There are great movies, and then there are those that are made for pure mindless entertainment.  The latter are those that can be enjoyed without regard for the historical, socio-economic context of the Military Industrial Complex in Southeast Asia, or the impact of the Feminist Movement in Europe.  In other words, they can be enjoyed after you have parked your brains at the door.

So for the loooong weekend ahead we recommend these films that can be enjoyed even when you park your brains by the door.

Inglourious Basterds
(Director:  Quentin Tarantino, Cast:  Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent)

Historical accuracy takes a backseat in Tarantino’s re-imagining of WWII as the eponymous Basterds hatch a plan to end the reign of the Third Reich by gunning down the Nazi High Command, including the Fϋhrer  himself during the premiere of Nazi propaganda film, Nation’s Pride.  Coincidentally, Jewish cinema owner also has plans of her own – which is to barbecue the audience by burning the cinema down on the night of the premiere.

Tarantino mashes spaghetti western style with 80’s-style narrative in this dark comedy rife with clever scenes (one scene has characters arguing about what constitutes a Mexican standoff – in the middle of a gunfight).  Brad Pitt affects a Southern drawl as Basterds chief Aldo Raine and Laurent is appropriately icy as the resolute cinema owner seeking for revenge.  But standouts are pre-Magneto Fassbender as Brit officer Lt. Hicox while Waltz is deliciously evil as Jew Hunter SS Col. Hans Landa.

Rating: A

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
(Director:  Tom Tykwer; Cast: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman)

This Tykwer-directed film about a man born with superhuman olfactory sense, with a script adapted from best-selling novel of the same name. Perfume follows story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the man with the “best nose in Paris”, as he embarks on a journey to find the ultimate scent.  Film takes on a Sweeney Todd-ish turn as Jean-Baptiste starts murdering ‘em pretty young things to distil the perfume to end all perfumes.

Schizophrenic film starts strongly as audience is introduced to Jean-Baptiste as he discovers his bloodhound-like talent.  Film spirals out-of-control in final third as story takes on surreal turn. Film manages to get strong performances from Ben Whishaw as the misanthrope with an extraordinary sense of smell, and Rickman as the father of one of Jean-Baptiste’s victims. Film suffers from uneven script and Hoffman’s pedestrian performance as Jean-Baptiste’s mentor.

Rating: B-

(Director:  Iain Softely; Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges)

Talky film about a man who might be an alien – or is he?  The man in question is Prot, an inmate in a Manhattan psychiatric ward who insists that he came from a planet K-PAX, a thousand light-years away from earth.  The Iain Softley-helmed film screws with audience’s mind as they ask the crucial question:  Is he or is he not what he claims to be?  Films effectively delivers conceit with mind-boggling, mystery ending that leaves audience’s mind getting f*cked the last time.

The great Kevin Spacey stars as Prot, the man who is either a creature from outer space, or the most magnificent crackpot this side of the earth.  Jeff Bridges lends support as Manhattan shrink trying to peel through the layers of his mysterious client.  Film’s talky parts might be a challenge to toddlers with short attention fans, ADHD patients or High School Musical fans.  Otherwise, film offers tight script and tight story-telling.

Rating: B

Chungking Express
(Director: Wong Kar-Wai, Cast: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong)

Chinese art-house filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai employs gritty film-making techniques (oversaturated colors, hand-held camera-ish movements) to tell two disparate stories about two men experiencing heartbreak in HongKong.  Wong Kar-Wai tells effective story about loneliness in a concrete jungle, filling film with metaphors (expiry dates in cans of pineapples) and philosophical musings about life and relationships in general.

HK superstars Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung star as the two heartbroken males cast off by their respective partners.  Faye Wong puts the “quirk” in “quirky” as a snack bar waitress with a huge crush on Leung (Who can blame her?) and proceeds to do little chores for him including cleaning up his house and, for some reason, changing food labels on cans.  If this weren’t a movie, Wong’s obsession borders on creepy, but because it’s Faye Wong, the gesture becomes (somewhat) cute.  Music by Mamas and Papas make film even more surreal and satisfying.

Rating: B+


About Hannah|JuliusMariveles

English instructor and broadcast journalist



  1. Kevin Spacey is my favorite actor in the whole universe! Nami man Miss ang Usual Suspects…

    Posted by Movie Lover | October 31, 2011, 7:46 am

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