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Friday, August 28, 2009

TRAILER - The Men Who Stare At Goats

[sarcasm]Well it's about time something outlandish and absurd hit theaters this year.[/sarcasm] Based on (what I can barely believe) a true story, "The Men Who Stare At Goats" follows a reporter (Ewan McGregor) who tries to track a story about a military unit trained to utilize special powers. You know, seeing the future, walking through walls, telekinesis-- Real X-Men stuff. Anyway he stumbles upon the "best" of the unit (George Clooney) and well... Watch the trailer.

The all-star cast also includes Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. Looks funny, but then it could have just given away all the best moments. November 6th will tell us soon enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TRAILER - Zombieland (International Version)

Finally. A zombie flick that doesn't bother trying to be good. We may have a winner!

Although I think I enjoyed the domestic trailer more, this still has the spark about it that will put my ass in the seat to see it.

Welcome to Zombieland October 9th!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

REVIEW - "Inglourious Basterds" (2009)

Over the past week I’ve seen some moviegoers declare “District 9” as “The Dark Knight” of this summer. I shrugged, not exactly agreeing with such sentiment, but certainly not giving the comment much credit. And for good reason. It’s undeserved. While I doubt a summer blockbuster will ever reach the bar set by “The Dark Knight” in the next twenty years, I suppose we can still clamor about the closest cases and correlate the absurd comment to films on a yearly basis. And if the title, “This Year’s Dark Knight” is to go to any movie, it is “Inglourious Basterds.”

Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) leads a Jewish squad in to Nazi France to… “Do one thing and one thing only.” Kill Nazis. When they learn a Nazi film’s premiere will include Hitler himself they decide to take out the entire audience during the film. While their plans face casualties, particularly under the ruthless Col. Landa, they are also unaware of a Jewish girl’s plot to burn down her theater—Aiding the Basterds in their agenda.

So why on Earth would I declare this movie as “This Year’s Dark Knight?” Well, anyone who is a fan of Tarantino should be able to figure that out. Like the “The Dark Knight,” though less subtly, “Inglourious Basterds” harkens back to great 1970s and 1980s cinema. (Arguably two of the best decades of film.) Granted, all of Tarantino’s movies have a 70s aesthetic to them, but like the latest Bat-venture it seamlessly fuses raw, hard characters with painstakingly difficult moral dilemmas that give violence a newfound substance. The big difference is, “Basterds’” elements are all satirical. What? You thought Tarantino was going to create cookie-cutter, heartfelt war flick we’ve seen countless times before? I. Think. Not.

It is without regret or remorse that I laughed my throat sore as soon as Pitt’s Aldo Raine trampled the screen. Scenes of his merciless brutality and colorful vocabulary only seemed to excite the audience and I. But why was this character so interesting? Beyond his one-track attitude toward Nazis, he seemed rather one-dimensional. It wasn’t until his conversation with a Nazi prisoner that I realized what he was. When the officer declines to give Raine information, after the threat of a brutal beating from “The Bear Jew,” (Eli Roth) Raine replies, “Actually, Werner, we're all tickled to hear you say that. Quite frankly, watching Donny [The Bear Jew] beat Nazi's to death is the closest we ever get to going to the movies.” Suddenly Tarantino’s love for film skyrockets from the screen to my body. He’s fully aware what makes the audience tick, what they enjoy and how they enjoy it. But he is also aware of the desensitization that movies, even his own films, have been criticized for. Satire has never been brighter, ballsier and funnier as this scene runs to a violent finish.

As we hop from one lengthy scene to another, there’s something marvelous to be said about the writing for each character. Though many will argue the movie needed a sharper axe in the editing room, there truly isn’t anything I would have changed. For example, undercover British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox’s rendezvous with a German informant is interrupted by a Nazi soldier’s curiosity and need for company. The awkward scene is brought to life with long-winded shots of drinking, gaming and snooty comradery. What feels like a pointless exercise in how to shoot non-mobile characters with dialogue feels more like a long joke waiting for a punch line. Though the scene ends with most of the characters’ conversation left irrelevant, there’s something gratifying about sitting through it. It’s Tarantino’s style to outwit the audience’s emotions and bring their misguidance tumbling down on their heads. Here he succeeds like never before, ending everything with jaw dropping abruptness.

Because of the massive amount of attention given to even the tiniest characters, it’s hard not to chew up the screen if you’re in front of the camera. Every performance, one after another, is absolutely top notch. As if arming themselves for a Shakespearean tragedy, the cast of “Inglourious Basterds” is wrought with the most believable amount of tension to keep audiences gripped to the screen. While Pitt’s Aldo Raine ranks among his better performances, Christoph Waltz nearly steals the show with his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa. Smart, calculating and treacherous—It’s so much more interesting to give us a Nazi we can hate more than Hitler, instead of lazily allowing historical knowledge to fuel our feelings. Waltz may be up for a supporting actor nod as he is, by far, a stand out player in “Basterds.”

A rather underrated player is the gorgeous Mélanie Laurent’s revenge filled Shosanna Dreyfus. A character I ended up loving more than I thought, Laurent transformers herself from a petty Jewish survivor, to a full-fledged nightmare to the Nazi party. Although she is never aware of the Basterds, her presence in the film is a giant factor to how everything winds up by the end of the film.

Before the credits hit the screen, the last line audiences will hear is, “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” With that, I can only reply, “I think it just might be, Mr. Tarantino.” So lets strip away “This Year’s Dark Knight” nonsense, and even a line like “Tarantino’s best since Pulp Fiction.” By the end of the film I was convinced: This is Tarantino’s best. Ouch. Now that is bold isn’t it?

**** out of ****

Terminator Salvation Director's Cut Rated R?

I suppose this isn't too surprising, but what few flies on the wall that know anything about "Salvation's" home video release are buzzing loudly: Supposedly the DVD/Bluray release of the fourth Terminator film will include slightly more violent footage and Moon Bloodgood's nudity. This is all speculation because, according to McG, very little was cut from the movie. (Other than Moon Bloodgood nude.) So why a director's cut? Well...

While I greatly enjoyed "Salvation," it's also a very flawed movie and it didn't exactly blow up at the box office. I'm not sure how much a risque shot and rise in brutality will help the film, but a "director's cut is always a 'sure fire' strategy to help sales...err...right?

In the meantime, I'm wondering if it's ever coming out on home video. No one seems to know an exact release date, other than "mid-November." This is subject to change, but I wonder if Warner Brothers' is changing up their marketing strategy for the film's video release beyond a simple "director's cut." If so it might be why we have release dates for "Star Trek" and the later released "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" but no "Salvation."

I look forward to it either way. Maybe more Arnold in the director's cut? Please?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

TRAILER - Avatar

For years we've waited. James Cameron claimed he wanted to put this "epic" project on the back burner until technology had become advanced enough to make it work. Fans, geeks and Cameron supporters have bit their nails eagerly to see the touted revolutionary special effects-- And finally. We get a teaser trailer.

Now, I saw this trailer several days ago, but I wanted to see it on the big screen before I put it on here and blogged about it. Frankly, even after seeing it on one of my city's larger screens, I don't get it. Sure it looks, fun, colorful and enjoyable. I'm glad Cameron is back and I hope he doesn't over a decade to make his next movie. But as far as "Avatar" goes... What's the big deal? The effects don't look any more revolutionary than "District 9's" aliens and the rest looks reminiscent, if not identical to effects extravaganzas of recent: "The Matrix Revolutions," "Harry Potter" and "Transformers," all come to mind as comparable and, dare I say, influential.

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun. It is, after all, a teaser trailer and James Cameron certianly wouldn't spill all the goods in a teaser... Right? Right...?

December 18.

TRAILER - The Fourth Kind

What works: "The Fourth Kind" looks like its that very special kind of horror. There's no man chasing down underdeveloped teenage whores. There's not a psycho behind a current getting off to all the the inane "jigsaw" traps his victims fall in. All the horror is staged within the minds of the characters. Because of this, the trailer only shows the horrific reactions to these memories and why what you don't see is far scarier than what you do see.

What doesn't work: Though the trailer claims to use achieved footage from a real life investigation I've found next to zilch on the subject-- That doesn't mean the footage isn't real, but I'm wondering if this "based on true accounts" stuff is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Or perhaps the lack of information is simply part of the horror? You decide. For me, "The Fourth Kind" trailer is far scarier than any feature I've seen in the last half decade.

Theaters, March 2010.