Tag Archives: netflix

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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TV Review – Tiger King (2020)

3.5 readers, this will be short, but I have to recommend the new docu-series Tiger King on Netflix.

Heck, if you’re huddled inside, trying to stave off the corona, what better time than now to check out this little gem?

The long story short is that there is a crazy, wacky, world that you have likely never heard of before.  That world is the world of privately owned (as in by a person rather than by a professional company) tiger zoos.  Shoddily run by dudes with tremendous egos who act like their ownership of giant kitties is a super power, these joints are teaming with tabloid fodder and this series brings it all to your screen.

The most wacky of all tiger zoo owners is Joe Exotic, a gay country singing bigamist cowboy from Oklahoma who is addicted to social media and putting content on the web.  He loves the limelight, putting some of the silliest videos of himself imaginable out there, acting as though he is some sort of larger than life cartoon character.

Over time, he gets into a public feud with Carol Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue, a preserve that gives a home to big cats once owned by zoos such as Exotic’s.  Baskin says Exotic is mistreating his kitties.  Exotic says she’s just trying to steal his cats for herself.

Ultimately, the feud takes a gruesome turn when Exotic moves from clown to criminal, getting arrested for his part in a hit for hire plot against Baskin.

Some of the things you’ll see in this series just defies belief.  Dudes who play with giant tigers without a care that they could easily become lunch.  Hangers on who work for next to nothing because they either have nowhere else to go or they just love the lifestyle.  Women turned big cat owner groupies.  Young men enamored by Joe’s money to the point they marry him even though they are straight.  Money thrown away on zoos that essentially become money pits and expired Walmart leftover meats that are fed to kitties.

This is one to watch, 3.5 readers.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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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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The Irishman is Too Long

It’s a Martin Scorcese movie, so I want to watch it but holy crap.  3 and a half hours?  That’s quite a commitment.

Maybe I can watch it in smaller, one hour bites.

 

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Movie Review – El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

Jesse’s back, bitches!

BQB here with a review.

When I heard they were making a Breaking Bad movie, my reaction was one of revulsion.  It’s rare that a TV show concludes with all the loose ends tied up, with an overall sense that the writers and producers really, truly cared about all the time the fans invested in watching the show and wanted to reward that time with payoffs galore.  Thus, to create a sequel seemed like trying to paint Mona Lisa Part 2: This Time The Bitch Really Smiles.

Turns out the movie is great, though it’s less of a movie and more of an extended episode.  My main fear was that they were going to bring Walter White (Bryan Cranston) back from the dead and have to conjure up silly, absurd reasons about how this guy has been able to live with terminal cancer for 11 years and how he’s still cooking meth when everyone from the cops to the coast guard are looking for him.

My fears subsided when I learned Walter was left to RIP and this was Jesse’s flick.  When last we saw Jesse, he was looking like an unkempt, unwashed, bearded mountain man, escaping from Nazi captivity in weirdo Todd’s El Camino.

This film tells us what happens next.  With police on his tail and plenty of rival crooks out to get him, will he be able to flee and start a new life, or will he go out in a blaze of glory just like his meth cooking mentor?

Series regulars come and go throughout the flick.  Badger.  Skinny Pete.  Mike.  Even Walter stops by.  Relax, those who ended up in body bags at the end of the series only reappear in flashback form.

Is this a movie we needed?  No, bitch.  To be honest, I never put much thought into what happened to Jesse after his escape.  That being said, it is a nice wrap up, tying up that one last loose end.

It’s fitting the movie is on Netflix.  After all, Breaking Bad is a show that became successfully largely due to the streaming age.  I’ll admit I avoided it for several years because a show about a sad old man dying from cancer after a lifetime of regret didn’t exactly sound like fun viewing to me, but once I kept hearing rave reviews, I started streaming it and I was hooked.  Dying science teacher depressed about his lack of success recruits his wayward former student to start a meth empire and eventually goes from underdog anti-hero to vile villain that you want to see lose?  Yeah, that’s not something that any network was going to pour a lot of dough into promoting.  Word of mouth and “hey, go stream this when you have a minute” was the key to BB’s success.

Still, I’m not sure how much juice can be extracted from the Breaking Bad world.  I suppose there’s always a prequel or a sequel.  I suppose, even for a truck of cash backed up to Bryan Cranston’s house and, hopefully, the right script, we could find out that Walter White survived but honestly, I felt this movie worked because it was just 2 hours.  Would I want to see an entirely new Jesse based spinoff series?  I can’t imagine it.  I did give Better Call Saul a couple of seasons before I gave up.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, bitch.

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TV Review – Stranger Things Season 3 (1980)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

It took me awhile but I finally got through Season 3 of Stranger Things.

These are probably bland observations but I’ll make them all the same.

#1 – The nostalgia factor for someone who grew up in the 80s is fun.  From the music choices to the overall feel, the Duffer brothers know that decade which is odd because I don’t think they spent a lot of time in it.

#2 – Often in movies about kids who save the day, the kids are usually presented as geniuses and the adults as bumbling idiots who get in the way  Here, not so much.  Hopper and Joyce are integral to the plot and aren’t treated like dummies getting in the kids’ way.  Also, the kids are kids.  They make kid mistakes and they need, or rather even seek out parental help because they know their limits whereas other films would show a kid genius who is just being slowed down by the adults.

#3 – Look away if you don’t want spoilers, but the final mall battle where the kids throw fireworks bombs at the monster is visually stunning and fun to watch.

#4 – Russians are the villains and kids and adults alike really dump on them throughout the season, calling them commies and deriding communism as evil and corrupt.  I didn’t think that was allowed anymore in today’s PC world, even in a period piece.

#5 – They do tend to work 80s era actors into the series.  Winona Ryder, aka Joyce was a popular kid actor in the 80s.  Sean Astin of Goonies fame has a brief role as her love interest in Season 2.  In Season 3, Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame plays a villainous mayor.  Comedian Paul Reiser plays a scientist that experiments on the evil monsters.

#6 – I think the challenge for the show was trying to keep reinvent itself after an initial plotline that was cool at first but over time became somewhat limiting.  For example, after two seasons of battling evil monsters that inhabit the “upside-down” version of their town (basically, an evil parallel universe) one wonders why anyone still chooses to continue to live in Hawkins, Indiana.  Season 3 upped the game by bringing Russians conducting an evil experiment in the bowels of that 1980s staple, the shopping mall and it looks like (spoiler alert) Season 4 will likely involve a plot to rescue Hopper from the upside-down.

#7 – I’ve run out of observations but if you have any, leave them in the comments.  In the meantime, don’t click on the video below if you don’t want a spoiler.  Otherwise, enjoy the kids’ rendition of “The Neverending Story” theme song.

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TV Review – Team Foxcatcher (2016)

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.

STATUS: Shelfworthy.

 

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Is Dave Chappelle Insufficiently Woke?

Hey 3.5 readers.

Trying to post a little more.

It saddens me that the PC police are coming after Dave Chappelle.  This guy was the king of comedy in the early 2000s only to be branded a villain today.  Sorry to say it but he didn’t change.  You all did.

Oh, how I loved my Chappelle’s Show DVD box set in the old days.  I’d just watch those sketches over and over.  The guy was such a comedic perfectionist that he left 50 million on the table and walked away because he couldn’t phone it in like so many others did and the stress of doing comedy right got to him.

The weirdest argument, among many, is that his R. Kelly sketch normalized R. Kelly.  I remember that sketch.  He hanged R. Kelly out to dry as a whacko, urine obsessed degenerate pervert.  How that supposedly “normalized” R. Kelly I’ll never know.  If anything, it trashed him and made people more aware of his pervyness.

It’s just sad to see everyone getting on his case.  Your thoughts?

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