Monday, August 24, 2009
There aren't many directors with as polarizing an affect on audiences and critics like Quentin Tarantino. This time, though, I think the opinion will be generally the same across the board: Inglourious Basterds is a thrill ride made of razor-sharp dialogue, spot-on acting, and a nod to moviegoers' obsession with over-the-top violence.
Friday night I went out to the Hickory Hill-oops, I mean Paradiso- theater. $10 ticket- I felt like I should have gotten a massage or something. Jeez. I was a little less worried about the $10 after the movie though-boy was it worth it.
In typical Tarantino fashion, Inglourious Basterds is divided into chapters, each presented with a chapter number, and a title. (My favorite title by far was "Revenge of the Giant Face".) After the classic western sounding credits roll, the movie opens with a gorgeous French countryside, and leads into the first scene with the star of this film.
Now, you may say, "Drew, wait, isn't Brad Pitt in this movie?". Yes he is, you idiot. But the true star is Cristoph Waltz, who absolutely dazzles in his role as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. We learn in this first scene (hilariously titled "Once upon a time...in Nazi-occupied France) that Col. Landa has been charged by his Fuhrer to hunt down all the Jews in France. His actions, to this point, have earned him the nickname "The Jew Hunter". (Not quite as catchy as one of the Basterd's monikers, "The Bear Jew".) And boy does he earn that nickname in this first scene.
I won't spoil anything in the movie, (I HATE when reviews do that) but the way Tarantino brings us into scenes much like the first, and then just when we're wondering what is going on, QT brings the freaking hammer down and the music builds and the audience is literally holding their breath until the scene lets us loose of its grip for the movie to move on. The calmness with which Waltz portrays his brutal character is incredible-he his polite, smart, witty, and also cold and calculating.
Moving on, as I have rambled on Waltz's performance (deservedly so) for a while now, the main plot of the movie doesn't show up until the third chapter. After getting an extremely entertaining introduction to tough backwoods Lt. Aldo Raine and his Nazi-killing Basterds in the second act, which I guarantee you will love, we follow a young Jewish girl. A young Jewish girl, Shoshanna, who happens to have changed her identity to a French cinema owner, and has a connection to Col. Hans Landa. (again, no spoilers!)
And for all you QT fans, or people who've never seen a Tarantino movie, beware. His trademark take of 'ain't no thang' to brutal, bloody, and heartless violence is still there. Tarantino loves him some blood and guts, and knows that America does too. He goes juuuust far enough to satiate our bloodlust, and then a little more to clearly poke fun at the inane violence of some of these big studio movies we see nowadays.
I won't divulge much more of the plot, to keep from spoiling, but also to encourage you to see the movie. I will say that one of the neatest scenes I've seen in a while was when Shoshanna ends up sitting at a dinner table with Joseph Goebbels (Seriously, who'd have thought we'd see Hitler and Goebbels portrayed so nonchalantly?). While that scene was funny and a little weird, my favorite scene comes much later. I won't spoil it, but I must admit that Inglourious Basterds was the first movie to make me actually cheer at the screen in a long time. While Brad Pitt was solid, obviously having fun with his role, and Cristoph Waltz stunned us, Quentin Tarantino gets the credit for a wonderful movie. Definitely his best since Pulp Fiction. (maybe BETTER. Yeah I said it.)
Well done QT, well done.
4/4 Generic Movie Rating increments in my book.
I bet this is the only time you see two 4/4 movie reviews from me back to back, EVER.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
So I went to catch the super-hyped District 9 on Friday night, and let me say, what a surprise. When I heard that the movie was going to be some sort of metaphor for some history crap that happened in South Africa, I yawned. Boy was I wrong.
A quick synopsis of the movie: An alien ship shows up one day in Johannesburg, humans find a bunch of worker drone aliens inside, and 20 years later the aliens are in concentration camps, acting like hobos and eating cat food. The movie is what came to be after Peter Jackson's Halo project fell through, when the studios were apprehensive about giving newbie director Neill Blomkamp the money he needed for the big budget film. I think they may have changed their position after seeing this flick.
The actual story takes place 20 years after the arrival of the aliens, when they are treated like dogs in a fenced off area, "District 9". We follow the newly-promoted Wikus van der Merwe (Pronounced Vickus van der something), who is assigned with presenting eviction notices to the unruly aliens. The movie is set in a documentary format, flipping back and forth between interviews and live action. Think "The Office" meets "Aliens", in which a seemingly slow start turns into a thinking man's stone-cold killer of a thriller.
I won't discuss any actual plot twists and turns, but this movie is stellar, all the way through. The aliens earn our sympathy, and pan out to be rife with a visceral human emotion and conflict. Some of the most powerful scenes take place between an alien father and his son, and some of the cell phone calls between Wikus and his wife are extremely heart-wrenching. Seeing how the aliens are treated really makes you think about how people are treated in some far off corners in the world that seem unreal to us. This movie assures us, these places are VERY real.
If you aren't in to the lame thought-provoking stuff, this movie packs some straight up badass action, and weapons that seem to come straight out of video games. A gravity gun, a lightning gun, and a robotic armor suit (very Gundam Wing-ish) play out to be some of the most believable, intense, and powerful alien weaponry we've ever seen in a movie. I absolutely loved that the weapons wouldn't work for humans, that put a kabosh on any thoughts that this movie was just a Dwayne Johnson style shoot-em up ala Doom.
Overall, this movie gets 4/4 stars from me. I can't wait to see what Blomkamp comes up with next, as he did an incredible job at dropping us into the story, and making us feel familiar with the material. The face to face interviews at the start gave us a sense of humanity, believability, and a gauge of the depth of the film that had me on the edge of my seat from the start.
P.S.-Leave a comment with what you thought about the movie! (or bash my review into the ground, up to you! Careful though, I fight fire with fire.)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I've been a Jim Rome fan for a while now. He sprinkles just enough ego onto his sports knowledge and ability to get any guest he wants to keep me entertained. (He makes so much fun of those EAS Myoplex commercials where Utley and Hasselback are all "I'm not done...Now I'm done"-classic) Today at lunch though, Romey pissed me off. I went home for lunch to mack on some microwave pizza and catch some sportscenter, play a little xbox. On my way back to work, I cranked on Rome, only to hear him loading up for a rant against "gamers".
He was quoting an article by the CDC stating that gamers are overweight and depressed when compared to other sects of society. What other sects...crackheads? I'm pretty sure that you could take any pie-section of American society and they would be overweight, and depressed. (see Chicago Cubs fans.)
Anyway, Rome continued on to talk about how big of a "loser" you are if you're a gamer. Up until the point where he said "If you're just having a few beers and playing Madden with the guys, that's fine. Do that." So according to the guy who sits on his ass talking sports all day, video gaming is for lazy losers who need to get their life together-unless they play sports video games. Then it's ok. Give me a break, everyone has a hobby, and video games are no different.
Mr. Rome is a big proponent of horse racing, I wonder how those people who bet on the races would stack up against a gamer? What's the difference between blowing your money on a horse race, or blowing your money on a little video game entertainment? How's playing games any different than watching TV? (Its scientific fact that video games improve hand-eye coordination, FYI) I bet you if you compared the average gamer to the average sports fanatic that the gamer has had similar success in their endeavors. So who is Rome to say that people are losers for the hobby they enjoy?
What about all the middle-aged men who sit around at work listening to Rome trying to think up texts that are funny enough for Rome to make fun of them on his show?
Nah, they aren't losers.
Now I'm done.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Raise your hand if you went to get Madden 10 at midnight. Ok probably just me of the people I know. But there's something exciting about going to get a game at midnight of release. Knowing there are hundreds of thousands of people doing the same thing, about to head home and get online so that I can beat their faces in with the Packers.
Thursday night I went to the Gamestop over on Park to pickup my copy-they had let me know earlier in the day that there was a tournament starting at 10pm, with a grand prize of a PSP. I thought that was really cool, and while I decided to skip it due to spending some time with my lovely lady, I think it would have been a lot of fun.
I showed up around 11:45, and went inside. To my surprise there were about 30-40 people there! The tournament was still in the first round-and this little nerdy white guy was playing as the Chiefs and MOPPING UP this guy he was playing. Ouch, guy. The first thought that crossed my mind was "Wow, this is an interesting crowd."
The crowd was half pudgy white nerds, like myself, and the other half, doo-rag wearing black guys. What else could bring together these two polar opposite groups than a Midnight Madden Mass? Pretty sweet to see people don't know each other, who probably would never talk to each other, laughing and cutting it up while playing some Madden.
Another stereotype shake-off by the video game industry.
I've also been playing around with some of the Xbox360 arcade titles lately, and Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is a classic. If you played this game as a kid, at least get the demo. BIG APPLE 3 AM made me laugh so hard as the level was loading.
My favorite arcade game, however, is the new TRIALS HD. Its a lot like a nuclear bomb exploded in one of those little flash games where you try to keep the motorcycle rider from falling off, and out came intense HD graphics and even more intense courses. Loops, jumps, flaming oil barrels, and the ability to eject your rider for some serious carnage. Need I say more?
Now Playing: Madden NFL 10, NCAA Football 10, TRIALS HD