Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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Image is property of The Weinstein Company, A Band Apart, and Universal Studios

Inglourious Basterds – Film Review

Cast:  Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz,  Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Melanie Laurent, Daniel Brühl

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis: A group of Jewish American soldiers set out with the intention of killing Nazis in the heart of Nazi occupied France, all the while, a plot to assassinate Nazi High Command is being devised by a cinema owner with a tragic past.

Review: The Second World War, a truly dark and troubling part of European History in the 20th century. The rise of Fascism and Communism and a continent that was seemingly on the brink of tearing itself to pieces. A period that has been the subject of many textbooks. Therefore presenting a perfect opportunity it would seem for writer and director Quentin Tarantino, a chance to make a fun and violent movie during the period that quite literally throws the history textbook out of the window, and shoot it a couple, or maybe ten times.

Set in 1944 with the war raging across the continent, enter the Basterds lead by Lt Aldo Raine (Pitt)  a group of Allied soldiers who are killing Nazi soldiers with with a large amount of glee as they do. Meanwhile a cinema in Paris becomes the centre of a plot by the owner (Melanie Laurent) who is after one thing only, vengeance. The perfect ingredients for a three hour Tarantino flick filled with violence and superbly written dialogue and some truly memorable characters, and it sure is bloody entertaining stuff!

With what is without doubt one of the finest opening scenes in cinema history, we meet Colonel Hans Landa, played wonderfully by Christoph Waltz who’s on his way to meet a farmer, about the whereabouts of some missing Jews.  Although this conversation is initially warm and hospitable, it isn’t long before things go cold, unwelcoming and becoming all the more tense with each passing scene. On this scene alone, Waltz deserved the many accolades that came his way for this performance, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Tarantino has created many memorable characters in his filmography, but Landa is right up there with the best of them. Laurent is also spectacular as the cinema owner, Tarantino knows how to make compelling female characters, and he does so yet again as both Shoshanna (Laurent) and Bridget (Kruger) are intriguing and well developed characters, the former more so than the latter though. Brad Pitt as the gruff Aldo Raine is also on spectacular form as the leader of the Basterds, with Michael Fassbender also lending his tremendous talents as a British Double Agent in what is a very talented cast.

Tarantino is one of the finest writers and directors working in the industry, and there are more than a few scenes that are just flawless in terms of the writing, the actors performances and the execution of the scenes are all just exceptional. The aforementioned beginning sequence jumps to mind, but so too does the quite brilliant restaurant scene, which has potential to be one of the finest Mexican stand off scenes ever put to film. The tension is almost unbearable at some points. Whoever knew that a scene where two characters eat strudel could be so tense? This being a Tarantino flick means that there will be violence, and there is plenty of that indeed, and it’s glorious to watch. The script also manages to fuse a perfect amount of comedy in there as well, watching Pitt try and mask his thick American accent to masquerade as an Italian is just extremely entertaining.

The length is often a gripe with some of Tarantino’s work, and yes at and at just over 2 and a half hours, Basterds is certainly a movie you need to sit down and invest your time in. Yet it’s a worthy investment when the climax is reached and the credits begin to roll. “This might just be my masterpiece,” says one character as the film reaches its conclusion. It almost feels as though that dialogue was from Tarantino himself direct to the audience, and on the evidence of this film, it is kind of hard to disagree with him.

With exceptional writing, tremendous acting, and a bloody exciting story set in the heart of the Second World War. This is vintage Tarantino, and one of his best.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rush (2013)

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Image is property of Exclusive Media, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Pathé Productions, Working Title Films, Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Cross Creek Pictures

Rush – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, and Christian McKay

Director: Ron Howard

Synopsis: An account of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, as they rise to the top of Formula 1 and the pulsating and horrifying race to win the 1976 Grand Prix title

Review: An enthralling and fast paced adrenaline ride. Ron Howard does a magnificent job in giving the audience a thrilling account of the fierce rivalry between these two very skilled and determined drivers. From the moment the two rivals met at a Formula 3 event, you immediately see the stark contrast between the two drivers and the immediate mutual dislike that they have of the other.  On the one hand James Hunt, lives his life to the maximum with a lot of partying, drinking and women. This outgoing nature does not impress his wife, Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) While Lauda is far more calm and collected, and who uses great intelligence and precision to give him the edge over his rival. While both are very different people in terms of personality, you do find yourself rooting for both of them to succeed in their aim to triumph.

The racing scenes are brilliantly recreated. You really feel your heart beat as the races are played out on screen. You really get the sense that these two are both taking death head on with a burning desire and drive to succeed in their quest to win the Formula 1 title. Their burning desire to win and defeat the other is very strong in spite of the very real dangers that a sport such as Formula 1 had at that time, as it mentions in the film, there were at least a couple of deaths in every Formula One season.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl both give superb performances as James Hunt and Niki Lauda respectively. Hemsworth does an outstanding job portraying both Hunt’s charismatic and party-going nature, while at the same time demonstrates the competitive, but very reckless driver that Hunt was. Brühl also gives a strong performance as Lauda as we see his great intelligence and knowledge when it comes to Formula 1 racing and equally his determination to recover and compete for the title only weeks after an a Formula 1 accident that almost killed him. Alexandra Maria Lara provides a strong performance as Lauda’s other half Marlene Lauda. She is supportive of Lauda and really comes into her own especially after the accident that almost killed Lauda, as she is the figure of support that Lauda needed. Olivia Wilde does a great job in portraying Suzy Miller, the other half of Hunt, who soon becomes alienated with Hunt’s brash and outgoing lifestyle.

All in all, Rush was a thrilling spectacle. The film is well directed and the racing scenes are brilliantly shot and the film is accompanied with a fantastic score. The races really get your heart racing. You are rooting for both of the lead actors to achieve their goals, but at the same time, you fear that there could be an accident at any given moment in the film. The two lead actors both deliver Oscar worthy performances. It is an exciting adventure that will keep your heart racing for a long time after you leave the cinema.

Gritty, suspenseful with terrific racing scenes that will ensure even if you’re not into Formula 1, you’re still going to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled ride of this movie.

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