Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Glorious Mess

So last night we went and saw "Ingloroius Basterds" and I'm still trying to process it. A few notes and thoughts...

1) While I don't often rave about an actor in a movie, Christoph Waltz is an absolute genius. As the evil, opportunistic Col. Landa, he has the kind of character I'd assume most actors would literally kill for. He's the real star of the movie and I'm definitely going to seek out some of his previous films. He's a German actor with a long list of credits (none I'm familiar with) and Gerard Depardieu's nose. Either oozing evil or charming the pants off the audience... or even just eating a pastry, you can NOT look away.

2) The French actress Melanie Laurent is also new to me but worth seeking out. She looks like Helen Slater (though Andy said Rachel Hunter)and her character is the real heroic lead of the movie. In one scene, she's set up as the ultimate Frenchwoman visual icon, smoking her cigarette in a wine bar while reading. Her character gets to turn around two film stereotypes. She's the final word on "A woman putting on her warpaint" (loving imagery and a surprising dash of David Bowie's music)and her Shoshana gets to show you the reality behind the romanticized film tale of a soldier romancing a local girl. Instead of romantic pap, we get to see the reality of someone wanting nothing to do with a brash invader.

3) I was a little disturbed at the end of the movie when the audience is applauding and some guys start chanting "USA! USA!" Not only were they living the "ugly American" stereotype, but really it'd be more accurate to spout "Lone French Woman! Lone French Woman!"

4) Long-windedness. The first scene has a helluva payoff, but come on, I swore it'd be 15 minutes of 2 guys chatting over a glass of milk - and it pretty much was. Later, I'm sitting there going "if they play this ENTIRE card game I'm going to lose it"... and sure enough they do. Thankfully the dialogue is good and the acting incredible but, man alive, wrap it up already! My theory is the director's cut is actually shorter.

5) The final sequence. A scene of characters moving through a crowded theatre lobby is better choreographed than you've seen in ages. It's rare to actually get a sense of space and location in a movie. The end is an almost pornographic bit of wish fulfillment with some stunning images. A projected face on a flaming screen and against smoke are two images from this movie you'll see pop up time and time again.

6) Is Brad Pitt pretty much playing Clark Gable or is it just me? Eli Roth's accent is also off-the-hook awful. While a lovely man who photographs well, what he really needs to do is stop acting and start making me a full-length version of Thanksgiving. (I'm also wanting real movies made out of Don't and Werewolf Women of the S.S., thank you very much)

7) Much like "District 9" kept me thinking"The Office meets Aliens", the appearance of B.J. Novak totally takes me out of the war picture. TV stars in movies can be an iffy proposition. Same with Mike Myers in a lot of makeup showing up as a British intelligence agent. Once he whips out the exaggerated accent, you're back in Austin Powers territory.

8) This one goes all over the place stylistically. One character is introduced like "Shaft," there's two plot exposition moments narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. I'm still not sure if it adds up to something more than a bunch of wild, incredible parts. I'm not sure I care. It's a heckuva ride.

Again, just a few thoughts and impressions. Not a real review, just processing a wild experience of a movie. I definitely recommend seeing it.

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