Inglourious Basterds [2009] – Hall of Fame

27 07 2011

Tarantino movies are always about criminal acts gone wrong. In most of his movies,his characters always seem to plot some really ingenious plan,which topple like dominos when some minor flaw gets exposed and this failure of plans and the subsequent commotion is what drives Tarantino’s plot forward. Inglourious Basterds also follows the same technique so does Pulp fiction and Reservoir dogs. But neither Pulp Fiction nor Reservoir dogs has impressed me and consider both overrated. In short I never really was a fan of Tarantino works,But this movie is definitely an eye opener!

The Basement Bar Scene

The Movie opens with a Jewish girl,Shosanna who escapes from the slaughter of her family by the SS Colonel Hans Landa,who is better known by his nick name, The Jew Hunter. A few years later, in German-occupied Paris, Shosanna  has the opportunity to burn down the Film theater where the Nazi propaganda film’s première is held. The real catch of the situation is that the première is attended by the Nazi élite which includes the Führer .  Shosanna’s avenge plot is only one of the three threads that are crisscrossed  in this movie.  While the girl fine tunes her plan to perfection, Lt. Aldo Raine [Brad Pitt],puts together a special Jewish-American force who are trained trained solely for one business and that is the Nah-tzee  killing business. The all-Jewish killing squad includes Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth), aka “the Bear Jew”, who beats Nazis to pulp with his baseball bat, Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), a former soldier in the German army, who holds an impressive record in killing German officers, and other six American Jews who are in this “booming business”. The third thread in the plot includes Winston Churchill conspiring to join the The Basterds in their mission by sending a commando who in his civilian life works as a movie critic with his specialty being German cinema!With a German actress-turned-Allied-spy (Diane Kruger) on their side, the British devises this “ingenious” Operation Kino, which is aimed at wiping out the SS high command. And when this plan is set into motion,the acts gets wrong completely and rest you can watch it in the screen.

Melanie Laurent - Shosanna

The ensemble cast which mainly consisting of American and German actors are one of the main highlights of the movie. And the highlight among the highlights is the Austrian born Christoph Waltz.The extent of success of this actor can be known from writer’s own words,as Tarantino has once said he feared that he wrote a part that was unplayable! Col. Hans Landa‘s[Christoph Waltz as the The Jew Hunter] character throws in a lot of “coin toss” scenes [No country for old men] which generates a lot of tension thanks to Brilliant portrayal by Waltz and superb writing from the maker himself. Every time Hans Landa enters the screen,the scene gets electrified and makes the audience uneasy. Mélanie Laurent does justice to her character by limiting herself into what her character demands,In short she doesn’t over do it. But in turn, both Brad Pitt and Eli Roth over do it,only because the larger than life characters demand it !Diane Kruger may have done the best role in her career with Bridget von Hammersmark.

The Coin toss scene in Inglourious Basterds

The movie is completely over the top when it comes to the plot,visualisation and the characters,actually no surprise there considering its a Tarantino film.The plot really is blown up,far from what history books says but still the movie is pure fun at its best!It seems that Quentin Tarantino made this movie to celebrate the phenomenon of cinema.Cinema acts like a silent but expressive character through out the movie.Brad Pitt’s mannerism closely resemble to the legendary Marlon Brando. We see Hitler laughing like he was nuts[Should I really use the word “like”?] when he sees Allied soldiers being killed by a German soldier and how Hitler sees cinema as an important medium. We also see how Nazis viewed cinema seriously and usage of it to spread Nazi ideologies and antisemitism. The character Lt. Archie Hicox, played by Michael Fassbender is actually a movie critic with exceptional knowledge in Nazi Cinema whose knowledge plays a crucial role in Operation Kin’s success. Then there is Bridget von Hammersmark,a German Actress who doubles up as a british spy,the femme fatale in this movie.There seems to a lot of other cinema references in this movie but it would be punitive to load up the entire page with it.But i would like to add one more and the best comes last.I still don’t know if Tarantino meant to do this but still…Perrier LaPadite,the French dairy farmer played by Denis Menochet has a striking resemblance to Stanley Kubrick!  But interestingly Hans Landa is the one who does the Kubrick stare.

Brad Pitt-Marlon Brando;Kubrick-Menochet

When Inglourious Basterds moves towards its end credits, a character says something like “I think this just might be my masterpiece”. As soon as I heard it,I suspected that Tarantino placed that dialogue with an ulterior motive.And when i checked Wikipedia,my suspicions were laid to rest when I learnt that he consider this movie or screenplay to be precise,to be the greatest work he has ever done.As a viewer I have to agree that this is his best work till date.For me it even qualifies to be termed as a modern-day classic!

P.S-The movie’s title is a tricky one.Every time I type the movie’s name,the spelling and grammar thing on my blog platform corrects me!Even though Tarantino refuses to explain why he made this “supposed” typo,the rumor going around the internet is that it was used to distinguish itself from the Italian war movie “Inglorious Bastards”.





To Kill a Mockingbird [1962]-Hall of Fame

3 06 2011

When I first saw American Film Institutes list of Greatest movie heroes of the 20th century,i was really disappointed to not see the The blonde’s name on the list.I have always thought Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of Blondie was the ideal example of being a hero and that was the time when I associated masculinity with heroism.But times have changed and I don’t blame AFI who voted Atticus Finch as greatest movie hero ever.

To kill a mocking bird which was released in 1962 is a perfect example of how the charm of the source material can transform the movie into a classic.The movie is based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer winning novel of the same name.The story by Lee is so intricately carved that it brings out the depression era of America quite soulfully through the eyes of  6 year old  Scout played by Mary Badham.The movie begins with her Voice Over Narration “Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932, when I first knew it.”This fact is quite effectively established by the slow yet involving pace of the movie.Scout’s father, Atticus Finch is a lawyer and a bona fide one at that.The role played by Gregory Peck is a widower with 2 kids,Jem and Scout.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch

The most part of the movie deals with Scot and Jems adventures with Dill who is spending his summer with aunt Stephanie.They go spy on Maycomb’s supposed boogey man Boo who is said to be chained to his bed.There are lots of scenes in this movie which makes the audience nostalgic about their childhood.Mean while as a parallel yet linked storyline Atticus Finch is defending a black man who is alleged to have raped a white woman.This part of the movie brings out the social structure of America that was prevalent in early part of the 20th century where black  people were subjugated more intensely.The scenes in which Scout and Jem are taught by their father about different perspectives through which one has to look at people’s characters before assessing them are quite heartening.There is a dialogue in the movie which I found really interesting where Finch asks Scout whether she knows what a “compromise ” means to which Scot answers rather innocently “bending the law?”.

Jem and Scout

Jem and Scout

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is marvelous.He plays his role with such perfection that his role is said to be an inspirational factor for many who take up law as their profession.Mary Badham as Scout and Philip Alford as Jem were a delight to watch as their performance brings  out the sinlessness of childhood.But almost all other characters in the movie look like mere caricatures[except may be Dill played John Megna] thanks to mediocre direction.

Even though Mulligan was able to reflect the warmth in the movie,it has too many structural flaws both in the script and its execution.Mulligan maybe doubted for his sincerity when he visualizes a novel which puts forward the prejudices against a colored man in the society.For example black men shown as relative and the friends of the accused are always shown in the background with little dialogue whatsoever.Their casting makes us feel that they were just being used by the director to fill  the screen space.Even though a lot of screen time is dedicated to unnecessary white characters, the wife of Tom Robinson[accused] is given not even a single complete dialogue.The execution of climax by the director seemed forced and half-baked.

This movie would have been sure shot nominee for my all time best movie for its story,characters and the lead cast.But sadly Robert Mulligan’s direction is no great shake.But still when my rational side of a movie buff says the movie is good, my heart says it is great.And since for a movie, soul is the only thing that ever matters and hence I am adding this movie to Movie Junkyard’s Great Movies list.

P.S-When you see the film take a close look at “Boo” Radley,well he is none other than Robert Duvall who is known for his dialogue “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”Lieutenant Colonel William “Bill” Kilgore in the movie “Apocalypse Now“]





Avatar

26 12 2009

avatar
Avatar is a 2009 American science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote a 114-page scriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic, and the film would have been released in 1999, but according to Cameron, “technology needed to catch up” with his vision of the film. In early 2006, Cameron developed the script, the language, and the culture of Pandora.He has stated that if Avatar is successful, two sequels to the film are planned.


Plot Summary

The film begins in the year 2154 and focuses on Pandora, a fictional inhabited Earth-like moon in another planetary system.The story set in the 22nd century revolves on disabled ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is called to replace his dead twin in the Avatar program. To fulfill his duty, he travels to the planet populated by Na’vi, Pandora. The Na’vi are hostile to the human race due to the humans’ destruction of their home planet caused by mining for minerals. In the humans attempt to win over the race and the planet, they brew up an experiment that combined human and Na’vi DNA to create the unique Na’vi avatars. These avatars controlled by mental link will proxy for humans in the planet.

Sully is tasked to take control of one of the avatar ambassadors. He agrees to the proposition in exchange for the treatment to his broken legs. In the course of his mission, he must gain the trust of the Na’vi people whilst convincing them to abandon their home turf. Unexpectedly, he falls in love with the Na’vi princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who had been training him in their Na’vi life and ways. In the progression of the film, Sullu must make a choice whether to help his own human race to carry out their plan or to battle against the tide to side with his new friends, the Na’vis.

Review

James Cameron returns to the directing seat after he sank “Titanic” 12 years ago. Long before, he was known for his high quality sci-fi films that set new standards for 3d effects including “The Terminator”, “Aliens”, and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. With his refined state-of-the-art, $300 million worth production using CG effects in “Avatar”, he lines up with known sci-fi classics that came down history: “Star Wars”, “Jurassic Park”, “The Matrix” and “Lord of the Rings”.

The largest achievement of the movie comes from the most-talked about CG animation. Using this technology, Cameron brings to life the ten-foot-tall, blue-skinned, cat-like, indigenous people of the planet Pandora, the Na’vi. Though they’re quite a sore to the eye during promotions, while watching them thrive in their natural habitat, they’re a wonder to behold.

Another highly-talked about CG success in the movie is the dense forests populating the world of Pandora. The depiction of the ecologically-balanced, harmonious, and bio-diverse environment is filled with a lush jungle, floating mountains, and a gargantuan tree that stands out among the rest. The team has also created unique wildlife roaming around the planet like vicious viperwolves, six-legged direhorses, mighty thanators, graceful woodsprites, griffin-like banshees, and the predator leonopteryx.

The film’s soundtrack was something which complemented greatly to the success of the film.Composer James Horner scored the film, his third collaboration with Cameron after Aliens and Titanic.

My Verdict

When i started watching the films i was with half baked expectations as i was not a huge fan of Cameron,s earlier works[Titanic,Terminator etc].But the movie just made my perspectives change as as the projector started casting the images on the screen.Avatar  is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It’s a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult following similar to Harry potter or Lord of the rings. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings and there lies real success of the film!

Cameron’s eye-popping visuals are the story, particularly because the actual narrative is too simple to sustain the 150-minute run time. The movie is about 95% cgi but there are no loose ends everything appears as if they are real.The movie was so involving that into the climax scenes i was almost in complete hysteria over the battle scenes.

I wouldnt say the 3d effects in the movie is top notch but unlike most other 3d films 80% of scenes in this film is 3d.But the effects of the 3d are not over expressive,it maybe because the Cameron must’ve considered it as a distraction.If  you want the ultimate 3d experience ,you may watch gore flicks like Final Destination 4 or My Bloody Valentine.

In short-
Staggering, spellbinding, a virtual trip to another world. Cameron has created the best film of the year and maybe of the decade

rating-

PROS-CGI,presence of Stephen Lang,Zoe Saldaña etc and James Cameron’s direction

Cons-lackluster performance of most supporting actors,3d effects etc!

Avatar
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Jon Landau
Written by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington
Zoë Saldaña
Stephen Lang
Michelle Rodriguez
Giovanni Ribisi
Sigourney Weaver
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Editing by James Cameron
John Refoua
Stephen E. Rivkin
Studio Lightstorm Entertainment
Dune Entertainment
Ingenious Film Partners
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 10, 2009
(London)
December 17, 2009
(United Kingdom)
December 18, 2009
(United States)
Running time 161 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $237,000,000[2]







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