Saturday, September 26, 2009

World Without Men

I have a problem with the show "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Only two of the women are married and therefore only two of the women have husbands. That leaves three or four that are single and not housewives, or any kind of wives, at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the show would be improved if the girls were married, although part of that is that I'm not sure the show could be improved. Not because it's sublime but because no matter what they do it stands, alongside much of reality or "partially scripted" shows, as a completely vapid waste of time.

And yet here I am, writing about it. This can't be good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

Saw the thing last night and was disappointed. I've read some pretty sloppy reviews by folks that have loved it so I wanted to throw out a few things that seem to me may have been overlooked.

First, the good: most of the acting for most of the movie is fine. Brad Pitt, to me, has a certain charisma but not a lot of appeal as an actor. I thought he limped through his breakout role in "Legends of the Fall" and he's not much better here. He wears a near constant expression that looks somewhere between the crooked mouth set now frozen on Burt Reynolds' face and a man caught sucking a lemon. His Tennessee accent is odd but consistent although he delivers while seeming to impersonate his pal George Clooney's clipped mode of speaking in "O Brother Where Art Thou."

Another thing that took away from the acting were the cliches, both spoken and acted, that tore me out of the movie with a lurch.

The movie is told in chapters, reminding me of Tarrantino's description of his "Pulp Fiction." And while each chapter follows a different plot line, the juxtapositioning works well until the last chapter where the narrative seems to run out of drive just before the climax. Because the previous chapters don't set enough hooks for the ending, and because at the time you I didn't know it was the ending, the finale came off flat and forced.

Perhaps the biggest flaw is the depiction of the Basterds themselves: they simply didn't do enough. They were formed, we jump ahead to their established history, we see the ending of one adventure, and throughout the rest of the movie we see them in small groups in different places. Are there more of them? Will they be coming together? Whoops, it's over, I guess not...

In the end I'd say that some of the writing was very smart, some of the performances very well acted, and even halfway through I was smiling at how much I was enjoying some of the things I was seeing. But it was ultimately disappointing, very much so, and for me it's one of those what-might-have-been movies. If an extended director's cut were ever released, I might try it again but otherwise, a revisiting of either "Pulp Fiction" or "Jackie Brown" would be much more enjoyable.