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Archive for August, 2009

inglourious-basterds

A fairytale as only Quentin Tarantino could tell it, Inglourious Basterds expresses what he wishes would have happened during WWII – a whole lot of violence, but much of it directed at the Nazis.  This film revolves around a group of ragtag Jewish-American soldiers who have one mission and one mission only, to retrieve some Nazi scalps.  They are brutal and not necessarily the American ideal of a soldier, but man do they ever get the job done.  I felt myself laughing numerous times at what could be considered inappropriate moments, but that is kind of what happens to an audience member who is truly enjoying a Tarantino film.  You go into his films knowing that there is going to be plenty of gore, but it is often presented in such a (for lack of a better word) jovial way that you can’t help but enjoy the ride.  Just don’t think too deeply about the violence; that isn’t what these kinds of films are about.  They are a type of catharsis for the modern age; in an industry full of “shoot ’em up, bang, bang” action films, these films have all the violence, but still manage to allow you to, gasp, think at the same time.  And not every good guy gets his or her revenge, either that or not every revenge is ever complete.  That is one of the elements that I think make his films truly special.

Stellar acting in this film, the standouts being in my opinion, Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus and Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa.  Aldo is a bit of a caricature of a southern hick, but that is what makes his character so much fun; that and his Italian accent.  The character of Shosanna is so hearbreakingly awesome that you can’t help but be drawn into the film when she is on screen.  And Christoph’s portrayal of Col. Landa is so multi-layered that it makes the character even more frightening; I am never looking at a glass of milk the same way.  4 out of 5 monkeys

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Bones (2005-present)

bones13I don’t normally get into forensic shows, but a few of the writers at EW were practically drooling over these characters, so I decided to give the series a try.  After a few episodes I became hooked.  Yes, the bones and decomposing bodies are creepy, but the characters are actually quite well-rounded and interesting.  Here is the premise according to IMDB:  “Brilliant, but socially inept, forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel) works at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington DC. After consulting for him on a FBI case, she is approached by cocky yet charming ex-Army Ranger turned Special Agent, Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to help the Bureau solve crimes by identifying human remains that are too far gone for standard FBI forensic investigations. Brennan’s empirical, literal view of the world causes friction with Booths emotive, instinctive attitude creating a volatile relationship. However as their case load increases the symbiotic partnership produces results and with the support of Brennan’s “Squint Squad”, murderers, past and present should be on the look out.”

I believe that the show gives good insight into the world of very intelligent and often social-inept people such as the character of Dr. Brennan and many of her colleagues.  The character of Booth gives a nice contrast and challenge to their world as the Philistine type character that many nerds resent from their pasts (usually high school) and often their present.  This series will not change your life, but it is fun to watch, if a bit gruesome.  They are investigating corpses after all.  4 out of 5 monkeys

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the_time_travelers_wife_I know, I know, the book is ALWAYS better than the movie and with a book as long as The Time Traveler’s Wife, it is hard to fit in all of the content.  But I was a bit disappointed with at least three things that they left out from the book, two of which could be easily remedied with a few extra scenes.  Maybe they shot them and they just didn’t work, but I would like to express my frustration in this post none-the-less.  First, for those who have not read the book, here’s a little bit about the story itself.

The Time Traveler’s Wife tells the love story of Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) and Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams), two people seemingly destined for each other, who have one very big obstacle to overcome in their relationship.  Due to a genetic anomaly (much better described in the book of course), Henry is forced to travel through time.  He has no control over when and where and often ends up in dangerous situations where he has to steal to survive (he travels naked and in the city of Chicago, you put the rest together).  The twist is that Henry firsts meets Clare when she is a little girl, after he already knows her as a grown women.  One could go cross-eyed thinking too in-depthly about that one, so just go with it.  The thing that made the book so interesting is that you got to see Clare and Henry struggle through all of the normal issues that couples deal with (insecurities, wants of a career vs. spending time with your loved one, etc.), while throwing the whole time traveling scenario in their to make it all that much more complicated.

SPOILER ALERT:  One of my objections to the film involves the ending of the book, so if you haven’t read the book, you may not want to read any further.  First off, the character of Gomez (the best friend) is given so much more to do in the book, not to mention the fact that he is in love with Clare.  They don’t address this at all in the film, which is a shame because I believe that it would have added some nice tension.  One scene of Gomez making the moves on Clare would have been all we needed.  Secondly, Clare deals with a lot of angst regarding Henry in her teen years (she has been in love with this guy since she was kid) and some of the ways that she goes about trying to seduce him would have been wonderful to see in the film. This however would have required more than one scene, so I understand to some extent the omission.  The plot point I am the most frustrated with though is the ending of the book.  In the book, Clare sees Henry one last time when she is very old and it’s beautiful.  I don’t know why they chose to have their last meeting be when they were both still young.  The book ending had so much more power to it, it encompassed the theme much more fully and would have been a GREAT ending to the movie.  The way the movie was shot, the ending felt very lack-luster, like one was shrugging their shoulders at the end, “Oh well.”

On a positive note, I thought the whole wedding sequence was both entertaining and endearing, probably the best sequence in the film. I also thought Rachel McAdams was perfectly cast as Clare (how could you not fall in love with her?), so I give them points for that.  Eric Bana went back and forth in his ability to convey the complexities of Henry, but it wasn’t painful.  I realize that I am being a stickler since I enjoyed the book so much, but I can only give this film 3 out of 5 monkeys.  Not painful, but not great either.

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I Love You, Man (2009)

iloveyoumanstillAn enjoyable comedy with cringe-worthy moments and projectile vomiting, I Love You, Man stars Paul Rudd as Peter Klaven and Jason Segel as his potential “man friend” Sydney Fife.  The character of Peter is similar to many men in my life, males that feel more comfortable in the presence of women.  Peter prefers his relationships to women and allows his guy friends to go by the wayside.  Sounds like a dream guy, someone who would be devoted to you and not distracted by guys night out and football games.  Peter begins to feel insecure about his relationships after proposing to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashinda Jones) and realizing that he has no best man to stand with him at the wedding.  So, he decides to go on a quest of male friendship and after many failed attempts (and one intense man-kiss), he finally meets Sydney and a whole new world opens up to him.  Sydney has his faults (and immaturity’s), but these two characters are the types of guys that I would wish to be friends with, just not in the man cave. The movie is worth seeing just for the billboards that Sydney creates for Peter to promote his real estate business.  They are just awesome.

4 out of 5 monkeys

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The State

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The State is a group of ten artists who have created comedy together in various media forms since 1988.  Many of you will recognize them from their sketch comedy show that aired on MTV in 1994 called simply The State.  Clearly influenced by Monty Python (just look at the flow between sketches), the State was sketch comedy for a new generation.  Bizarre and over-the-top, The State will keep your attention and often have you asking, “what the heck just happened?!”, not allowing you to look away. This type of sketch comedy focuses on issues that people can relate too:  who hasn’t met that guy that says the same catch phrase over and over again?  We all know what are hormones feel like, but when have we ever seen them displayed with such abandon by men dressed in full body blue and pink sweat-suites?

Modern-day comedy audiences will recognize member of the state from such comedy central shows as Reno 911! and Stella, as well as the new series Michael and Michael Have Issues. My favorite collaboration other than the show is Wet Hot American Summer, again dealing with characters and themes that most of us can relate too, summer camp and the idiots you have to deal with when you attend.  If you are fan of any of these collaborations, give The State a try.  Now available on DVD!  4 out of 5 monkeys

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