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Showing posts from August, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: Tarantino's World War II Fever Dream

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Quentin Tarantino always manages to deliver astonishing setpieces in his films, and Inglourious Basterds opens with one of his most masterful--an excruciating cat-and-mouse game between a French farmer and the movie's principal heavy, SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). The wonder of the sequence lies not in its Swiss-watch precision (we've come to expect as much from the motor-mouthed auteur), but in its subtle artistry. It begins in the most pastoral of south-of-France countrysides, and escalates with ambling leisure: Neither man raises his voice above the most gently-civil of conversational tones, and Tarantino avoids manipulation with music cues until the scene's climactic payoff. It is, in short, twelve minutes of pure, undiluted genius. That opening promises a work of unparalleled maturity that, put bluntly, Tarantino doesn't quite follow up on. But if this World War II opus is just a typical Quentin Tarantino joint, that still renders it more ambitious, d

Dirty Not-Quite Dozen: The Inglorious Bastards (1978 edition)

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I'm such a Quentin Tarantino loyalist that I fully intend to plunk down my sawbucks for opening weekend of Inglourious Basterds --this despite the presence of one of the least skilled A-list actors in history , and a deliberate misspelling that just drives me nuts (I'm far from anal about grammatical flouting, except when it comes to cuss words. Cuss words should never be writ with anything but the most pinpoint precision). But Tarantino's mega-budget event flick'll have to go a long way to be as entertaining as the first movie (sort of) bearing the title. The original Inglorious Bastards (now THAT'S how you spell 'bastards'!) hit international screens in 1978 with little fanfare. At its modest core lives a classic Dirty Dozen set-up: A group of condemned military miscreants--deserters, thieves, murderers--are accidentally sprung free when their convoy gets massacred by German fighter planes in France; then they spend the rest of the movie on the run fro

Oko Yono, Treetarantula, Arbitron, and AFCGT: The Joy of Bleeding Eardrums at the Comet Tavern

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I heart Capitol Hill. It's one of the few parts of Seattle that's largely resisted homogenization and maintained its off-kilter and funky vibe. A surging mass of hipsters, summer-vacationing college kids, and vagrants pepper its streets and alleyways this time of year: Neighborhood streets practically hop with all the energy, and the Comet Tavern couldn't be plopped into a more ideal area. Graffiti-encrusted and beer-spattered, the Comet's the antithesis of the blandly-fancy-pants watering holes that inundate most Emerald City neighborhoods. It also merits Northwest institution status, having hosted dozens of bands at its current location for over twenty years. It's a great, sweaty, wonderfully distinctive place to see bands you've never heard of, playing their guts out. Which is what I did on Thursday, August 6. Oko Yono, Treetarantula , Arbitron , and AFCGT played the Comet that night, none of whom I'd heard of prior to stumbling into the dilapidated t

Passings: John Hughes, director

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John Hughes would've laughed off the notion, but in his own populist and unpretentious way he was the voice of a generation. You'll likely hear variations of that statement echoed ad nauseum in the coming days and weeks, largely because like me so many writers, bloggers, and sitemasters grew up as part of that generation. But the endless repetition of that sentiment doesn't make it any less true. I was gonna go all academic and analyze Hughes's work with typical Petri Dish microscope scrutiny, but such fussing almost seems to diminish it. The most moving tribute I've read thusfar, and the one that taps into the director's soul most deeply, comes from Alison Byrne Fields' excellent blog detailing her very personal connection with the director (Go read it now . But please come back, pretty please? Thanks. And thank you, Dean Saling). John Hughes largely made movies for kids, and none of them were what film cognoscenti would call masterpieces. But he captu