Saturday, August 29, 2009

Movie Review - Inglorious Basterds

Okay, so to start, I'm not a Quention Tarantino fan. I have enjoyed some of his movies, but I don't drool for them the way some folks seem to. I think his style can really fall flat in some films (Deathproof, his half of Grindhouse, being the most egregious example of a film in which his style really ruined a movie for me.)

That being said, Inglorious Basterds just might be his masterpiece.

I was not in the mood to go see this movie when the Bear Squad headed down to the local cinema to take it in. Previews for other movies - especially the remake of Universal's the Wolfman - made me wish we were seeing something else. But the movie started, and it started slowly, but with a great scene that really set the pace and feel for the rest of the film. Without giving too much away, the film revolves around a young Jewish woman, a group of American soldiers, a plot to kill Hitler, and a movie cinema. The film is broken into chapters, each one feeding another thread of story into the whole. Some of the main characters never even meet, but it all comes together into a believable and captivating whole.

Christoph Waltz might be fairly unknown in American cinema, but I think he can pretty much write his own ticket after this performance. He's unbelievable.

Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Til Schweiger, and the rest of the actors who make up the Basterds themselves are all excellent, and the film is always alive whenever they're on screen.

Melanie Laurent is, again, not a known quantity in American cinema, but she conveys a lot with eyes and body language...more actors and actresses could take cues from her subtle but evocative performance, especially it's disturbing, unearthly climax.

With twists, turns, and tension aplenty, this film uses one of Tarantino's fortes/downfalls to great advantage - there's a lot of talking in this film. In many cases, the tension grows, as you wait for someone to give things away and cause what's likely to be an explosive end to the conversation. When it does happen, it's like a fantastic punctuation mark at the end of a lengthy but meaningful sentence.

I really don't want to spoil the plot, or the ending, because I had heard nothing, and I was shocked. It does not disappoint. See this movie. :)

- The Happy Bear

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the October

Just found out that I'll be heading overseas on a business trip in October. I'll be doing a "product training" trip for my company's "Great Rivers of Europe" trip. This usually means an abbreviated (and often very hectic) version of the tour. The tour is a river boat tour that normally runs from Amsterdam to Vienna (or vice-versa), so I'm not sure where I'll actually be visiting yet. Be assured that I will represent the Bear Squad well in Europe and come back with some reviews.

- The Happy Travelin' Bear

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Movie Review - Bruno

I wish I could say right off the bat that I loved this movie. I really wish I could say that. The Bear Squad hit this film recently, and we were all pretty unimpressed. I should preface this by saying that we all loved Borat. I should also mention that we all thought Bruno was okay, but it just didn't live up to its predecessor.

Sacha Baron Cohen may be a victim of his own success. We all thought Borat was hilarious, and we were looking forward to the same level of seemingly unstaged, uncomfortable comedy. Sadly, we never really got it, as Bruno's various scenarios seemed contrived and unlikely to not have been staged. Although there are some really brilliant moments in the movie, it's uneven and just never quite gets up to the level of Borat.

I'll defintiely keep an eye out for more SBC films, but this one just was not a winner in my book.

- The Happy Bear

Cornering the Greek Meal...

Tonight, I had dinner with my sister, the Roo, and the Otter. My sister and the Otter are both vegetarians (although the Otter's been backsliding a bit), so we needed a vegetarian-friendly option. The Roo suggested Greek Corner, a place he and the Otter had tried, but I had not been able to attend. My sister was agreeable, so we headed over there.

It's a small place, and it was rocking busy for a Tuesday night. We ordered an appetizer of falafel to share. This was very good, although a little pricey (two large falafel balls for about $5.00), but it was also served with their tabouli and hummous, as well as a mound of warm pita bread. It was all very enjoyable.

The Roo and I split two entrees, the moussaka (I love moussaka), and the gyro plate...basically a big pile of shwarma, the meat they use to make gyros, with tsatsiki (yogurt sauce). We both ordered their "Greek" fries...French fries with grated cheese, oregano, and other seasonings, and both came with a Greek salad on the side. These entrees and the fries were all excellent and featured large portions for a small price. The Otter ordered a falafel plate, and my sister order their spanakopita (spinach pie). They both pronounced them excellent, and I believe it.

We were tempted by dessert, but we held off as we had other plans.

If you're in the Cambridge, MA area, and you want a good meal of Greek food for a surprisingly low price, I can strongly recommend this option. The Bear Squad came home with happy bellies.

- The Happy Bear
As an experiment, I've been posting links to the site for my D&D campaign, Seven Kingdoms, on my Facebook account. Recently, I asked for folks to ask questions about the campaign setting. I thoughnt I'd open that up here, too.

The site for the campaign is at

I'm open to questions about the campaign world. What're some things you'd be interested to know?

- Andy