Friday, September 11, 2009

There is no substitute

I am currently watching the History Channel's "Remembering 9/11," uninterrupted by commercials. Even though the events of that day are well known to me, the video footage still leaves me numb.

It was just eight years ago. Eight years ago our nation was savagely attacked and thousands died. No one's forgotten it. Yet as I watched images from that day, and the emotions I felt that morning in my middle school library began to sweep over me again, I realized that I had forgotten it, or at least its significance and the response it elicited.

An attack like that occurring today seems unfathomable. But there on the screen was a reminder that it's anything but. I fear that as a nation we've already put 9/11 in the back of our collective memory. While we still pause to reflect on its anniversary, it doesn't hold nearly the same kind of power and meaning as it did just a few years ago.

Perhaps it's not too hard to see why. Today, 9/11/09, our president spoke, but not to remind us of why we're in Afghanistan or why combating terrorism abroad is essential for our national security. Instead, he promoted health care reform and the need for green jobs. Students in Minnesota assembled Energy Efficiency Outreach Bags instead of viewing footage from that fateful day. Others in Oklahoma pulled weeds and planted a garden. While these deeds are certainly a decent gesture, they completely fail to truly remind us of a tragedy that happened less than a decade ago and could happen again.

The eighth anniversary of 9/11 will probably be over by the time you read this. But the images and events of that day are still readily accessible, and just as relevant. I urge each and every one of you to take a couple minutes and simply watch. There is no substitute.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rover Film Review: Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)
Starring: Brad Pitt (Se7en, Fight Club, Troy), Melanie Laurent (First American Film), Christopher Waltz (First American Film), and Diane Kruger (Troy, National Treasure)

Rating: R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.
Running Time: 153 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Tarantino's highest-opening film to date, Inglourious Basterds returns the filmmaker back to the tight plots and extreme violence of his two best movies: 1992's Reservoir Dogs and 1994's Pulp Fiction. The film is extremely violent - especially in dealing with extreme knife-play. But unlike, the Kill Bill duo, the violence here serves a purpose - providing context and brutality in a (semi-)realistic World War 2 setting.

The story opens "once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France" and introduces over the course of three short "chapters" to our three main story arcs: the Jew-hunting SS officer Col. Hans Landa (in an Oscar-worthy by German actor Christopher Waltz), the band of Jewish-American soldiers brutally hunting down Nazi's led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), and the scheming, Jewish owner of a Parisian cinema (Melanie Laurent). The cinema is set to place host to the Nazi high-command as it celebrates the opening of a new propaganda piece.

What follows is an excellently written, sometimes brutal, always well-acted movie that stretches a tad too long in the middle, but delivers an excellent ending. The protagonists race to kill (or in Landa's case defend) Hitler and the high command as the plot evolves over three days. The movie is excellent because it delivers what Tarantino is expected to deliver: great lines, cultural reference, entertainment, and violence; while adding the maturity of an older film-maker in regards to camera work and (in general) pacing. It appears that the singular focus on gore that Tarantino has shown in the last ten years has finally and thankfully been pushed aside for a return to being one of the (if not the) best director/writers in Hollywood today.

*Note the violence is brutal - this movie, like all in the Tarantino canon, is not for the faint of heart.


Sunday, September 6, 2009