Saturday, September 26, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Taylor - I never really fancied myself a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I mean, everyone back when I was just out of college throught that Pulp Fiction was the second coming, and while I enjoyed Jackie Brown, and appreciated him bringing Pam Grier to a new generation of film watchers, I could have lived my life without seeing it and been ok.
Then I saw the trailer for Kill Bill, vol. 1.
Holy shit! This is a super hero movie, Tarantino style!
Rodan and I went opening night to see the first volume (with, if memory serves, Rodan) and it did not disappoint. Action sequences, a out of sync story that was surprisingly easy to follow along with, and an amazing cast, I could not WAIT to see Volume 2 a few months later. (Unfortunately, I had to wait to see it til the DVD came out, but it was worth the wait.) Tarantino followed up the KB movies with Death Proof, his half of a horribly fun film, Grindhouse. The film captures some of the best car chase and crash sequences ever filmed and does a better job that Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez's half) of creating that feel of a film from the 70's, filmed out in the California mountains. I became a fan through those movies, and as such, was looking forward to Inglourious Basterds.
I was not disappointed.
The film "stars" Brad Pitt as the head of a secret group of Jewish American soldiers with the sole intension of killing Nazis. I say stars in quotes because Pitt isn't in the film for what I would consider to be a majority of it. A lot of the film is about the soldiers in Pitt's crew, and a side storyline involving a Jewish girl on the run, and how those two stories come together in an explosive (literally) conclusion. Tarantino continues his "there are no rules" style of storytelling, using long drawn out talking scenes with characters who may suddenly be taken out from the story with little to no warning. The director's main device used in the film is tension. You find yourself at times on the edge of your seat, whether it's the opening scene involving an interrigation of a French dairy farmer (I could feel myself wanting to yell, "They're in the cellar!" at the screen), to the simple act of The main muscle of the soldiers, The Bear Jew, (Eli Roth, looking nice and swarthy) simply banging his baseball bat along the walls of a tunnel prior to emerging from the shadows to bash in a Nazi's head.
Everything in the film, from costumes to (especially) music to the acting was pretty damn good. (I especially enjoyed the acting of the two main female actresses - Melanie Laurent and Diane Kruger as the Jewish girl and a German Actress, respectively.) Also amzingly evil was Chistoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa, aka The Jew Hunter. You couldn't believe how you could find someone so evil so charming at times.
Not as gory as it could have been, nor Historically correct (at all!), Inglourious Basterds is a fun way to spend an afternoon on a rainy day, and is strongly recommended to fans of non-traditional film making.
I give Inglourious Basterds five pugs.

Babaloo - Quintin Tarantino has never failed to entertain me from Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction to his cheese Zombie flick Grindhouse. Inglorious Basterds has got to be his best yet.

Inglorious Basterds, directed and written by Quintin Tarantino, set in an Alternate history/universe in Nazi-Occupied France during World War 2. “The Bastards” are a group of rough housing soldiers (mostly Jewish) lead by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). There mission is to assassinate the entire Nazi command during a Nazi propaganda film premiere in Paris> With the help of a dashingly handsome British soldier Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender). At the same time, the beautiful young woman (Melanie Laurent) who runs the theatre in Paris is planning on revenge for the death for her family.

That is only a snippet of what the movie is about.

The film is filled with amazing action sequences but the best parts are those tense conversational moments. Mostly by Christoph Waltz who plays Col. Hans Landa, sort of a Jewish Bounty Hunter. He has that creepy nice cop but I’m still going to kill you with charm and a smile, that you just love to hate. The film really doesn’t have that much action. What it does have is amazing dialogue between all the characters that puts you on the edge of your seat.

Another great part of the film is the acting. The Bastards like Brad Pitt and Eli Roth brought a lot of humor to the film. Til Schweiger as the crazy Sgt, Hugo Stiglitz was fun to watch especially his back story. There are so many great actors from other countries in this film that made it just more enjoyable. As mentioned before Christoph Waltz, from Austria, was the best of all with his creep snake like charm. Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Drefus, from Paris, played the French girl that runs the theatre. The annoyingly creepy Daniel Bruhl from Spain, played the German Nazi soldier that the film is documented about. Just to name a few.

The film had a lot of great character scenes, back story and even little stories going constantly back and forth, that I almost wondered how in the world is he going to put it all together. But alas he does. How dare I question Tarantino. The ending of the film has got to be the best ending I have ever seen in a Tarantino Film. He used the same formula as has always done in previous films and again made something fresh and new. All the stories finally coming together to make a huge dramatic ending.

I bow to you master.

I gave it 5 pugs out of 5.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ok, So A New Pugs and Popcorn Segment!

A new segment here at the Pugs and Popcorn. Either Babaloo or myself (or both of us) is going to nominate a guy from a movie we've seen as and are reviewing here at the site. We've recently seen Inglourious Basterds (see our review!) and I am nominating Eli Roth. While not the best actor in the bunch, he was more than easy enough on the eyes.
We'll add each guy to our nomination list with each movie, and once we get to ten, we'll have a poll as to which guy is the official Pugs and Popcorn mascot or something....like I said, details need to be hammered out. You know, like Roth did with that Nazi guy's head.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Green Lantern (2009)

Taylor: Listners of PiMC know that I have become a big fan of the Green Lantern comic books over the last few months. Current storylines in the book focus on not only the character of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, but a large supporting cast of characters that each bring their own unique personality to wearing the ring. I was excited to see that there was a GL moving coming out, and after taking back What's Up, Doc? at the local Blockbuster, decided to give this one a try.

Similar to the last DCU feature, Wonder Woman, this one had its ups and downs. The film had some great action sequences, and it cohesively told the origin story of Jordan, who recieves his energy ring from a dying Green Lantern who crash lands on Earth. The problem is the origin is told WAY too quickly. He gets the ring, and suddenly, he's on another planet surrounded by other members of the Green Lantern Corp, with little explanation of exploration of feelings, motivation. The story has some SERIOUS plot holes in it. (The whole film takes place in a week!? He knows how to make a Green Bluetooth handfree phone AND make it operational?), but that can be nitpicking and fanboy-ish, so we'll leave it alone.

One thing that I CAN'T leave alone is the art style of the film. I felt it was a little too anime for my liking (One or two of the characters look like they were pulled right out of a Dragonball Z cartoon, and I'm sorry, but throwing moving lines behind something as it is "transforming" is not animation - it's sloppy.) I will say there is some great voiceover work, including Chris Meloni as Jordan/Green Lantern, and Victor Garber as Sinestro.

The film was definitely middle of the road for me, but it was a nice way to spend 75 minutes on the couch on a gloomy Staurday afternoon. 2 pugs and half a bag of popcorn.

Babaloo : A dying alien, Abin Sur, crashes to Earth and tells the ring to find the next lantern to take his place. The ring finds Hal Jordan a US air force test pilot. The moment Jordan accepts the ring he is transported to a Intergalactic police force that tries to stop alien mobsters, murders and thieves etc. The Guardians of the Universe (which look like little Orko’s from He-Man) are not quite convinced of Hal’s abilities to take on the ring, let alone any human. Sinestro convinces the Guardians of the Universe to take him under his wing and train him. However, Sinestro has other plans, he believes the Guardians are week and can do better job of cleaning the universe. So Sinestro finds a way to make is own ring by finding the yellow element that will make him powerful as any Green Lantern. Hal Jordan has stop him before he destroys the green lanterns corps.

I loved the film. It was good cop vs. bad cop in space. It had it’s Jedi feel to it, without the space opera. With some great action fight and chase scenes. Great story, which flowed smoothly, it did not feel rushed nor dumbed down . The animation is my favorite, it had a sense of Japanese anime which I am a huge fan of, for a straight to video movie it was well produced animation. It had a great voice cast of great actors….Christopher Meloni as Green Lantern, Victor Barber as Sinestro, Michael Madsen as Kilwog and many more. This film is not quite for the young children (hence the PG-13 rating). It did have some scenes of extreme violence; there was scenes of alien’s doing drugs and lots of blood and graphic death scenes. Which was my only bad thing I could say about this film.

I give it 4 pugs and a popcorn.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What's Up, Doc? (1972) - A Taylor Review

They don't make 'em like they used to.

The most dated of the movies we've reviewed here on Pugs And Popcorn, What's Up, Doc? stars Ryan O'Neal and Barbara Streisand as two strangers who get mixed up with each other and a jewel thief, a spy, and a slew of other zany characters in 1970's San Francisco. Naturally, hilarity ensues.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot for those of you who haven't seen it, but if you are looking for a fun movie to watch, GET THIS ONE! First of all, the juxtaposition of seeing a screwball comedy, something I would compare to the Three Stooges or Abbot and Costello, in "modern times," is interesting and fun! There were times when I literally laughed out loud like I would have as a kid on a Saturday afternoon watching an old Three Stooges short. (In particular, watch for the scene where the hotel manager tells the hotel detective to use his charm on an older woman staying at the hotel. You'll know it when you see it.) While the film makes you suspend your sense of disbelief, you don't mind. You just know that it's supposed to be a silly little movie, and you go along for the ride.

I was pleasantly surprised by Streisand in the film. The only times I have ever seen her work in movies involve her being very serious and moody (and, at times, chewing up the scenery - Nuts, anyone?) I went in to the film with some reservations about her diva behavior nowadays. I can say that by the end of the film, she won me over. She's actually quite charming and believable as Judy. And any film that ends it's cast credits with "and introducing Madeline Kahn," is SURE to get a thumbs up from me. Her part, while small, is integral to quite a few of the scenes, and you laugh from the literal moment the camera pans on her for the first time.

If I can say anything critical about the film, it would have to be Ryan O'Neal. O'Neal's recent return to the celebrity spotlight may have played a part in my feelings about him, but I found his character unlikeable and dull, which I know is supposed to be the point, but you usually see a transition for a character that starts out dull and ends a film a hero. Howard didn't do that for me. He started and ended the movie a real shlub. The only time he piqued my curiosity would be in the middle of the film where he walks around in boxers and a bow tie for 10 minutes. Otherwise, eh. Take him or leave him.

Thank you to Kevin Bee for recommending this movie (see, we WILL watch movies you recommend to us!). I smiled from beginning to end. I give the film 4.5 out of 5 pugs