Movie review : Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

[ No Spoilers ]

This is classic Quentin Tarantino. It’s violent but not horrifically so. If you’re just a little squeamish then there are probably only two scenes that you’ll want to glance away from. ( One being when Sgt. Donny Donowitz brings out the baseball bat. I can’t tell you the other without spoiling the movie. ) Most of the violence is just your standard blood splatters from getting shot with a machine gun. If you could sit and watch Saving Private Ryan you can certainly watch this.

The movie is about 2 1/2 hours long and kind of feels that way. There were a few times in the movie that I thought, “Can we get back to the Basterds now?” Some of the scenes seem to run a bit longer than really necessary. But that’s just Tarantio’s style. He’s in no hurry to tell the story. So the long scenes are either going to annoy you or make you appreciate the story teller’s method of giving details that aren’t essential to the plot.

Brad was wonderful as Lt. Aldo Raine. His opening speech to the basterds was reminiscent of George C. Scott’s speech in Patton. In this case I wish he would have taken a little more time in his delivery. Otherwise it was fantastic.

The rest of the cast gives perfectly good performances. Christoph Waltz stands out as Col. Hans Landa and probably has more screen time than anyone. Much of the credit goes to Tarantino for doing a great job of directing. Great actors can really suck with poor direction but give them the right support and you’ll get their best. Fortunately the cast is very tallented and Tarantino brings that out.

There were a good 4-5 scenes that the audience laughed at. Nothing hilarious but some good chuckles. If you laughed during Pulp Fiction, and I was practically rolling in the floor a few times, then you’ll get a good snort here and there.

For my part the most annoying aspect was the subtitles for the German and French lines. Normally I don’t mind but it makes it very difficult to take notes since I can’t tell what is being said unless I look at the screen and I can’t look at the screen and take notes at the same time.

What did you think about Inglourious Basterds? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer is the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time. I’m going to put it in that group of great romantic comedies that sits right under When Harry Met Sally, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

It was funny, but not hilarious. There were a handful of laugh out loud scenes that were funny to the audience but not funny to the characters ( I think we call that ironic comedy from now on).

What really surprised me is the effectiveness of the non chronological storytelling. The movie begins with day 500 and then skips around through the days non-sequentially. But it isn’t as if the story skipped around for no reason. Each jump was based on what the characters were thinking at the time. At no point was I lost thinking, “Is this the before or after breakup? Where are we?” The entire movie is a sequence of flashbacks but you hardly notice. And it seems obvious why it is written that way: it’s because this is how we actually remember things. So kudos to the writers and director for a job well done.

Zooey Deschanel was a perfect cast for this part. She is cute and quirky without being too beautiful for the role – just beautiful enough is more like it. 🙂 ( Yes, I’m a Zooey fan. ) It is fun seeing an actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt go from the brother in G.I. Joe to this role. Even though I just saw G.I. Joe last week I didn’t recognize him. He played the role superbly by not overdoing it. He’s just an average guy who got his heart broken.

And let me add that this movie has the best post first-sex music montage ever.

What did you think about (500) Days of Summer? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Bandslam

Bandslam

Bandslam reinforced a lesson that I’ve learned many times: never judge a movie based on it’s genre. I’m not a fan of horror movies but I’ve seen many horror movies that I love. And I’m not a big fan of cop/gangster movies yet I think some of the movies in that genre are great. And since I’m more than twice the age of the oldest teenager you would think that I wouldn’t like teen movies, such as Bandslam.

But I’m happy to report that I’ve found another instance of a movie that I loved from a genre that I generally don’t care for.

Bandslam is just an old fashioned good movie. It’s solid story telling and avoids the common cliches that teen movies are prone to have.

What did you think about Bandslam? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : District 9

District 9

You can tell from the previews that District 9 is slightly atypical. Much of the movie is shot as a documentary. Especially the first 10-15 minutes. After that it begins to stray into a more conventional filming style while retaining a hint of the documentary camera style. The director Neill Blomkamp finds a nice balance – meaning he didn’t use it so much that it became irritating.

As a science fiction fan I’m always hoping that a movie like this will become an instant classic. In that aspect I’m quite disappointed. However I did enjoy the movie. It was good. Not great.

What did you think about District 9? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Did you mean Rupee?

RunPee has gotten huge props in the media. But the geek in me is really impressed with this: do a Google search for “runpee”

I just love it. Google asks, “Did you mean RunPee?

google: did you mean runpee
It was not that long ago that Google used to ask, “Did you mean Rupee?” As in money, Rupies. I used to tell my wife, “someday, we’re going to enter in Rupee and it will ask us, ‘Did you mean RunPee?’ …that will be something!”

Yeah, honey.

Movie review : G.I. Joe – The Rise of Cobra

GI Joe - CollectionaryIt’s good to keep in mind that G.I Joe is a movie based on action figures. The good guys are good guys and want to be even better. The bad guys are bad guys and want to be even badder. There is no internal conflict. No questioning motives. Okay, maybe a tiny bit but nothing like the internal conflict of X-Men or Spider Man. But that’s okay. G.I. Joe is from a generation that didn’t have that whole conflicty thing going on. The most recent generations – you know who you are – just thrive on internal conflict to the point of inflicting it upon Superman – which is really just wrong on so many levels.

No, G.I. Joe is pretty much what you might get if you gave a 10 year old Spielberg the entire action set and then stuck electrodes in his head that could record his imagination. Lets have big fights between teams of fighter jets underwater. And then lets have these two guys fight each other a lot because they both fight with swords. And of course the bad guys inevitably must capture one of the good guys so that there can be a rescue.

There is nothing wrong with G.I. Joe if you want lots of action and a shallow and easy to follow plot. If you’re big on intrigue, twisty plots and the ubiquitous internal conflict then you might be a bit disappointed in this film. This might be an action film that baby boomers like more than twenty somethings.

BTW, anyone know where I can preorder an accelerator suit? 🙂

What did you think about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is a story driven film and pretty light on plot. But that isn’t a bad thing by any means. The script by tells a good story that the director put together masterfully. Which shouldn’t be difficult since both jobs were done by Nora Ephron: Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, et al. Combine that with exceptional acting and you have a good film. I’m not saying it’s great or not. That takes time and rewatching to discover. But there is that potential.

Most surprising is the number of times the audience laughed. There were at least 6 scenes that got a goodly percentage of the audience to laugh out loud. A few times it was enough to miss the next few lines of dialogue. While I wouldn’t label this movie a comedy it was funnier than most of the moves that do so.

Of course Meryl Streep’s performance was what one would expect: perfect. She is astonishing in her abilities and we see it here. Amy Adams does a fine job as do the supporting men playing their husbands. There really isn’t a weak link in the film.

What did you think about Julie & Julia? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Aliens in the Attic

Aliens in the Attic

Reviewing kids movies is really hard. I doubt if there are many adults out there who are seriously thinking about seeing this unless it’s to take you kids to see it. And honestly this isn’t the sort of movie that does anything for the mature crowd. Men in Black it aint. 🙂

Aside for looking for PeeTimes during a movie I try and keep track of the number of times the audience laughed. I counted 5 solid giggles out of the kids and a few laughs for the adults.

I’m going to give it a 6 out of 10. It didn’t suck but it really wasn’t very good.

What did you think about Aliens in the Attic? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Funny People

Funny People

Funny People is partly about a guy with a terminal illness. And it’s partly about a guy who screwed up and didn’t marry the woman he loved when he had the chance. And it’s partly about a few other things. But ultimately it’s a bro-mance about two guys and the growth of their relationship.

Fortunately the title of the movie isn’t ironic and there are a few good laughing points. But it isn’t hilarious. The acting is right on which might be the biggest problem with the movie. The characters are like, you know, fairly normal people and where’s the fun in that?

It is a good story, not great. I cared for the characters and their development. Something that is important to me in any movie is that I believe the relationships and that’s where I felt this movie stood out. That being the case I’d give it a solid B. It isn’t good enough to get a B+ but they didn’t really screw anything up either to get a B-.

What did you think about Funny People? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Original PeeTimes from Harry Potter Found in Garbage

Orlando, FL – Though they were thought to have been lost forever, the original notes from which the PeeTimes for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are based on, have been found.

Archaeologists working in the kitchen where Dan Florio – AKA polyGeek – lives, unearthed these fragile documents from beneath a layer of day old coffee grounds. Working with care and precision the papers were extracted in nearly pristine condition.

Bill Gates and many others have already inquired if these documents may one day be available for auction. Sources close to Dan who wish to remain anonymous stated that it is likely that at least a portion of this collection will go to auction to help raise money for one of Dan’s favorite charities – his bank account.

Photos of these relics were taken just before the documents were permanently sealed in glass casings filled with a pure nitrogen atmosphere, so as to inhibit any further deterioration. Dan wanted us to be sure to mention that the photos were taken with an iPhone camera – which also runs the RunPee iPhone application that you can download for just 99 cents from the iTunes app store. He enjoined us, “be sure to remind everyone to tell their friends about it.”

original PeeTimes for Harry Potter You can see here the number “916” in the upper-right corner. This is unique among the collection of PeeTimes. It is generally thought that this is an indication of when the movie began – not the previews and such – but the actual movie. This would make sense, because as we all know each PeeTime is given an approximate time into the movie that it occurs. Therefore, knowing when the actual movie began would be paramount.

We can also see that another time has been written down to the far left and then scratched out. No one is sure why this was done. It is especially confusing since no correction is given. Perhaps Dan just screwed it up.

The rest of the PeeTime follows the general form of a note regarding the cue to RunPee followed by a few notes that will become the plot synopsis of what will happen during this PeeTime.

original PeeTimes for Harry Potter This classic example is flawless. We can see what can only be interpreted as the time in which this PeeTime began and ended. Followed by the cue and then notes about the plot synopsis.

Notice that this scene is part of what happens in the notes in the first PeeTime listed above. It is possible that what seemed like a good time to begin a PeeTime was in fact followed by an even better PeeTime which is detailed here.

original PeeTimes for Harry Potter At the very top is what can only be a potential PeeTime that never made it. You can see that it is listed to begin at 10:01. The PeeTime that is actually detailed here began at 10:02. Clearly this was another false start that lead to a new PeeTime.

What is curious is the reference to “Red”. It is possible that Dan couldn’t remember the hugely important main character’s name of Ron, the Young Master Weasley.

Many who like to think that Dan is without flaw have suggested that “Red” is simply shorthand for “Ron.” However, that is patently absurd. Both names have the same number of letters. It is obvious that this is the best evidence yet that Dan is fallible.

original PeeTimes for Harry Potter Another classic example of a PeeTime. Note however the numerous bullet points in this one. Some might question that a scene with this many details may not make for a good PeeTime.
original PeeTimes for Harry Potter Once again “Ron” is still being referred to as “Red”. It’s amazing to think that Dan still hadn’t picked up on one of the main characters names by this point. However, to cut him some slack, Dan must stay focused on finding PeeTimes.
original PeeTimes for Harry Potter Here we have an oddity. This PeeTime is clearly scratched out yet it does appear in the PeeTimes listings. Looking closely at the details of the submitted PeeTimes we can see that a RunPee user named Martyn entered this PeeTime into RunPee.com.
original PeeTimes for Harry Potter Another PeeTime that didn’t make the cut.