Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
You can't walk into the theatre expecting Inglorious Basterds to be completely historically accurate. Hell, you should probably abandon any hope of it being historically accurate at all at the door. Instead look at it as entertainment. There was nothing factual about the story of Saving Private Ryan either. The artistic liberties taken with World War II in that movie just aren't as outrageous as the ones taken here.
Inglorious Basterds is a movie made up of two stories. One is about Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his band of Nazi scalping Jews. You read that right. Tarantino's World War II features the Jews fighting back with great success. The other story is about the young Shoshana Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish girl from the French country side who is the lone survivor when her family is massacred by the evil Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). One story leaves you wanting more. The other can get a bit tedious at times.
Brad Pitt is amazing as Aldo Raine. He is another triumph for Tarantino - a great actor that works on a whole new level when handed a script full of terrific dialogue. For all of my Tarantino hating, I can admit that he churns out some of the best written scripts. Pitt deserves an Oscar nomination for his work in Inglorious Basterds. Raine's team of young Jewish soldiers out for revenge are almost frightening in how calm they are and how seriously they take their mission. When "the Bear Jew" (director Eli Roth playing a role that believe it or not was written for Adam Sandler) beats a Nazi leader to death with a baseball bat there is enough blood to dull the impact of the violence. Still though, you're watching a man get beat to death with a baseball bat.
The Basterds are a great group of characters. Smithson Utivich (The Office's B.J. Novak) only has two or three lines, but they are so damn funny that he is one of the more memorable characters in the film. I really wish Tarantino had stayed with them longer. And for all of the hype for Nazi killing generated in the movie's marketing campaign, we actually see very little of it. Either the director chose not to show a lot of it and keep the Basterds mysterious and thus a little more effective as characters or someone at the Weinstein Company asked Tarantino to dial down the violence.
Shoshana Dreyfus' story is a lot less entertaining. In fact, it can get down right boring at times. After escaping from Landa in the film's first chapter (Inglorious Basterds is broken into chapters like so many of Tarantino's previous films) Shoshana grows up to run her own cinema with her boyfriend/husband/who knows. All is fine until a young Nazi soldier takes a shine to Shoshana and she is put in the middle of a big night for the Nazi regime. She hatches a plan to burn her cinema to the ground with close to 800 Nazis (Hitler included) locked inside.
Shoshana's story is saved by another Oscar-worthy performance. Christoph Waltz, who until now had done very little work in English, steals every scene he is in. His Hans Landa is one of the best movie villains to come along in a long long time. I have always felt like Hollywood forgot how to write villains for adult films after Hanible Lechter in Silence of the Lambs. Why would a screen writer remember? Everything has been super heroes and live action versions of cartoons for so long. This guy isn't crazy like The Dark Knight's Joker. He's evil plain and simple.
Inglorious Basterds takes a brief detour into England at one point. Is the scene necessary? Yes, but it ends up being more distracting than anything else. Why, you ask? The scene is afterall intrigal to the plot. The problem is Mike Myers.
Yes that Mike Myers.
The thing about Myers is he can't speak with a British accent without your mind going straight to one place...
To say it makes the scene a bit distracting is an understatement.
Am I becoming a Quentin Tarantino fan? No, probably not. I wasn't overly impressed with Pulp Fiction and I hated both Kill Bills. Inglorious Basterds though is a movie I really loved. Sure it got slow at times, but overall the movie was completely enjoyable. I found myself lost in the story most of the time. I have been impressed with this summer's slate of movies. A lot of them have been better than I expected. Inglorious Basterds is right there with the best of them.
The Greek gives it an A-.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Did I get what I paid for? Yeah, kinda. This isn't so much a movie as it is a collection of one-liners and side boob. I Love You Beth Cooper tells the story of Dennis Cooverman (played by Paul Rust, who I wasn't familiar with but was instantly struck by the size of his nose) and the graduation speech that leads to the greatest night of his young life. Most people would use a valedictory address to impart some wisdom to his class mates. Not Dennis. He uses his time in the spotlight to confess his love for the very beautiful and very popular Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere of Heroes fame).
My problems with the movie are the same as my problems with most teen comedies. The first problem is that director Chris Columbus (how the mighty have fallen, right?) can't seem to decide if this is a comedy or a coming-of-age piece. Most teen comedies straddle that line, but at times you get the impression that Columbus is trying to make something more akin to Stand by Me than American Pie.
The movie also has a very streaky script. Dennis' speech is great, but it happens in the first fifteen minutes of the film. After that it is for the most part down hill. Chase scenes involving Beth Cooper's 'roided up cadet boyfriend, Kevin (Shawn Roberts) , usually start out funny but aside from a locker room towel fight featuring Dennis' best friend Rich Munch (Jack Carpenter) - get it? Richard Munch...Dick Munch - they all go on too long and the fun disappears.
I Love You Beth Cooper suffers from one very common problem that most teen comedies share. The movie was made by a guy who was likely a nerd in high school, so he didn't really know what the parties that the cool kids had were actually like. That means everything the cool kids do in this movie is just ridiculous. I went to high school. I was friends with a lot of people - many of them very cool. No one I know had a threesome. No one I know broke into the school for a co-ed shower. No one I know drove a car through someone else's living room window.
The best thing that I Love You Beth Cooper has going for it is the soundtrack. Is every song used a classic? No, but they all fit perfectly. Dennis is a nerd, so it stands to reason that his graduation night mix tape would feature the hella-lame "School's Out" by Alice Cooper. Also, mega kudos to whoever decided to use Ray Lamontagne's "Let it be Me" for Dennis & Beth's heart to heart in the wilderness.
The movie has it's moments. I certainly laughed more than a few times, and I truly appreciate Hayden Panettiere giving up the side boob. Don't worry guys. She's 20. You can enjoy the show. Overall though, I just don't feel like I would have missed anything if I had never seen I Love You Beth Cooper.
The Greek gives it a C-.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
- If you're favorite character dies, don't worry, they're going to come back to life (they all do)
- Michael Bay is making a movie about giant space robots and there is so much cussing and humping that I felt uncomfortable being in the theatre with a nine-year-old.
- The special effects weren't even all that impressive.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Overall Land of the Lost isn't really worth your time - especially in a summer that has already featured Star Trek, Up, and Wolverine and still has Funny People and Public Enemies on the way. There may be a reason to pick up the DVD. Will Ferrell and Danny McBride may help deliver a solid outtakes real.