Inglourious Basterds

Casablanca Movie

Sometimes, the urge to crack open a cold one when you’re stuck in the middle of a Netflix binge can get overwhelming. And it’s understandable; so many of our favorite films feature incredible bars and pubs that put our local haunts and dives to shame, intergalactic gathering spots that bring together alien races, chic international watering holes and rough roadsides that may necessitate a bodyguard or two. While we can’t frequent these cinematic watering holes, it’s okay to daydream and sip a martini or two while doing so. Here are the movie bars at which we’d love to pull up a stool.

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Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds

Near the end of The Incredibles, Syndrome — who’s been hyperaware of the ruinous trope — is caught monologuing. It’s not his downfall, but he’s also not one of the smartest movie villains. He simply knows the usual hamartia. You might call it pride, you may laugh at it, but the monologue is an important part of understanding where a villain is coming from and revealing all the gory details of a complex plan. At the least, it’s almost a narrative necessity for a movie that focuses solely on the hero. The thing is, intelligence is not a pre-requisite for being a movie villain. It actually doesn’t even seem to be that important when you dig through all the  mustache-twirlers out there. Even menacing baddies like Voldemort aren’t particularly smart, just evil and nose-less. Is also isn’t all about getting away with it. That’s definitely a nice touch, but the key to an intelligent villain is creating a deeply involved plan that works (or would work) despite an impressive counter-force. Simply put, a smart villain demands a smart hero.

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ark-melt

Anything happen this week to revolutionize the film industry? What, you don’t know? You must need the Reject Recap, our weekly rundown of the best and most important news and features any movie fan must read. Yeah, most of it is our own content, but we also look outside the FSR borders for great film-related (and sometimes TV-related) pieces elsewhere. If you see something you think should be included in the Recap, please email me.  Over the past seven days, in spite of a major film festival going on (well, maybe because of this), a lot of very interesting things happened or came out. The Internet continued to alter the business of cinema and we heard about long-awaited sequels to ’90s movies. Obligatorily, we also thought more about the next Star Wars movie. And once again we include a few must-watch videos. So, in honor of what’s gone on this week, put on David Bowie’s “Changes,” sit back and play catch up with us. (Kick)Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Django

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Django Unchained (and all of Tarantino’s other films). With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has taken a decisive shift in his approach to storytelling. Abandoning the non-linear, present-set depictions of an organized criminal underworld in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films, Tarantino has not only transitioned to more conventional linear storytelling (with the exception of the requisite flashback), but chooses familiar historical contexts in which to tell these stories. With the WWII-set Inglourious Basterds and now with the pre-Civil War-era Western Django, Tarantino has made a habit of mixing the historical with the inventively anachronistic, and has turned recent modern histories of racial and ethnic oppression, dehumanization, and extermination into ostensibly cathartic fantasies of revenge against vast systemic structures of power.

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Quentin Tarantino

Emerging from a nitrate fire in 1963, Quentin Tarantino was fed only exploitation films, spaghetti Westerns and actual spaghetti until he was old enough to thirst for blood. He found his way into the film industry as a PA on a Dolph Lundgren workout video, as a store clerk at Video Archives and by getting encouragement to write a screenplay by the very man who would make a name for himself producing Tarantino’s films. Peter Bogdanovich (and probably many others) think of him as the most influential director of his generation, and he’s got the legendary story to back it up — not to mention line-busting movies like Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained under his belt. He’s also the kind of name that makes introductions like this useless. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who really loves Hi Diddle Diddle and plans to keep 35mm alive as long as he’s rich enough to do it.

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Heat Movie Michael Mann

I’ve been taking my family on a tour of Michael Mann’s filmography recently, and every minute has been fantastic. Mann has a great eye for cinematography, writes and/or directs characters who are refreshingly competent and layered, and has a way of getting great mileage out of a topic he enjoys (crime and those who commit and prevent it) by changing the level of its presentation. He has done pieces both epic (Heat) and intimate (Collateral). He has ventured into the past, where his favorite subject varies in presence from “extant, but not important compared to other events” (The Last of the Mohicans) to “the point of the entire film” (Public Enemies). He brought Hannibal Lector to the screen for the first time as Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter, which I must admit remains my primary source exposure to everyone’s favorite cannibal. All of these traits make Mann a director whose work should be followed, but what absolutely drives me wild about him is his use of music in his pictures’ key scenes. Mann’s soundtracks are usually a mix of contemporary rock, house music, a slow and/or seductive piece for particularly romantic moments and several compositions written specifically for the film by his composer. At least once in every one of his films that I have had a chance to see, Mann takes a piece from his soundtrack and sets it to a climactic or character defining scene and the resulting moment never fails to astound. Dialogue is usually sparse to nonexistent […]

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You heard me – I’m dumping practically everything I can think of at you, and no doubt I’ll still miss a few. In fact, there’s one I am intentionally leaving out just so I can watch the angry comments and laugh like a Disney villain. Honestly, though – after having my memory jarred by all the comments on my first installment of 14 of the Most Impressive Monologues in Movie History, I couldn’t not make another one of these. So here are, once more, some movie monologues out there that really stick out from the rest.

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Culture Warrior

The self-reflexive practices of the meta-film take various forms. On the one hand, there’s the legacy of cinephilic directors from Brian De Palma to P. T. Anderson to Robert Rodriguez who shout out to specific films through their in-crowd referencing, or even go so far as to structure entire narratives through tributes to cinema’s past. Then there’s “the wink,” those film’s, like this weekend’s The Muppets, who exercise cheeky humor by breaking the fourth wall and by constant reference to the fact that they are in a heavily constructed film reality. The third category is less common, but perhaps the most interesting. There has been a recent influx of films that don’t use past films to construct present narratives or engage in Brecht-light humor, but have as their central narrative concern the broad developmental history of the medium itself, from practices of filmgoing to particularities of projection, and anything in between. Bertolucci’s The Dreamers is a good example of this mode of meta-filmmaking, but more high-profile films have begin to make this turn, specifically by directors who formerly operated in the first (and perhaps most common) category, like Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds two years ago. Now Martin Scorsese has followed suit with the 3D love letter to early cinema and film preservation that is Hugo.

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Criterion Files

One major aspect of the Nazi propaganda machine that gained their support from the German people was their promotion of nostalgia. And like any form of nostalgia (and especially in nostalgia’s frequent political function), this was a selective nostalgia, decidedly exploiting certain tropes and icons of German history and heritage. A major component of this nostalgia was the promotion of nature as the means of returning to pure German identity. Nature provided a convenient contrast to the values that the Nazi party wanted to work against, and it’s opposite – the urban center – was the focal point of all they problems they perceived Germany as having been misguided by, most explicitly centralized in the supposed decadence of 1920s Berlin. The political, aesthetic, and sexual aspirations (not to mention the diversity) of the Weimar period posed a threat to the ideals of tradition, uniformity, and the assumed hierarchy of specific social roles. This nostalgic and romantic preoccupation with nature is readily available in German cultural products of the 1920s and 30s. Anybody who has seen Inglourious Basterds (2009) is familiar with the “mountain film,” or “bergfilme” genre that had peaked by this point. This genre was popular years before the Third Reich took power, and its prevalence speaks volumes to the German peoples’ preoccupation with nature leading up to the Hitler’s rise to power. Leni Riefenstahl, perhaps the most famous of Nazi-era filmmakers, starred in mountain films and went onto make Olympia (1938) and Triumph of the Will (1935), a […]

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Culture Warrior

Movies have a strange relationship with history, that’s for certain. On the one hand, they have the ability to bring to life, in spectacular detail, the intricate recreation of historical events. On the other hand, films can have a misleading and even potentially dangerous relationship with history, and can change the past for the benefit of storytelling or for political ends. And there’s always the option of using films to challenge traditional notions of history. Finally, many movies play with history through the benefit of cinema’s artifice. Arguably, it’s this last function that you see history function most often in relationship to mainstream Hollywood cinema. In playing with history, Hollywood rarely possesses a calculated political motive or a desire to recreate period detail. In seeking solely to entertain, Hollywood portrays the historical, but rarely history itself. Tom Shone of Slate has written an insightful piece about a unique presence of that historical mode all over the movies seeking to be this summer’s blockbusters. Citing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Cowboys & Aliens as examples, Shone argues that this is an unusual movie summer in terms of the prominence of movies set in the past. However, while such a dense cropping of past-set films is unusual for this season, these movies don’t seem to be all that concerned with “the past” at all – at least, not in the way that we think.

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Your weekly fix of great movies made before you were born that you should check out before you die. The persistent question in To Be or Not To Be is this: what use is a clown during wartime? There might not be a definitive answer, but Ernst Lubitsch‘s most dramatic work (by default) is a comedy that has to be taken seriously. It’s also startling proof that it’s harder to laugh when you’re standing too close to the fire. It’s only in stepping back that you can feel the warmth without getting hurt. That was the case when this comedy about Hitler and Hamlet premiered right smack dab in the middle of Word War II.

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Tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out the 82nd Annual Oscars. And like any great movie site would, we will be updating our site live along with the ceremony. We will also be live-blogging the event, with much of the FSR staff providing up-to-the-minute commentary on the winners, the speeches, and everything in between. Come join!

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Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

There seems to be more discussion about this category than usual, even from casual movie-goers, for one big reason — Avatar. The inclusion of James Cameron’s latest indie featuring copious amounts of CG imagery begs a very basic question: what is cinematography? All that and more is just one click away.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

Read as we break down the films nominated for Best Picture and what their chances are of taking home the prize. We’re pretty sure it won’t be Crash.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Director

Best Director is a tricky category with, like many awards bestowed at the Oscars, a questionable track record. Venerated filmmakers like Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Altman, for instance, never won the award. While it’s arguably impossible to objectively compare different works of art, Best Director is an especially elusive and subjective category that forces one to compare apples to oranges, especially with this year’s nominees.

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Oscar Predictions

This category is stacked with talented gentleman representing films of varying quality. I can honestly say that I think all five are very talented actors, but not since the category was introduced in 1936 has an actor had this award so in the bag. So ladies and gentlemen I give you the nominees for best actor in a supporting role.

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It’s Academy Awards time again, and even though we all know the awards are basically an irrelevant exercise in mutual masturbation it’s still fun to watch. This year sees a wide variety of films gain entry into Oscar history via nominations for Best Screenplay, Original and Adapted. Some deserve the honor, while others are based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire.

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It’s Friday, and that means that it is time to take a look at This Week in Movie Posters. This week we have lost art for Inglorious Basterds, Kick-Ass, Russell Brand, creepy kids and a fascinating look behind the scenes of poster creation.

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Need to keep track of your picks for this year’s Oscar night? Want to challenge your friends on Twitter to pick against Sandra Bullock for Best Actress? Well, there’s an app for that.

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It is quite early in the morning, even here in the Central Time Zone. But so many of us in the movie world were up early, watching as Anne Hathaway unveiled the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards, which will take place 33 days from now.

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