"INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS"
BLU-RAY Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R
    Studio: The Weinstein Company/Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
In Nazi-occupied France in World War II, several stories collide with wild results. First, a Jewish-American team of soldiers known as The Basterds are on a Nazi-hunting mission. Second, an SS Colonel known as the Jew Hunter is scouring France for security breaches and straggling enemies of the state. Third, a sole survivor of the Jew Hunter’s exploits from 1941 is now living in Paris as the owner of a movie theater. When Goebbels decides to hold the premiere of a new propaganda film at her theater, the Basterds find a way to make a strike on the heads of the Third Reich while Shoshanna the theater owner hatches her own scheme of revenge.

WHAT I LIKED
While I don’t consider him a cinematic god, I have been a fan of Quentin Tarantino ever since I saw “Pulp Fiction.” Some of his movies are better than others, but he always delivers something interesting.

There’s a lot of suspense in “Inglourious Basterds,” and for the most part, Tarantino really milks it well. He also adds a bizarre level of quirkiness, including homages to the blaxploitation and Spaghetti Western genres. “Inglourious Basterds” is custom-made for fans of Tarantino’s work and anyone who loves the genres that he does as well.

The acting is top notch, ranging from tongue-in-cheek caricature with Brad Pitt as the head of the Basterds to true dramatic power with Christoph Waltz as the brilliant yet horrid character of Colonel Lutz the Jew Hunter. Also, kudos go to Mélanie Laurent as Shoshanna, who delivers a powerful performance of a grieving woman bent on revenge.

My favorite part about this film is the balls that it has. It’s unlike any other World War II movie you’ll see, and it becomes decadently fun in the climax. It’s a slow burn, but definitely worth it to wait for the end.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Call me a low-brow American, but the biggest problem I had with this movie upon seeing it again in the home was the use of subtitled dialogue. Sure, it added to the authenticity of the film, but one could easily forget that they were watching an American film with as much French, German and Italian that is spoken. This wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that it is easily one of the most talky movies that Quentin Tarantino has done in years.

The subtitles and the talkiness was tedious in the theater, and it was worse on home video. Yes, it added to the scenes and milked the suspense, but not every word was golden, and Tarantino definitely took his sweet old time getting to the point. Like his last film, “Death Proof,” Tarantino loves to hear his own words spoken. He really could have used an editor, both at script stage and in post production.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with an excellent slate of bonus material. In addition to a second disc for Digital Copy, there are extended and alternate scenes. Brad Pitt and Tarantino sit down for a 30-minute roundtable discussion with film critic Elvis Mitchell, and there are two short interview segments with Rod Taylor, espousing the greatness of Tarantino.

The fun features include the uncut “Nation’s Pride,” directed by Eli Roth, as well as a look at the making of that film-with-a-film. There’s a featurette about the original “Inglorious Bastards” and a guided tour of the movie posters within the movie (which slather on the praise again for Tarantino).

Wrapping up the features are the whimsical “Hey Sallys,” in which the cast and crew say hello to the film’s editor at the end of takes, as well as “Quentin Tarantino’s Camera Angel” which involve the sound recordist calling off various bizarre and often crude letter codes for the slate.

Like the movie itself, the bonus material becomes a love letter to Tarantino, which are excellent if you can stand the over-enthusiastic adoration.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Quentin Tarantino fans and anyone who wants to grudge fuck World War II.



"A PERFECT GETAWAY"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R and Unrated
    Studio: Rogue Pictures

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Honeymooners Cliff and Cyndey (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are enjoying some time on the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. While on Kauai, they take an isolated hiking trail into the wilderness. There, they meet several other couples and learn that two murderers from Honolulu may have island hopped to Kauai with them. While cut off from the authorities, Cliff and Cyndey try to survive and discover the secret of the people they’re hiking with.

WHAT I LIKED
“A Perfect Getaway” is far from a perfect film, but it is a lot of fun. In the tradition of old-fashioned thrillers, the movie has some nice twists and turns in the plot. Zahn and Jovovich play the nervous honeymooners well, and Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez play the mysterious couple to the tee.

Having been to the Hawaiian Islands, it’s easy to see that it wasn’t necessarily shot there, but I can fully appreciate the tropical locations and the beauty of the rainforest. Also, having hiked on some pretty remote trails myself, it brings back some chilling memories of how isolated you can get in a place like this.

I can’t say that I didn’t guess how things would turn out in this film, but it was an enjoyable ride to see it all play out before me.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest strike this movie gets is its lack of originality. I’ve seen this sort of thing done before several times, albeit in a different setting. Plus, if you know enough about screenplays and writing conventions, you’ll get the movie completely telegraphed to you.

There’s also an extended flashback sequence at the end of the movie that plays out a little too long and drawn out. It’s like fifteen minutes long, which ceases to be a flashback and becomes more of an out-of-sequence storytelling tangent. Even then, this flashback is extended by several minutes in the director’s cut. This longer cut is actually better in that it reveals a little bit more of the secrets and explains around several moments when the audience appears cheated. Still, it runs long.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with both the original theatrical version of the film and the unrated director’s cut (which just includes a longer flashback and a nude yoga scene, which is good enough in my opinion). There’s also the original scripted ending to the film, which isn’t all that different but definitely less satisfying than what made the final cut.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of suspense films that don’t mind a few cliches.



"PUBLIC ENEMIES"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The life and exploits of legendary criminal John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) are told, along with the story of FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), the man who brought Dillinger down.

WHAT I LIKED
Michael Mann is revered by film fans almost as a god, and he’s a good director, but he’s still human. He delivers a decent film with “Public Enemies,” giving us a mixed view of the gangster life. He manages to show Dillinger as a real man with aspirations, dreams and emotions. He also shows how his lifestyle led to his demise.

The best part of this movie is the acting. Both Depp and Bale do a fine job in their roles, giving us a sympathy for each. Of course, it’s Depp’s charisma that makes us root for Dillinger more than against him.

It’s not that the story of John Dillinger has never been told before, but this is the most high-profile treatment in many years. Mann manages to both glorify his life and show the inherent danger in it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Although nowhere near as tedious as a film like “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “Public Enemies” de-mystifies an outlaw legend. Instead of glamorizing the early 20th century thug life, it humanizes it a little too much. This drags the movie down and is not the reason I like to go see gangster movies.

Additionally, the movie grinds to a halt whenever Marion Cotillard is on the screen. She’s meant to be a motivating factor in Dillinger’s life, and yes she is an Oscar winner. But her role is so horrendously boring that it makes the film seem more like a kitchen sink drama than a gangster film.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The availability of special features greatly outweigh the quality of this film. The Blu-ray actually holds enough bonus material to make it worth a rent even if you don’t like the movie at all.

Michael Mann offers a feature commentary, and the U-Control feature includes extensive picture-in-picture bonus material that can be embedded into the film while you watch it.

Several featurettes about the filmmaking process and the real-life story of Dillinger and the law enforcement procedures that caught him, round out the mix, including “Larger Than Life: Adversaries,” “Michael Mann: Making Public Enemies,” “Last of the Legendary Outlaws,” “On Dillinger’s Trail: The Real Locations” and “Criminal Technology.”

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Michael Mann and anyone who loves to hear more about John Dillinger.




    

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