Pleasure for the eyes, contemplation for the mind
Over the last two days I’ve watched what I would call two of the most impressive movies of 2009. The first one being the tensely comedic Inglourious Basterds, and the second is none other than the Zooey-worshipping romantic drama (500) Days of Summer. Well okay, I know I haven’t written any review in quite some time, but both movies has truly intricate me with their delicate storylines, eclectic cinematography and of course those not to be missed, powerfully moving soundtracks.
In the darkly humorous Inglourious Basterds, the infamously bloody director Quentin Tarantino has come back with what can be called a “World War-era Pulp Fiction”. Tarantino went for a similar recipe as he did in one of his most famous movie gone cult, Pulp Fiction, where more than one stories from different backgrounds got tangled in a Tarantino-esque series of unfortunate events. One of the main stories revolves around a group of American-Jewish soldiers named “The Basterds”, led by 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), a group feared for their destructive strength among the Nazi soldiers. In the other time and place, in France to be exact, there lived a French Jewish woman on the run, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent). Over the past four years she has been living under the name of Emmanuelle Mimieux and runs a small cinema, after her family had all been killed in a house inspection by the infamous Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) from the German SS and SD, nicknamed “Jew Hunter” upon his impressive ability to detect the hidings of the Jews and his mesmerizing interrogative skills. A number of what could be called unfortunate events led each other to make their own slick tactics on a movie premiere night on Shosanna’s cinema, with the main target being the Führer Adolf Hitler himself.
Overall throughout the movie, while still playing strong on Tarantino’s bloodbath fighting scenes, Inglourious Basterds shows a film made with a class. The whole 152 minutes truly shows the quality of a Quentin Tarantino, portraying the life and times of the 1940s Europe to its finest without forgetting the quirky humor, bloody bar brawls and tight dialogues that left the audiences stifling laughs at some so-tense-it’s-funny scenes. And another plus point is that the movie wouldn’t be as good without such powerful casts like the wonderful acting from Christoph Waltz. His portrayal as the slightly psycho Colonel Hans Landa can be clearly seen as humorously suspense yet still a charismatic detective at times. Oh, and Brad Pitt. His character is memorable as always, and Aldo Raine as the Indian-descent lieutenant with a thick southern accent will be a hard persona to forget. For the fans of spaghetti western movies with a World War theme, Inglourious Basterds is one movie that shouldn’t be missed.
The next day, which is today, I watched the long-awaited (500) Days of Summer and it was really an enchanting, moodlifting romantic comedy! Played by the ever-so-gorgeous Zooey Deschanel and the lucky guy Joseph Gordon-Levitt who happened to kiss Zooey all the time through the movie, (500) Days is a movie debut for the music video director Marc Webb who had directed MVs like Jimmy Eat World’s “Work” and Weezer’s “Perfect Situation”, this sure is one hell of a good debut. Alright I’d be a little subjective about this movie because of the Zooey Deschanel factor, but despite anything I would write, it’s still a lovely movie about falling in and out of love.
“This is a story of boy meets girl”. Those are the first words narrated in the movie, and the story flows as we are introduced to Tom Hansen, a failed-to-be-architect now working as a writer in a greeting card company. In January 8, he meets Summer Finn, his new boss’s assistant. Summer is known throughout the town with her enigmatic “Summer Effect”, as young men bought double amount of ice cream in the store where she was working previously, landlords lowered their rent special for her flat, and so on. From this point forward we are told the non-chronological story of their 500 days relationship from the start to the very end, beginning with how she likes his listening to the Smiths’ song when they are in an elevator and since then they have gone intimate, but Summer insists they are still in the terms of friends and nothing more, although they’ve even been sleeping together. After some three hundred days later or so, their relationship worsen and it gets to the point where Tom says they are just like “Sid and Nancy”. The breakup makes Tom so utterly depressed he gets to the days where he goes out of his apartment only to buy junk food. The obsessed Tom loses his job and gets swallowed by depression… but then he finally finds what love really is for him.
First thing I noticed watching the movie is that Marc Webb really knew how to exploit the beauty and grace of Zooey Deschanel. The “Summer Effect”, the close-ups of her smile and her hair, her make out scenes… a visual haven for all the Zooey (male) admirers out there. But Mrs. Gibbard isn’t the only main attraction of the film, it’s the dreamy relationship between the two that makes the movie as sweet as honey, and then the Tom’s miserable life after the breakup adds insult to injury. The story, although never chronologically, flows steadily like any other relationship would be, and when it’s about breaking up then it’s a movie most of us can relate to. Personally, the ending is a really touching one for me, as the film try to deliver that one’s point of view in the matter of love can be truly different and hurting for the other side (which I can truly relate). And apart from the visual matters, the filmmakers also put special highlight to the soundtracks. They try to plug your ears with the “indie”ness of this movie, as we can see bands like the Smiths, Regina Spektor, Simon & Garfunkel and many others into throughout many scenes. If you’ve experienced at some point in your life that love can break you down in pieces and you wonder how could you ever get back to your feet again, this movie can grab your hand and pulls you standing straight!