The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What can I possibly say about the Hunger Games which hasn’t already been said?  The Hunger Games, top box office for at least the last 4 weeks, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in the last month, record sales for Lionsgate, and the number 3 opening box office of all time, is an entertaining film.  Given Team Katniss vs. Team Bella, Katniss could break Bella’s balls any time of day or night, obviously.

As a reader of the trilogy prior to this Hunger Games box office madness, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the film.  The pace was good, the film, entertaining as a whole, but there was so much glossed over.  I mean, what can you do when you try to condense a few hundred pages of 1 person narrative into a omniscient film?  It’s a difficult feat to accomplish and the end result was not as good as the book (or the audiobook, check it out!), but at least the filmmakers made it somewhat enjoyable with lots of special effects….$8

If you heart The Hunger Games

Recommendations from …:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Battle Royale (Japanese version)
Mission Impossible

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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