I watched it. I watched it twice. Then I decided I'd go get lunch, and watch it again later. It doesn't show nearly enough to satisfy any part of me, so therefore shows more than enough for my interest in Inception to spike through the roof. Here:
Hans Zimmer's score, which is a few industrial buzzes mixed with strings, rocks the soul. DiCaprio staring at things worriedly makes me feel for him, and I don't even know what peril he's in. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hallway fight? Comparisons to The Matrix are unwarranted. This is a different beast. This lives in the realm of something bigger. Something better. I can't wait to see the film, and I want a longer trailer.
One word struck me bluntly across the back of my head about thirty minutes in: dialogue. Inglourious Basterds won me over with everything it had to offer; the kicker was the engaging, thoughtful dialogue. I was once told if I cared so much about dialogue I'd be better off leaving film and going into radio. Needless to say I was appalled. Lucky me Quentin Tarantino provides the finest examples of dialogue's importance time and time again.
All of his films carry a certain special magic in the character interactions; Basterds goes not just the extra mile with that, it goes all the way to the moon and back. The level of tension, humor and horror stem from the dialogue, and blossom explosively across the screen. I could hug it I liked it so. Favorite dialogue-heavy portions of Basterds include the opening sequence, a sequence in a restaurant, and a sequence in a basement/tavern. It wasn't the bullets and blood that drove this, it was the carefully placed words.
What dialogue would be worth anything without actors to dish it out? The talent in Basterds is strongest in its writing, and its acting. Massive piles of buzz surround Christoph Waltz and his portrayal of "The Jew Hunter" Hans Landa, and it's earned in full. Some speculate he'll be up for a Best Actor nomination, and I'd push for him to win the award twice. He was very, very good. Calculating, cruel, but human at the center of his black heart. Without a doubt my favorite performance of the film.
Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine is entertaining, his Nazi-bashing quips and wartime tomfoolery giving a healthy dose of humor, but Pitt's ham-filled performance is lacking nothing but subtlety and nuance. They're supposed to be missing, sure, but it'd have been nice to see them. No need to worry, though, because Melanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus) playing the admirable revenge-minded Jew-in-hiding, Michael Fassbender (Archie Hicox) starring as a charming but obviously British Basterd ally, and the rest of the Basterds more than taking up the slack that Pitt may provide. Smaller roles like Sylvester Groth as Joseph Goebbles and Jacky Ido as Shosanna's lover Marcel were equally strong, and Daniel Bruhl (Fredrick Zoller) leaping between cute, annoying and deplorable was quite excellent.
Tarantino has always been praised for his soundtracks, and I never gave this much thought until Basterds. Excluding an almost poorly chosen David Bowie sounding like Johnny Cash track the music, anachronistic as it is, fits seamlessly, and helped keep the more jarring hard cuts from taking the audience out of the picture. I've heard the film criticized for sloppy editing. I disagree. Tarantino is no slouch, and intends exactly what is seen.
Speaking of what is seen, Robert Richardson's photography kicks about as much ass as the Basterds. From cold colors to flaming theatres and laughing faces stretched across smoke Richardson captures it all crisply and handsomely. Wide angles dropping off into out-of-focus haze, sharp close-ups of delicious desserts, all magnificently on display.
Story and action/violence don't take a back seat in Basterds as much as I'm making them out to. The story is compelling and mapped out masterfully, I thought. The action sequences are nearly too much to bear. In a particularly tense scene involving a finger and a bullet wound I found myself writhing uncomfortably in my seat. Even when the violence is played for laughs it certainly doesn't downplay how terrible it is and drives home hard the horrors of war. Until the last moments of the film, that is, in which we're supposed to revel at a theatre full of Nazi's being massacred.
Revel I did. Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is my favorite film of 2009 thus far, and I don't think its going to drop very far from that position come the end of the year. Bravo for rewriting World War II the way we wish it had gone. See it.
James Cameron thinks he's so tough. He's going out there, telling us he's revolutionizing cinema, making 3D much more than a gimmick, and telling a good story while he's at it. Who does he think he is? An audacious director? A blow-hard? All of the above?
San Diego's ComicCon premiered about 25 minutes of Avatar, Cameron's sci-fi epic, and garnered reports ranging from "this is the best thing of my life" to "meh". Just yesterday the first trailer debuted. The world went nuts. All the blogs were buzzing. Nerds shook hands with theatre projectionists. I shrugged, and went back to reading the description to Inception's soon coming teaser trailer.
The music is terrible, the one line of dialogue is puzzling, scenes aren't cut together well at all, and the sense of wonder and mystique intended wasn't executed like I think it hoped for. James Cameron thinks he has a masterpiece on his hands, when I think he has a pretty conventional fantasy film on his hands. I wasn't, and am not impressed yet.
Except by one thing: that was almost entirely computer generated. The Na'vi have a rubbery look to their skin in a few clips, and the more monstrous beasts feel 10,000 BC caliber, but the environment is just as fake and looks as believable and real as the trees right outside my window. For that I'll go see it. And for the event of it all.
I haven't written in a while. My thoughts have either been too scattered to get down completely, or the films I've watched haven't stirred up enough gumption in me, or I've been busy working/making up for lost time in the real world. I've been gone. What could possibly bring me out of hiding? This:
Natalie Portman is going to have sex with Mila Kunis in a Darren Aronofsky film.
If I ever needed a sign telling me that my interest in film is a completely valid obsession it would be that sentence. Natalie Portman is going to have sex with Mila Kunis in a Darren Aronofsky film. I know, I said it already, but I'm... I'm just so happy.
Darren Aronofsky is on the fast track towards my valued "favorite directors" circle, his The Wrestler one of my 'Best Film's last year, and his other three films satisfying me quite a bit more than others this Summer. To hear that he's going to have Natalie Portman, one of my favorite actresses and one of the most attractive I've yet seen, having sex with Mila Kunis, who isn't a great actress but is still way cute, warms my heart and other various organs to no end.
Am I getting this through clearly enough? Here. Let me help.
is going to have sex with
It's like the perfect melding of film geek porn and real porn!
It looks like what "meh" sounds like. Speaking of sound, why does it seem like someone dropped an outdated boombox into a fish tank playing "1901" at half volume, recorded it, then edited it under the trailer? Ew!
Overall though, I will probably maybe but most likely not be seeing this in theaters. I don't really need to see "meh" for 90 minutes.
Alright, alright, I'll say it: Funny People was pretty good. My expectations were basically met, and Judd Apatow seems excruciatingly pleased with the end result. The movie had a swell number of laughs, and managed to swing the tone from 'humor' to 'somber' well enough, but when it didn't it destroyed itself.
Anyone familiar with the director's cut of The 40-Year-Old Virgin has the right to agree with me when I say Apatow doesn't quite know what's worth keeping in a film, or even what needs to be captured on film in the first place. Funny People suffers from one thing especial, and that thing is time. A few scenes dragged on a bit past their stay, and about 30 minutes from the end my mind started to wonder. I was yanked back in, but I want to be fully engaged when I'm watching a movie, and with this I was not.
Leslie Mann was also a problem. I thought she was the absolute least sympathetic character to ever snag the coveted 'love interest' role. Adam Sandler's George Simmons is supposed to be madly in love with her, and she with him despite her established married life, but their chemistry is all over the place, and the motivation behind all her feelings felt half there, half unformed. The whole triangle she, Sandler and Eric Bana had going on was a failure, and with a few cuts it might have seemed more comfortable, and more realistic.
Seth Rogen owns the film, by the way. His performance is definitely worth having seen. The whole movie is worth seeing, as it managed to be adequate, but it left me with one gnawing question: is Apatow less funny than his collaborators? Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express, all with his producing hand but no writing or directing, run circles around Funny People comedically and emotionally.
Maybe he's writing at a different level of maturity, or maybe he thinks he is, but Funny People, though it hit the spot, didn't hit it hard enough, and has caused me to type "but" quite a bit. Well done, but not the best done.