Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 08.21.09



Studio: The Weinstein Company

Rated: R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz and Daniel Brühl

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

What it’s about: We’ve all seen the trailers for this. Two and a half hours of “killin’ Nah-zies,” right? Wrong. There’s a lot more going on in this film besides Brad Pitt and Eli Roth scalping “Nah-zies” across the French countryside. It’s also the story of a dastardly Nazi colonel who is hunting down all the Jews in France, and it also tells the tale of a young woman whose family was killed by the Nazis who plans revenge on the Third Reich when she hosts a premiere of a new propaganda film.

What I liked: When I first saw this movie at the press screening, I didn’t quite know what to make of it, mainly because I thought it was just going to be wall-to-wall Nazi killing. So it did take me by surprise a bit. Tarantino mixes up a whole mess of genres in this film – from kung revenge and blaxploitation to gangster films and spaghetti westerns. This makes the movie unlike anything you’re going to see this year… or ever, for that matter.

The acting is quite excellent, particularly the much hailed acting of Christoph Waltz as the dreaded “Jew Hunter” Nazi Colonel. Sure, the film is talky (and subtitled for those who don’t mind reading), but these long stretches of dialogue are sent against a tense scene, making them still pretty thrilling to watch.

Whatever you think it’s going to be, Inglourious Basterds is probably not that at all. But it is an experience. It has the most bizarre but strangely satisfying climax. I really don’t think Tarantino cracked open a history book in making this movie but wanted to grudge fuck World War II anyway… and he does so with violent, explosive glee.

What I didn’t: Although the film does not seem overly long, there is plenty of fat that Tarantino could have trimmed. In particular, the opening scene (which is a direct homage to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) takes an awful long time to show what an evil man this “Jew Hunter” is. But do we really need that? Isn’t putting the swastika on a uniform enough to show that the guy’s a bad dude.

Also, a lot of the sharp dialogue is spoken in French and German, which isn’t a problem for the literate segment of society, but I do fear the movie will suffer at the box office because of it. After all, with the exception of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Passion of the Christ, I can’t think of a bona fide blockbuster that has that much dialogue in subtitles.

Who is gonna like this movie: Quentin Tarantino fans, especially those who want to get in line to stick it to the Nazis in World War II.

Grade: A-


Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: PG for mild action and some rude humor.

Starring: Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Rebel Rodriguez and Jake Short

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez

What it’s about: A group of kids living in the town of Black Falls find a magical wishing rock. However, once the kids start making wishes to defend themselves against bullies, help their parents keep their jobs and fix their breaking families, the wishes get out of hand, putting the whole town in jeopardy.

What I liked: After spending some time with grown-up films like Sin City and Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez goes back to his kids-movie well. Like his previous kids’ films like Spy Kids 3-D and The Adventures of SharkBoy and LavaGirl, Shorts is a high-energy, utterly fantastic film that plays out like a live-action cartoon.

If you can put yourself in the mindset of a child under the age of ten, you’ll enjoy this movie. It moves along with a good pace and does have some funny moments. Plus, the style of storytelling breaks the movie into six separate short films, which are completely intertwined but give a nice throwback to Rodriguez’ earlier 8mm masterpieces like Bedhead.

What I didn’t: Because of the cartoony nature of this movie, it’s about as easy (or rather, as hard) to watch as an episode of The Fairly Oddparents or more recently The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. This is the biggest stumbling point for this movie, that few parents are going to want to have anything to do with it.

Like Rodriguez’ other kids’ films, this one isn’t terribly well written, and in the end doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s a stretch, but I did enjoy watching it with my kids… way more than I would have were I watching it alone.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone under 10 or those who think a man-eating booger is the perfect movie villain.

Grade: C+


Studio: Fox Searchlight

Rated: PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language.

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton and Carol Burnett

Directed by: Vicky Jenson

What it’s about: Alexis Bledel plays a recent college grad who discovers that finding a job after college isn’t all that easy. After striking out in her chosen field, she moves back home with her family and starts pounding the pavement. Soon, she learns to appreciate her family, reciprocate feeling to people who love her and actually work a shit job from time to time.

What I liked: The cast is actually quite good… just not in this film. While Bledel is only so-so, it was nice to see people like Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton and the “is she really still alive” Carol Burnett have some big-screen work. It’s too bad they weren’t given much material to work with.

What I didn’t: Post Grad has no idea what it wants to be. On one hand, it tries to be a romantic comedy with the eye-gougingly unoriginal storyline of Bledel’s best friend really having a crush on her for eight years. Then it tries to be a snarky comedy about the modern work force (featuring a graduating class of folks well into their late 20s and early 30s).

By the end of the film, Post Grad turns into a mushy family feel-good flick that resolves itself with a deus ex machina ending that rips off Felicity.

I’ll avoid cute school puns like “flunked,” “failed” and “not making the grade” and just declare that Post Grad sucks. Period.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who hate themselves.

Grade: D

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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