August 22, 2009
Sort of spolier-ish review to follow, but I am deliberately avoiding mentioning any real plot specifics. Moving on:
Inglourious Basterds is one of the greatest cartoons I've ever seen in my life. If you haven't seen the movie you'll be very confused by that statement, and once you see it and for the love of God do that right now you'll understand exactly what I mean. "Ridiculous" is a word that we abuse greatly in the English language- it doesn't just mean something is silly or nonsensical, but that it is so absurd or offensive that it merits outright ridicule. Rush Limbaugh is ridiculous. The Creation Museum is ridiculous. But to call Inglourious Basterds "ridiculous" would be like calling a 1942 Daffy Duck cartoon where Daffy sneaks into Hitler's office and puts a stick of dynamite in his trousers "ridiculous." To assume what you are watching is worthy of ridicule is to assume that at some point you were actually taking even a second of this seriously, and if you were doing that, that the only person worth being mocked is you. This movie is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful cartoon.
This is the first of two reasons why Basterds is one of the best movies I've seen in... ever. Quentin Tarantino lulls you into taking the movie seriously and then mocks you. He repeats this five or six times during the movie, including a finale that, again, shares more with the WWII antics of Bugs Bunny than John Wayne or Audie Murphy. And every time you will thank him for it. At just the right moment, Tarantino decides "Alright, got 'em. Now's a good time to make this explode. Now's a good time to suddenly put Winston Churchill in the room. Now's a good time to play "Cat People." Yes. David Bowie is on the soundtrack of a WWII movie.
The second is that Tarantino brutalizes one of the most common techniques of filmmaking in this movie, and God bless him for it. Let's say you're watching a heist scene. Minute one is Bob saying "here's how it's going to go down." Minutes two through nineteen are how it doesn't go down that way at all. In Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino repeats this, and then shows minute twenty- where the characters get completely bored of minutes two through nineteen and do exactly what they planned to do in minute one. I'll try putting another way: remember how awesome it was the first time you saw Indy shoot the sword guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark? But then it wasn't really as funny or exciting after every viewing? Tarantino shoots the sword guy five or six times during the movie, and every time you didn't see it coming.
Brad Pitt is hilarious, and it'll probably get him his Oscar given that Hollywood thinks he's "due" and now's the opportunity to do it. But it's a shame that his albiet hilarious performance will overshadow the brilliant work of Christoph Waltz, whose Col. Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa has probably twice the screen time of Pitt's character and immediately belongs next to Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter in the pantheon of great movie villains. If Pitt deserves an Oscar for this movie, Waltz deserves seven.
Melanie Laurent, as the female lead- let's stop there for a moment. Yes, there's an entire plot that they don't bother mentioning at all in the trailers, and at this point I don't even want to explain, because I expect you to go see the movie. Just go. Seriously. Anyway- as the female lead is excellent, with the only annoyance being my nagging assumption throughout the entire movie that Tarantino wrote the role for Uma Thurman, given that every measure was taken for her character to look, talk, and act like every character Uma Thurman has played in every Tarantino film, only French. Ultimately, I don't mind this, because I would watch Uma Thurman read a phone book, especially in French, if she was wearing what Laurent wears in the final act of the movie.
I don't do a lot of movie reviews, mostly on "well who the hell am I?" grounds. But if anyone thinks I'm being overly excited about this review, keep in mind my, admittedly slightly less mature, review of Kill Bill was in all caps and screamed THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER fifteen or so times, so I think you can appreciate my analysis here. In conclusion, if you don't go see this movie you hate fun. There's nothing else this move can be except fun. There is no message, no conversation, no social statement to be found here. It is, as it says on the tin, people killin' Nazis.
They haven't made cartoons like this in decades.
August 20, 2009
Oh you have got to be kidding me
So Massachusetts realized in 2004 that the governor was a Republican, so if John Kerry won the presidential election his seat would be filled by the Republican governor until the next election. So the state changed the law to keep it open until an election can be held.
Now, Ted Kennedy is on the verge of death and unable to serve, and fears that if he passes away, his seat and potential vote in favor of health care might remain vacant until an election can be held. So he's asking the state to change the law back to allow the governor to appoint a replacement.
You know what? This is exactly the shit that Republicans should just enjoy as a gift-wrapped talking point. How is this defensible? They may as well flat-out say that they wish the law could say that a Senate seat can be filled immediately only if the governor is a Democrat.
As I have said all along, the solution here- a chance that has long since passed- is not changing the law, but for Ted Kennedy to have resigned if he wasn't going to be able to serve a full term. And I say that as someone who will very much miss Ted Kennedy being in the Senate.
Update: They're saying it could take around 145 days from Kennedy's death or retirement to have a special election for his seat. This is me, 97 days ago, wondering why Kennedy was still a senator. Please forgive me for not sympathizing greatly with a lot of the health care reformers here startled to suddenly discover this could be a problem.
Second update: Right. Also, I'd like a pony.
August 19, 2009
August 17, 2009
"The Ballad of Laura Steins"
3,652 words. Single-spaced at 12-point Times, the article is six pages long in Microsoft Word. And it's all about the financial struggles facing a woman with a six-figure job.
I didn't even know where to start with this when I first read it. I especially liked the part about how her friends had a "recession party" where they, for all intents and purposes, spent an evening cosplaying as poor people. But the kicker really did come at the end, when a whole two paragraphs was devoted to Laura Steins' maid, who got laid off from her own job and had to become a domestic servant with no medical care. One of the photos in the article shows her sitting in the waiting room at Steins' son's dental appointment, while she herself has no coverage. But instead, Washington Post, let's write about the horrible fate of the rich.
I also thought about saying something involving the comments on the article, which included the repeated suggestion that Steins fire her maid. In a related story, it turns out the terrorists won after all.