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Inglorious Basterds October 14, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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One of the most visible and appealing aspects of Tarantino’s films are those long winding conversations – absolutely having nothing do with the plot (if any) yet turn out to be the most memorable parts. Technically, Inglorious Basterds happens to be a montage of just such exchanges – the difference being that now they do have to do something with the film. A Tarantino enthusiast couldn’t ask for more so it isn’t an understatement to say that Basterds is an instant classic. But be warned if you are not accustomed to QT – the constant grumbles and a few walkouts in the auditorium weren’t too surprising to me.

When Tarantino announced he’d be making a World War II movie it made almost everyone curious (with a little disbelief). Basterds never gives a damn to convention – what you see in the trailer is rather the tamest part. The very first conversation – which I think lasts for about fifteen minutes gives you a hint of things to come. For someone who has seen the movie, it is really hard to describe the content and yet convince someone who hasn’t seen it; that Basterds is one of the most riveting thrillers in recent memory.

Unsurprisingly, this film like every film QT has made comes with its share of memorable characters. Christoph Waltz is the name on everyone’s lips and rightly so. Hans Land aka “The Jew Hunter” is to Basterds what the Joker was to The Dark Knight – maybe more. Evil was never so sexy. French actress Melanie Laurent is super as Shosanna Dreyfus. I hope we get to see more of her now in mainstream Hollywood. Though playing the lead, Brad Pitt seemed relatively sidelined but he proves yet again what a riot he can be when he’s funny. There’s a huge bunch of supporting characters – Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Omar Doom to name a few who perform admirably well.

Inglorious Basterds is yet another maverick piece of work from Quentin Tarantino – who expectedly subverts the genre to give us another memorable film. Oh..as usual he manages to fit in some great soundtracks.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button February 19, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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David Fincher’s much talked about film has quite an intriguing premise. What would happen if someone had to live life backwards? Born as an old man, the film’s protagonist Benjamin Button grows younger as time progresses and the film tracks the major events in his journey from life to death. This is more or less a fictional biopic of a character based on fantasy.

A role such as Button’s requires an actor to adapt to old age as well as young, focus on body language and make the audience root for him. Brad Pitt does all this with aplomb though I fail to see how I could evaluate part of his performance without being able to differentiate between effects and reality. The other important character in the film that evolves with Button is his love interest, Daisy, admirably portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Another splendid actress, Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Burn After Reading), plays the British woman who has an affair with Button in another interesting passage of his life. Despite the presence of such capable performers, the relatively unknown Taraji P Henson holds her own and grabs your attention as Button’s foster mother.

This is, without a shred of doubt, a very very well crafted film. With Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac) at the helm, you expect nothing less. There is a lot to love in this film. Most of all, the magnificent visual effects. You wonder throughout the film about how they managed to make Brad Pitt look the way he does in the film. The outstanding visuals are aided by the superlative production design (Donald Graham Burt) and cinematography (Claudio Miranda).

The hard work put into the making of this film translates beautifully onto the screen. There is so much in this film that one can recall vividly even after many days; whether it is his affair with British woman or his outing as a sailor or Daisy’s accident. However, visuals aren’t always enough. Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) weaves a competent screenplay but it lacks moments that would make it memorable. At the end of the film, I asked myself if it conveyed anything particularly insightful about life through the living in reverse device. Nothing stood out except the attempt to depict the similarities between the beginning and the end of life in both physical and mental terms.

The 166 minute film isn’t particularly entertaining in terms of humor and thrills. It clearly isn’t for everyone but where I was watching, silence prevailed and everyone seemed to be thoroughly involved. At times you couldn’t even chew your popcorn without distracting those around you. Despite the novel premise and the interesting life that Button leads, this film falls short of being great. Watch this if you would for the premise, visuals and effects.

Burn After Reading September 15, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The Coen Brothers’ latest offering is a fun film. Except for the fact that this is the follow-up to an Oscar winning attempt from the directors, this film has a lot going for it.

While the plot is a bit too complex to describe, the characters should give you an idea about this film. Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) is a Hardbodies Gym employee who, in her words, has gone “as far as I can with this body” and wants to renew herself with four different cosmetic surgeries, none of which she actually needs. Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) plays her enthusiastic colleague who is looking to help her make money for the surgeries when they find a CD with some classified information from an ex-CIA operative. The CIA operative, Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), is a drunk who has been recently fired. His wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is sleeping with Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is something of a sex maniac. What follows is a bunch of events with the CIA keeping a close watch.

All the characters in this film have their quirk factor raised up a notch. These aren’t the sort of people you’d meet everyday nor are they the sort that you can like or empathize with. The Coens put them together in some crazy situations, add witty dialogue all around and throw in a couple of shocks to make up this film.

The delightful cast is reason enough to watch this film. Pitt as a fitness instructor is very different from what we’ve seen before. Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, Colour Me Kubrick) repeatedly calls him an idiot and he really makes a good one. McDormand (Fargo) is just wonderful once again in probably the best performance of the film. Clooney is superb as well. J K Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man 3) somehow manages to put a smile on my face even when he isn’t doing much and he gets the two most hilarious scenes in this film. Another amusing cameo comes courtesy of J R Horne, who plays a divorce lawyer.

Burn After Reading is a goofy spy film, sort of, but it isn’t about anything really. It is a dark comedic thriller about a bunch of idiots interlinked in crazy situations culminating in a climax where no one except the audience is really sure what happened. It is quite funny, briskly paced and ends just when you get the feeling that it might start to drag. Don’t expect a masterpiece here but if you are looking to laugh, this film should deliver.