Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quick DVD Reviews

Grand Slam (1967)
This is a fun Italian heist movie with a rather interesting cast, an engaging plot and some nice set pieces. Edward G. Robinson puts together a team for a huge diamond heist in Rio. The only thing standing in their way is some very sophisticated security and Janet Leigh, as a mousy secretary who holds the key to the vault. It's decently paced but does lag at time but it holds up quite well, especially given its budget. Klaus Kinski turns in another weird performance - every line delivered with manic intensity. It is nothing groundbreaking but it is a stylish way to spend a couple of hours. Grade B+

(500) Days of Summer
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. Something just didn't add up. The relationship between Deshannel and Gordon-Levitt was never believable for me, so I didn't feel the impact when it started to fall apart. It just seemed quirky for quirky's sake - with every single genre and stunt (from animation to flash cards to a musical number) thrown in for good measure. That sort of thing really prevented it from finding its footing and made it instantly forgettable for me. I think the fact that it got such rave reviews is indicative of the appetite for good relationship films. Grade: B-

Inglorious Basterds
For my money, this was the Best Picture of 2009. I'm someone who likes, but doesn't necessarily love, Quentin Tarantino films. I enjoy what he does, but there's always a sense of detachment. That was all gone from the very first scene in this film as I dove in head first. Tarantino proved that he could be conventional and unconventional at the same time. I was most impressed by what he chose to leave out. Your average director would have included a 10 minute training montage with the Basterds, but Tarantino forgoes that and lets the viewer fill in many of the details. It is terrific fun and wonderfully suspenseful. Grade: A

The 2nd best movie of 2009 - a mini masterpiece. It's too bad that it did not get a wider audience as this type of intelligent science fiction is a real rarity these days. Sam Rockwell is unbelievable and it is a shame he was not recognized during award season. Duncan Jones and his effects and design teams created such an incredible atmosphere that you'd almost swear it was shot on location. A tidy little film running just short of the 90 minute mark. I think it will be well regarded in the years to come. Grade: A


Anonymous said...

Based on 500 days of Summer, how do you think that director will do on the next Spider-Man movie?
I liked the two lead actors but I agree that he was trying too hard to be "different" when the material strayed too far from romcom norms.
I'm still waiting for Inglorious Basterds and Moon to become more readily available on my Netflix queue but have my list seems to be that way.

Scott M said...

Interesting - I didn't know he'd been picked. He does have some visual flair, and I'm guessing the producers liked the way he handles relationships - but I'll reserve judgment.

Guido Rosas said...

THANKS! I couldn't understand why all the Oscar buzz was between Avatar and Hurt Locker (I guess it has more to do with Academy politics than anything else) when Inglorious Baterds was clearley the best movie in the big categories. Sadly, Moon hasn't been released here in Mexico yet, but I'm eager to catch up with that one.

Dan said...

Notice how polite I'm being by not noting that I'd pay someone to shoot me before I'd put a penny in Tarantino's (Italian for "smarmy piece of crap," I assume) pocket.

Oops. So much for my not noting it ...

(If Tarantino [whom I actually despised even *before* I subjected myself to the unspeakably awful "Death Proof" a couple of years ago] & the equally vile Frank Miller ever collaborated on something, my head would probably explode.)

Richard J. Marcej said...

No doubt about it.

"Inglorious Basterds" was a masterpiece in so many different ways.

I see about 50-60 movies in the theater each year and when an incredible piece of cinema like "Inglorious Basterds" arrives it kind of makes up for some of the dreck I usually have to sit through ("The Blind Side" anyone?)