Thursday, August 27, 2009

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Written & Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Cinematography By: Robert Richardson
Editor: Sally Menke

CAST: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Samm Levine, B.J. Novak, Paul Rust, Omar Doom, Til Schweiger, Michael Fassbender, Mike Myers, Michael Bacall, Rod Taylor, Jacky Ido, Julie Dreyfus


I am going to start of by saying this is not Tarantino’s best film it is good but not his best. It breaks him out a little paying attention a little more to history which of course he re-writes for his own purposes. The film shows that tarntino is a man in love with dialogue and words particularly his own. Like DEATHPROOF there are tons of scenes of dialogue and the dialogue is great but he needs to learn to edit it down. The film is long and unfortunately feels the same way.

Having read the script I knew what i was getting into but still a few times the film managed to surprise me. Though I will warn you it is advertised as a espionage action oriented war film but knowing tarantino you should know it’s not exactly like that and almost half the film is in a various foreign languages so there is a lot of subtitles. But if you are a true film fan you shouldn’t mind that.

Many scenes feel too long but they are understandable as each scene seems to be tarantino taking glee in having each scenes begin innocent that as it goes on it sowly switches gears into a thriller with impending doom then towards the end the tables turn and show that a certain character has been in control the whole time without letting any other person knowing it.

Christoph Waltz Steals the movie as a nazi who is nicknamed the jew hunter his character is the best written and the actor has fu and truly inhabits the role with steely determination and a certain happiness. His mastering and fluency of many laungages and dialects is amazing. Brad Pitt seems to be having fun with his role but it delves into the more ridiculous aspects of the movie and seems more like a character then a real person. Which is the problem with the third act.

The third act excites and speeds up the action then had been in the film before but feels more movie action then real war film finale.

Also considering you filmed in Europe with beautiful buildings interesting locales and beautiful nature you would figure a filmmaker with a eye would use these locations to there fullest. But just as Tarantino has a talent with dialogue and a eye for visuals. He has always seemed a perfect Indie director as he makes his scenes and camerawork feel claustrophobic. This is a tale that needed to be more open it looks like it was shot on a set or soundstage instead of on location in Europe.

I also wish the Basterds had more time to prove themselves and let us get to know them I know his original ideas were much longer so i feel almost like this is a condensed version. I also was not impressed by Melanie Laurent she didn’t do anything wrong but she didn’t impress or engage me either and the less said about Director Eli Roth the better it seemed like a natural fit of a character for him but he goes for a ridiculous accent and is way too over the top. He also directed the film within a film NATION’S PRIDE.

I guess I feel the movie had a great bunch of elements and memorable scenes but they don’t merge to make a great movie. This is a mild disappointment. It is in the Tarantino mold of KILL BILL VOL. 2 AND DEATHPROOF where it is tons of dialogue and a few scenes of extreme shocking violence and action mixed in to keep the audience awake and interested in what is happening. Almost like a gift or payoff for sitting through the previous scenes. Trust me it still isn’t a film that will be easily forgotten.

Plus I wonder if the reason for the last line in the film “This maybe my masterpiece” is what Quentin Tarantino really believes about this film.

Now don’t get me wrong I respect Tarantino and get excited when he has a new film out. He is one of my favorite Auteurs, it’s just I hold him to a certain high standard that this one approaches but doesn’t quite rise to that level. It is a movie best scene on the big screen but you could wait for home video

GRADE: B

Monday, August 24, 2009

KISS OF DEATH (REMAKE) (1995)

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Richard Price
Story By: Eleazer Lipsky
Based On The Original Film Written By: Ben Hecht & Charles Lederer
Cinematography By: Luciano Tovoli
Editor: Lee Percy

CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, David Caruso, Helen Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Michael Rapaport, Nicholas Cage, Stanley Tucci, Ving Rhames, Paul Caledron, Jay O. Sanders, Philip Baker Hall, Anthony Heald, Kevin Corrigan, Anne Meara, Hope Davis


The film is about a ex-con who ends up going to jail for a crime he tried to help his cousin with. while in prison his wife is killed and he decides to help the feds by going undercover to catch the boss who he did the job for but as usual complications rise and a lot of dirty dealing and double crosses.

This was one of the most exciting trailers I had seen at the time. So I anxiously wanted to see this film though it didn’t live up to the trailer I enjoyed it none the less.

Coming on the heels of PULP FICTION at the time it came out it borrows heavily from that film. The quirks and at least three cast members that make it feel like a sort of Pulp fiction redux at times. Which beat many of the imposters that started to be made for years afterward.

None of the characters feel realistic in this film. They feel like movie characters, Normally this would be ok but when you are trying to look gritty and truthful it doesn’t at all it looks like a polished production. I would go as so far as to say it feels like a LAW & ORDER episode come to life the locations and the plot are reminiscent only this time it focuses more on the criminal side of the equation.

The cast is great with the characters and there quirks. Nicholas Cage gives one of his best performances as kind of a comic book villain sequel gangster in a realistic world with all his bulked up muscle. It shows a certain dedication to the role. David Caruso is a consummately good actor whose personal life and attitude may have cost him film roles before he got NYPD BLUE he was a dependable character actor then after he decided to leave the show at it’s height of popularity to be a movie theater. It was a bad decision that he seemed to keep getting punished for and hurt his career until he got another hit TV series. Before he would pop up here and there in various films this was one of his first starring roles that was a hit that made him decide to leave the show. But here he proves he has what it takes to play a lead.

This was the first Stanley Tucci Performance I remember vividly. It made me really notice and pay attention to him as an actor.

This film feels like a graphic novel version of a gritty pulp thriller. It’s too colorful and gloss to be a true down and dirty tale. Though it surprisingly funny in a lot of scenes intentionally. It has scenes of Nicholas cage bench pressing strippers and Samuel l. Jackson as a FBI agent with a constantly tearing eye. But it is a fun film that is never boring. Though he does get over his dead wife rather quick.

A Satisfying Rental

GRADE: C+

BLOOD & BONE (2009)

Directed By: Ben Ramsey
Written By: Michael Andrews
Cinematography: Roy H. Wagner
Editor: Dean Goodhill

CAST: Michael Jai White, Eamonn Walker, Nona Gaye, Dante Basco, Kimbo Slice, Julian Sands, Francis Capra


A typical straight to Home Video movie that seems to partially a remake of LIONHEART mixed With a episode of KUNG-FU only with a minority cast and more brutal violence.

The film is violent but thankfully when bones are broken many times they don’t protrude like a Steven Seagal film. While the film is brutal at times, you never worry about the hero who always seems to be in control no matter what the situation. No one really seems to put up a challenge for him even when he is outnumbered which hurts the film. Sure it makes the hero a total Bad ass but there is a lack of tension. You never worry about him you know almost exactly what is going to happen.

One of the strengths of the film is the villian played by Eammon Walker his character has many good one-liners and a certain demented philosophy that makes him a memorable screen villain the problem is that it is a shame someone with so much talent is reduced to working in this film. When you know he is capable of so much better.

Though they are predictable the fight scenes are memorable.

Michael Jai White is a good leading man he has slimmed down some of his muscle but still looks solid and still makes a viable leading man he could be a superhero.

This film was directed by Ben Ramsey unfortunately not written by him which you can tell because it lacks his dark sense of humor. Though the film does contain the line from all his productions “I’m From Pittsburgh, You know what that means”

With this film what you see is what you get the film is rather simple. You know what you are getting into in terms of quality when you watch a straight to home video or now DVD Movie they will be low budget not the best quality of movies but this is one of the better ones. It’s not a classic but it will entice you for two hours.

I hope this is the first in a series of films about this character so we learn more about him in future installments. This film keeps most of his past a secret.

The film is about a man who gets released from prison and works his way up a street fighting circuit with his eyes on defeating the top fighter to get close to his boos the villain.

While the film has Excessive violence it doesn’t have excessive sex or nudity. Even tough it plys like a modern update of a black exploitation film of the 70’s though not as much a time capsule of the times it does have a social message. but no sex and more hand to hand combat action instead of weapons plus this film has better actors.

A Good Rental

GRADE: C+

Saturday, August 15, 2009

TROY (2004)

Directed By: Wolfgang Peterson
Written By: Daid Benioff
Based on the poem – The Illiad by Homer
Cinematography By: Paul Bond & Roger Pratt
Editor: Peter Honess

CAST: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Rose Byrne, Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, Diane Kruger, Garrett Hedlund, Julie Christie, Saffron Burrows, Owain Yeoman,


The film is grand but in trying to tell this grand story a lot of things have to fall by the wayside to make a enjoyable entertaining movie. Because above all else it seems the effects are the thing that is most important to the film then characters, plot or acting. The only other thing that seems important is the beauty of the actors.

The disappointments of the film are many. For instance you have this great dramatic cast of classically trained mostly British actors in supporting roles. They gear up like this will be a historical epic with plenty of dramatic opportunities. Instead they get a middle ages war film with many overwrought melodramatic scenes. Mostly though battle scenes that the main cast is not involved in so they are more like window dressing and wasted. Which is one of the films major flaws. The Film tries too hard to be something it’s not then can’t decide what type of films it wants to be.

Films of this magnitude don’t usually have top of the line actors. This film having so many is very uncommon. So to try and please them and there fans they each have scenes to shine in. Which makes the film too long and feel bloated. It’s no wonder when Terry Gilliam Was considered to direct the film he only made it 5 pages into the script before he stopped and turned it down

The film builds up to a great sword fight scene that the film has been hinting at throughout and when it finally happens. It is pretty much a letdown. It is realistic for the believability of the weight of the armor and weapons but for the most part is one-sided and not much of a spectacle. In fact the fight between Eric Bana and the imposter was more impressive albeit quicker.

I will admit Brad Pitt has never looked better physically and facial wise This movie presents him as a fierce warrior who is almost womanly beautiful. But still gives a barely passable performance.

Another one of the more laughable aspects of the film is how fast the royals cousin who is kidnapped and turned into a slave to brad Pitt. Becomes his willing lover so fast is questionable then at the ending of the film it’s presented as a great love story.

I don’t know too much about history but Orlando Bloom’s character is made through most of the film to be a spoiled pretty boy. Stealing another rulers wife. Then getting beaten badly while barely putting up a fight his family has to suffer for his crimes defending him. He chickens out of another fight. Then at the end he finds courage and becomes a heroic archer warrior (That reminds the audience of his role in the LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY a little too much) this leads to learning the story of Achilles Heel.

While the film tries for epic and does have some amazing shots. Half o them you can tell are digital and feel like videogame scenes. This film just feels inauthentic and like a bad game of Dress-up.

The film is never really exciting nor do you feel anything for its characters. I advise skipping.

GRADE: F

Sunday, August 2, 2009

STAR TREK (2009)

Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Cinematography By: Daniel Mindel
Editor: Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Leonard Nimoy, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Eric Bana, Tyler Perry, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg, Ben Cross, Jennifer Morrison, Rachel Nichols, Lisa Vidal, Oz Perkins




There is a certain gloss and openness that separates this film from the others that maybe because this s a resurrection of the series with a cast that wasn’t started from the television series. making the cast for this film more big screen ready then previous casts.

This is a restart for the series it is grander even though it takes place before the series and films the technology and effects are way better plus ahead of there time.

The film shows how the enterprise crew came together and gives each member of the crew and cast a scene in which to shine to show how vital they are to the crew. The ymake each cast member essential even the lovely Uhura. The filmmakers also implant a genius idea as to how this and if there are any future sequels don’t necessarily have to follow the adventures we have already seen or have past knowledge of the history of the characters opening it up to novice audiences

The film is well cast especially Simon Pegg as Scotty he is a particular standout he brings energy and much needed humor to the Preceedings. Karl Urban also makes things lively as Dr. McCoy but it still feels mostly like a comedic performance with a dramatic scene here or there. At least he gets a chance to show some range since he is commonly associated with action roles. The give Eric Bana the villain role and while he is scary he doesn’t make a impression on me as a memorable villain.

I have always bee a mild star trek fan I still am a bigger star wars fan but this film instilled a interest in the series for me.

The film still keeps up the philosophy of decisions and technical talk but also adds what most of the movies lacked, general tension and full blown exciting action sequences. Which may have been not as big in the other films due to the age of the cast and the fact the TV episodes were low when it came to action .

J.J. Abrams makes a noticeable improvement in his directing style, Since his last film. There are some scenes of silent comedy, Drama, Physical Comedy, Special effects and action all handled admirably. Though I still feel his direction is still too boxy and Televison styled. Which makes sense, Since that is the medium he has garnered the greatest success in. He still has room to improve but this is his first big screen endeavor that I thoroughly enjoyed .

This is a film well worth seeing and adding to your film library even if you are not a big fan of the series or previous films.

GRADE: B