Shorts: Adventures of Wishing Rock

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I had the privilege of going to the premiere of “Shorts” last weekend in Hollywood. Besides a really adorable movie I also got to see the delightful looking Robert Rodriguez in all his glory. Score one for me.

I was shocked to find that the film translated to people over 13 years old. While I may have  rolled my eyes when my kiddie movie obsessed mother forced me to watch all the “Spy Kids” movies, I secretly enjoyed each one and I owe it all to director/writer/musician/super hottie Robert Rodriguez. Who would’ve thought that the man who blessed the world with El Mariachi, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Desperado (to name a few) could piece together such entertaining family fare.

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The story of  ‘Shorts’ is a basic kid tale. 11 year old ‘Toe’ Thompson is the punching bag for the bullies in the suburban Black Falls community, where his and everyone else’s parents work for Black Box Industries. A company that manufactures a gadget that can do everything, it’s even better than an Iphone. A random storm hits the community and a mysterious Rainbow Rock is found that grants the beholder anything it wishes for.The rainbow rock finds it’s way around the city, jumping from the hands of kids to adults. The movie is a ‘magical adventure told through a series of shorts that bring to life the best and worst aspects of the Black Falls Community.’

The kid actors in this movie are fantastic and charming, making the ride that much smoother. Kat Dennings plays the part of the permanently annoyed older sister to perfection, William H. Macy is great as the kooky germaphobe scientist, and Leslie Mann and Jon Cryer make for the perfect neurotic technology obsessed parents. However, it’s James Spader as the rich villainous owner of Black Box Industries that I found the most amusing.  Only one problem, by the end of the movie I was really wanting my own rainbow wishing rock (what a dream it would be to become debt free).

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It seems like a  big coincidence  that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are releasing a movie on the same day. I mean, the movies are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum but it makes you wonder how divisive Hollywood can be sometimes. Here’s a solution for all you fully functioning adults with families: take the kids to see “Shorts” and get a sitter the next day so you can watch “Inglourious Basterds” that way 2 of the greatest directors of my generation will get their time to shine.

All Hail Tarantino!

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I had the pleasure of watching America’s number one movie “Inglourious Basterds” this morning and I was not disappointed. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who borrowed the name and skeletal storyline from the 1981 army film starring Fred Williamson,’Inglourious..’ has just saved us from another less than stellar summer movie lineup.

The movie starts in the first year of the German occupation of France, Shosanna Dreyfus (a Jewish refugee played by Melanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.

Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (played by a jestful and very Southern Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers to hunt down kill and scalp Nazi soldiers. Later known to their enemy as “the basterds,” Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquis, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own

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I love Tarantino because it seems like he doesn’t give a crap about stomping all over society’s neat little ideas of the way things HAVE to be to make a movie his own way. I loved this movie and not because everybody else does but because of the questions it brings to the forefront.

I was confused and curious about the audience (and my own) reaction to this film. Albeit we are watching the enemy die, the way we’d whoop and cheer as these men (Hitler’s by products) are murdered in the most vicious of ways was questionable. It’s amazing how quickly we play judge and jury so that we can excuse ourselves of sympathy in the right situation.

For example: You may not believe in the death penalty but with if some maniac murders your loved one? You do not condone senseless violence but if it’s that jackass Perez Hilton then he probably deserved it. In the case of this movie the ‘basterds’ are seeking revenge for their people who were brutally murdered by brutally murdering other people. Yet because of circumstance they get our moral seal of approval.

‘Basterds…’ is filled with  cinematic trickery, forcing you out of your neat little life and urging you to relieve yourself of human responsibility. Hitler was evil, there’s no denying that. I’ve seen pictures of those young German soldiers, some barely big enough to handle their guns. The ever present kill or be killed  factor that they  had to deal with would have forced even the best man  to do unthinkable acts. ‘Basterds..’ inadvertently asks you to celebrate the malicious torture deaths of these soldiers while internally excusing yourself of moral responsibility.  In the end 10O% of those guys were evil incarnate and they deserved it, right?  Tarantino has made a movie of transcendence and redemption, where the tables are turned and we become the audience that is willing to cheer for  a bloodbath, the more torturous the better.

As an advocate of hypocrisy I will admit to soft cheering and laughing it up at those soldier’s deathly expense but when it was all said and done, I feel a little internal shame for wishing that the ‘Basterds’ had killed more people. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that I witnessed superior film making and screenwriting today. It takes a unique filmmaker to take one of the most major events in history and turn it on it’s ass. Only a ballsy man with a foot fetish and great taste in music could’ve compiled such an entertaining and thought provoking semi factual fiction war dramedy. Thanks Tarantino for continuously pushing the cinematic envelope.

Tarantino+Pitt= Awesome Friday

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Fuck Julie & Julia! Down with The Time Traveler and his wife! Tyler Durden is on the warpath for some na(t)zi scalps. I can’t wait to get to my local theater  on Friday afternoon to take in  Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, ” Inglourious Basterds”. I don’t care if the critics have it out for Tarantino or if you think Brad Pitt’s too pretty to summon up his inner sergeant  bad ass, if you agree with them then you my dear public can suck the big one. I hear the whispers, the dissenters.  They say Quentin Tarantino hasn’t been  good since “Pulp Fiction”  well  to hell with that, because I proudly call myself  a “Jackie Brown” kinda girl. Doom to you evil naysayers!! Quentin has returned!

Go see “Inglorious..” and be fully prepared for  fun, bloody, kickass  retribution.  Besides that,  you get voice over narration by none other than the incomparable Samuel L. Jackson, then there’s  Eli Roth , B.J. Novak  (hilarious) from the Office, and Samm Levine (quirksville) from Freaks and Geeks as Pitt’s loyal soldiers and Mike Myers as a general.  A fine recipe for kicking some na(t)zi ass.

God bless you Tarantino and I can’t wait til Friday.