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"Waltz with Bashir"

Directed by Ari Folman.
Written by Ari Folman.
Starring the voices of Folman and many other real-life subjects.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  2/1/09


It is difficult to categorize "Waltz with Bashir", but it's really easy to say this much: this is a friggin' great flick!

Nominated for the 2009 Best Foreign Film Oscar (apparently the first animated foreign film to be nominated in this category), "Waltz with Bashir" is an animated documentary mixed with dramatic--and occasionally, comedic--retellings of events surrounding the fighting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian soldiers in Lebanon in the early 1980s, ending with the Israeli massacre of Palestinian civilians in a couple of locations in Lebanon.  Told from the standpoint of the film's director, Ari Folman (who fought on the Israeli side in this conflict), we follow his research in 2006 and 2007 as he reconnects with others who he thinks he fought with way back when...another issue, since Folman is having a tough time remembering these events, since he did such a good job of blocking them out of his mind.  He interviews a couple of other squadmates, his commanding officer, a reporter and others to gather information, all the while coloring his interviews with sequences that re-imagine what happened on the battlefield.

It's safe to say that you haven't seen a film like "Waltz with Bashir"; even recent films like "Chicago 10" were based on real-life events but didn't employ the voices of the real people involved or go off on random tangents that help make the film really move.  I loved the animation style of "Waltz with Bashir"; I loved a couple of the funnier bits, especially a number based on the dirty films that one CO watches from his hotel room while informing Folman of the death of a key figure; I loved the ending; I loved the soundtrack.  But, it's the story that had me, because I really don't have a background in the war that took place in Lebanon, so this was fresh material for me and it was a very strong format in which to tell this story.

"Waltz with Bashir" is something worth sitting through; in the dog days of January, you can be sure that pickens will be slim, so get out there and make it happen!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 02/01/09