Saturday, August 22, 2009

Popcorn For One & other business

First off, I've been told by the Joe Bob Briggs folks that they will soon start posting new reviews on their site. It's been almost two years since they last updated the page, so my last review was from around Thanksgiving of '07. They have about a half dozen already on hand and I have a couple more books that I never got around to. Keep an eye on the Joe Bob Briggs site and we'll see what happens.

On Friday, your friendly reviewer finished off most of his medium-sized combo while sitting through too many lame trailers. Now generally I love these, but they didn't strike me as something that would appeal to folks waiting for a Quentin Tarantino flick. To me the only one that had any interest was the one for THE WOLFMAN with Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro in the lead roles. Has that great Hammer film feel to it, so it may be worth checking out.

I had been waiting for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS since I caught the initial trailer before either STAR TREK or WOLVERINE. I hadn't heard anything prior to that so it was a nice surprise. I've been reading about it since and it has been impossible to miss the interviews that Brad Pitt and Tarantino, himself, have been doing the past few weeks. The additional trailers and 'word of mouth' have added to my interest and I was not disappointed.

This is pure Tarantino! How you feel about him as a screenwriter and director will already color your judgement of this movie. The man is always over the top and this film will not disappoint his fan base. It will certainly piss some folks off, but then Quentin wouldn't be doing his job if it didn't. Those who want reality or a historically accurate portrayal of WWII, are not going to be happy with this movie. Tarantino, especially in later portions of the film, plays extremely fast and loose with facts. For those who allow themselves to be swept along, they will be more than happy with the results.

Pitt plays Lt. Aldo Raine, an Army officer who recruits a group of Jewish-American soldiers (and a former member of the German army) to parachute behind German lines in occupied-France. There they set about murdering "Natsies" and spreading unease among the soldiers. Meanwhile, Allied command has discovered that much of the German high-command, including Hitler will be attending a movie premiere in Paris. The movie theatre where this will occur, just happens to be run by a Jewish woman (now passing as a non-Jew) who earlier escaped the murder of her entire family. She has her own plans for the event. Naturally, the movie culminates in all of the characters coming together in the theatre and the usual Tarantino ultra-violence breaks out.

Pitt is a lot of fun, but the best performances are from Melanie Laurant (as the Jewish theatre owner) and Christoph Waltz (as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa). Landa is known as the "Jew Hunter", having been sent to France to discover those members of the Jewish faith who have gone into hiding. This is a man who thoroughly enjoys his job. Waltz can be charming, funny and then very, scary the next moment. If he doesn't get the Best Supporting Actor nod this year there is something seriously wrong with the members of the Academy. I won't even attempt to mention the number of cameos in this movie, but it is fun seeing one in particular in a scene featuring the then Prime Minister of Great Britain. I highly recommend this movie, but do warn you that the director's well-known love of violence is on display throughout the film. Be warned!

While I'm talking about the subject of violence, I also should mention that among my comic picks this week were WALKING DEAD #64 and VIKING #3, both published by Image. Robert Kirkman's WD continues to be one of the best books currently being written. This issue is especially disturbing, though if you are already reading the book there won't be anything to really shock you. Even when the undead don't make an appearance, it is easy to see how the changes they have created on society effect even those not in immediate danger. VIKING is a bold move by Image. Here is a book in a larger than normal format, yet in full color and priced at less than many titles from the Big Two. No superheroes, but just a tale of individuals living in a savage time where groups made their own laws and death was all to close every day. The art by Nic Klein continues to improve, though his coloring can be a bit dark in places. Writer Ivan Brandon, still doesn't make his transitions immediately easy to follow, so this is a book you may have to read twice to get the impact. Not a whole bunch of likable characters, but it is possible to understand why even the 'good guys' do what they do, sometimes with glee.
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