Pulp Fiction

Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) are hitmen working for a gangster by the name of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). They are tasked with retrieving a suitcase containing something belonging to Wallace from some low level associates. Later, Vincent is supposed to escort Marsellus’ wife Mia (Uma Thurman) for the evening. Meanwhile, Marsellus has recruited boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) to take a dive in an upcoming boxing match. When Butch fails to do so, he finds himself needing to leave town as quickly as possible, or face Marsellus’ wrath.
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Inglourious Basterds

In France during World War 2, SS Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is known as the “Jew Hunter” for his propensity for catching Jewish fugitives hiding from the Nazi party. Meanwhile, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) has been tasked with building a team of his “Basterds,” predominantly Jewish-American soldiers sent in to kill as many Nazis as possible. Finally, Jewish cinema owner Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) has caught the eye of war hero Private Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), whose exploits have been made into a film, Nation’s Pride, which Zoller aims to have premier at Shosanna’s theatre, only for her to hatch a plan to take out as many Nazi officers as possible.
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Bad Timing

This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.

A girl is rushed to hospital in Vienna after an apparent suicide attempt. Accompanying her is a man whose relationship with her is unclear, and is unaided by his standoffish demeanour towards the police. Through flashbacks, it becomes clear that the man, named Alex (Art Garfunkel) is in a relationship with the woman, Milena (Theresa Russell), but that their relationship is strained by her marriage to an older man (Denholm Elliott) who may be a spy Alex is investigating. It is up to Inspector Netusil (Harvey Keitel) to try and sort the whole mess out, and ascertain whether Alex had a hand in Milena’s predicament.

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Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle can’t sleep. He lives in New York and is up all night, so why not become a cab driver? Well, for starters, he hates pretty much everyone on the streets after dark, plus, he’s a potentially psychotic madman, with aspirations of saving, destroying or integrating himself into society, depending on the day. He spends his days pining for a campaign worker for a local presidential candidate, but when that relationship turns sour Bickle’s attentions turn to a young prostitute, whom Travis believes is in need of a saviour.
Taxi 08
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Holy Smoke

Hurrah, another Jane Campion film. I can’t say I was much of a fan of The Piano, so I wasn’t much looking forward to this, the next available film featuring Kate Winslet (Hideous Kinky and Faeries are as yet out of my reach).

Winslet plays Ruth, a young Australian girl (with a distinctly English accent) who has travelled to India to find herself. As well as finding that, she discovers and becomes willingly entangled in a mass marriage/suicide cult, and her understandably concerned family would rather she just came home. After Ruth’s mother (Julie Hamilton) manages to persuade her daughter to come back to Sydney with her, utilising a fake illness for her father and a very real asthma attack for her mother, the family bring in P. J. Waters (Harvey Keitel), a professional ‘exit counsellor,’ an expert at convincing people to give up their new found cultish beliefs and return to their previous lives.
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The Piano

First off, an apology for the forthcoming review. I watched the film three months ago, and have gotten so far behind on my post writing that I’ve not had any real desire to review it, as to be honest it wasn’t that inspirational of a film. Nonetheless, I shall do my best, but I’m relying almost solely on the notes I made during the movie, as I can’t for the life of me remember very much of it. As you can probably guess, this isn’t going to be much of a recommendation to watch the film.
Holly Hunter plays Ada McGrath, a woman who, aged six, willed herself mute, and has since never spoken a word. She moves from Scotland to New Zealand for an arranged marriage with Sam Neill’s landowner/writer Alisdair, and brings her young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin in her first live action picture) and their piano, Ada’s pride and joy. Neill is less than impressed with his new bride-to-be (“You’re small, I never thought you’d be small”), and refuses to cart her piano across the difficult swampland between the beach and his home, so they abandon it on the sand, much to Ada’s discontent. Fortunately local plantation worker George Baines (Harvey Keitel) takes a shine to Ada, and trades some land with Alisdair for the piano, and agrees to trade it back to Ada in return for ‘piano lessons,’ during which George will get to know Ada far more intimately than she’d like.

Hunter and Paquin both won Oscars for this film, and Hunter at least thoroughly deserved hers (Paquin is excellent for an 11 year old, but though I haven’t seen any of the performances she was nominated against I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the actresses, including Emma Thompson and the aforementioned Hunter, performed more capably). Hunter’s Ada is utterly repressed, yet still emotive and expressive, all pursed lips and passive eyes, her skin a deathly pale against the stark black of her dresses and bonnet. Keitel is also good, though his proclivity for whipping his pecker out is always a distraction, and is for the most part unnecessary.
I got the feeling that the film was made to prove the point that a lead character doesn’t need to speak (see also: Dumbo). There isn’t too much of a story here, with the events built entirely around the character and her very existence rather than the exciting or emotional events in her life. Her character is well realised, especially the bond with her daughter, and her slowly breaking down walls against Baines’ advances. Communicating only through sign language, facial expression and a small chalk-board locket, she says more than any other character, and with far less.
Despite the poetry of the film, such as Keitel’s Baines being willing to just sit and watch the piano hammers dancing gaily along the strings, I didn’t take much away from this film, and it has had little to no lasting impact on me. It’s very slow, and the message is muddled, though I think it has something to do with choosing the correct way to woo someone. Alisdair goes about things in entirely the wrong way with Ada. If only he’d coerced her into, essentially, prostitution, he’d have been much better off. Oh, and the best part about the film? It features an actress called Geneviève Lemon.
Choose life 6/10

Thelma and Louise

Two girls, a turquoise 1966 T-Bird convertible, a weekend vacation at a friend’s cabin up in the mountains, what could go wrong? Well, in Ridley Scott’s feminist road movie, a heck of a lot, as henpecked housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) and her world-weary waitress best friend Louise (Susan Sarandon) head out from their humdrum lives on more of an adventure than they bargained for, after a run-in with a would-be rapist at a country bar of ill repute.
The titular roles could not be more different, yet both remain well rounded characters, thanks in part to the able performances by the two leads. Though it is the men that seem to shepherd our heroines on the run, they always find a way of fighting back or turning the tables, be it on Harvey Keitel’s cop on their trail (assisted by Stephen Tobolowsky!), Michael Madsen as Louise’s boyfriend Jimmy, Brad Pitt’s first major film role as clothes-shedding hitchhiker J.D. or Christopher McDonald as Thelma’s boorish husband Darryl, eager to get his wife back so she can start making his dinner again.
There’s some great comedy – Darryl unable to watch his beloved football because the cops tapping his phone are too engrossed with Cary Grant in Penny Serenade – and though the story and ending may have been ruined by an overabundance of pop-culture spoofs and references, it is still a very good story. The accents begin to grate after a while, particularly Davis’ pronunciation of Loo-eese, but try to look beyond that at a journey that starts with an accident, and builds to become two strong female characters exploring their own limits, surprising themselves and everyone else.
Choose film 7/10