Tag Archives: reviews

TV Review – Stranger Things

Nerds!  Monsters! Mysterious doings!

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s latest hit, Stranger Things.

NOTE: I’m only up to episode three.  I’ll be spoiling what I know so far so don’t read ahead if you want to avoid spoilers. Meanwhile, don’t tell me what happens after episode three. Thanks 3.5 readers.

So for the past month everyone in my Facebook feed has been all like, “OMG I love Stranger Things! It reminds me of my childhood because I’m a friend of BQB and therefore I’m a dried up old Generation Xer that no one gives a shit about!”

Yup. That’s what they actually said. My 3.5 friends are very hard on themselves.

But those are the grass is greener people.  Me? The tale brings me so far back into my childhood that I ended up thinking, “Oh joy. All the things I enjoyed as a child are now ancient history and the grim specter of death is looking over my shoulder.”

I tend to be a glass half empty type of person.  Glass half full people are like, “What? I had a toy Millennium Falcon too!”

How to describe this show?

Take one part Goonies and one part X-Files.  Throw in a dash of Steven Spielberg’s E.T., just a pinch of Poltergeist and you’re there.

From the electronically synthesized theme music to the kids saving the day on their bikes, this show is a heaping helping of nostalgia for the thirty to forty something crowd to relive their youth and enjoy a distraction from the twenty-two year old millennials who somehow leap frogged the hell over us and became our bosses/safe space dwelling, trigger warning demanding overlords in the blink of an eye.

The plot surrounds a group of boys whose friend Will has gone missing.  Will’s mother, Joyce, played by Winona Ryder, herself a staple of 1980s teen movies, freaks out while the town’s depressed chief of police Jim Hopper (David Harbour) turns the town upside down looking for the lad.

But to hell with those adults, for it is up to nerd boy trio Mike, Lucas and Dustin (Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo, respectively) to ride around town aimlessly on their bikes to save the day.

Oh, and they’re joined by a mysterious girl with eerie super powers (Millie Bobby Brown.)

Was she named after singer Bobby Brown? That kind of would be awesome.

And seriously? “Finn Wolfhard?”  Holy shit. That kid should thank his parents because with a name like that Hollywood had no choice but to put him on the fast track to fame.

I have enjoyed the first three episodes and now that I think about it, it has been quite some time since there was a serious movie or TV show where a group of kids are the main characters yet adults are able to find the story enjoyable.

There were a lot of movies like this in the 1980s, then they sort of trailed of in the 1990s.

Why? I don’t know.  Maybe because today’s kids would learn that their friend is missing and be all like, “Oh noes! I must totes run to my safe space and raise awareness on Twitter! Hashtag #PrayersforWill”

Then again, the adults have gotten worse too.  Kids used to be able to ride around on their bikes and seek assistance from trustworthy adults.  Today, I wouldn’t advise a kid to trust an adult if the adult shows two forms of ID and a reference letter signed by the president and the pope.

Some 1980s things I noticed:

  • Star Wars toys (which are still popular today)
  • Rotary phones with cords.  You pretty much needed to keep your conversations short and sweet, although I do kind of remember just lying down on the kitchen linoleum floor as a whippersnapper in order to have longer conversations whilst being tethered to the phone attached to the wall. Oh and those rotary dials meant you’d stick your finger in the number hole, then crank it all the way around, then do it again for the next number…and the next one….
  • Libraries with micro fiche readers and card catalogs.  Card catalogs were like a computer database on paper! Fun stuff.
  • Mom jeans and window pane glasses.  Not to goof on Barb.  Sigh, people used to care more about function over fashion.  Today, glasses are small and stylish, but those window pane bad boys gave a nerd way more peripheral vision.  Its way easier to sneak up on a nerd now. Thanks a lot small glasses.

So, that’s it. That’s my review. Despite all my gripes about getting older, Stranger Things is actually a fun filled romp back in time.

Oh and if you’re a Gen Xer, its fun to watch this show with a millennial.  Obviously, don’t steal one off the street, but if you have one in your family like I do.  We watched it and the conversation was thus:

MILLENIAL: They had pools back then?

ME: Ugh. Yes.

MILLENIAL: They had cars back then?

ME: And even before then.

MILLENIAL: Wait, when did Star Wars come out?

ME: In the 1970s.  Kids were way into it.

MILLENIAL: And they had plastic toys?

ME: Kids in the 1980s couldn’t buy plastic toys fast enough.

MILLENIAL: People had nice houses for that time.

ME: I know. You assumed we all lived in mud huts.

MILLENIAL: What a wonderful commitment to diversity that the boys have a black friend  despite the racial divisions at the time.

ME: Nope. We had black friends. Wasn’t a big deal. White kids liked toys. Black kids liked toys. We’d get together and play with our toys. Didn’t matter. No one asked for a medal for being friends with a black kid.

See? These whippersnappers don’t know about anything before 1990.

Enjoy it while it lasts, millennials. In twenty years, the next generation will have a show where everyone’s all like, “OMG. I can’t believe that people used to post pictures of their lunch on Facebook. Now that everyone’s a precog we all already know what everyone ate for lunch.”

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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TV Review – Ray Donovan

Is this a show about a Hollywood fixer or a family whose mobster father’s crimes keep coming back to haunt them?

I don’t know….I’m not sure the people behind the show know either, but either way, I like it.

BQB here with a review of the Showtime series Ray Donovan.

About to close its fourth season, this show stars Liev Schreiber as the titular character Ray Donovan, the man that Hollywood celebrities go to with problems that can’t be handled through regular channels (i.e. the police, lawsuits, etc.)

I have to admit it, when I first started watching the show in 2013, I thought this sounded like a great premise.  Surely there must be a seedy underbelly to Hollywood that we mere mortals never see.

The series began strong.  Ray beats up a pop star’s stalker with a baseball bat.  As the show moves on, he blackmails celebs, hides their dead bodies, etc.

Problem – the show, pretty much from the start, made the Hollywood stuff a side dish and the family drama the entree.

Ray’s father is Mickey (Jon Voight) , an ex-convict recently released after serving a long stretch.  Despite being in his seventies, Mickey is constantly plotting a heist, a hustle, any number of get rich quick schemes that threaten to tear the Donovan clan asunder.

It goes without saying that looking out for his brothers is Ray’s second full-time job.

Here, the actors who play Ray’s brothers shine.  British actor Eddie Marsan is boxing club owner/trainer Terry.  Marsan’s performance captures the essence of a man who is single, getting older, clearly depressed over not having a family of his own and wishing he could have done more in life.  His brain was willing but his past boxing career left his body weak.

Meanwhile Dash Mihok stars as slow yet loyal Bunchy, sort of like the family puppy dog who from time to time declares that he too can put on his big boy pants only to end up causing trouble.  Still, you can’t help but hope that Bunch puts on those big boy pants one day.

Pooch Hall, a boxer in his own right, is the Donovan family’s black half-brother, Daryll aka ‘Black Irish’ a young, wannabe boxer and the product of Mickey’s affair behind the late Mrs. Donovan’s back.

The show follows a basic formula:

  • Ray tells Mickey to go F himself and never talk to anyone in the family ever again because he is tired of cleaning up after him.
  • Mickey ignores Ray and concocts an illegal scheme.
  • Mickey is so charming that he tricks one, two, or sometimes all three of the Donovan brothers into helping him.
  • Mickey’s plan is botched, resulting in potential criminal charges, arrests, and/or other criminals coming after the Donovans.
  • Ray, not wanting to see one, two, or all three of his brothers go to jail or worse, uses his fixer skills to bail them out.

I’ll say this for the show – it is schizophrenic.  A third of the time it is about scummy Hollywood life and the other two-thirds are devoted to the family drama.

Is it a Hollywood fixer show or is it The Departed with palm trees?  (Oh, I forget to mention the Donovans are all Bostonites transplanted to California, so expect a lot of wicked bad Bah-stahn accents, kid.)

Other cast members:

  • Ray’s henchman Avi, an ex-Israeli agent played by Steven Bauer who often tells Ray the hard truths he doesn’t want to hear.
  • Ray’s hench-woman, Lena – messy haired lesbian played by Katherine Moennig.  I thought it was interesting that this show has a hench-woman.  And she doesn’t do the stereotypical “oh let me put on a pretty dress and fool the men” schtick.  She is a pretty serious member of Ray’s fixing operation.
  • The other Donovans – Paula Malcolmson as Ray’s wife Abby, who puts up with Ray’s constant cheating and Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby as Conor and Bridget.)  Viewers, you may not be able to relate to a bat wielding leg breaker like Ray (and that’s no doubt a good thing) but if you’re a parent, you can probably relate to the spoiled brat hi jinx that Ray and Abby have to deal with on a regular basis.

At times, I have thought that the show would be better if it would pick one angle and stick with it.

If it is going to be a show about a Hollywood fixer, then focus on Ray doing illegal shit to get celebrities out of trouble…OR…

…if it is going to be about a man who constantly has to bail his dumb father and brothers out of trouble, then focus on that.

But somehow, this cast and the folks behind the show make it work, tie it altogether, and provide a good story.

Thus I can’t fault them for having two angles.

I keep coming back to find out what will happen next and that is always a sign of a good TV show in my book.

And while Jon Voight has had a long career starring in many acclaimed movies, in my mind, his role as Mickey “I do horrible things that ruin my family’s lives but I’m so charming they forgive me in five seconds” Donovan is what I will remember him for years from now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Game of the Month With Video Game Rack Fighter – Uncharted 4

 

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Video Game Rack Fighter – Ranking World Car Thief Mayhem Champion; Currently Involved with Bookshelf Q. Battler (She has our condolences.)

Hey 3.5 Readers,

Video Game Rack Fighter here, swiping BQB’s laptop to bring you my very first Game of the Month column.

Alien Jones has a column.  Dr. Hugo Von Science has a column. Even the Yeti has a column but that’s ok, BQB.  Make the best thing that ever happened to you wait an entire year to get her own column. That’s totally fair.

***cough cough JERKFACE! cough cough***

Excuse me. Lots of dust here in BQB HQ.

Uncharted 4!  Let’s check out the trailer:

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Playstation

3.5 readers, I love, love, love this series. It is cinematic gameplay at its best. These games always grab hold of you, drag you in, and leave you feeling like you’re guiding treasure hunter Nathan Drake through his very own movie.

The graphics are that good, rivaling any big Hollywood blockbuster.

There’s a little bit of everything. Gunplay.  Oh stop. If you’re reading this then you’re a video game nerd and you know you can’t have a good game unless you’ve got some gun action.

Hell, I’ve been lobbying Nintendo to let Mario pack a Mac-10 but they won’t return my calls.  Dorks.

There’s death defying stunts. You’ll feel like you’re with Drake as he’s clinging on that ledge, overlooking a drop into vast nothingness below.

And there are puzzles.  The puzzles I’m not that huge a fan of. Some of them are pretty obvious. Others are real head scratchers that take some time. Occasionally, they take too much time and then I have to go online to search for the answers so I can get back to making Drake make things go boom.

If you’re new to the series, it follows Nathan Drake, modern day ancestor of 1500’s explorer Sir Francis Drake, as he goes on globe trotting adventures to uncover treasures and relics.  Obviously, there are always bad guys with unlimited supplies of henchmen getting in the way.

Naughty Dog, the game’s developer, scored a winner when they first began making this series. I’ve played them all and they keep getting better and better, proving that it is possible for games to a) have a lot of action and b) a compelling storyline.

Screw the movies.  Just stay home and play Uncharted 4.  Just don’t get any popcorn grease on your controller. Those things are like seventy bucks a pop.

You know, a friend of mine who only has an X-Box asked me whether or not Uncharted is worth springing for a Playstation (seeing as how it is exclusive to PS.)

My answer? If you’ve got the money and plunking it down isn’t going to leave you sleeping in a cardboard box at night, then yes. Yes it is.

STATUS: Rack worthy. This game totally deserves a spot on my rack.

Hmm.  Yeah, BQB said that was a poorly phrased line and I scoffed at him but now that I hear it out loud…

Oh well. Uncharted 4 is my game of the month for April.  If you’ve played it, share your thoughts in the comments and tell me which game you think should be my Game of the Month for May.

Take it easy, 3.5.

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BQB Reviews Dollar Shave Club

So it’s official.  I’m a member of the Dollar Shave Club.

The Freemasons wouldn’t have me.  The Illuminati said “Illumi-nopey!”  Even the Friar’s Club and the Shriners told me I didn’t meet their high standards.

But the Dollar Shave Club took me in.  So here’s my review.  But first, here’s my shave box:

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I know.  You were hoping to get an inside look at my toiletries, you weirdoes.

I’ve been interested in this for awhile, mostly because of the company’s funny, in-your-face commercials, like this one:

I have to admit, I’m not a daily shaver.  That’s mostly due to laziness.  There’s a little bit of protest thrown in.  Long ago men were able to let their facial hair fly.  We were able to have all kinds of elaborate beards, mustaches and so on.  But now women don’t like that so we have to bow to our XX chromosome overlords.   Now we have to rely solely on our personalities to be interesting. Thanks ladies.  Thanks a lot.

The premise is a) store bought blades are expensive and b) you’ll forget to buy them (I usually don’t get a new set of cartridges until my razor starts growing a foot.

That’s true with most things in life.  You need X product.  You never remember it when you’re at the store so you make due with it until it’s falling apart or gross or whatever and then you remember to get a new one.

Internet entrepreneurs will probably help us out with that one day.  And it’ll be great.  Until Skynet takes over.

On the site, dollarshaveclub.com, there are a varieties of options.  They’ll give you a free handle.  You can get a twin razor blade sent to you once a month for a buck, hence the name of the club.

Or you get go fancier and a little pricier.  I went with “the Executive” – six blades, a little more expensive.  I’m not sure if I just wanted to treat myself or maybe I just wanted to feel like a Fortune 500 CEO.  (Sigh, I didn’t, but that’s besides the point.

It gave a pretty decent shave.  I didn’t detect much difference between that and the Gillette razors I usually use.  So now the razors will come once a month, 4 to a pack, change it every week.

Mostly, it’s just a fun little thing to look forward to.

They also have some bathroom products.  I tried “Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter.”  It’s basically a shave gel.  It lubes up your face and gets the job done, but its mostly clear so it confused the hell out of me.  I realize that means I have a low attention span but still, I prefer the foam because then I know where I have shaved and what still needs to be shaved.

I’m a busy, important man with a blog that caters to 3.5 readers.  I don’t have time to remember what parts of my face I need to shave.

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  There are all kinds of Internet gift box companies.  Give yourself a little monthly present to look forward to.

Will I keep up with it?  Not sure.  As I said, I’m not a daily shaver and often I wait until I’m as furry as the Yeti.  When Video Game Rack Fighter starts beating the snot out of me with a broom because she thinks I’m the Yeti, then I know its time to shave.

At least she said she thought I was the Yeti.  Hmmm…suspicious.

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Gone Girl – A Review of the Movie, Not the Book

Long time no see, blogarinos.  What can I say?  I have been busy.  I wish I could say that I have been busy with something worthwhile, but alas, it has been mostly with an onslaught of fabulous Fall TV.  Why, oh why must they put all my favorite shows on at the same time?

I’ve been hearing for quite some time now that Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is an amazing read, and though sadly I never got around to it, I am pleased to say that I did recently take in the film version starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

SPOILER WARNING – If you do not want the surprises to be as gone as the girl, then stop reading.

In no particular order, a list of reasons why I found this film entertaining:

1)  Rosamund Pike deserves an Oscar nomination.  She has always been a decent actress but up until now, has never quite found her niche role.  Honestly, this movie made me learn her name.  Previously, she’d just been that blonde woman who has been in a lot of stuff.

2)  Someone involved in the movie must have had a penchant for all grown up former adolescent nerd TV stars.  Patrick Fugit, aka the aspiring Rolling Stone reporter from Almost Famous and Lee Norris, aka Minkus on Boy Meets World both have cameos as police officers.  I mean honestly, in real life, I would not want either of these poindexters kicking down doors and/or being responsible for public safety but for movie purposes, it was fun to see them in action.

3)  Actually, add to that former nerd TV star list Neil Patrick Harris (who once upon a time played Doogie Howser, M.D.) – I suppose I gave him a pass as a “former TV nerd” since his career had a comeback with How I Met Your Mother.

4)  It is an excellent mystery movie that will keep you guessing.

5)  Sadly, it reinforces what we all know to be true but no one wants to admit – a woman can say anything – anything at all – and people will believe it.

So pick your future brides to be carefully, fellas, because well, you might end up like Ben Affleck’s defeated protagonist.

BONUS:  Tyler Perry was in this movie and a) he did not dress up like an outrageous overweight granny and b) did not suck.

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