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Other movies, randomly

In comment 33 of this exactly-three-month-old thread, Elliot Tarabour asks,

Just when are we going to get around to discussing “Inglorious Basterds”?

Why, that moment is now!  I finally saw it this weekend, and OMG.  I had pretty much given up on Mr. Tarantino, and even the glowing reviews didn’t move me.  But what the hell happened?  Did he start taking Ritalin?  Doing Vipassana meditation? Where did this “focus” come from?  The movie is ridiculously well done, and I’m even tempted to use words like “disciplined” and “polished.” There must be half-a-dozen Great Staredowns that never get silly or mock-epic; the intense closeup of the cream on the strudel is a great touch (and he does this kind of thing a couple of times, always effectively); Shoshanna’s revenge fantasy is sweet and delicious; the hommages aren’t heavy-handed; and the performances are terrific.  Why didn’t you all tell me about this?

On New Year’s Day, Tim McGovern kicked off a thread with this

I won’t do a thing you say until you give your review of the new Sherlock Holmes movie. The Exiled and Lance Mannion gave it some fine reviews, and I won’t stop mocking wHorowitz until you give in to my demands!

In the ensuing 132-comment scholarly discussion of the term “teabag” and its many variants, I forgot to take umbrage at the term “wHorowitz.” Shame on you, Mr. McGovern, for associating sex workers with the David Horowitz Freedom Center!  But shame on me for not offering my review of the new Sherlock Holmes movie and thereby compelling you to do my bidding. 

All right, my review is this: Jude Law and Robert Downey make a great team, and it’s clear that they know it too.  I’m almost at the point at which I could watch the two of them eat oatmeal for 90 minutes and be content.  But I’m sorry.  Guy Ritchie is Teh. Most. Annoying. Director.  At least since I stopped paying attention to Oliver Stone after the epilepsy-inducing experience of Any Given Sunday.  And did we really need voiceovers to let us know that the brilliant Holmes thought about the punches he would throw before he threw them

And finally, no one has ever asked me, “Michael, what do you think of Smokey and the Bandit?”

Well, it happened to be on cable Saturday night, so I watched a good chunk of it, and I do appreciate its central position in American culture, poised precisely halfway between Moonrunners (1975) and its famous TV progeny, The Dukes of Hazzard (1979).  But I had totally forgotten that the film was a 90-minute product placement ad for Coors.  WTF?  At least in Moonrunners the contraband in question is real likker.

And now it’s time for an Overdue Admission.  That remark I made in comment 11 of the New Year’s Day thread?  The one about “creating ‘avatars’ that can communicate with the Palinistanian people using their own language and physiognomy,” using “advanced technologies such as ‘weights,’ ‘pulleys,’ and ‘levers’ to control these avatars from remote sites, with the aim of winning the hearts and minds of ‘the people’”?  I totally stole that from Nick.  Well, half-totally.  Over the Molochmas break, one of my teenaged nephews was talking about Thanksgiving and genocide, and I solemnly reminded him that the Mayflower pilgrims did not in fact exterminate the Native peoples.  Rather, I said, they created “avatars” to blend in with the indigenous North Americans and learn their ways.  “Using advanced technologies such as ‘weights,’ ‘pulleys,’ and ‘levers,’” added Nick, taking it to The Next Level and cracking me up in the process.  Credit were credit is due, my son.  That was totally funny.  So I had to steal it.

And how ‘bout them Jets?

Posted by on 01/11 at 09:16 AM
  1. Uggh. Bérubé ridicules posters and then proceeds to admit stealing material without acknowledgment? Or were you just trying to be funny? This blog is going over like a lead balloon, stay classy Michael.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  12:26 PM
  2. J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!

    And Pete Carroll was such a jerk about Mark Sanchez leaving USC early, I enjoyed Sanchez’ postgame slap-back at Carroll almost as much as the Jets winning.

    I finally saw it this weekend, and OMG.

    OK, that’s the last straw. We need to come up with some phrase just for you that describes the Micheal Berube Mad Men/Inglorious Basterds late-to-the-party then-blog-glowingly-about-it phenomenon.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  01:00 PM
  3. How about “Bloggery from Behind Leads to Increased Satisfaction”?  Or is this still a family blog?  In which case, we’ll need something like “Delayed Bérubénation.” Which ... still manages to be dirty.  Um, over to you, Ms. Girl!

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  01:09 PM
  4. You win this round, Trebek!

    However, according to Horowitz logic, I must take further advantage of your appeasing, dare-I-say Chamberlainian approach to my terrorist demands.

    Except, well, I don’t really have any. Umm, I guess…

    So, fellow Pennsylvanian, do us Eagles fans deserve the thrashing we got from those wretched Cowboys due to the karmic ass-kicking we got from letting go of Brian Dawkins, and the half-assed try to get it back by taking in the knee-less Jeremiah Trotter?

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  02:41 PM
  5. Oh, also, in regards to your Smokey and the Bandit comment, remember that the evil, evil, remake of The Dukes of Hazzard, starring Jessica ‘not-as-bad-as-that-Dane-Cook-movie-I-was-in-too’ Simpson, AKA “why isn’t Tony Romo still dating her?” was ALSO a Coors commercial.

    Coincidence? Mayhaps. I blame Pete Peterson. But not Johnny Knoxville, he’s good people.

    I did figure out something else you could review though, with as much cultural relevance as everything else in the latest few threads! And that, of course, is the recently unearthed Shakespearean play, The Big Lebowski-err, Knave (forgive me, as HTML is unknown to me):

    http://www.runleiarun.com/lebowski/

    To quote my favorite bit:

    LEBOWSKI
    Mayhap the measure of a man is found
    Not in his store, his pelf, but in the storm
    That tests him strong; the stabbing shocks of sin
    That fix his courage to the post, and ask
    If he be man, in times where men must stand
    As Job was ask’d, or Jonah i’ the fish,
    Ne’er to sit silent, but to be of parts.
    If man be man, he wears the mantle well,
    Prepared to stand upright—forgive my text—
    In tests that render price no virtue deem’d.

    THE KNAVE
    That maketh a man, in sooth; an a man were to lack those two tests in cause betwixt his stance, ‘twould be no man.

    LEBOWSKI
    You jest; but clowns can speak in truth. My reeling thoughts yearn for such simple counsel.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  02:57 PM
  6. I watched Basterds again this weekend. As Pitt remarks, it may just be Tarantino’s masterpiece. I’m glad you liked it.

    Posted by SeattleDan  on  01/11  at  03:21 PM
  7. IG’s first chapter is what really impressed me. It grabs you from the moment the daughter sees the Nazis driving up the hill and just gets more intense from there. He managed to have a long drawn out scene set almost entirely in a one room cabin consisting of officious chatting (in 3 languages, no less) be absolutely riveting. The scene swerves from tense to silly (that freaking calabash!) to down right manic. And we haven’t even met the basterds yet!

    Then when we do, we get the most over the top macho speech about scalpin’ Nat-zis and it manages to be ridiculous, rousing and scary all at once. There are moments that work in that movie that shouldn’t, but somehow they do.

    Posted by Keith  on  01/11  at  03:40 PM
  8. Michael,

    I guess I’ll let you know what I think in uh… about 3 months.

    best

    e.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:15 PM
  9. But I had totally forgotten that the film was a 90-minute product placement ad for Coors.

    Well, yeah, but that’s back when you couldn’t get that swill East of the Mississippi or something. it had the cachet of the unobtainiumable. There were rumors--I remember them--that the stuff was “really good beer.” (Of course, at the time, Michelob was regarded as “really good beer").

    Now, by the way, and under the rubric of Them Yout’ Today, I understand that the cool beverage among the hipsterati is Pabst.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:28 PM
  10. Elliot,

    Now, that’s just mean.

    A hundred bucks of my own money for the first of my guys who really nails this creep!

    Posted by Michael  on  01/11  at  04:29 PM
  11. I loved the scene where Shoshanna is applying makeup as if it were war paint. Sorry for not letting you know.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:30 PM
  12. Hm.

    At first glance, I took the praise for IB as sarcasm.  I mean, focused?  Not heavy-handed?  Disciplined?  That doesn’t sound like any Tarantino, much less like the reviews/previews I’ve seen of this one.

    So, assuming this isn’t a put-on, could anyone explain a bit more clearly (or link to etc.) how this movie ends up being better than it looks?

    -M.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:30 PM
  13. Should clarify; I was actually a fan of Reservoir Dogs, and pleasantly surprised by Pulp Fiction.  And I would even count the one he wrote but didn’t direct, with Elvis in it… oh, you know the one.

    But it has seemed like he’s lost focus steadily for 10+ years, and IB sounds (and previews look) pretty bad.
    -M.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:35 PM
  14. Smokey and the Bandit was awesome as far as my crowd was concerned.  My crowd being teenagers from hick towns in the Deep South.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  04:46 PM
  15. Michael,

    I just don’t think I should respond to that kind of “Hockey” player thuggery. Even if it is your blog.

    Anyway my thoughts are that if Christoph Waltz does not win best supporting actor Oscar, something is seriously wrong. I don’t even need to see the other movies.

    It’s a wonderful wonderful movie on many levels.

    e.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  06:47 PM
  16. Elliot, you should see “Hook” McCracken’s blog.  And Treb, you should definitely see the movie—you’ll be very pleasantly surprised, as I was, for precisely the reasons you (and I) name.

    More details from Keith @ 8:

    IG’s first chapter is what really impressed me. It grabs you from the moment the daughter sees the Nazis driving up the hill and just gets more intense from there. He managed to have a long drawn out scene set almost entirely in a one room cabin consisting of officious chatting (in 3 languages, no less) be absolutely riveting. The scene swerves from tense to silly (that freaking calabash!) to down right manic. And we haven’t even met the basterds yet!

    Then when we do, we get the most over the top macho speech about scalpin’ Nat-zis and it manages to be ridiculous, rousing and scary all at once. There are moments that work in that movie that shouldn’t, but somehow they do.

    See, I had a different reaction.  The first five minutes, I thought, “oh, no, WW2 as a spaghetti western, this is gonna be so tongue-in-cheek as to be unwatchable.” Then the officious chat becomes gradually more menacing, and Christoph Waltz becomes gradually more terrifying, and I was hooked.  Then the over-the-top macho speech about scalpin’ Nat-zis almost lost me again, because I thought we were back to the broad black comedy—not a good genre for stories of teenage Jewish girls fleeing their slaughtered families.  But once we meet Shoshanna again (nice call on the war paint, Tree!), once she meets Landa again, once Operation Kino kicks in, and then once we’re in that basement ... well, let’s just say the pacing, the tension, and the framing are all very close to perfect.

    And Smokey and the Bandit is, in its way, awesome.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/11  at  06:58 PM
  17. How about “Bloggery from Behind Leads to Increased Satisfaction”?  Or is this still a family blog?  In which case, we’ll need something like “Delayed Bérubénation.” Which ... still manages to be dirty.

    Chicka-wow, indeed!
    Well, I guess it’s classier than “Reach Around Blogging”.

    Posted by  on  01/11  at  08:16 PM
  18. I agree with you about the Basterds.  I mean wow, Tarantino has really grown up.  What incredible dialogue writing from Tarantino, and as you pointed out, a thoroughly professional and beautiful job of constructing a movie.  I described it to my wife as scene after scene of delicious tension.

    Oh yeah, and Christoph Waltz, OMFG!  Plus, what a great personal story he has.  A working actor for thirty years and now he is on top of the world at 53.

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  01:49 AM
  19. Yeah, I love breakthroughs like that, where people have been working for X years and are suddenly It.  Jon Hamm’s moment came at 36, not 53, but I feel the same way, not only because of his years in the LA trenches but because of his difficult childhood.

    And while we’re mocking my Late Adopterniciousness, may I simply remind everyone that I didn’t even have a blog until all the Kewl Kidz had already started theirs?  Those posts from 1985 and 1993 aren’t real, you know.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/12  at  09:23 AM
  20. Those posts from 1985 and 1993 aren’t real, you know.

    What you say !!

    Jon Hamm’s moment came at 36

    Actually, he was only 29 when he was cast as Burt Ridley.

    Late Adopterniciousness

    “Delayed Bérubénation” it is, then.

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  10:58 AM
  21. So when does the Men of a Certain Age blogging commence? Hope I’m not alone in loving last night’s episode. Hadn’t expected the show ever to be that sweet, or Ray Romano that adorable.

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  12:49 PM
  22. As much as I love Jon Hamm - and believe me, I do love Jon Hamm, and have for way longer than Michael has, might I add - I’m going to be a Debbie Downer and point out that this discussion once again puts into sharp relief the ongoing age/gender double standard that exists in Hollywood (and everywhere else). Hamm’s starting his leading man career (and that means romantic lead at 36 and easily has 2 decades of that to look forward to. Need I say more?

    Blackdog Oaktown Buzzkill Girl

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  01:10 PM
  23. Point taken, O-Girl.  Though it doesn’t make up for the age double standard or the fact that most contemporary Hollywood movies have only one woman in them, I do want to add that Christina Hendricks’ big break came at 32.  Still, yeah, Hamm has another two decades of romantic-leadiness to look forward to—three, if we go by the Harrison Ford / Michael Douglas Precedent.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/12  at  02:19 PM
  24. Bingo, Michael.

    Flora, I don’t watch that show, but I got your back:
    It’s probably not as dangeral as Michael’s take (and certainly not as feminist as Amanda M.’s) would be, but Alan’s stuff is mostly pretty good and he’s been blogging that show, so you might enjoy checking that out.

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  06:23 PM
  25. Hey!! I’m two decades north of 36 years of age and there’s no way I’ve been a romantic lead in a Hollywood movie for all of those years. I’m saving it for another lifetime, for a time and a place where—

    There’s a lake of gin we can both jump in, and the handouts grow on bushes
    In the new-mown hay we can sleep all day, and the bars all have free lunches
    Where the mail train stops and there ain’t no cops, and the folks are tender-hearted
    Where you never change your socks and you never throw rocks,
    And your hair is never parted

    Oh the buzzin’ of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain,
    At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    (There’s a Coen Brothers reference for every occasion.)

    Posted by  on  01/12  at  09:12 PM
  26. I don’t know what to do with this thread.  I have seen all the movies mentioned, though none appear on my top ten list for any decade or really year for that matter.  And now i read about post-Avatar depression, where large groups of people are feeling let down that their reality is not as intense and amazing as Pandora.  Good gawd man, can we have a little real reality to play with in these strange and awkward times?

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  01:34 AM
  27. I don’t know what to do with this thread.

    Don’t worry, spyder. You’ll be thoroughly enjoying this thread at some point in the future when the “Delayed Bérubénation” effect kicks in.

    Trust me.

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  02:39 AM
  28. at some point in the future when the “Delayed Bérubénation” effect kicks in.

    Hey everybody!  Janet just bought the first season of something called “Battleship Gallactica."* What’s it about?  Should I watch it?

    _______
    *This is true.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/13  at  09:13 AM
  29. Janet just bought the first season of something called “Battleship Gallactica.”

    If this is actually true, then there’s no telling what it’s about, because it’s a Chinese bootleg copy.

    The series of which it is a bootleg, “Battlestar Galactica,” has some promising elements.  Lorne Greene does overdo it a bit, though.  And the underlying Mormon inspiration does come through if you’re paying attention.  If they ever remake it for our more jaded times, they’re bound to tone this down, since it would otherwise lead to overt divine intervention in the plot.

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  09:30 AM
  30. IB: like The Great Escape, two potentially good films inexplicably mashed together.
    I want to see “Operation Kino” with Christoph Waltz and Melanie Gilbert. It looked like a great high-tension thriller about the French Resistance, SOE, spies, double agents and living in occupied Paris. And I wouldn’t mind getting the beers in and watching Brad Pitt beat up Nazis in a peculiar accent in “Inglourious Basterds”, because that looks like a fun evening.
    I just have no idea what they’re both doing on at the same time.

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  09:57 AM
  31. I can’t wait for Inglorious Basterds 2.

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  01/13  at  10:58 AM
  32. (Damn - I should have said Vol. 2.)

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  01/13  at  10:59 AM
  33. Janet just bought the first season of something called “Battleship Gallactica.”

    Aw, man, that totally sux. I was gonna make a “Delayed Bérubénation” BSG joke last night, but I wasn’t 100% sure you hadn’t seen it and commented on it yet, so I held back.

    AS for my own DBE (Delayed Bérubénation Effect) BSG story, I avoided series spoilers like the plague until I was could watch it. Last Fall I was able to start borrowing the entire series from a patient whom I discovered is a BSG fanatic. That was a blessing from Gojira cuz y’all know how broke I am.

    Here’s the one BSG irritating but non-spoilery BSG thing I’ll tell you and Janet: through at least the entire first season you won’t be able to see the guy who plays the Second in Command and not think of John McCain. It’s very distracting.

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  11:56 AM
  34. I hear that the guy who did “Life in Hell” did a TV series. I wonder how that turned out?

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  05:29 PM
  35. I just have no idea what they’re both doing on at the same time.

    Well, it all has to do with how they intersect with Shoshanna’s Revenge at the big premiere of Nation’s Pride

    I hear that the guy who did “Life in Hell” did a TV series. I wonder how that turned out?

    I’m making my way through Season Eight (true! really!) and will let you know.  So far, so good.

    Posted by Michael  on  01/13  at  08:12 PM
  36. Just saw IB on Monday night. I agree.  It’s pretty terrific filmmaking. 

    And enjoy BSG, Michael.  Don’t get put off by all the kvetching about the series’ conclusion.  It does go downhill after the first couple seasons, but even in the last season it had terrific moments.

    The pilot for the prequel series, Caprica, is promising. Let’s hope the series fulfills the promise.

    Posted by Ben Alpers  on  01/13  at  08:44 PM
  37. Coors’ limited distribution left consumers in the eastern United States clamoring for a taste of the Rocky Mountains’ finest beer, and many of them went to great lengths to experience what became known as “the Coors mystique.” Former President Gerald Ford was known to return from his “western White House” in Colorado accompanied on Air Force One by several cases of Coors.

    Posted by  on  01/13  at  10:02 PM
  38. I hear that the guy who did “Life in Hell” did a TV series. I wonder how that turned out?

    Oh how I loved Akbar and Jeff and their hut-y enterprises.

    And fresh off the magazine racks back in 1989, I had Mother Jones Magazine with the pre-TV series debut of The Simpsons cover story on it:

    “TV is Hell - Can Matt Groening’s subversive humor survive prime time?

    Being such a Groening fan, I was really hoping the answer would be “yes”. Now I also wish I would have been as obsessively “collective” as my older brother, who was the living embodiment of keeping comics in plastic bags and turning the pages with tweezers. I would have bought multiple copies and bagged ‘em for sure.

    Posted by  on  01/14  at  02:54 AM
  39. I have to say, if you loved the Downy and Law team acting in Sherlock Holmes, then following your own logic about the visuals in Avatar, Ritchie’s got you!

    Of course, since you paid to see it at the theater, you already voted for the inevitable sequel. Thanks bunches!

    Posted by dustinmw  on  01/14  at  01:54 PM
  40. dustinmw:  you are right. I am well and truly pwned.

    Posted by  on  01/14  at  11:51 PM
  41. Hmmm. I saw Basterds a week or two ago, and now I’m struggling to remember much about it beyond some chilling scenes with Christoph Waltz. Generally not a good sign. But maybe I’ll give it another try some day.

    Funny, I thought the fight scenes where Ritchie walked us through Holmes’s plan of attack was by far the best part of the film. Unfortunately, there were only two of them, both in the first ten minutes of the film. I spent the remaining 80 minutes or so wishing I were home flossing my teeth or something.

    Posted by  on  01/16  at  02:17 PM
  42. I nominate Christoph Waltz for best use of metaphor in a speech to accept a Golden Globe award.

    Posted by  on  01/17  at  10:55 PM

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