Welcome to the movies at PS News.
Each week, PS News’s film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Director: Quentin Tarantino, Universal Pictures, Rated MA, 153 mins
Quentin Tarantino is back as writer and director of this bloody and irreverent World War II blockbuster.
Inglourious Basterds essentially has two stories intertwined within it.
The first concerns a group of American Jewish soldiers known as ‘The Basterds’ whose main job is to kill Nazis during the German occupation of France.
The second involves the daughter of a Jewish family, Shoshanna (beautifully played by French actress Melanie Laurent) who escapes from the clutches of the architect of her family’s murder, Colonel Hans Landa (Austrian actor Christoph Waltz).
It is not too long before ‘The Basterds’ and Shoshanna come together - in a local cinema - to wreak vengeance against their common enemy.
‘The Basterds’ are led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading) who is also known as ‘Apache’ due to how he hunts down Nazi soldiers and scalps them (or marks a swastika sign on the foreheads of those he spares).
He believes these tactics will instill fear into the hearts and minds of the enemy.
In the meantime, Shosanna takes on a new identity and ownership of a local cinema as way of avenging the death of her family.
Besides Laurent’s wonderful portrayal of Shosanna, the other female performance worth highlighting is Diane Kruger (National Treasure) who, in aiding the ‘Basterds’ cause, delivers a wonderful depiction of German actress Bridget von Hammersmark.
At the same time, Pitt is absolutely terrific in his role as the cocky Lieutenant, not to mention his dark sense of humour, while Waltz’s Colonel Hans Landa is simply a stand out performance.
In what must have been a brief cameo appearance, Australian actor Rod Taylor stars as Winston Churchill.
With such a great ensemble cast, lavish sets and a fascinating storyline, this would certainly rank as one of Tarantino’s best films – despite some ‘over the top’ scenes of violence that are reminiscent of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.
At the same time the movie is well written, well paced and engaging, with none of the audience expressing any concerns about its length of some two and a half hours.
Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s interpretation of what happened in World War II – clearly poking fun at Hitler and the Nazis.
It is entertaining and intelligent and in every way a Tarantino-style movie that delivers plenty of hilarious moments and his usual dose of violence.
If you are a Tarantino fan you will find his latest release thoroughly enjoyable and a worthy addition to his repertoire of movies.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
The Taking of Pelham 123
Director: Tony Scott, Columbia Pictures, Rated MA, 123 mins
As an acknowledged action director of some note with such hits as Déjà Vu and Enemy of the State under his belt, I was somewhat surprised at Tony Scott’s remake of The Taking of Pelham 123.
It did not achieve the same level of satisfaction as the original movie, which was made in 1974 and based on John Godey’s bestselling book.
Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington (Déjà Vu) plays Walter Garber, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority official currently embroiled in controversy over a bribe he may have taken.
While that situation is being investigated, Garber is reassigned to desk duty as a dispatcher in the subway command centre.
However, he is unaware that armed men are preparing to hijack a New York City subway train and hold all of its passengers for ransom.
The leader of the hijackers, who calls himself Ryder (John Travolta, Hairspray), tells Garber he wants 10 million dollars within an hour or he will start executing one hostage every 60 seconds.
The cops (led by John Turturro, Transformers) are called in but Garber remains lead negotiator at Ryder's insistence.
Scott’s version certainly has plenty of action sequences built into it but lacks the depth and suspense expected in an action thriller.
Even though the interaction between the two lead actors (Washington and Travolta) is a major highlight in the movie, Washington’s performance lacked any real passion, and it became increasingly clear that he may have been miscast.
The Taking of Pelham 123 works reasonably well as a thriller because of the Tony Scott-Denzel Washington collaboration, especially having Travolta added to the cast, who is always interesting to watch as a villain (as seen in ‘Face-Off’).
But the movie is mainly held together by Scott’s solid direction and the acting skills of Washington and Travolta.
Turturro as the police chief and James Gaandolfini (The Sopranos) as the befuddled mayorplay lesser roles.
Ultimately it is up to the viewing audience to conclude whether Scott’s remake is as an enjoyable ride as the original.
VIC'S VERDICT: 2 ½ Rubber Stamps
Release Date: 9 September 2009
Director: Steve Shill, Rated M, 108 mins
Steve Shill’s Obsessedis being released by Sony on 9 September on Blu-Ray and DVD.
It comes across as a thriller with some talented stars and a predictable storyline – similar to the theme of Fatal Attraction, which featured Glenn Close and Michael Douglas.
Idris Elba (The Wire) does a good job in his role as Derek Charles, a successful financial advisor.
Derek hires a temp, Lisa (Ali Larter, Heroes) to join his company.
Lisa immediately becomes sexually obsessed with Derek, trying to molest him at the Christmas holiday party, sending him dirty pictures, and even tracking him down on a work retreat.
Beyonce Knowles (Dreamgirls) plays Derek’s loving wife who is a strong character and will not stand by and see her marriage collapse or her husband’s career ruined.
The script by David Loughery provides for a thrilling movie, with a fascinating cat-fight in the concluding scenes between Knowles and Larter, a particular highlight –and accounts for both women being the real stars of this movie.
This is one DVD that wouldn’t go amiss in your home collection.
In relation to the special features, there is a digital copy of the movie and a few brief behind-the-scenes featurettes-with one advertising the “Girl Fight! An inside look at the climactic fight sequence between Beyonce Knowles and Ali Larter”.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps