Harvey Keitel

Reservoir Dogs

Year: 1992
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten back on this trail along the journey through our DVD rack. Well, what better movie to come back to than this one? That just happened to be next in line. This is after all the original and hard hitting film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map. By the time I saw it for the first time it was already a cult classic. That was back in 2001 or so when I was just a kid discovering who Tarantino was and backtracking his career.

It was an exciting thing to discover this movie as a teenager. Those were back in the days when I worked at a video store days and had youthful dreams of following in the footsteps of Tarantino. A guy who just loved movies and started making his own. Long before Kill Bill, I had a very different point of view regarding the the young director. I thought his movies were incredible and I really admired how he had made something of himself. He had written some stories, sacrificed some to finance his first film, and with some help from his friends got the ball rolling on an interesting career. A career that has offered us some truly exceptional films, and it all started with this one.

It was a wonderful thing to discover this movie during my formative years. As a young man I had a wild appetite for stories that I fed with both books and film. I had a wild imagination to boot and spent the boring hours of school days imagining stories of my own that I would write down from time to time. When I got my first job at the age of 15 working at a movie video store (that nearly forgotten business entity) I went home every evening with something new to explore. I had been aware of Quentin Tarantino’s work when I was younger. Not just from Jackie Brownwhich I had the opportunity to see in the theater but before that. I remember 1994 and seeing the Pulp Fiction poster of Uma Thurman laying on the bed. I was taken with the poster but warned by my step mother that this movie was nothing but garbage. I specifically remember it being one of the first films I took home because I finally had the opportunity to see it for myself. I was marveled by the film and it put me on a quest of sorts to see all of Tarantino’s films.

This eventually turned out to be the last of his movies that I saw but of course in those days there were only a few to see. He had sold some movies made by others (Natural Born Killers and True Romance, two movies that are very similar) but when I started there was only Reservoir DogsPulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown. He had done other things, directing a short in a movie called Four Rooms as well as doing some acting, most notably in Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn. I became an obsessive fan the more I learned about Tarantino. He, like myself at the time, worked at a video store and his love for films was what motivated him to achieve. He had no formal training just talent that he was able to transition onto screen.

In his debut film Tarantino set the tone for all that was to come. He got our attention with an excellent cast, drew us in with witty dialogue, and then blew us away with sudden and savage violence. The cast he was able to assemble for this low budget movie is quite impressive. If I remember correctly he was able to get the attention of Harvey Keitel who agreed to finance and act in the film. The budget was so low that many of the actors supplied their own clothing, yet so many big names were in the film. In hindsight most of these guys were simply in the beginning of their careers and most of them went on to become very popular. Guys like Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth are great in this movie but they would go on to do such great work throughout their careers that this is just another good one for them.

When it comes to the actors in this movie my favorite is hands down Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde. Mr. Blonde is easily up there with some of the coolest bad guys ever. His swagger, his complete lack of compassion, and his brutal honesty are all part of what makes him so wicked. I have said many times over the years that we did not get enough of Michael Madsen during his heyday. As Mr. Blonde he showed enough potential to be one of the most badass actors available but was never utilized enough. The torture scene is a rough one but I appreciate a bad guy that’s “all in” when it comes to the part. Mr. Blonde doesn’t care if there is a rat, he doesn’t care what anybody will think about his actions; he’s going to do whatever he wants and say prayers for anybody unlucky enough to be in his way. When he tortures Marvin Nash his violence is offset by the charismatic way he goes about his business. Set to the excellent Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You,” Mr. Blonde struts around and dances as he goes about the dirty work. After cutting off the officer’s ear he joking says something right into it as he holds it in his hand; sadistic yes but quite funny all the same. One of my favorite bad guy lines comes from his explanation for the much talked about shooting spree during the robbery, “If they hadn’t done what I told them not to do, they’d still be alive.”

My next favorite part from this rich cast is easily Chris Penn. I have never been a fan of his incredibly accomplished brother but I’ve liked Chris in a few things over the years. Chris Penn may have never hit it big like his brother but in this movie he is simply fantastic. As Nice Guy Eddie he is cool yet capable of intimidation. When he finds his friend dead in the warehouse he doesn’t hesitate to make a point about how insignificant the cop actually is by casually killing him. In his monologue afterwards, the strength of his voice and the fire in his eyes serves him well as it’s surprisingly very intimidating. In the final standoff he has so much emotion in his voice as he yells at Mr. White to quit pointing his gun at his father. I find it to be a really powerful performance. Penn was found dead of heart disease nearly ten years ago now but truthfully there was little hope left for his dwindling career in acting. Yet he gave us some good performances in his time and this is one of his best.

I mentioned that this movie is just another good one from Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. It may be just another good performance from Buscemi but I cannot stress enough how much I admire and enjoy him as an actor. Buscemi has always been “the funny looking guy” but his career has blossomed into so much more than that. By all rights an actor with his looks should never succeed but not only has he succeeded, he has succeeded at plenty of roles that could have easily gone to others. He is so good as his trade that he has managed to overcome all odds to build a career any actor could be proud of, and there is no end in sight for him. Roth hasn’t had the same kind of success as Buscemi but I have always liked him. In this film he isn’t my favorite but he plays the rat and in a movie like this the rat is a character to be despised.

Harvey Keitel deserves special mention in this post because the movie would have never happened without him. Though, I have never particularly been a fan of Keitel and I specifically don’t really like him in this movie. He’s the guy that stands up for Orange all through the movie for all the wrong reasons. In the end when he goes so far as to defend him with his life it’s just too much and the character has always been soured on me because of it.

This is an exceptional movie and I have loved it since the first time I saw it. I saw it at a very influential time during my formative years and I will honestly say it wasn’t something that invoked evil thoughts in me but something that inspired my own interest in creativity and talent. This movie is even more exceptional because Tarantino made it with such a small budget and very little experience in the trade. Over time Tarantino has proved to be a rare and completely genuine talent that rose from nothing to be great, and did it all on his own. He has made some incredible movies with no formal training only the eye of imagination and determination to succeed. Everything that he is has its roots here in this movie; his debut film. Tarantino has a style like no other and it all started with Reservoir Dogs. This is a movie that you must see if you haven’t already. It’s generally regarded as one of the greatest independent films of all time and it left a significant mark on the crime genre. If you haven’t seen it then trust that it is worth your time and check out what you’ve been missing.

NEXT MOVIE: Return of the Dragon/The Way of the Dragon (1972)

 

 

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Pulp Fiction

Year: 1994
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time when I thought Quentin Tarantino had played all his cards and this was the best one on the table. I began to believe that whatever made Tarantino so successful was simply his collaboration with Roger Avary. I have since learned the err of that belief but for nearly ten years I developed and held tight to that line of thinking. At a young and influential age I fell in love with Tarantino’s films and had to wait for an appallingly long time with nothing but what I found to be the incredibly disappointing Kill Bill films. Those films, after all, were simply a sub plot from this film. When all he could do in that time was make a film based on a line from his most popular film I took it as a sign. In this film Uma Thurman’s character was on a pilot TV show thats plot was basically the story of Kill Bill. However, in the years since Inglourious Basterds we have seen that I was wrong all along and just a bitter fan getting pissy about wanting something new and incredible to see.

Tarantino has always had a mind for writing snazzy dialogue and it is on full display in this film. From the opening scene in the restaurant this movie immediately grabs your attention and then takes advantage of it with a charming scene of two hit men casually carrying out their jobs on a group of targets. Tarantino is a perfect example of why writing matters. He has always been successful delivering us shock in awe but the base of what makes him great is his writing. From there it goes up to his work behind the camera and if there is one flaw in him it’s his determination to get in front of the camera himself. I thought he was good in Reservoir Dogs and good in this film but I think he stretches it too much. I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a cool guy to meet and people are drawn to him in the business. Every one of his films has been cast with not simply a big actor but a group of them with others clamoring for cameos. I remember hearing somewhere along the way that he would make friends easily with actors and offer them parts in his next movie. Regardless how it happens I have always loved directors who worked with larger casts and Tarantino is one of the reasons I have that preference.

I heard once that this was the film that revived John Travolta’s career and I know that’s true because he preceded it with a third Look Who’s Talking film. If that isn’t something you do only when your career is in the dumps I don’t know what is. I think that is interesting because this role wasn’t even originally intended for him. If I’m not mistaken I think the role was supposed to go to Michael Madsen but he had a scheduling conflict. I can say honestly that I think Travolta was great in this movie and it seems to fit with film history that he is dancing on screen again in such a comeback. Nevertheless, Michael Madsen would he been better. There is nobody in the business cooler or colder than Mr. Blonde. Had he actually played his counterpart to Vic Vega his whole career may have been different and for the better. Movies didn’t get enough of Michael Madsen; he should have had a better agent in the 90s. The only problem is that the character of Vincent Vega appears befuddled and confused now and again, he gets killed by leaving his gun in the kitchen and well….he shot Marvin in the face. I couldn’t see Michael Madsen being so foolish. Plus, junkies are never cool, I think Vincent Vega using heroin makes him a liability more than an asset to a criminal organization and that drops his cool factor significantly. Heroin users aren’t cool; they’re afflicted with a problem that will eventually drive them to desperation.

This movie sports many cameos but one of my favorite of all time is the one performed by Christopher Walken. I am a huge fan of Walken and this film may very well be the reason why. Nobody has a cadence like Walken; his voice is great for comedians doing impressions. He has a presence about him, and he makes every film he is a part of better. Speaking of guys who make every film better, Steve Buscemi also sports a cameo in this movie. I love seeing Buscemi in anything but when he makes such a brief appearance in this film I just feel cheated.  Another cameo that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that of Peter Greene, which in truth shouldn’t be called a cameo but a part. Greene, like Madsen, is an actor that never got enough screen time. He has a sinister look about him, perfect for the part of Zed.

As it’s time to speak of Jed, Bruce Willis needs be mentioned. I have grown up as a fan of one of the greatest action heroes of my time. John McClain, Korben Dallas, and Joe freakin Hallenbeck for cryin out loud. Who better to wield a samurai sword against sex criminals? Bruce Willis embodies what a badass is supposed to be through my eyes that grew up in the nineties. In truth, this has never really been my favorite role of his, but under most circumstances I have always felt like Willis could do no wrong. I tend to pull for the mobsters in these types of films and Willis is as close to a good guy as it gets in this movie. The mobsters are great though, Ving Rhames easily gave his finest performance as Marsellus Wallace. Never quite understood why the boss was picking up the coffee in the scene when he crosses paths with Butch but otherwise he brings it as a powerful and intimidating bad guy. The kind of guy you definitely don’t want to drag down into the basement of sodomy and do things to.

While I feel like Travolta’s Vega is a bit on the goofy side as a hitman I think Samuel L. Jackson is the complete opposite as Jules. Jules is such a cool and compelling character that it could be argued that Jackson has cashed in on it more than 20 times over. I am a huge fan of Jackson but it is very often when I feel like he is simply doing his Jules from Inglewood routine. He gets loud, uses some profanity, and then something crazy happens. I still love it though, in fact I own Snakes on a Plane for no other reason than I love Samuel L Jackson being himself. The role of Jules was specifically written for Samuel L. Jackson after he failed to land a role he auditioned for in Reservoir Dogs so I think there is a lot of him in this character. Jackson has over 160 credits as an actor and continues to work at a rate that barely anybody can keep up with. The majority of those roles started piling up after this film. With “great fury and powerful vengeance” he took the industry by storm after his Oscar nominated role as Jules and there is no end in sight to his success.

This is the type of movie that offers a lot of talking points but I don’t feel the need to rehash old conversations because it is all out there now. We know that Jules’ biblical speech was written for the film and not specifically taken out of the Bible. We know there was nothing specifically in the briefcase. To which the answer never seems good enough for people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Tarantino is still to this day badgered about that question. Theories include the soul Marsellus and even the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs, but it has been said a dozen times by Tarantino and Avary both that the contents of the box were specifically left up to the viewer. We have an eye now for the Tarantino brands like Big Kahuna Burger and Apple cigarettes. I love the type of director Tarantino is and if he wasn’t such a genius people wouldn’t continue to talk about these things after over 20 years. He is making some great movies these days but this one will always be one of his greatest.

I love how he films these independent stories that are all random but tie together in the end. I love how it comes full circle with the robbery of the restaurant. Amanda Plummer is shocking with her sudden ferocity and so vulnerable in the end when the heat it turned up. I think it is such a compelling performance. Tim Roth is great too as the level headed stick up man. In limited screen time Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are able to convey such a powerful and interesting relationship. It’s great written dialogue and great acting all around. The “Bad Motherfucker” wallet that Pumpkin has to fish back for Jules actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. I actually have one myself that Amber got me as a gift a few years ago. I keep it as a joke with a younger license inside with things from the past. The way I see it that younger version of myself may have been a “Bad Motherfucker” but these days I’m a domesticated husband and father so I keep it simply for the novelty of it and to joke about from time to time.

I haven’t mentioned two of the most important people in this film but let me explain why. I am not and have never been a fan of Uma Thurman. While I’ll admit she is great in this movie I haven’t thought Mia’s character was anything exceptional. I detest the use of heroin and her character’s OD scene doesn’t impress me as it might others. She looks really cool with the short black hair but I’m just not into it. Tarantino obviously likes her a lot though as he used her in Kill Bill and continues to allude to a third film as well. The Kill Bill movies are absent from our collection and normally I would buy such a film specifically to write about it here but I simply won’t have them in my collection. With the ease of Amazon Prime many unlikely titles have made it into the collection in recent years but at Kill Bill I draw a line. Those movies are garbage and I will not give in simply for the sake of how awesome Tarantino was and is again with new success.

The other I’ve failed to mention was that of Harvey Keitel. Nothing against him but I have always felt like the Wolf was a little overdone. I think the character is really cool, but much like Uma, I’m just not into it. Keitel is as much the reason for the success of Tarantino as anybody though so he is due plenty of respect. If I’m not mistaken he was the first actor to get behind Tarantino and had a lot to do with getting the wheels rolling on Reservoir Dogs. The role of the Wolf was specifically written for him and it’s a really cool role. I just never felt so impressed about this freaky fast Mr. Fix Anything guy. I do want to believe that guy is out there utilized by criminal organizations because it’s such a cool idea but I feel like a guy who shows up in the AM wearing a tuxedo is just too much. Are to believe this totally efficient guy is also pulling all nighters with the sophisticated crowd that parties in formal wear? I may love this movie, but even as an easily influenced adolescent obsessed with this movie I found it a bit silly back in the day.

This is a movie that has survived in popularity for an awfully long time and anybody that watches it understands why. I have a memory that has never left in which my future step mother talked about this film and the things she had heard about it swearing to never watch it. It was the syringe scene she mentioned specifically. That memory always makes me laugh a little because this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are people like my step mother out there that simply cannot handle a movie like this and I find it comical in a strange way. For the rest of us though, this is really something to enjoy. You can’t call yourself a movie buff without a healthy dose of viewings on this one. It’s a classic that will continue to be popular for years to come and influence countless more rebellious youths as it once did to me. This movie is without doubt worth your time over and over again.

NEXT MOVIE: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Cop Land

Year: 1997
Directed By: James Mangold
Written By: James Mangold

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a Christmas present to myself.  I got a little carried away Christmas shopping online a couple of weeks ago and bought a few movies for myself for good measure. I had seen this movie for the first time recently and was thoroughly surprised by how much I liked it.  I remember when it came out and can’t figure out why it took me so long to see.  Nevertheless this is a really interesting story with a great cast, all of whom delivered excellent performances.

You can say what you want about Sylvester Stallone but I have always been a fan.  The thing I like most about this movie is that I think for the first time I watched him in a movie and was really impressed by his performance as an actor.  This role got him out of his comfort zone and for once he did something drastically different.  I thought it was a really compelling performance and gives us an idea of the potential Stallone had if he had ever branched out more. His career could easily be targeted for plenty of criticism but I grew up with many of his movies and some are dear to me.  I think he is often reaching too far in his efforts to stay in the lime light but I can’t help but admire him on some level.  He has really overcome quite a bit to be an actor and to enjoy the success he has achieved.  When Stallone was born he got stuck in the birthing canal and had to be pulled out by forceps.  In the effort to get him out the doctor accidentally caused paralysis to his face and within his mouth. It’s the reason Stallone has such a difficulty speaking and has that awkward movement with his mouth.  When he initially wrote the film Rocky he specifically wrote it with minimal dialogue from his character to attempt to mask the disability.  If I am not mistaken he has had many operations to try and fix the problem that met with moderate success.  He is capable of much more than he was forty years ago when he was working on the first Rocky. So whatever you think about Stallone keep in mind that the guy overcame quite a bit to get where he is today.

This movie came out as the Stallone/Schwarzenegger power years were becoming more and more distant in the past.  During the 80s and early 90s there was a time when these guys were on top of the world but by 1995 their time seemed to be over.  They have both made efforts to get back into the game over the past several years with some success but things will never be liked they used to be for these guys.  When Stallone made this movie he went against the norm.  He actually gained weight to play the part (40 pounds) and while he does have his moment in the end it’s still not a role that compares to all the other action roles he has played in the past.  He received great reviews for the role but Stallone has actually claimed that the role hurt his career because the weak box office results made it difficult for him to get parts for the next eight years.  I don’t think that is the case, his career was already dragging and in truth he always had his ups and downs.  Anytime Stallone had trouble in his acting career he just went back to the basics, doing another sequel for either Rocky or Rambo.  In the end that is what he did again as nine years after this film he went back to both franchises with a 6th and 4th film for each.  I happen to think Rocky Balboa was one of the worst movies I have ever seen but Rambo wasn’t as bad.  Stallone has found new success with the Expendables of late but the time for a movie like that has passed and I’m not down with those anymore.  As a lifelong fan of Stallone I take the guy for the good and bad but most of the good is long behind him now.  Personally I would like to see him accept his age and go after more roles like the one we saw in this film.  Of all of his films I literally think this was the best he ever did acting and believe that he is capable of doing it again.

While Stallone makes the easiest talking point for this movie there is plenty to be said about the film as well as the rest of the cast.  It’s a mob movie about cops and that’s an interesting dynamic.  Those charged with serving and protecting the rest of us are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard but sadly this is often not the case.  The men who are supposed to be the good guys are often in the position to be as bad as they want if they choose and plenty of them choose to do just that.  It’s a low paying and thankless job that makes the decision easy on men with low morals to begin with.  The cops we see in this film are as dirty as they come and they have all gathered together to live in the same neighborhood, Cop Land if you will.  They run the town themselves while the introverted sheriff is more than willing to turned a blind eye and what is really going on. The sheriff has had an unlucky life in which he was never able to accomplish what he really wanted.  He turns the blind eye because he wants so badly to be part of this group of men he oversees.  He had always wanted to be one of them but couldn’t pass the test due to his hearing disability.  They know what he wanted out of life and it gives them an opportunity to sweet talk him into anything they want simply by including him from time to time.  When the sheriff’s eyes are finally open he rises to his station in life and does the right thing against all odds.  It was a great role for Stallone and he did an excellent job playing it.  It’s really a pity he isn’t proud of it himself.

This is a star studded cast featuring many men regularly cast as mafia men playing the same type of part only in a blue uniform.  Robert De Niro checks in as the dreaded IA officer who polices the other cops.  Harvey Keitel is the big dog leading the corrupt police officers in his crew.  Ray Liotta is the wild card who used to be in with Keitel but now operates on the outside so to speak.  Michael Rapaport has never been an exceptional actor but he has played many exceptional parts.  In this movie he is the officer who screws up royally and becomes a liability for the others.  Robert Patrick is an awesome actor who brings a great presence to any role he plays, in this film he looks ridiculous in that mustache but still manages to pull it off as the enforcer type for Keitel.  Janeane Garofalo really goes against the norm in this one playing a cop and doesn’t bring the same type of character we usually see from her on screen. Making this a true mob movie about cops we also have several cast members in small roles that would go on to play parts on The Sopranos such as Pauly Walnuts, Phil Leotardo, Carlo Gervasi, and Carmela Soprano just to name a few.

I really enjoyed this movie and felt I was at a loss for not having seen it over all these years.  One of the things I liked about it personally, aside from how great Stallone played the part, is that the part of the sheriff reminds me hands down of a guy that I work with.  The Sheriff had this shy awkwardness to him and his mannerisms that are just spot on with a man I work with.  The guy I work with is a character.  For reasons nobody can remember we call him “the Juice” and sometime he comes in flavors.  Depending on his garb, style of hair, or simply something strange that he does we have a variety of names that apply to him.  Such as G.I. Juice, Dr. Juice, The Juicelhoff, Papa Stache Juice, Grizzly Juice, Dapper Juice, and the list goes on and on.  The guy is really one of a kind and he is good humored when we pick around with him.  I can’t stress enough how much Stallone reminds me of our Juice in this movie and that makes it specifically special to me.

photo (10)

Here is an image of the Juice.  This guy is truly one of a kind.  He is the Juicelhoff flavor of Juice in this image.  If you notice the chest hair he exposes us to in this garb you might understand why we call him the Juicelhoff on a day like this.  (We just merged his name with Hasselhoff).  This guy may be different but he has a heart of gold and he brings an interesting character into our lives at work.  I always appreciate the characters in life, because we all have a role to play in the stories we create in our lives.  In our work place this guy is a character that brings a quality we all find endearing and he is a valuable member of our work family.

This movie hasn’t made any noise in the last fifteen years or so and hasn’t had the staying power that other films like it have enjoyed.  I don’t specifically know why but I think it deserves the attention that plenty of others do.  It’s a good movie with an interesting story and a great cast.  I don’t know why it took me so long to see myself but once I did I wasted little time making it part of our collection.  I think it deserves its spot on the shelf and I think it is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I actually thoroughly liked this movie. It was the least cheesy I have ever seen Stallone. I thought the concept was interesting and the cast was well done. The poster didn’t hold up to the movie for me because…

cop_land

…it’s another montage of characters and scenery. Really the designers just can’t be blamed anymore. The clients are in control. The movie powerhouses are in control. Appeal to this x audience and put in the city. OH we can get more viewers in the theaters if we show five guys on the poster instead of one. Insert eye roll here. I just think simple is better and more intriguing. Which is kind of what you want the audience to feel right? Intrigued? It’s just my little opinion, but I think less is better. Having said all that, this one isn’t as bad as most of the montage posters that I have looked over. It’s not by far my favorite poster obviously but it’s not the worst either.

Inglourious Basterds

Year: 2009
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. I had long since lost faith in Tarantino as a director with feelings I wrote extensively about in our Death Proof post. This movie proved me wrong about him however. Amber and I went to see this movie in the theater and I really went in wanting to hate it. I specifically remember the first shot of the film gripping me right there in the theater. I was immediately drawn in and then the scene that followed was so overwhelmingly powerful that not even I and my fledgling hatred for Tarantino could deny the greatness of this film. Let me say it plainly and straight, while I still feel Kill Bill and Death Proof were horrible films, Tarantino obviously still has a lot to offer as a filmmaker and he deserves our respect.

Tarantino was nothing short of perfect with this film. His writing, choice of music, and attention to detail was incredible. This movie had a long and interesting journey to being made but all the time and effort paid off. I remember it first being listed as in production on IMDB.com in 2003 and I spent six years waiting for its release. Tarantino spent something like seven years working on this film and at different times had roles for Adam Sandler, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth at least. I did not expect much from it after all the different developments over that time. Especially since none of those guys, or the characters they were listed to play ended up appearing in the film. Right before the movie came out I heard it was a remake and all hope was lost for me. I have never seen the original movie but I don’t have to in order to know that this movie hardly qualifies as a remake. Tarantino may have taken some basic plot elements from something else but otherwise this movie was all him and he nailed it.

Despite the many casting changes that went on during the lengthy production the lead role ultimately went to Brad Pitt and I felt his performance gave his career validity again just as much as the movie gave validity back to Tarantino for me. Pitt got his swagger back with this one. He was great as “Aldo the Apache” with an awesome accent and flawless delivery. I had lost faith in Pitt too before this movie following his roles in movies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Ocean trilogy. This movie proved to me he still had it though and I look forward to what he still has to offer as he enters the sunset years of his career. My favorite thing about his character in this movie is the scar he has on his neck. It is never explained and that makes it all the more interesting. Aldo the Apache is a crude and blunt man. With his kind of demeanor it is obvious that at some point someone tried to slit his throat. From the look of the scar they made all efforts to get it right but Aldo survived despite that. That’s part of what makes Aldo such a great character, but there was no shortage to what made him great.

I had never heard of Christoph Waltz before he was cast as the villain in this movie, but like everybody else, I will never forget him afterwards. As Colonel Landa, Waltz was intimidating and brimming with power. He has such a calm and patient persona that you don’t realize, and then nearly forget, what he is actually capable of. He has an extreme ruthlessness masked behind impeccable courtesy and charisma. He is an ambitious man who will sell out anyone and even his cause for his own means.  He gets it in such a satisfying fashion in the end too. He survives the war, but as the viewer we know that he will never escape his crimes.

Eli Roth was great as “The Bear Jew.” He is a large and intimidating man already but brought such a savage violence and tenacity to his character in the movie.  Prior to this movie coming out Tarantino financed the US release of his movie Hostel in 2006. Michael Fassbender has a small but significant part in the movie.  He has burst onto the scene since the release of this movie and I think he has great potential.  He was incredible in Prometheus and I thought he was great as Magento in X-Men First Class.  Also adding this movie to their filmography are Harvey Keitel and Samuel L Jackson who lend their voices to the film.  Jackson has a voice over at one point discussing the Basterds and Keitel is the American officer on the phone who makes a deal with Landa in the end. Mike Myers has an unusual but welcome cameo in the movie too.  About fifteen years ago Myers might have been one of the funniest men in movies but that time passed.  I am still pleased to see him when he is in anything now, and I like what he brought to the film in his short role.

Diane Kruger was great as the German double agent who aids the Basterds in their fight against the Third Reich.  As good as she was in this movie though I think the best female performance undoubtedly goes to the unknown Melanie Laurent. She was cool and cunning as Shosanna, the Jewish girl who gets the last laugh against the Nazis. I still wonder if Colonel Landa in fact knew who she was during the scene in the restaurant.  He is such a sly and villainous character that there is no telling but the fact that he ordered her milk seemed telling.  Her character seems concerned when he places that order but I think in the audience we were all on the edge of our seats because of that too.

I don’t know that there is any place to criticize this movie because it is as perfect as they get.  I happen to like the way Tarantino changed history to suit his own purposes in this movie but it is misleading to the young people who don’t know any better.  I remember once back when I was teaching a kid told me I was wrong during the lesson because the Americans were actually the ones who killed Hitler. That frustrated me but the ignorance of youth will always frustrate. If for whatever reason you are unaware pay close attention: this movie is ENTIRELY fictional and none of the events that transpired are based in any fact.  Of course Hitler probably committed suicide in 1945 as the Russians were breaking down his door and that was what ultimately ended the war in Europe.  I say probably because there are some interesting theories out there suggesting the possibility of Hitler’s body double actually being the one that was found and Hitler having escaped to somewhere in South America.  I do not know well enough to say what might have actually happened but I found the History Channel special on the topic to be very interesting.

When this movie came out I remember my sister telling me she had heard it wasn’t any good from a friend.  That friend told her that when this movie ended people actually stood up and applauded it.  She had never seen such a thing happen and couldn’t figure out what they thought was so great about it.  All I have to say to that is that my sister’s friend was an idiot.  People stood up and applauded because this movie was that damn good.  The movie closes with Brad Pitt saying his most recent swastika was his masterpiece.  I see that as Tarantino telling us that he felt he had just finished his own masterpiece and I concur. Despite the feelings I had developed for the director I had once loved he had proved me wrong and even as a hater I couldn’t deny what he had done.  One of my best friends and I had argued relentlessly over the man for years and when I walked out of the theater I called him on the spot and told him he was right and I was wrong.

This is without doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen and it is more than worth your time to see it.  If you feel differently about it please leave a comment and give us a piece of your mind.  I would be very interested to hear alternative opinions on the movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a damn near perfect movie in my book. I loved it. And I don’t even like Quentin Tarantino that much. So to call one of his films damn near perfect is a huge compliment. I love the actors and the humor and the nasty gritty details of every scene. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out.

inglourious-basterds-1510

This is the poster, which I really like. I usually HATE, actually loathe his design choices in most of his films. Not all, but most. This poster, however, is one of my absolute favorites of his. It alludes to the brutality in the film without actually showing anything brutal. The logo is nicely designed and became recognizable when the movie was being introduced. Overall, I give this movie and the poster the utmost kudos.

NEXT MOVIE: Innerspace (1987)

From Dusk Till Dawn

Year: 1996
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Kurtzman (story) Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t know that I have ever watched any other film that does a 180 quite like this one.  This movie offers one of the most dramatic changes in direction that I have ever seen in any movie but I think that is part of what makes it memorable.  For the first half of the movie there is a completely different tone to it and absolutely no hint of what is to come.  Suddenly, seriously out of nowhere, it becomes a movie about vampires.  It’s cool in this case though because it was before vampires would completely consume our culture and wear out their welcome. I have never been a fan of vampires that turn into creepy ass monsters but these vampires aren’t supposed to be cool they are supposed to be scary, or at the very least just silly. This isn’t my favorite film from either of the filmmakers but I think it has many elements that make it a worthy film.

One of the things I think makes this film most significant was that it advanced the career of Robert Rodriguez.  It was his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino and it would go on to start a franchise and acquire a large cult following. I am a big fan of any time Tarantino and Rodriguez collaborate but I actually think Rodriguez is the better of the pair, not including Inglourious Basterds which was phenomenal. I have never understood why Tarantino has insisted on acting in many of those collaborations but he isn’t bad in this one.  I think he is well suited for the role of a hot headed pervert as it happens though so it works out really well in this case. Rodriguez is ever the king of cool and can always deliver on exciting action so his movies are always great.

It’s not often that I admit this but every so often George Clooney plays a part that is really cool.  I normally cannot stand Clooney but he is pretty badass in this movie, and it’s pre-Batman and Robin so I suppose that makes it OK. There were five other actors approached to play his part before he was offered the role though.  Michael Madsen, John Travolta, Christopher Walkin, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Roth all had scheduling conflicts and ultimately Clooney was approached and accepted.  I think he did a good job; he played a really cool bad guy.  I have always been a big fan of Juliette Lewis, she has a really interesting story and I wish she was in more movies currently.  She doesn’t do anything special in this movie but plays her part well enough.  Salma Hayek is sexy as only Salma Hayek can be and I remember hating the filmmakers briefly for making her so ugly all of a sudden and interrupting her strip tease. I think Harvey Keitel is awful in this movie but I normally like him a lot. I don’t think he was right for the role at all. This movie has several Rodriguez regulars as well playing smaller roles such as Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Tom Savini.

This was a really cool movie that all of a sudden took a nose dive and got really silly.  I think that this is these two guys (Tarantino and Rodriguez) just having a good time and doing something they think is fun.  Watching it this time I felt stupid having told Amber to pay attention to it.  There seems to be no end to the silliness at certain times such as when the vampire band is playing instruments made of body parts and people eventually just start exploding from gunshot wounds.  Despite all that I still see something in this movie that makes it worth the time to watch it.  You would probably be taking a gamble if you chose this to watch one evening but there is plenty of potential so you might like it too, it is worth a shot.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What the heck did Ryan just make me watch? I have to admit that I like both Tarantino and Rodriguez. They are both very talented writers and movie makers. Having said that (my co-workers would kill me for saying that), I am not a fan of this movie. The dramatic change in story line is ridiculous. Everyone I talked to about this movie all seemed to love it and think that I was crazy for not finding it incredibly interesting. I tried to put myself back in time to when this movie came out, because then I am sure the vampire craze wasn’t so prevalent. Maybe I should give the movie another chance someday before really bashing it. If you are in to strange movies that have variable storylines this is your movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Full Metal Jacket (1987)