All About Steve

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is undoubtedly the worst movie I’ve watched this year and believe me I’ve watched some real abortions. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, The Ugly Truth, Fighting, Last Chance Harvey, The Unborn – these are all terrible just terrible films. But comparatively they were not excruciating. They were watchable.

Let’s say movies are analogous to stuff you might see on the street. Julie and Julia, a solid film out right now, would be a leafy, deciduous tree. Pretty and refreshing. District 9 would be like a Volvo Micro-Hybrid. Stunning and creative. Extract would be like seeing an old crush from High School that you’re surprised to see is now sort of fat. Sort of satisfying but not really . . . gripping. Fighting or The Ugly Truth would be kindly homeless men. Smelly and unpleasant. Maybe even an eyesore, but harmless.

All About Steve would be a piece of dog shit or doggie diarrhea. Not just reeking like hell but possibly will ruin both your shoes and your day.

Plastic surgery has not worked out well for Sandra Bullock. Her face is even more stiff and emotionless than the presidential masks the bank robbers wore in Point Break. She does look young but she also looks, well, odd. Like how Andy Milonakis looks young. Or like how a dwarf looks like a child from behind. You’re like wait, that isn’t right, or is it?

ALL ABOUT STEVE

Okay, joking aside, Sandra Bullock really isn’t that bad. It’s really more the writer’s and director’s fault. The actors are actually of very good quality – Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong and Bradley Cooper are all fine actors and they do what they can. But the problem was probably with the script. Though I did think the writer came up with some interesting locations to stage scenes, they usually went on for far too long. The dialogue is uncreative, unmoving and frequently confusing. There is not much of a plot or message.

The only mild compliment I can give the film is that it was not predictable. Though I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. I mean that in the way a profoundly retarded child is unpredictable. Not knowing if he’s going to hug you in the next moment or fling a turd in your face. I prefer hugs. Unfortunately this movie is more turds than hugs.

Some Sandra Bullock fans will probably have to see this movie. I recommend a stiff drink before, and if possible during, the show . . . $1

I don’t think you will heart All About Steve but if you heart All About Steve:

Recommendations from DJ Cheata
Muriel’s Wedding
Little Miss Sunshine
Dumb and Dumber

Trailer: All About Steve

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Departures (おくりびと)

It made me laugh, it made me cry, and in the end, it made me hopeful.

A beautifully filmed story about Dai Kobayshi, a failed cellist who returns to his hometown in Yamagata from the urban jungle of Tokyo, and ends up curiously as a encoffiner.  From the understated sentiments and expressions to gorgeous scenery to very likeable characters to unique and at times surprisingly funny moments that come with the process of encoffinment, there’s a lot of appreciate in this movie.  It can be a bit formulaic at times,  with a bit of heavy handedness from the plot and direction in terms of tone, but also very effective in its poignancy.

This view on smaller town life in Japan focused on the everyday life and people, with their quirks and humor, but also clearly about death.  The movie is very good at showing the macabre associations with death, the actual preparation of the bodies, along with the emotional associations and the importance of closure through the enconffinment process, but also, curiously uplifting in its message.  The end of the movie fittingly ends with a death, but also with life with relics from Kobayashi’s past, which makes the whole movie seem almost too perfectly circular.

Although this was a beautifully filmed movie, touching, poignant and uplifting, I’m not sure it will be everyone’s cup of tea all the time, since it will likely at least make you tear up…$9

If you heart Departures:

Recommendations from …:
Beaches
The Wrestler
Boy A

Inglourious Basterds

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goes to show it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Or at least, all about what people yap about during the journey, yapping a lot.

is one of the most fascinating flicks I’ve seen all year, if for nothing else a badass soundtrack, and because it carries its panoply of characters through a moderately-complex plot in so few scenes (the film is divided into 5 chapters and hardly more scenes). Perhaps to prevent confusion, Basterds’s storytelling is more linear than I’ve seen in Tarantino’s previous efforts and the dialogue runs through periods of heavy repetition and exposition. While this could be negative criticism 98% of the time, in this case, it isn’t. Tarantino is one of the few writers who can float a “tell don’t show” policy without losing momentum or freshness in a nearly three-hour movie. I watched Basterds three times in theaters and was baffled by how little tension got lost in multiple viewings. Tarantino is perhaps unmatched at keeping an audience engrossed through long periods of talk. Not to mention unmatched at name-calling (see Brad Pitt telling Richard Sammel that if he ever wants to eat a sauerkraut sandwich ever again he’ll take his Wiener Schnitzel-lickin’ finger and point out the German position).

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Christoph Waltz stars as Hans Landa (AKA the Jew Hunter), a detective whose prowess has landed him as a head officer in the Third Reich. Landa is essentially what would happen if you took Bill Pullman in Zero Effect, cross-pollinated him with Tim Curry in Clue, and then dressed him up with Nazi oak leaves on his collar. Little emotionally detached. Eccentric as a MF. Simultaneously despicable and oddly noble. Waltz playing Landa is in the top acting performances I’ve seen this year.

Some people may find the violence of Basterds troubling. There are a handful of empathetic portrayals of German soldiers, but in general Tarantino makes the terrorizing and killing of Nazis extraordinarily gratifying. On some level an audience member (at least an American viewer) would want to be like, but they’re just Nazis, so if a theater full of them die in a fire/dynamite explosion, isn’t that totally justified/awesome? But I felt a little dirty after finding so much pleasure in watching Nazis (and their wives) get mowed down by machineguns. I guess I’m saying that while watching a Jewish terrorist group torture and slaughter Nazis seems like good, clean fun, it might not actually be constructive therapy when treading upon the obscene tragedies of WWII. For constructive therapy, see Life is Beautiful. Basterds’s obsession with style overshadows its ethical reasoning.

Though I do see Basterds as a visionary and well-executed film, I don’t think it will be worth everyone’s $10 admission. But if you can make it for the matinee price . . . $9

If you heart Inglourious Basterds:

Recommendations from Yolkie:
Munich
Lady Vengeance
Kill Bill – Volume One

Recommendations from Sneak da Keek:
Unforgiven
Tampopo
Cecil B. Demented

Recommendations from …
Reservoir Dogs
Watchmen
Battle Royale

Trailer: Inglourious Basterds

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