch about a presidential administration that is long forgotten.  Doesn’t seem like it should be but time moves fast.  So, I’m not sure it is Oscar worthy but again, I didn’t see it.

SNUBBED:

Crazy Rich Asians was a rare enjoyable romantic comedy.  Asians get so few lead roles in American cinema and on top of that, there was a message about how every young adult has to choose between making his/her family happy and making him/herself happy that is universal around the world.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?  I actually just saw this tonight and I didn’t expect it to, but it really moved me.  There is just something about Melissa McCarthy as a lonely old woman balling her eyes out over the death of her cat, quite literally her only friend in the world, that provides a look into the depths of loneliness and sadness that grips many people.  It’s something that a million hottie actress could never convey, no matter how much you ugly them up.

A Quiet Place – I might be alone here but I feel like this could have gotten some love.  It achieved a lot with very little.  It told a whole story with only a handful of words ever spoken.

Chappaquiddick – A powerful case study on how there is one set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set for the rest of us schlubs.  But, you know, Kennedy was loved by Hollywood so, on and on the vicious cycle goes.

WHO WILL WIN? (And What Did I See?)

Black Panther was a good superhero movie.  It’s watchable again and again and when I went, there were so many black people in attendance in traditional African garb that I figured there was no way the Oscars could ignore it.  They’ll never give an Oscar to a super hero movie (though if the Avengers series ever finally ends, they should consider giving that last movie an Oscar as they did with Lord of the Rings, another comic booky type of movie series, just to celebrate the achievement of finishing a series that lasted so long.)

Bohemian Rhapsody was touching and a good story about a) doing what you love b) being loyal to those who help you do it c) choosing one love over lots of meaningless sex will, surprise, surprise, make you happier.  D) Confidence will get you places.

But it won’t win because alas, the original director has some perv allegations.  I actually agree with that.  We can’t reward alleged pervs.

A STAR IS BORN – It’s long, too long.  And sad.  Yet, at the same time, it was hard for me to feel sorry for Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper.  They are both just too beautiful.  It did have some important messages about keeping your jealousy in check in a relationship and also, as you age, you’ll have to learn to accept that you’ll never be as fabulous as you were in your prime.

PREDICTION: BlacKkKlansman will win.  It was a good movie.    It tackled a serious subject with, surprisingly, a lot of humor.  It’s one of Spike Lee’s best.  I think the Academy will pick it not necessarily because of the movie itself but because it is critical of Bad Orange Man and in case you haven’t noticed, Awards shows like to dump on him.

 

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Movie Review – Cold Pursuit (2019)

Oh well.  Let’s get this over with.

BQB here with a review of Liam Neeson’s last semi-watchable film, Cold Pursuit.

It’s unfortunate that the man with the particular set of skills decided to whip out a proverbial revolver and shoot himself directly in the foot before this film, because it would have been better for Liam Neeson to have gone out on a high note.  I don’t what he was thinking when he publicly declared to the press that back in the day, he walked around looking to beat up any black man when one black man raped his friend but oh well, thanks for the honesty, Liam, now go sit in the corner with Mel Gibson.

Hollywood loves something that works and will try to milk it forever if they can.  Earlier this decade, Neeson, known mostly for historical dramas, wowed us in Taken, being the ex-CIA spy who uses his skills to rescue his kidnapped daughter.  It was something new, the beginning of a, “Uh oh, those idiots messed with the wrong guy” type of action genre that Neeson excelled at.  Mild mannered men who would gladly kick back and let dust grow on them until they are wronged…and then they kick ass and take names.

The trailer of this film promises us just that.  Here, Neeson plays Nels Coxman (the connotation made fun of throughout the film), a mild mannered snow plow driver who, to our great delight, owns a vast array of heavy, dangerous snow removal equipment which can easily double as bad guy murdering devices, chief among them his enormous truck with an equally large plow.  When Neeson is shown using said truck to knock a car off the road with the ease one might flip an unwanted veggie off of one’s plate, I was sold.

Now I want a refund.  The first twenty minutes start off as you might expect.  Nels has the kind of life most good men yearn for.  Loving wife (Laura Dern), a son, a business, respect of his community.  Alas, when the young lad is iced by a Denver, Colorado drug running syndicate, it all goes to shit.  Nels trades in his polite ways and starts murdering his way up the gang’s food chain, picking off baddies one by one, longing to eventually get to the big boss and take out the operation for good.

Had that line been pursued, the movie would have gone down as a fun thrill ride.  Alas, like Bugs Bunny, it takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  Many wrong turns, in fact.

A comedy of errors ensues and to the film’s credit, there’s a very dark, unsettling, just below the surface version of dark humor.  The gang’s leader, Viking (Tom Bateman, who has a future as a breakout star and go to guy if Hollywood ever needs someone to play a pretentious douchebag as he does it so well here) assumes that a rival Native American gang has broken a long truce and both sides go to war.  Tom Jackson provides Viking’s nemesis as the stoic White Bull, who with actions instead of words, shows us he’s a bit mixed up.  During a trip to a typical, overdone, luxury ski resort, White Bull one second seems pleased by the atmosphere then remembers this was once his peoples’ land for as far as the eye could see and screams.

The rival factions go to war and Liam is forgotten for long periods of time.  A running gag in the form of “In Memoriam” cards ties the film together.  Every time a baddie is rubbed out, his name runs solemnly across the screen.  Most of the times you see the murder.  Occasionally, you’re not sure what the prospective killer is about to do with the prospective victim in his midst until you see the victim’s name appear.

It’s an ensemble cast, featuring some fairly big names, as well as a number of actors you know you’ve seen in many other films but can’t quite place their name.  William Forsythe, for example, was the king of playing back-up, douchey/tough guy henchmen and or cops in 1980s action flicks.  Ergo, it is somewhat fitting that he plays Nels’ brother here…as well as a long retired drug dealer whose name Nels had all but forgotten.  If there’s one good part of the flick, it gives Forsythe a long awaited chance to shine and for a brief minute, step outside of the lead’s shadow.

There are a lot subplots and characters that go nowhere, as if the film were a pot and someone, somewhere said, “I like candy sprinkles!  Let’s throw that into the stew!  Wait, I love cucumbers!  Let’s put that in and pig’s feet?  You can’t go wrong with those!  Hey, here’s a leftover pizza slice from last week!  Gotta have it!”

For example, Emmy Rossum and John Doman play a old cop teaching young cop combo.  In Nels’ hometown of Kehoe, Emmy as Kim Dash, wants to crack the string of murders case wide open.  John Gipsky, the older veteran advises to leave things be.  As long as the gangsters aren’t targeting civilians, let them murder each other while small town life continues.  You wait, and wait, and wait for some moment when against her older partner’s wishes, Dash manages to get the duo caught up in the middle of the shitstorm but it never, ever happens.  Oh, spoiler alert.

Same thing with Domenick Lombardozzi, the bald headed Italian tough guy who wowed us in The Wire, wasn’t so bad in the latest season of Frank Donovan and has a strange way of making audiences feel like he could equally give them a hug like a big old teddy bear and also smash their faces with a tire iron.  He play’s Viking’s top henchman, Mustang.  He seems to be bonding with the boss’s son and there’s an inkling that he thinks the boy deserves a better life than the one the crime boss can provide.  Then you learn that Mustang is gay and he and his lover, another henchman, are keeping their love quiet from the boss.  You wait and wait and wait for the scene where Mustang and his love take the boy, adopt him and run off into the sunset but, well keep waiting.

I could go on.  There’s so much build up in all of the characters and so much, nothing.  Ultimately, the movie is like the hodge podge plate you might take away from a pot luck dinner.  You’ve got a piece of lasagna, some asparagus, a piece of meatloaf, a deli sandwich, some jello, a glob of tuna noodle casserole and three potato chips.  All good stuff, but rather pointless together, and in such small bites, not one of them alone can make you happy, and all of them mixed together just makes you sad.

STATUS: Moderately shelf-worthy…only for cool snow removal equipment murder scenes.  Also, the scenic views of the Rocky Mountains, which seem like living in the Hoth like weather would be worth it.

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Movie Review – The Death Of Stalin (2017)

Grab your glasnost, 3.5 comrades.  It’s time for some perestroika.

BQB here with a review of the comedic farce, The Death of Stalin.

At the outset, you wouldn’t a movie about the death of one of the most prolific mass murderers in history would be the stuff of comedy gold.  Ironically, you’d be wrong.  As the film takes you by the hand and introduces you to the ultra-paranoid society of 1950s Russia, you immediately find a time when the tiniest slip-up, be it a poorly chosen word, an unavoidable mistake or even the wrong look on your face can land you and your family imprisoned in a gulag if you’re lucky, or lined up against a wall and shot if you’re not.

I know.  It still doesn’t sound funny, does it?  Well, there is plenty of horror mixed in, but the humor comes from the political wrangling of Stalin’s boot licking lackeys in the wake of their fearless leader’s demise.  All sat idly by and supported the executions of millions of their countrymen, but now, they’re so desperate to save their own skins that they’ll say or do anything, literally anything…no matter how foolish it makes them look, or how obviously contrary to the obvious truth it may be.

Early on in the film, we’re given a primer on life for the average Russian under Stalin.  A symphony’s performance concludes, and musicians and audience members alike begin to retire for the evening.  Suddenly, a technician for the local radio station covering the event receives a telephone call.  Stalin himself wants a copy of the recording of the performance to listen to.

Problem?  There isn’t one.  The performance was just broadcast live.  In any other world, the tech’s head wouldn’t be in danger.  He’d simply apologize and promise to do better, making a note to be sure to record all future performances.

But failure isn’t an option here.  Ergo, the technician, fearful for his own life, turns from mild-mannered man to furious beast, locking the symphony hall doors and barking orders at audience members and musicians alike, demanding they all return to their places and do it again.

Once the situation is explained to all in attendance, they comply.  Impoverished peasants are brought in to replace audience members who already left.  You wouldn’t think fewer audience members would be a big deal but the tech sweats every last detail, fearful that fewer bodies will throw the acoustics off.  Meanwhile, the conductor has already left, so an alternate maestro is rousted out of bed and left to conduct the re-do in his bath robe.

Ultimately, hundreds of people all come together to remake the evening’s performance, all fearful that a refusal to play their part will learn to their imminent deaths.

This is life under Stalin.  It isn’t just a matter of shut your mouth and tow the Communist Party line, although even that to someone from a free society would seem unbearable.  No, it’s worse than that.  Stalin’s grip is so ironclad that the slightest, most unintended offense is enough to bring about your doom.

When Stalin falls terminally ill, the race is on for his inner circle of toadies and yes men to save their hides as well as their political careers.  They must walk a delicate tight rope in which they outdo each other in being the loudest to proclaim their love of Stalin, all the while trying to implement reforms that will keep the people from revolting amidst a power vacuum.  If you’re impressed by the reforms, don’t be.  People will still be imprisoned and shot, just fewer and not as at random.

Ultimately, it’s a battle royale between Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale) the head of the Russian Secret Police and the man who carries out Stalin’s executions and Communist party secretary Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi.)

Beria is a sadist, a cold and calculating killer whose psychopathic ways are fully sanctioned by the state, giving him an air of heroism when at any time he’d probably be more suited for a straight jacket in a mental hospital.  On a regular basis, he delivers lists of people who Stalin wants killed to his forces, including intricate orders of how these so-called enemies are to die.  When you hear, “Shoot her first but make sure he sees it,” you, the viewer, realize you’re not watching a government at work but rather, a glorified Mafia organization.

Beria’s resume is so gruesome that you wonder why you haven’t heard of him.  On top of the murders, he’s also a serial rapist.  He openly boasts of the scores of wives who have sex with him in the hopes that doing so will get their husbands released from prison.  Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.  On top of that, he’s a pedophile, ordering his men to scoop up young girls to be used as his playthings.

He is a schemer and his struggle for power is humorous.  His idea of reform is to strike Stalin’s kill lists and replace them with kill lists of his own.

Meanwhile, Buscemi plays Khruschev like a washed up old stand up comic.  Each evening, Nikita goes home and dictates the day’s doings to his wife, who writes down every joke and comment he made to Stalin, along with Stalin’s reaction.  In the morning, his wife reads back the list, and Nikita commits to memory the topics that got a positive reaction and a negative one, thus reinforcing to the secretary what he needs to say and not say in order to keep his head on his shoulders another day.

As Beria and Nikita try to one up each other, they each vye for the hearts and minds of Stalin’s crew of degenerates.  These include Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, Stalin’s heir apparent who obviously isn’t suited for the job.  Tambor plays the part as a nervous man with a perpetually unsettled stomach, one who is weak and indecisive, changing his mind regularly on which man he’ll support based on who is currently pulling ahead in the battle of wits.

Molotov, another henchman, becomes a crucial power player.  Stalin’s death allows Beria to save him from a kill list but Nikita lobbies him extensively.  Despite having been placed on a kill list, Molotov still speaks highly of Stalin and even openly curses his beloved yet long imprisoned wife as a traitor, not because he believes any of this but because he wants to stay alive.

In the end, you find yourself rooting for Nikita as the least shitty apple in a bunch of truly shitty apples.  My main criticism is that as shitty as Beria is, you might lose sight amidst the hi-jinx that Nikita and company all stood by and were happy to let him do his evil deeds as long as it suited them, only to then distance themselves from the madness when it equally suited them.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  If you watch it and still think socialism is a good idea, get your head examined.

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Movie Review – Glass (2019)

I’ve got to stop seeing movies in January, 3.5 readers.  I really do.

BQB here with a review of Glass.

It’s funny how things come around full circle.  Nineteen years ago, I saw M. Knight Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and thought it was a ridiculous pile of crap.  Nearly two decades later, the literally waited for by no one sequel is equally crappy.

Hollywood types have got to start asking themselves a key question – just because they CAN make a movie, does it mean they should?  No, I get the free speech argument.  I’m not telling them to not make a shitty movie if that is their desire.  I also get that shit is in the eye of the beholder.  Overall though, I just wonder if there is limited time and money to make a movie, then maybe a movie maker should make a good movie rather than a shitty one.  Worse, maybe take a risk on a movie with a good idea but no history rather than slap together a pile of crap because it has characters who were in the pile of crap years ago and now making endless sequels to everything, no matter how crappy, is the vogue thing to do.

Poor. M. Knight.  I’m really going to take a dump on this movie.  But the twist is that I’m going to pee on it too.

Ironically, 2016’s Split was good…and also a January movie.  I wrote on this fine blog that perhaps it was the start of a Shyamalanassaince.  It was a decent, scary part-horror/part-thriller/part-mystery about a shrink working with the so-called good personalities of a schizophrenic to defeat an incoming monstrous personality.

Top notch, Knight.  Shoulda stopped there.  Take the win. Move on.

Alas, Knight (because I refuse to write Shama…malamalama…whatever…a hundred more times) doubled down.  He decided to pit James McAvoy’s “Split” character against the Bruce Willis character, with evil assistance from the Samuel L. Jackson character, both from Unbreakable.

Though in the ending of Split, it looked like a movie in which Willis’ indestructible vigilante, David Dunn, hunts “The Beast” i.e. the worst of “The Horde” or the collective name for all of McAvoy’s character’s personalities, it turns out to have been a shitty idea.

There’s little hunt to be had.  Instead, Dunn, Horde and Glass find themselves in the same looney bin.  A shrink (Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple) arrives on the scene, claiming to be the world’s foremost expert on convincing screwballs to stop believing they are comic book super heroes…because apparently, that’s a real, legit thing that people study…that or no one in Hollywood wants to tell Knight no.

Dr. Staple subjects the trio to all manner of experiments, drilling it into them that their so-called powers are not real but rather, anything extraordinary they have done is just pure coincidence.  The Beast isn’t really strong.  He just managed to push away some jail bars that were rotting.  David isn’t really indestructible.  He has just been really lucky in avoiding death thus far.  And Mr. Glass may be smart, but so are other people, and his gift really just lies in talking chumps into thinking he’s a genius.

There are way too many logical leaps you have to take.  With three highly infamous nutjobs all under one roof, the mental hospital has ridiculously lax security.  Allusions are made to a showdown at a new, state of the art tower but the trio never get past a show down in the nut house parking lot.

Overall, it’s dumb.  Just plain dumb.  It’s cool that Spence Treat Clarke, Dunn’s son from the first film, is back and all grown up as his father’s assistant in vigilante crime fighting.  In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film make it look like a real treat – that Willis is going to track this psycho through the streets of Philly with the help of his son.  Alas, it just gets dumb after that.  Pure dumbness.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy.  Seeing this and Serenity in the same weekend just makes me weep for Hollywood’s future.  I feel like Knight shot himself in the foot here, because Split was good, but rather than just take the win and think of a whole new idea, he did the old “Let me take a part of a movie that people liked and put it with a part of a movie that people might remember and serve it up like a three bean casserole and hey, it has a bit of recognizability so maybe people will see it.”  Ugh.  Please don’t see it.  Stop encouraging Knight.  I know he’s got talent.  He just has to stop chasing that twist dragon.  He got on it with The Sixth Sense and then he never let it go.  He thinks he’s going to outdo his past twists and he never will.  Knight, really, it’s ok.  You can make a story that does not have a twist.  In fact, a movie from you without a twist?  That would be the greatest twist of all.

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Movie Review – The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)

Gather around the round table, 3.5 readers, for it is time for a review of “The Kid Who Would Be King.”

Someone call the late, late, late, incredibly late Arthur Pendragon’s agent because that guy is posthumously hot lately.  However, unlike 2017’s Guy Ritchie directed “King Arthur,” this latest flick, as kids’ movies go, is mildly enjoyable.

Let me put it this way.  I don’t think it is destined to become that childhood classic that today’s youth will break out and watch year after year, but for parents, it is something you can take your kid to and your eyes won’t completely glaze over.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of the infamous motion actor Andy (the guy who gets into one of those green suits with ping pong balls over it so computer geeks can turn him into various CGI monsters) stars as Alex, a British boy who attends Dungate Academy.

He and his bestie, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), are a pair of dweebs who are bullied early and often by cool kids Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris).

While on the run from one such bullying session, Alex hides out in a construction site, only to miraculously locate the accidentally excavated “sword in the stone.”  Only the heir to King Arthur’s throne will be able to remove Excalibur, so when the boy does so, this is a very big deal indeed.

Alas, Alex gets more than just a mere pointy trophy.  He’s now got a duty.  He must save Britain from Morgana, Arthur’s half-sister turned witch (Rebecca Ferguson.)  As early narration informs us, she’s laid low in the bowels of the earth, waiting for a time when mankind has become so divided that she can easily swoop in and take over.  Cue endless number of borderline heavy handed allusions to how everyone on all sides of the political divide need to stop bickering and come together to face any number of threats and dangers coming the world’s way.

As we are also told, Arthur had a knack for turning enemies into allies, a trait that is sorely needed in today’s leadership.  Alex manages to do so with Lance and Kaye, turning his former bullies into his trusty knights.

Other critics have noted that the performances of the various kid actors were somewhat flat.  I mean, you know, they’re kids, so I didn’t really expect any of them to break out as the next Al Pacino.  I felt the kid who played Bedders had an innocent lacky quality, blindly following his buddy and saying naive, “the world is a nice place” type things to motivate Alex, things that only an innocent kid who has yet to be knocked out by the world’s endless “No” machine would believe.

The kid who played Lance comes off as a typical bully and the girl who plays Kaye comes off as his lackey.  Overall, everyone did what they needed to do and I wonder if a flat performance by Serkis might have been the point.  The kid’s character, is, after all, just a normal, average kid.  He isn’t extraordinary.  He’s picked on all the time.  The kid that the whole school loves could easily get everyone behind him.  The kid who gets the snot kicked out of him because kids think that’s a fun thing to do will have the harder challenge to unite his classmates against the forces of evil.

Admittedly though, the film is rather British.  Had it been American, there would have been endless fart jokes, burp jokes, and so on.  One kid would have definitely got kicked in the nads or something.  (Not gonna lie, as an American, I think these additions would have turned the flick into a classic.)  Alas, the Brits prefer to find higher forms of humor I suppose.

The character who truly makes the movie come to life is Merlin.  Sometimes he’s an owl.  Sometimes he’s Sir Patrick Stewart (i.e. the old version of Merlin who is only broken out when the kids aren’t listening and require an adult to drive some sense into them.) Most of the time he’s young Merlin, having taken a teenage form so as to easily blend in while keeping an eye on the kid heroes. Angus Imrie takes that role and not to dump on any of the other kids but if forced to place a bet on which kid has a future in show business, I’d put my money on this one.  His take on Merlin is the main source of laughter in the film – wild eyed and crazy, performing magic spells that require an elaborate series of hand gestures.  By the way, if his take on modern day fast food doesn’t get you to swear off that swill completely, then nothing will.

My one criticism is I did think some of the monsters might have been a little scary for kids, but then again I don’t think this film is meant for the wee ones.  It’s geared toward tweens.  High school kids will scoff.  Toddlers should run for cover.  Anyone in the middle will find it just right.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Serenity (2019)

Holy crap, 3.5 readers.

Hollywood didn’t waste any time in releasing the shittiest movie of 2019.

And yet, it has some redeeming qualities.

BQB here with a review of “Serenity.”

SPOILERS ABOUND

At the outset, this film seems pretty strong for a January release.  It’s got a star studded cast, including Matthew McConaughey (“Alright, alright, alright”), Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou and Jason Clarke.

Moreover, it starts out as a pretty decent mystery.  Baker Dill (McConaughey) is an Iraq War veteran who unfortunately, brought the war back home with him in his mind.  Unable to shake depression, his marriage falls apart and he moves to the Caribbean style Plymouth Island.

After spending years in pursuit of an illusive and massive tuna while aboard his fishing boat, the Serenity, his ex-wife, Karen, (Hathaway) pops back into his life.  Frank (Clarke), the man she left Baker for, has turned out to be a real Dick Cheeseburger with Extra Turd Fries.  He is abusive to Karen, beating and shouting at her regularly, so much so that Karen and Baker’s son has retreated from life, shutting himself in his room and playing on his computer all day just to drown out his crappy reality.

Karen has had enough.  Frank is a gangster and Karen offers Baker 10 million of her shitty husband’s ill gotten loot if he’ll take Frank out on his boat and dump him in shark infested waters, making it look like an accident.

Initially, the film has a touch of old school noir style.  A mystery is unfolding and there are all sorts of threads held out before you.  Is Karen legit?  Is she setting Baker up?  Will Baker do it?  If he does, will he get caught?

As the movie progresses, a supernatural, science-fiction angle grows and grows.  It’s slightly hinted at in the beginning, followed by a slow build until it totally consumes the film.

Frankly, the angle is stupid.  And I have a hunch someone, somewhere behind the scenes realized the angle was stupid.  Ergo, the first half of the film is a mystery and then the last half is basically an extended episode of Twin Peaks.

I’ll admit, the old “hot babe asks a man to kill her husband” plot has been done before, so something new had to be added to make it interesting.  I won’t give away what that is, but suffice it to say, this movie has the shittiest ending since 2008’s “The Happening” in which Mark Wahlberg learns that the culprit that was causing so much mayhem was the plants all along.

Say hello to your mother for me.

STATUS:  Shitty, but shelf-worthy.  Ironically, there’s good acting here.  McConaughey is convincing as a broken man, and ladies, you get to see his butt for an unnecessarily long period of time.  Hathaway plays the scheming damsel in distress well but sorry men, you only get to see half her butt and only for a second or two, which seems highly unfair.  Jason Clarke, who usually plays respectable heroes, gets out of his comfort zone as an asshole who gets increasingly assholier until you start rooting for him to get killed.  Hounsou rounds out the cast as Baker’s first mate and conscience, trying to steer his boss towards making the tough yet moral decision.

This should have been good.  And briefly it was…until it wasn’t.  It’s an example of how a film can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and alas, earns it’s January debut.

My advice?  Wait until it comes out on cable.  Watch it for the first hour, switch the channel.  Maybe find a good rerun of “Seinfeld” or something.

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#OscarsSoPretty – Once Again, the Unattractive Are Shut Out of the Oscars – BQB Goes Over Best Actors and Roots for Willem Dafoe

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

If you’ve been following this blog for a long time (and my condolences if you have.  I hope your situation improves soon) then you know I am a vocal advocate for rights of the ugly everywhere.

One day, I hope that there will be a constitutional amendment that prevents the government from passing laws that would force us to wear bags over our heads.

Further, I, personally, have been arguing with attractive women for years, informing them that I’m trans-handsome and if they don’t treat me as handsome then they are hateful bigots but alas, no one has been woke enough to see my side of things.  Maybe someday, my fellow uggos.

Anyway, every year, I direct most of my vitriol against the Oscars.  Why? Because they’re too damn pretty.  You’d think after my years of advocacy, they’d put more ugly actors and actress into the mix.  After all, the vast majority of Americans are hideously ugly and totally unbangable, so it’s high time that we see more ugly representation at these awards shows.

As usual, Hollywood disappoints.  Follow along, will you?

BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper – I like Bradley Cooper.  For a handsome man (I can say that without being gay) he has managed to develop a good personality.  Still, fuck that guy.  He looks like a Ken doll.  Life was good enough for him already.  Next!

Viggo Mortensen – Holy shit.  The charmed lives that the attractive live.  The dude dropped the N word in public and he’s still nominated.  I mean, OK, he said it in reference to a broader discussion and there didn’t seem to be any malicious intent but still, had he been ugly…

Christian Bale – A handsome man dressed up as an ugly man, i.e. former Vice-President Dick Cheney.  You know what I call this? Ugly face.  Good looking people get all the parts and on the rare occasion when there’s a part for an old bald gray haired man with a permanent scowl, they don’t actually find such an old man, they just make up a good looking guy so that he looks like.  Ugly face!  This offense to the ugly cannot stand.

Rami Malek – This is a tough one.  He’s not ugly, he’s just nerdy.  If I were a woman, I might call him cute.  Again, I’m not gay or anything.  More confusing is he plays Freddie Mercury, who wasn’t really all that ugly but people at the time made fun of him and made him feel like he was ugly because of his teeth.  So a not ugly guy playing a man falsely accused of being ugly…I’m not sure of the official term but whatever.  Rami is not ugly enough to qualify as ugly representation.

Willem Dafoe – 3.5 readers, do you have any idea how long this dude has been around?  Like, for freaking ever.  He was in Platoon, for Christ’s sake.  He’s been in all kinds of big award winning critically acclaimed flicks.  He was the friggin’ Green Goblin.  He’s done it all.  Do you think any other actor who has been around this long has been snubbed so regularly?  No.  Why does he get the shaft?  Because the dude’s ugly.  I love the guy.  He’s a great thespian, but the dude looks like a damn skeleton man.  I complained about this last year because he was nominated for “The Florida Project” and he did great with that, by the way, but he didn’t win and I think they’ll just keep nominating him forever because the Academy wants to placate Ugly Rights advocates like me but they’ll never let him win.

Anyway, he’s up for playing Vincent Van Gogh in some picture no one saw.  Fuck it.  I didn’t see it. But I want him to win.  He is an ugly man playing a motherfucker who cut his damn ear off.  Sounds good to me.  It actually doesn’t.  The Florida Project was good.  He deserved it for that one, largely because for the first time, Hollywood allowed an ugly actor to play a respectable man, i.e. a hard-working motel manager who runs around behind the backs of all the drugged out losers who stay in his motel, keeping an eye on their kids and keeping them out of trouble but gets zero thank yous for it.

I’ll be rooting for Willem.  In the meantime, if you can think of any ugly actors who are being snubbed, list them in the comments.  I’ll be back later to explain how the Best Actress award is biased against ugly broads.

By the way, before you argue that it is unwoke for me to use the word “ugly,” I remind you that I too am very ugly, so we ugly people can use the ugly word.  That’s our word.

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Movie Review – Win It All (2017)

Life’s just one big gamble, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s “Win It All.”

I caught this film by accident, scrolling through Netflix’s never-ending list of offerings when all of a sudden, the premise just appealed to me.  It’s simple and from a writer’s perspective, simple is good.  Simple isn’t necessarily easy but sometimes simple doesn’t need you to keep a variety of plates spinning in the air the way more complex films do.

Eddie (Jake Johnson) is a down on his luck, degenerate gambler.  His only source of income comes from his lowly job as a parking lot attendant (but only when the Cubs are doing well and fans need spillover parking.)

Addict that he is, his life is in a downward spiral, largely because whatever money he is lucky enough to get his hands on, he immediately takes it to an underground casino club to gamble it all away.

On one fateful night, a rather scary looking loan shark who Eddie has tangled with in the past makes an offer.  He’s been sentenced to relatively short prison sentence and wants Eddie to hold onto a bag of money, no questions asked.  Keep the dough safe and at the end of the bid, 9 months to a year tops, the crook will reward Eddie with 10,000 bucks.

I know.  It is a rather gaping plot hole that anyone would trust a degenerate gambler with any sum of money, but then again, the loan shark may not have a large number of trustworthy people to turn to and frankly, his menacing appearance would be enough for most people to avoid screwing with him but alas, Eddie’s addiction is that severe.

Long story short, Eddie gambles away a large chunk of ill-gotten loot, and as you might imagine, the rest of the film circles around Eddie’s various attempts to get himself out of hot water.

The middle of the film has a nice message.  SPOILER ALERT, at that point, Eddie has lost a large sum yet it isn’t an insurmountable amount.  He works out a deal with his brother to take a job with the family landscaping business, and he devotes as much as he can from each paycheck towards refilling the bag of money.

In doing so, Eddie starts to feel good about himself.  He’s doing productive work.  He’s achieving goals.  His confidence soars, so much so that he meets a nice woman.  Suddenly, he’s got a job, a girlfriend, reasons for being…what a turn around.

I assume the message there is that when it comes to anything good in life, the long game always beats the short one.  You’ll get better health through daily exercise than you will through a one-time sip of that snake oil supplement you saw advertised on late night TV.  You’ll find a more meaningful relationship through a longtime partner than you will with a one night stand.  And while your paycheck doesn’t seem like much, save enough over a long period of time and you’ll get somewhere.

Alas, SPOILER ALERT AGAIN, shenanigans ensue, Eddie can’t beat his addiction and like the alcoholic who can’t shake the booze, he keeps dipping his hand into that bag and keeps losing, and losing and losing.  Like the fast food addict who knows his love of Big Macs will eventually lead to a coronary, Eddie knows that pissing away a murderous criminal’s cash is going to wind up with him six feet under but sadly, that addiction is calling and hey, surely there’s enough time to turn it all around before that inevitable bad ending right?  Come on, just feed the addiction beast one last time, ok and another last time, and one more time…just two or three or twenty last times, tops and then let’s quit cold turkey tomorrow.

I don’t want to give away the ending but there was a part of me that thought it might have defied the typical gambling movie genre by letting Eddie beat his addiction through that “build yourself up from the rock bottom day by day” routine we all hope to master.  Ironically, Eddie beats his addiction by feeding his addiction and while it made for fun viewing, I’m not sure that’s the best message for addicts out there.

Comedian Keegan Michael Key stars as Eddie’s sponsor or at least, friend, because as he notes, sponsors can only help recovering gamblers who are working the program steps and Eddie isn’t, at least at the film’s beginning.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie.  My main critique is that in many ways, it comes across as a shoddy student film.  There are many parts where the dialogue seems improvised and wrap ups of plot points seem thin but I on the whole, I liked it and I think it did have a good message, i.e. the constant ware we all face between instant gratification (do the bad thing that gives us a tiny bit of happiness right NOW and who gives a shit if it fucks up our future later) vs. forcing ourselves to be that little turtle.  He’s slow.  He’s steady.  Progress towards a happier you seems like it is taking forever and will never happen but years later, you look around and you see yourself with a nice house, a great job, a loving family and you’re happy you took the time to solve this puzzle, one little piece at a time.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home (2019)

 

I’m not going to spend long on this review because overall, it’s cute and schmaltzy, basically a Hallmark movie that your kids will enjoy because…dogs!

Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) starts out in life as a puppy living under a broken down, abandoned house.  When her mom, Mother Dog, is taken away, she is looked after by none other than Mother Cat.

Soon enough, she’s adopted by a family, including Lucas, a young medical student at a VA Hospital and his mother, a veteran who attends group therapy sessions there from time to time.  Lucas, Mom and Bella become a happy family until an evil developer interferes and through a series of hijinx, Bella ends up on her own in the wild, lost and far away from home.

From there, the canine goes on a two-year quest to get back home, meeting all sorts of friends along the way, from a mountain lion that becomes her BFF to a pack of dogs who knock over trash cans for sustenance to a dog abandoned by his owner and more.

Happy at times, sad at others, it’s so hokey it’ll make you puke but again, the kids will like it, because there are dogs and one of them talks.  There seems to be a growing number of movies with talking dogs and how the filmmakers have the patience to stare at a dog for hours on end with a camera until the dog performs the desired action to keep the film running, I’ll never know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  FYI it is a follow-up to A Dog’s Purpose, another film based on W. Bruce Cameron’s work.  This dude is raking it in on his dog books.  Sometimes, all you need is a good niche, and this guy really knows how to pull at the heartstrings of pet owners.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – The Dirty Dozen (1967)

They’re dirty.  There’s twelve of them!

BQB here with a review of the WW2 classic, “The Dirty Dozen.”

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Killing Nazis is a tough job, but someone has to do it, 3.5 readers.

And when it comes to a suicide mission deep in the heart of Nazi-dom, only men with nothing left to lose will do.

Enter Major Reisman (Lee Marvin), the surly soldier who gets results, but instead of the accolades he deserves, gets nothing but disdain from the brass who wax chairs with their asses but don’t know the first thing about actual combat in the field.

There’s a mansion in Germany where Hitler’s top men meet, and General Worden (Ernest Borgnine) wants them dead.  The plan?  Twelve men will parachute into the territory and kill as many Nazis as they can, by any means necessary.

Only the worst of the worst will be willing.  Men beyond redemption facing either life in prison or a date with the noose.  Reisman is ordered to recruit his men from a military prison filled with lowlives, degenerates, killers, rapists, thieves and con men – ex-soldiers who have been drummed out of the service for betraying the trust once placed in them.

Most of them are, indeed, scum without question.  Perhaps one or two were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or have an understandable excuse.  By and large though, these are men who would just as soon stab their new commanding officer in the back as opposed to work with him.

Eventually, they come around.  The majority of the film (and it’s way too long) is spent on the training.  Slowly but surely, Reisman wins the respect of these dirtballs and eventually, convinces them that he’s offering them the one and only shot they’ll ever have at redemption so they’d better take it and not screw it up.  Resiman is a better man than these men, but as his superiors often remind him, it’s a miracle he hasn’t been court martialed himself, as his methods are extreme and on the battlefield, he walks right up to the “line” and occasionally, crosses it when no one is looking.

SPOILER ALERT (though you’ve had a really long time to watch it) – 3/4th of the film is spent on the training that when it finally comes time for the big battle royale with the Nazis, you’re like, “Finally!”

Oddly enough, this film makes me feel bad for the Nazis.  I know.  I know.  They were orchestrating the downfall of humanity.  But at this particular moment, they were at a party and something about all those defenseless Nazis, cowering in a bunker as Reisman’s goon squad pours in gas and grenades and blows them all to smithereens.  I don’t know.  Yes, OK.  They were Nazis but like…their wives and mistresses were there and they’re all crying and trying to claw their way out of what will become their tomb…look I’m glad we won the war but all I’m saying is that you have to be a real bastard to kill all those people (good or evil) in one sitting and not flinch and I suppose that’s where the Dirty Dozen comes in.

Is there a point to all this?  Maybe we need to take the bastards of the world and direct their skills at lying and cheating and so on and put them to work on saving the world instead of ruining it for once?

Maybe.

And maybe today, we’re all like those generals with their fancy brass, criticizing the military from our easy chairs while we don’t have one iota of what the hell of war is really like.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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