Movie Review: LOQUEESHA

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loqueeshaIndie Rights / Amazon Prime Video
2019
NR

Back in the mid-90s, during the first season of sketch comedy show MadTV, there was a sketch entitled “That’s My White Mama”. It was played as a sitcom that featured Artie Lange being possessed by the ghost of an African American woman that he accidentally killed in an automobile accident, so now he dressed and acts like the typical sitcom sassy black woman and hijinks ensue. It’s about as cringe-inducing as it sounds. You take that sketch, take away the supernatural possession angle, and bond it with the script for the Dolly Parton movie Straight Talk, along with a dash of the 80s blackface “comedy” Soul Man, and you’ve more or less have this dumpster fire that is Loqueesha.

I don’t just throw around the epitaph of “dumpster fire” lightly. And it’s not like I went into this movie not thinking this wasn’t going to be a bad movie. I just had no idea at what level we were looking at. And it’s not just the premise of a white man pretending to be a black woman and being successful at it. I’ll get to that in a moment, though.

I would have not known this movie even existed, if it weren’t for a Trailer Reaction video made by Brad “The Cinema Snob” Jones on YouTube. Apparently, the trailer itself caused quite a bit of a controversial stir, and although it secured a theatrical release date, that studio decided to drop the movie all together once the angry social media blitzstorm began hitting the fan. So, it was dropped off directly onto Amazon’s Prime Video streaming, where I’m surprised it hasn’t been pulled already. But, again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Point is, after watching that trailer reaction, I was far too morbidly curious to check out Loqueesha to just pass up the opportunity to watch it when I discovered its release on Prime Video. Thanks, Mr. Jones.

The rundown of this flick is, there’s a guy named Joe who is a bartender that has a talent of despising sage advice to the patrons who wander into said bar. He’s constantly told that he should use his advice-giving talent to make oodles of money, but being the humble guy that he is, he always downplays that idea, content with being a simple barkeep. Until, that is, one day he’s told by his ex-wife that his son is brilliant and is transferring to a private school for really smart kids, and he has to come up with the money to keep up with the higher tuition. So, he tries to get a job as a radio talk show host, only nobody wants plain ol’ vanilla Joe. So he then makes a demo reel of him pretending to be a sassy black woman named Loqueesha, and that’s what gets him hired to do a show…as Loqueesha. Only, no one–except for his producer–knows that Loqueesha isn’t real. Or a white guy. So then, wackiness ensues as he tries to balance his secret with his sudden fame, all the while dishing out the sassiest and sagest advice to a growing listenership as only Loqueesha can. Is he able to maintain this facade? No…as the person they hired to appear as Loqueesha in public appearances and billboards attempts to blackmail him, he quits, the show tanks with the other Loqueesha, and he comes back after coming clean with his listenership, then gets an additional show as his real self while still doing Loqueesha.

There. I just saved you the trouble of having to watch this movie to find out what happens. You’re welcome.

Look, I’m not even going to touch the obvious elephant in the room with this movie. I’m all for edgy social commentary satires…when they’re done right. Or at least competently. All I’m going to say is that Loqueesha attempts to make a statement but falls flat on its face after a few steps in.That would be bad enough; however, things are complicated even more when you factor in that the guy behind all of this–Jeremy Saville–not only wrote the script, but directed and starred as the lead protagonist Joe. Taking the Tommy Wiseau route to making a movie rarely bodes well for the quality to begin with; on Loqueesha, it’s evident that Saville considers himself far more talented and funny than he really is.

The jokes just aren’t funny, the editing is hacky, the acting on the level of an early-90s TGIF sitcom (Full House level, maybe the first season of Family Matters, before Urkel took over), and the effects uses had the quality of someone just learning Adobe Acrobat. When the movie did illicit a laugh out of me, it was from laughing at the movie, not with it. Like when the actor playing the “live appearance Loqueesha” said to Joe, “I guess you’re a better black woman than I am.” I would have loved to have been on set the day that scene was filmed, just to see what happened after that line was read. And how many takes they had to do. I would have never made it with a straight face, personally, had I been in her shoes.

Overall, Loqueesha is just a bad movie on so many levels. I can’t even recommend this as a So-Bad-It’s-Good level. Pass on this one…

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Movie Review: The WATCHER

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the watcherUniversal
2000
R

“Hello, I am Lutenant Hollis and welcome to my crime scene. Can I help you with anything, or are you just looking?”

FBI agent Joel Campbell, burnt-out and shell-shocked after years spent chasing serial killers, flees L.A. to begin a new life for himself in Chicago. But five months later, Joel’s best laid plans are abruptly cut short when hi new hometown becomes the setting for some particularly gruesome murders–murders that could only have been committed by one man: David Allen Griffin. One of Joel’s most elusive and cunning nemeses, Griffin has followed his former pursuer to Chicago in order to play a sadistic game of his intended victims and leaving his crime scenes meticulously free of clues in order to keep the police at bay. Griffin derives as much pleasure out of watching Joel react to every movement as watching his victims die. But when Griffin moves into Joel’s inner circle, Joel must quickly find some way to stop him before someone close to him becomes the next one to die.

And here we are, with the movie that Keanu Reeves would rather forget ever happened. And one that I would rather pretend I never watched in the first place. But I did. And review it I must.

Keeping in mind that Reeves had just come from making a little movie called The Matrix, his name was (and still is, really) a hot commodity when it came to big Hollywood movies. Hindsight being what it is, it’s pretty much common knowledge now that Reeves wanted nothing to do with The Watcher from the get-go:

“I never found the script interesting, but a friend of mine forged my signature on the agreement…I couldn’t prove he did and I didn’t want to get sued, so I had no other choice but to do the film.” [source]

What’s more, it appears that the script was re-written to capitalize on Reeve’s sudden popularity after The Matrix, but he still got substantially less than co-star James Spader. I can’t recall any time James Spader was considered the bankable name on a movie. Anyway, Reeves did the movie, but demanded that he be kept from doing any publicity for the film, as well as keeping his image off of any product placements. Which is why the poster image is in silhouette rather than obviously being the big mug of Keanu.

Anyway, this little trip down amnesia lane aside, I recall going to see The Watcher on opening night–that’s right, in the theater–due to my buddy Nex wanting to check it out, and there not being much else to do that evening. And, I was bored to tears. It was a sub-standard noir flick, with your standard predictable cat-and-mouse mystery and a laughable performance by both big names on this. There’s a scene where Reeve’s character is getting hisself pumped up for evil doings with a rather loud Rob Zombie song (Rob Zombie songs being standard issue for movies like this at the time). Other than that, I remember hardly anything from this movie, and I wasn’t about to re-watch it now to do a proper review for it. It’s a forgettable crime “thriller” that you won’t be missing much from if you decide not to include it in your Keanu Reeves theme night. Pass…

Movie Review: The CURSE OF BIGFOOT

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curse of bigfootUniversal Entertainment
1975
NR

A group of high school students on an archaeological dig discover a centuries old mummified body in a sealed cave. Removing the mummy, it soon comes back to life, revealing itself to be an inhuman beast that terrorizes a small California town.

Again with the movies from the +++ movie pack that I got a few years ago. Slowly working my way through. And this was one I knew I had to just suck it up and watch, otherwise it would never get watched.

I’m not that much of a fan of movies based on the legend of Bigfoot. And in the 60s and 70s, there have been many exploitation flicks made involving the big, hairy Northwest critter of lore. Of course, there’s been a handful of movies and television shows from the 80s and 90s, and let’s not forget about that “reality” show on the SyFy Channel. Hilarious, that. But, for the most part, I’ve never really had much of an interest in that area of cryptozoology. But, Curse Of Bigfoot was on that movie pack, thus I had to watch the thing.

The first thing I want to point out is that, Curse Of Bigfoot is less a cohesive movie, and more of a cobbling together of a failed attempt at making a movie with extra footage shot years later just to use up what they had. Oh, and for the record, Bigfoot is hardly in this movie. Seriously, how do you have a movie titled Curse Of Bigfoot, and not have the most obvious thing in there?

No, mostly this movie is told in flashbacks. We have a professor of crytpozoology giving a lecture to a bunch of college kids cracking amazingly lame jokes, when a friend of the professor arrives to talk about his experience running into an actual monster of legend…and to berate the kids for not believing him. Then we get the previously shot film of archeologist students digging around, then stumbling upon a mummy, unleashing a cursed mummy…which turns out to be the titular Bigfoot, I guess?
Look, this movie is just about as forgettable as it is bizarre in its low-budget execution. It’s a hack-n-slash kind of exploitation flick that does nothing to whet any kind of interest in the subject of Bigfoot, or makes me want to solder on with watching the rest of the movies on this pack. Pass…

Movies+Beer: BRIGHTBURN

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Brian, Andrea and James Classic took in a showing of the Superhero Horror flick Brightburn, then went to Sean O’Casey’s to talk about it…

Movie Review: WINCHESTER

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winchesterLionsgate / CBS Films
2018
PG-13

I’m a mother. A fighter. A protector. And I am not afraid.

On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters.

To answer your unasked question: Yes, I am familiar with the Winchester House. You really can’t be an enthusiast of spooky legends and folklore and not know something about the house that ghosts built. I’ve never visited the place myself (as I rarely travel farther than a few states away from my neck of the woods); I do have a couple of friends who did tour the house during their honeymoon. They say it was…expansive.

It’s from this legendary house where we get the premise of the movie Winchester. Clearly, going into this, the notion that this was “based on actual events” is secondary to the horror flick this wants to be. Whether you believe in haunting and vengeful spirits or not, I find that going into these kind of flicks as straight-up fiction lends to a far more enjoyable watching experience.

As a movie itself, Winchester works well as a rather enjoyable slow-burning Gothic ghost story. Something like a classic Castle-style throwback, with lots of dark and spooky atmosphere, some decent jump scares (fortunately, the movie doesn’t rely on them like a lot of haunting movies out nowadays), very good visuals and some rather good acting from the cast.

Overall, I think Winchester is one of the better “true haunting” type horror movies to come out in these modern times. Far better than any of the long list of The Haunting Of… movies that always populate my video streaming suggestions. This works best as a late-night viewing, with all the lights off and preferably on a dark and stormy night, with a big bowl of popcorn. Recommended.

Movie Review: UNSANE

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unsaneFingerprint Releasing / 20th Century Fox
2018
R

“My job is to access and interpret data to produce analytical results. I did that job. Taking your frustration out on me will not alter the results. You’re quite within your rights to take your business to another bank. Another analyst may interpret the data more to your liking. But they’d be doing a bad job.”

Usually, whenever I hear about a movie with a gimmick selling point like “shot entirely on the director’s cell phone!”, I think it’s some young upstart that’s trying to squeeze the most out of whatever resources their budget would allow. It’s a novel way to try and get one’s foot in the door, for sure. However, in the case of Unsane, this is a case of a well-established director deciding to experiment. This director in question happens to be Steven Soderbergh, director of such notable films as Sex, Lies & Videotape, the Ocean’s 11 remake and its sequels, Erin Brockovich, The Hunger Games, and a bunch of other flicks you may have heard of. As a matter of fact, the previous year Logan Lucky was getting a bit of a buzz when Unsane was released to theaters.

In Unsane, we follow an office worker named Sawyer who is trying to build a new life for herself trying to escape a stalker. As a result, she has some unfortunate PTSD issues when she tries to get back into dating; however, while visiting with a counselor at the Highland Creek Behavioral Center, she inadvertently signs a release form that voluntarily commits her to a 24-hour observational stay. Of course, no one there takes her claims of being not crazy seriously, and after a physical altercation with one of the inmates as well as a staff member, her stay is lengthened to seven days. Over the course of the week, she keeps trying to convince everyone that she’s not really crazy, while claiming that her stalker is now one of the nurses on the ward. Is she slowly going insane, or is there really a stalker after her, manipulating things? SPOILERS: The answer is yes.

As a movie, Unsane is a pretty decent psychological chiller, that’s very well acted with a fairly engaging story. The decision to go with filming this entirely on an iPhone 7 actually contributes to the claustrophobic and maddening atmosphere of Sawyer’s decent into psychological breakdown. Of course, like a lot of movies with a premise like this, the story loses a bit of steam in the final act when it decides to go the “She was never insane all along!” route. That’s not to say that it ruined the movie; I’m just more of a fan of the ambiguous “are they mad, or was this real?” type of resolution in horror thriller movies.

Overall, Unsane is a pretty good slow-burn psychological thriller. Really, they could have just downplayed the whole “shot on an iPhone” aspect, or even left it out of the promotional bits all together, because really, it may have been more of a disservice to the perception of quality. That was kind of the reason why I passed on watching this in the theaters back when it was out. However, I do recommend giving Unsane a watch some time.

Movies+Beer: JOHN WICK 3

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Join with Exalted Geeks Brian, Jacob, James Classic and some other guy as they discuss the newest John Wick movie…does it hold up to the other movies? Plus, Brian has some words about this season of Game Of Thrones, and a bit on the upcoming movies on the docket…

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