Fresh Film Reviews
This week we review: Inglourious Basterds + Adam
Opens August 20, 2009
WWII revamped Quentin Tarantino style, Inglourious Basterds succeeds as the ultimate fantasy revenge story, a “Kill Hitler” which stands as one of the best works in the career of the influential filmmaker.
Opening with “Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France” is a hint as to what to expect from this violent fairytale, that is a refreshing standout in a flood of WWII movies that have overwhelmed cinemas in the past year.
Divided into five chapters, Inglourious Basterds is less the men-on-a-mission action-flick its trailer promises than a multi-story, behind-enemy-lines espionage romp.
The Basterds are a group of Jewish American soldiers on a mission to brutally kill Nazis, and spread fear throughout the Third Reich. While the Basterds create havoc, the British hatch a plan to wipe out the upper echelons of the Nazi party – including Hitler – who are due to attend a film premiere at a cinema owned by a vengeful young Jewish woman (Melanie Laurent).
Tarantino’s knack for infectious and meaty dialogue is back in form, as is his talent for meshing dark humour with hardcore violence – this film has plenty of both, with the latter in some cases overwhelming.
Brad Pitt‘s turn as a thick accented southerner, who leads the Basterds on a mission to “dee-stroy” as many Nazis as possible, is a scene-stealing comedic performance, delivered with tongue in cheek gusto by the ever-impressive actor.
However the real star is Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who plays the multilingual, charming, brutal and ever persistent SS Officer Landa, lending humour and intelligence to what would be a standard Nazi heavy.
Large in size and ballsy in its disregard for the weight of history, this is Tarantino back to his glorious and bloody best.
Opens August 20, 2009
“I’m not Forrest Gump you know.”
Movies about mental disorders are tricky creatures. Firstly, there is the inevitable Rain Man comparison to contend with. Then an audience must wrestle with the actor’s very obvious performance; something that can easily take you out of the movie.
Hugh Dancy’s titular character has Asperger’s syndrome: a high-functioning form of autism that manifests as a lack of empathy and difficulty in social interactions. Enter cute new neighbour Beth (Rose Byrne), and an offbeat romance ensues. Except that’s not even half the story. Add the recent death of Adam’s father, plus the possible imprisonment of Beth’s father (Peter Gallagher), combined with a courtroom showdown and an unemployment ultimatum, and – aside from the mental disorder – you’ve got a film that’s rather muddled.
It is almost as if writer/director Max Mayer didn’t trust himself to stick with the core romance, to really uncover the daunting and delightful realities of this relationship. Sure there’s a meeting-the-friends bit, as well as an unusual masquerade-cum-restaurant scene. In fact masks feature throughout the film in an apparent allusion to Adam’s inability to empathise with the plight or the joy of others. And yet Mayer pulls his punches, wandering into the courtroom when he should have stayed with Adam and Beth.
Dancy is convincing as the blunt but passionate astronomer Adam. Evidently enjoying working with Australian actresses, Dancy follows up his recent pairing with Isla Fisher in Confessions of a Shopaholic by generating some charming chemistry with wide-eyed Byrne. However her amiable performance as aspiring children’s book writer and daddy’s girl suffers from being underwritten.
For all Adam’s fascination with the night sky, the film succeeds in creating a few sparkles, but never gets close to delivering its star-crossed lovers.