Inglorious Basterds

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Inglorious Basterds
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz

“I make movies for the planet Earth”
-Quentin Tarantino

We’ve all heard of writer/director Quentin Tarantino, from his early days working as a video store clerk to his successful independent feature, Reservoir Dogs. Highly controversial in his presentation of violence, language, and race, he has developed a rare fanbase over the years that draws from everyday moviegoers to hardened cineastes. Tarantino’s blend of pulp, dialogue, and homage to other films are his defining characteristics.

Inglorious Basterds, easily one of his most accessible films to date, is set during World War II in “Nazi-occupied France”. The titular heroes are a group of Jewish-American soliders led by Aldo “The Apache Raine (Brad Pitt). Raine gets his nick-name from his habit of scalping Nazis. The Basterds are charged with the duty of reaking havoc among  the German ranks, which they do with glee.

The film starts with a fantastic scene that sets the tone for the rest of the film, introducing us to the protagonist, villain, and length of scenes. Tarantino has described Inglorious Basterds as a World War II spaghetti-western, and this is evidenced here. It also has one of the best references to The Searchers that I’ve ever seen.

Inglorious Basterds is broken up into 5 separate chapters, complete with title cards. With the way that each chapter feels like only one long scene, I think the title cards were a smart move, creating the rhythm of the film.

One element that I highly appreciate from this film is the wide range of international actors in the film hailing from France, Austria, Spain, and especially, Germany. (Take that, Valkyrie) Tarantino’s use of subtitles in the film was also a good move. The liberties that he took with that, noticed more in the opening scene, were quite humorous.

I was surprised at how little screen-time the Basterds received overall, focusing more on Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) and Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) The praise goes to Waltz for his chilling and nonchalant performance as Landa, “The Jew Hunter”. Expecting the film to be heavily wallow in the gratutious actions of the Basterds (which are shown on screen), I was more involved in the story than I expected to be.

It takes a while to get there, but the ending is thrilling to say the least. Tarantino could have taken the film several different ways, and kept me guessing until the fade to black. The final shot is as close to Tarantino’s trunk as you can get without actually having a trunk.

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2008 Oscar-Bait

Well, it’s been a good year at the movies so far. There are only a few films that I’m interested in seeing this Summer (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Pineapple Express, and Tropic Thunder)

My Top 5 for 2008 So Far:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Wall-E
3. American Teen
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. Iron Man

That said, I’m really looking forward to Oscar season this year. I have a feeling that the Academy Awards are going to be insane with competition. Last year was good, but this will probably be better. This afternoon I hunted down the upcoming films for the rest of the year.

My Top 11 Must-Sees:



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Directed By: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt / Cate Blanchett / Tilda Swinton

Zodiac was royally shafted at the Academy Awards this year. I thought it should have been nominated for picture, adapted screenplay, supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr) and visual effects. It probably wouldn’t have won any, but it should have had some recognition.

That said, I think Benjamin Button is going to get Fincher back in the game.


(Apple Trailers)

Burn After Reading
Directed By: Ethan Coen / Joel Coen
Starring: Brad Pitt / George Clooney / John Malkovich / Tilda Swinton / Frances McDormand

After the amazing No Country for Old Men last year, it looks like the Coens are back in action with a dark screwball comedy (their forte) with a great ensemble cast. It will be nice to see Frances McDormand in a Coen film again.


(Apple Trailers)

Revolutionary Road
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Leondardo DiCaprio / Kate Winslet / Kathy Bates

Looks like a Titanic cast reunion. Add in the director of American Beauty and Road to Perdition and you have an awesome combination.

The Soloist
Directed By: Joe Wright
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. / Jamie Foxx / Catharine Keener

Robert Downey Jr. has been in an insane number of films the last few years. That’s all.

Australia
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Hugh Jackman / Nicole Kidman / David Wenham

Quite simply, this looks epic, and I do not want to miss seeing it on the silver screen. It may end up being the next Lawrence of Arabia for all we know. And you can’t go wrong with Hugh Jacman.


(Apple Trailers)

Appaloosa
Directed By: Ed Harris
Starring: Viggo Mortensen / Renée Zellweger / Jeremy Irons / Ed Harris

As long as it’s better than Hidalgo. Solid cast, and the amazing Ed Harris.

Lakeview Terrace
Directed By: Neil LaBute
Starring: Patrick Wilson / Kerry Washington / Samuel L. Jackson

What can I say? The preview sold me. This looks to be quite the tense film.


(Apple Trailers)

Body of Lies
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio / Russell Crowe

Since 2002, DiCaprio hasn’t disappionted me once as an actor. He just keeps plugging away. With 8 films in the next two years, he’s going to be a busy man. And to top it off, the preview reminded me a little bit of Michael Mann’s Heat, which is never a bad thing.

Doubt
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley
Starring: Meryl Streep / Philip Seymour Hoffman / Amy Adams

I’ve heard really good things about the Shanley’s play, which this is based on. And what a great cast.

The Reader
Directed By: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Kate Winslet / Ralph Fiennes

Defiance
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Starring: Daniel Craig / Liev Schreiber / Jamie Bell

You can’t go wrong with Edward Zwick.

What films are you looking forward to the most?

Coen Bros’ Burn After Reading Gets More Posters!

*The posters have been removed at the request of Focus Features*

This film is going to be a barrel of oddball fun. I think Ethan and Joel are making this to relax after doing No Country for Old Men last year. 🙂

My Favorite Films of 2007

(Taken from my lists page)

Naturally, the lists are subject to frequent change. For example, I didn’t watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly until recently.

10 Top Ten Films of 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
A beautiful film about celebrity status, idolizing, and the West. Great performances from Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt in the title roles. A film that deserved a satchel full of Oscars.

No Country for Old Men
The latest from Ethan and Joel Coen; easily one of their more serious films. Plenty of food for thought.


Juno
A fun and engaging Indy film with a great cast ensemble. Not to mention it’s insanely quotable.


Lars and the Real Girl
The film that took me by surprise the most last year. Word of advice: It’s better than the summary sounds. And the more I watch it, the more I love Rob Schneider as an actor.


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
A surprisingly suspenseful and entertaining documentary about Donkey Kong. Not what I was expecting.


Ratatouille
Pixar can do no wrong. I never thought a story about a rat that wants to be a chef in Paris would succeed. I loved the different themes in this, and Anton Ego was amazing.


There Will be Blood
Wow. What an amazing performance from Daniel Day Lewis. I’m still thinking about this film.


Zodiac
Completely underlooked at the Academy Awards. It should have been up there with the rest of them for several of the big awards. I loved how the story was from a different perspective than you’d expect, and was a great introduction to Robert Downey Jr. for me.


Paris, Je’Taime
Some of the films in this collection I’m not a fan of, but there are several little gems to be found. I highly recommend checking this out. And watch out for New York, I Love You next year.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
A fascinating and emotional story that blew me away.

What are your favorite films from last year?

Burn After Reading Poster

(Hat-tip to Row Three)

Looking good, if I may say so myself. I love the ‘classic’ style of this poster. It reminds me of Rear Window and other films from that era. And it’s not a typical poster (like the one for Righeous Kill, for example), which  show the usual floating heads.

Very cool.