Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

My thoughts on: Inglorious Basterds (2009)

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This may shock some of you but before I sat down and watched Inglorious Basterds, I don’t think I’d seen a single Quentin Tarantino film (not all the way through at any rate, since I have seen snippets from Kill Bill). Since I’m looking to expand my cinematic knowledge, I decided Inglorious Basterds was a good place to start. And as it turns out…I liked this film a lot more than I thought I would.

If you haven’t seen this movie, Inglorious Basterds is set in an alternate World War II where Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt with an accent that doesn’t fit him in the slightest) leads a special commando group (the titular ‘Basterds’) on an operation to assassinate Hitler shortly before D-Day in 1944. This group has struck fear into the German army not just because they rarely leave survivors, but also because they scalp their victims (Raine has demanded 100 scalps from every man in his group). The Basterds consist of:

  • Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine
  • Sgt. Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz
  • Hugo Stiglitz
  • Wilhelm Wicki
  • Private “The Little Man” Utivich
  • Private Andy Kagan
  • Private Michael Zimmerman
  • Private Simon Sakowitz

Except for Raine and Stiglitz (a former German soldier locked up for brutally murdering a lot of German officers), the entire group consists of Jewish-American soldiers who are out to wreak havoc on any Nazis they can get their hands on.

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Concurrently, the story follows the story of Emmanuelle Mimieux (real name Shosanna Dreyfus) (Melanie Laurent), a (secretly) Jewish woman who barely survived being murdered by Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) when the man hiding her and her family gave away their hiding place to Landa to save his own family. Emmanuelle now runs a cinema in Paris with her lover Marcel (Jacky Ido) and comes to the attention of a German soldier named Fredrick Zoller, who is immediately smitten with her. It turns out that Zoller is the star in the latest Nazi propaganda film Nation’s Pride which tells the (heavily exaggerated) story of how Zoller killed 250 soldiers in a single battle.

Zoller, wanting to impress Emmanuelle (and not taking the hint that she is not interested in him) convinces Goebbels to move the premiere of the film to Emmanuelle’s smaller cinema and Hitler himself will be in attendance along with most of the high command. This gives Emmanuelle the idea to kill the Nazi leadership by locking the cinema doors and setting on fire a large collection of nitrate films (nitrate being extremely flammable). Her plans are unwittingly on a collision course with the Basterds plans, who also wish to take out Hitler at the movie premiere.

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I found myself deeply engrossed in this story once it got going. Waltz’s performance as the sadistic Colonel Landa was simply mesmerizing. He carries himself as the perfect gentleman (even when hunting the Dreyfus family at the start of the film) but a twisted element is always present. One of my favorite scenes is when Landa unwittingly meets Emmanuelle at a cafe (not realizing that it’s the same girl he tried to murder three years previously). Emmanuelle clearly remembers who he is and the tension is palpable until the oblivious colonel leaves and the traumatized woman lets out a sob as her repressed emotions spill out.

 

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Another perfect moment came at the climax of the film when Marcel set the nitrate film on fire. Before this, Emmanuelle had recorded some footage and spliced it into a reel of the new movie. In it, she revealed her true name, that she was a Jew and everyone in the theater was about to die at her hands. The rest of the footage is of her laughing as the flames roar into the theater. It’s terrifying (because of the theater going up in flames) and satisfying (because the Nazis are getting what’s coming to them) all at the same time. There’s a fantastic shot of Emmanuelle’s laughing face visible against the smoke in the theater long after the screen has burned away.

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I’d been told going in that Tarantino films were known for their bloody moments and this film certainly had those (though not as many as I’d feared). The worst moment for me came at the end when two of the surviving Basterds are pumping bullet after bullet into the mangled bodies of Hitler and Goebbels; the corpses were so riddled with holes that I could barely look at them, but that part only lasted for a moment.

In conclusion, I did enjoy Inglorious Basterds. It’s a fascinating look at a World War II that never was. If you’ve seen the film, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in the longest time (would you believe I have about ten interviews in draft form that I’ve been sitting on for the last four months?), so hopefully I still remember how to do this 🙂

This film (in brief), follows a retired UN investigator (Brad Pitt) as he seeks to keep his family safe from a global zombie outbreak. Along the way he works to find a cure (if any) and stop the zombie hordes from overwhelming the human survivors.

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World War Z was never on my list of “must see movies” because I can’t watch zombie films (they’re too real for me), but when I saw that Marco Beltrami had score the picture, I decided it was at least worth investigating to see what the composer had to say. This brief interview I found, while all too short, is enlightening nonetheless. The part that really jumped out at me is when Beltrami describes how he incorporated the tonal sounds of the Emergency Broadcast System (you know, that annoying buzzer/screech that comes on the TV every six months or so when they test the system) into the harmonies of the film score. I haven’t heard it for myself, but it sounds very clever, and would certainly be a great way to heighten the tension in a film like this.

Beltrami also discusses the need for the film to have a main theme, something to ground the story in. And let’s face it, a good theme (or the lack thereof) can make or break a film. If you watched (and liked) World War Z, then you will definitely find this brief video interesting. I only wish I could find a longer interview.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 13 (2007)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

(yes I skipped over Ocean’s 12, I’m weird like that)

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When I watch a movie, there are few things quite as satisfying as watching the bad guy get what he/she has coming to them; the more drawn out the comeuppance is, the better. So it should be no surprise that after discovering the glory that was Ocean’s 11 (2001), I absolutely fell head-over-heels for Ocean’s 13 (2007), because this story is all about sweet, sweet revenge!

The story finds Danny Ocean and his crew out for vengeance after Willy Bank (Al Pacino) screws Reuben (Elliot Gould) out of his share of a new casino, causing Reuben to have a near-fatal heart attack. Because Bank “shook hands with Sinatra”, Ocean gives Bank one chance to make things right, but when Bank refuses…excuse the pun, but all bets are off!

Fast forward several months and Bank’s new casino is ready to open, but Danny and co. are ready with a genius plan to ruin the new casino and put Bank out of business for good. This plan has so many layers it’s a little dizzying at times, but in brief the plan involves:

  1. Convincing a large number of high-rollers to withdraw from the casino
  2. Sabotaging the experience for the reviewer responsible for determining if the hotel-casino will win a big award
  3. Rigging the slot machines to pay-out on command
  4. Rigging the card shuffling machines, using gimmicked dice, loaded roulette balls, etc. to ensure huge payouts
  5. Slipping Bank a phone with a hidden magnetron that will short out the A.I. monitoring activity on the casino floor
  6. Using a giant boring machine to simulate an earthquake, forcing everyone to leave with their winnings and not come back.
  7. And last, but certainly not least, after reluctantly crawling to Terry Benedict for additional financing, they have to steal a set of valuable diamonds from the top of the casino as well.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and everyone else knock it out of the park yet again with this one. There is a hilarious scene where Rusty (Brad Pitt) comes in with new intel and discovers that Danny has been watching Oprah…while drinking wine. I could seriously watch a movie with just those two characters talking about stuff, and I would love it.

The revelation of what Linus’ dad does for a cover is genius! (Linus is right when he says his dad has “the greatest cover of all time”) The whole phone conversation that he has with his dad regarding the nose is just hysterical (“No I’m not giving the phone to Danny” *Rusty holds out his hand* “Not giving it to Rusty either.”)

But Al Pacino is just brilliant as the too-greedy-for-his-own-good casino owner Willy Bank. He’s so engrossed in the grand opening that by the time he figures out he’s been screwed…there’s absolutely nothing he can do to stop it. And it’s just beautiful to watch.

I do have one small gripe however: the reveal of Toulour (the thief from Ocean’s 12) being hired by Benedict to steal the diamonds; it’s not bad per se, I just wish that they’d kept the deleted scene in that included the pair meeting so that we had some idea that they were working together.

Ocean’s Thirteen is highly entertaining, and I recommend it to everyone! Have a great rest of the day!

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 11 (2001)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Where has this movie been all my life?? That was my first thought when I finished watching Ocean’s Eleven (2001), a heist film starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, amongst many others (I can’t believe this movie is fifteen years old already!)

Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a thief and con-artist just released from jail with a plan already in mind: rob three Las Vegas casinos in one night. It just so happens that all three casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who just happens to be dating Ocean’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To pull this heist off, Ocean has to assemble a crew of the best in the business, eleven in total. At stake: $160,000,000 (divided 11 ways).

The crew consists of:

  • Danny Ocean (George Clooney)
  • Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt)
  • Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon)
  • Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle)
  • Frank Catton (Bernie Mac)
  • Turk Malloy (Scott Caan)
  • Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck)
  • Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner)
  • Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould)
  • Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison)
  • “The Amazing” Yen (Shaobo Qin)

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From the very beginning, you can tell that this story is going to be an insane ride. Clooney, as the suave Danny Ocean, and Brad Pitt, as the eternally-eating Rusty Ryan, are the perfect onscreen bromance and henceforth I will watch any movie if I know those two actors are in it. I especially love how these two are always completing each other’s sentences, it’s like they share a brain.

 

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The plot is, admittedly, a little convoluted in some points, but the humor is undeniable. The smug/overconfident Terry Benedict doesn’t stand a chance against Ocean and his crew.

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I highly recommend the entire trilogy of Ocean’s films, they’re all extremely funny and well worth viewing more than once or twice.

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 13 (2007)

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