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August 22, 2009 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Inglourious Basterds looks promisingly offensive, but it certainly doesn't appear to be the most offensive thing that could possibly be written as a comedy about World War II. No, for that, you'd have to have -- no, not Jerry Lewis, that won't do. Say it was based on a comic that was originally a webcomic. Say it was produced in one of the former Axis countries. And that it featured all of the major players as anthropomorphized stereotypes of those countries. And that these stereotypes were all young, attractive men who spent a lot of time with each other. Call it "Useless Italy" -- or, in Japanese, Hetalia: Axis Powers.

(Actually, it can be pretty funny; I am not one to merely LOLJAPAN, but I laughed at these. And at least the kids are getting interested in history, right? [NSFW text.] See also: Afuganisu-tan.)
posted by Countess Elena (69 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The New Yorker review of Basterds, for those curious.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:47 PM on August 22, 2009


Well the Canada character is spot on.

He is also passive aggressive and has a hidden snarky side, and has been known to make Alfred (America) cry - in one instance arguing with him for over three hours and pointing out every single one of America's faults.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:00 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow, the subtitle timing on that first episode is incredibly bad.
posted by subbes at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2009


I wouldn't follow that review link -- in typical New Yorker film criticism dick move fashion, it's full of all kinds of things you probably don't want to know if you're at all interested in seeing the movie as opposed to hearing some jagoff talk to you about it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:04 PM on August 22, 2009


Re: Denby Review:

"Does Landa keep his promise and allow the farmer’s family to survive? The scene ends, and Tarantino doesn’t say. His refusal to show us how events play out comes across as sheer negligence, or indifference."

With these two sentences Denby shows us he's got no idea what Tarantino is doing.
posted by jettloe at 4:06 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Or maybe it's just the client that's messing up the subtitle timing.
posted by subbes at 4:08 PM on August 22, 2009


I've found that a fun way to read David Denby is to add "he sniffled" to the end of all of his sentences. It's like how you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:10 PM on August 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


Seriously, can we start fund to provide Tony Lane with all the amphetamines he'd need to be the New Yorker's full-time movie critic?
posted by Rangeboy at 4:12 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm very glad to see this explanation -- somehow this show seems to appear on nearly every single page of TV Tropes (deliberately not linking), and I've been quite confused as to what exactly it is. Although quotes like "There are a few hints that England has a one-sided crush on America, most obvious in the Valentine Special while giving America chocolate, blushing and shy-looking." may in fact be even more confusing.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 4:15 PM on August 22, 2009


With these two sentences Denby shows us he's got no idea what Tarantino is doing.

That would make two of us.

I would be interested to hear some views on the character development in the film. The farmer scene is perhaps the strongest but its downhilll from there, Landa being the only exception (though why does he allow Shoshanna to escape?). The basterds particularly are blank slates, Pitt spends most of the film gurning and the only personality trait of his Jewish charges seems to be that they are psychopathic, though even this could be argued to be their blindly mimicking Pitt's blood thirsty character. (Is the passing characterisation of one of them as a golem by a German supposed to be a reflection of this?) What is Tarantino trying to say here?
posted by biffa at 4:36 PM on August 22, 2009


With these two sentences Denby shows us he's got no idea what Tarantino is doing.

Actually, I think he nailed it. As a Jew, I don't need Tarantino scripting my revenge fantasties for me. Although the film shows great sophistication in technique, it feels scripted by an especially noxious little boy whose idea is fun is to draw pictures of cartoon Nazis and imagine ways in which they might be violent damaged. The titular Basterds are either huge caricatures or non-characters, and the Jewish cinema owner, for some reason, is the only one denied an opportunity to discuss how much she loves film, and is left an unexpected cipher when she is given enough screen time to be the main character. Individual scenes work quote well, and nobody is better than Tarantino at having two people sit quietly and have a civil conversation, and yet fill the scene with unbearable dread and suspense, but, as a whole, I found the film to be ridiculously adolescent, as though Sergio Leone had been given a script that was written by one of those little boys you read about now and then who turn in, as a school assignment, a grotesque fantasy about them kidnapping and murdering everybody in school who has taunted them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:41 PM on August 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


What is Tarantino trying to say here?

"Look how many WWII movies I watched, man!"
posted by droob at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


The best Japanese offensive WWII comic was Suehiro Maruo's Planet of the Japs. There used to be a lot of it on line but now Suehiro's vampire stuff seems to have driven it off. [segue] Which suggests where Tarantino went wrong. [/segue] Oh, it wouldn't have been the first WWII/vampire cross but it would be the one whose time has arrived!
posted by CCBC at 4:54 PM on August 22, 2009


Re: character development - interesting question - i think that's like asking what the character development is in the electric chair series or in The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

I just saw the film so I need some time to digest it - any one sequence is so packed with multiple meanings, (casting a Stanley Kubrick look-a-like as the Farmer for instance - a way of engaging with Ayran Papers?, (makes sense as Tarantino is our most 'Kubrick-like' of directors)), that there's a huge amount of stuff to engage with.
posted by jettloe at 5:05 PM on August 22, 2009


(casting a Stanley Kubrick look-a-like as the Farmer for instance - a way of engaging with Ayran Papers?, (makes sense as Tarantino is our most 'Kubrick-like' of directors)

Not being snarky but what do you mean here? Specifically Tarantino being the most 'Kubrick-like' of directors?
posted by Mintyblonde at 5:19 PM on August 22, 2009


The video site is saying it's English dubbed, but subtitles were mentioned upthread.

Which is it? This is very, very important.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:21 PM on August 22, 2009


Actually, I think he nailed it. As a Jew, I don't need Tarantino scripting my revenge fantasties for me.

At first glance Inglourius Basterds does seem to be a revenge fantasy. Jewish soldiers running around killing and mutilating Nazis, giving them a taste of their own medicine. Certainly when I saw it, there were people cheering in the theater when a SS took a bat to the head or had his chest pumped full of lead. Brad Pitt's character is certainly likable, so he's easy to root for, but the rest of the Basterds were clearly picked for their skill and appreciation of killing, but for their quality as people.

Nazi's are about as morally unambiguous as villians come, so it seems natural to want to cheer for their suffering, but I think Tarantinos goal was a bit more nuanced then this. Think about the film within a film, Nation's Pride. From what we see of it in Inglourius Basterds, it's pretty much just shot after shot of 300 or so American soldiers being killed by a single German soldier. We see the Nazi elite cheering over and over as each American dies. This is not so different from an American movie-goer cheering at the death of the Nazis in the film. I'm not saying about the historical reality, but there's meaning in the way the two audiences -- the German audience in the film, and the American audience watching -- could both react to violence in the same way.

I don't think Tarantino really wants us to cheer for the Basterds, although at the same time he expects that we will. The Basterds as a golem is a very clear expression of this. As far as I know (I'm not Jewish), a golem was a creature that was created to defend a Jewish community from Pogroms, but then turned on it's creators. The Basterds are the same way. Although they kill those who kill Jews, they are monsters. They are horrible psychopaths who delight in inflicting suffering. While they may be on the good side and they may only being killing people as awful as themselves, they are evil in their own way.
posted by arcolz at 5:29 PM on August 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think Kubrick is a bad parallel, although Tarantino has borrowed extensively from Kubrick, especially The Killing's fracturing of a chronological narrative, and both directors enjoyed toying with genre. But Kubrick had been a documentarian, and maintained a documentarian's interest in the way things actually work, while Tarantino's films exist in an invented, cinematic world that is endlessly self-referential and intertextural. Kubrick's films had enormous subtext, while Tarantino's films, especially this one, are very concerned with surface behavior, and people tend to just say whatever they're thinking. Kubrick was also provocative in a way that Tarantino isn't; not only was he willing to deliberately alienate his audience, he sometimes delighted in it, as with Eyes Wide Shut, which promoted itself as a sex farce and turned out to be a morose and supremely ironic updating of Schnitzler. Kubrick was an intellectual, and, while Tarantino is certainly a scholar of trash cinema, his engagement is visceral, rather than intellectual. And, ultimately, I think many of Kubrick's films were meditations on morality and immorality, while Tarantino tends to be gleefully immoral. Because the bad guys in Basterds are Nazis, I suspect we're supposed to enjoy the brutality that they experience, but in the real world the Basterds would be war criminals, and that might be one of my biggest problems with the film -- Tarantino refuses to address the immorality of their behavior, but instead expects that we all share a sense that Nazis are so evil that they don't deserve a second thought, that there is no act that can be done to them that could be considered evil. Kubrick would never have been so shallow.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:30 PM on August 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't think Tarantino really wants us to cheer for the Basterds, although at the same time he expects that we will.'

He has explicitly stated the opposite in interviews. While your take on it is interesting, I think Tarantino is too shallow to have been deliberate about this.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:33 PM on August 22, 2009


but *not* for their quality as people.
posted by arcolz at 5:35 PM on August 22, 2009


I would love to get into it but the neighbourhood kids have just come over and we're making naan bread! Will check in tomorrow to see what's cooking :)
posted by jettloe at 5:39 PM on August 22, 2009


It's like how you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." the theme song from "Gilligan's Island".

Beeee....cause I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me....

posted by gimonca at 5:42 PM on August 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


You can also make any Emily Dickinson poem sound like any King of Rock-era Run DMC song.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:50 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Certainly when I saw it, there were people cheering in the theater when a SS took a bat to the head or had his chest pumped full of lead. Brad Pitt's character is certainly likable, so he's easy to root for, but the rest of the Basterds were clearly picked for their skill and appreciation of killing, but for their quality as people.

Wow, that was totally not my experience. The whole film was watched in dead silence where I saw it, with perhaps one moment of laughter. I have to say I didn't find Pitt very likeable, he was a cartoon psycho, incapable of empathy.

IIRC the only person who got a baseball bat to the head was Wehrmacht not SS, and this was one scene I had in mind when I made my earlier point in that even this German, on screen a only a few minutes, gets more development than most of the basterds. I find it quite disturbing that people would have cheered this killing.

As far as I know (I'm not Jewish), a golem was a creature that was created to defend a Jewish community from Pogroms, but then turned on it's creators.

I was thinking more in terms of golems being created as unthinking and essentially characterless constructs directed by others. There are different stories around the mythology I think, though the story you refer to is a well known one and the golem as the defender of the Jewish people is clearly relevant.
posted by biffa at 6:13 PM on August 22, 2009


What is Tarantino trying to say here?

I haven't seem the movie, but my money is on:

"Look at me, I'm Quentin Tarantino, haven't I seen a lot old films my aren't I offensive LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME SOMEONE PLEASE LOOK AT ME!!"
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:28 PM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]




caricatures everyone without exception. Germany, Japan, France, U.K., U.S.A., Poland, Russia, the Baltic countries, Spain, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Poland, China, Korea and, above all, Italy, personified by boyish characters in the style typical of the Japanese manga, are portrayed exaggerating their (stereotypical) features, and are all pilloried with the same level of ironic intensity.

So it's 'Allo 'allo in Japanese?
posted by rodgerd at 7:28 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't seem the movie, but my money is on:

"Look at me, I'm Quentin Tarantino, haven't I seen a lot old films my aren't I offensive LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME SOMEONE PLEASE LOOK AT ME!!"


What is drjimmy11 trying to say here?

Why is everyone under the impression that Tarantino makes movies because he is starved for attention? He doesn't even appear in this one (Inglorious Basterds)...

I saw it last night and while I don't really have any informed opinion that makes internet film criticism worth the time it takes to read: I wound up in the audience that was cheering and clapping at the violence against the Nazis, which really intrigued me. Violence is fun seems to be the point of the film until the movie-within-the-movie sequence begins. Nation's Pride is the Nazi Inglorious Basterds and we are expected to react to that film's audience reaction, and it feels really deliberate.

But like everyone else I'm not sure exactly what Tarantino is trying to say. It just doesn't feel like "LOOK AT ME!!".

The film was flawed (I'm not even sure how...) but never boring.
posted by ifthe21stcentury at 7:30 PM on August 22, 2009


(I have to add that:
René is also trying to keep his affairs with his two waitresses secret from his wife Edith (who regularly sings in the café, although she is an appallingly bad singer, which she does not realise). In addition, the women-only Communist Resistance members are plotting against René for serving Germans and working with the Gaullist Resistance. Ironically, the Communist Resistance only blow things up for money. The only reason that they do not shoot René is that their leader is in love with him, a fact he has to hide from both his wife and his waitresses. Furthermore, the seemingly gay German Lieutenant Gruber is also continually flirting with René. These situations are even more humorous by the fact that René is not exactly the best looking man in France, is hardly a hero, and is often forced by his wife to do missions and secret operations.
...is actually a pretty masterful summary.)
posted by rodgerd at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would present an alternative to the theory that the film within a film is supposed to be the Nazi version of Basterds, and we are supposed to be chagrined. I would posit, instead, that Tarantino merely meant it as a parody of Riefenstahl-style propaganda, and it is meant to remind us that the Nazi soldier that has been wooing our cinema owner, and seems like an unexpectedly thoughtful and gently boyish sort of Nazi, is, in fact, a killer of Americans and a tool of the Nazi party, and therefor we should not be surprised if he turns out to be monstrous or feel badly if something happens to him, but instead celebrate whatever his fate is, if it happens to him, as we celebrate the terrible fate of Nazis throughout the film. The fact that the Nazi propaganda film ends of up paralleling Tarantino's film, and condemning the audience, is an accident by a filmmaker who has no mastery of subtext.

The reason I have this cynical take on it is because, in interviews, at no point does Tarantino demonstrate anything but oblivious to the fact that he has made a celebration of war crimes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2009


OK. Look at it this way... what if the writing and directing credits were "Garth Ennis?"

Both men are really coming at their medium with the same thing in mind. Violence is symbolic of non-violent things, character development by proxy. Do you really think Pulp Fiction's "gimp" scene was about guys getting aced with a samurai sword? That the purpose of going from hammer to axe to chainsaw to sword was about the violence?

Tarantino may come off as a shallow twit in person and in interviews. His work says something different.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you really think Pulp Fiction's "gimp" scene was about guys getting aced with a samurai sword? That the purpose of going from hammer to axe to chainsaw to sword was about the violence?

Actually, I do, yes. I think Tarantino thought it would be funny if Butch had to choose from a series of iconic weapons of film violence, and went with the Samurai sword because he thought it would be he baddest-ass choice, and would give him a chance to pretend to be Kurosawa, and that's how he makes decisions; I believe this because he says so.

He is capable of being deeper. I guess I liked Kill Bill more, and I think it's because Tarantino thought Bill was super-cool, and so wanted him to be more complicated, rather than a cartoon, and felt that way about many of the characters in the film. But, with the exception of Hans Landa, the Nazis are non-characters or broad caricatures, and most of the Basterds are too, and Shoshana, as I said, is mostly a cipher. This film feels like it has far less to offer than Kill Bill, and I think it's because Tarantino sees Nazis as such representations of pure evil that he allowed himself to be as broad and as violent as he wanted with them, without concerning himself with complicating the tale of bloody revenge he wanted to tell.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "The video site is saying it's English dubbed, but subtitles were mentioned upthread.

Which is it? This is very, very important.
"

Either/both, in Eng, Spa and (I think?) Turkish. But be warned, the subtitling is choppy in terms of display/timing (not updating if your mouse is over the window, often too small or quick to read).
posted by subbes at 8:10 PM on August 22, 2009


Butch went from utility, to convenience, to archetype, to archetype with honor. He also went from escaping in a cab, to escaping by car-crash, to escaping by freeing himself, to escaping while saving his honored enemy.

It was also funny and borderline slapstick, which is probably what threw you... Tarantino works on a =lot= of levels in any given scene.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:33 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


There Will Be Blood owes a lot more to Kubrick than Basterds -- but the look-alike thing is uncanny.

FWIW, here's my review.
posted by muckster at 9:02 PM on August 22, 2009


Slash is like furry right? Am I doing the internets correctly?
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:05 PM on August 22, 2009


Looking at the mangaupdates.com entry for hetalia you can find the translations for the original webcomic, which is hilarious (and educational):

Ch1
Ch2
Ch3
Ch4
Ch5
...(etc)
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:13 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


The reason I have this cynical take on it is because, in interviews, at no point does Tarantino demonstrate anything but oblivious to the fact that he has made a celebration of war crimes.

The work is independent of the artist and can say thing he did not consciously intend. Art is funny that way.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pulp Fiction holds up really well. Kill Bill is crap, Jackie Brown is crap, Reservoir Dogs is not bad all things considered. Death Proof was something I watched without hatred, Sin City (special guest director) fucking crap. In short I stopped caring what the man did with film after Four Rooms, he has never given me a moments doubt since.
posted by nola at 9:46 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


As a Jew, I don't need Tarantino scripting my revenge fantasties for me. Although the film shows great sophistication in technique, it feels scripted by an especially noxious little boy whose idea is fun is to draw pictures of cartoon Nazis and imagine ways in which they might be violent damaged.

It's complicated, but you're thinking too much.
posted by ed at 9:51 PM on August 22, 2009


Wow, apparently people wanted to talk about the new Tarantino movie.

Most sincere apologies to Countess Elena. I had literally never heard of that movie, read the review, and saw this post, all within 30 minutes, so I posted a quick aside.

The whole "LOLITALY" thing reminds me of Catch-22 more than anything, really. The old man in the whore house had a whole monologue to deliver this point.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:58 PM on August 22, 2009


Nazi's are about as morally unambiguous as villians come, so it seems natural to want to cheer for their suffering, but I think Tarantinos goal was a bit more nuanced then this.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut from his novel "Mother Night" (another story about Nazis):

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
posted by KokuRyu at 10:05 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


As popular as the "plate of beans" meme is here on Metafilter, I don't actually believe it is possible to think too much.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:07 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK. Plate-of-beans time - in Death Proof, half of the film is a day-dream fantasy of the killer, focused on pretty women who are juuuust this side of accessible, with bare feet and soles revealed at every stage - Tarantino reveling in his rep as foot fetishist. Everything from the incendental movie-posters to the plate of Nachos reinforces Stuntman Mike's sexual self image... which abruptly comes to an end once the heroine pulls on her cowboy boots, the antithesis of foot-fetish, and symbols of power and self-reliance. The entire movie =changes= then, veering radically in unexpected directions.

I love Tarantino movies for this stuff. It rewards over-analysis with in-jokes, and deeper rabbit holes to wander down.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:33 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Inglourious Basterds looks promisingly offensive

If only because it will seem to confirm the misspelling of these words everywhere on teh Internets...
posted by Zinger at 7:48 AM on August 23, 2009



I don't think Tarantino really wants us to cheer for the Basterds,
although at the same time he expects that we will.'




He has explicitly stated the opposite in interviews. While your take on
it is interesting, I think Tarantino is too shallow to have been deliberate
about this.



It doesn't really matter what Tarantino thinks or is saying about the movie, does it? The fact is, the Nazis in the theater were responding just like my audience watching the Basterds. And I'm betting very few in either audience understood what was going on.
posted by adoarns at 9:48 AM on August 23, 2009


Anyway, what else is impressive is all the language fun. From "Royale with cheese" to whole segments in French. People constantly in disguise and the disguise is their language. Only Landa is the one who can unmask them all. (Actually, the Nazi officers are seen as especially adept at dialect distinction―about which too much right now.)

And shibboleths. The critic gives himself away with a gesture. The Basterds transparently impostors under the grilling of a language test. The Germans' condescending French. And in a way, how the film gives itself away at the end by invoking a cinematic language. Actors, critics, soldiers, all taking each other's places.

There are like fifty million motion pictures about the Second World War. Not every one has to be about the Second World War. Or: WWII offers us a lot of different experiences, and Basterds sees it as one enormity after another, free reign of violence, full linguistic and cinematic license to the unleashing of uncivilized impulses.

Just a couple of impressions.
posted by adoarns at 9:56 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that the Nazi propaganda film ends of up paralleling Tarantino's film, and condemning the audience, is an accident by a filmmaker who has no mastery of subtext.

It may be worth noting here that, according to his interview at AV Club, Eli Roth was the actual director of the film-within-a-film. (I haven't been to see Basterds this weekend, incidentally -- both because I've been holed up at home trying to get some writing work done and because my nicotine habit/bladder fears and loathes any movie over two hours -- but I have read this interview, and I imagine it's at least as entertaining. Though, unlike damn near everybody, I am a huge Eli Roth fan, so that may factor in. His account of finding his motivation for his acting role in Basterds, however, is comedy gold that should be appreciated by all.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:17 AM on August 23, 2009


Okay, actually, I can't resist; here's the part I was talking about:

Imagine trying to relive your worst break-up, your worst fight, the most painful death of a loved one, and just really relive it step by step, and bring it up and apply it to the scene you’re in. I was listening to music to kind of pump myself up and get psyched up, like I was listening to Iron Maiden and Misfits and Dead Kennedys, and it was like my ‘80s Massachusetts parking-lot heavy metal and Guns N’ Roses. And then my girlfriend, as a joke, put Hannah Montana on my iPod mix, and she was in California, and I knew I wasn’t going to see her for six months. We were basically split up. And I just started getting really, really upset. And at first I was laughing, I was like, “What is this? Oh my God.” I couldn’t believe she’d done that. And then I really started missing her, and really started thinking about, “Well, God, what if…” Then I was, like, kind of dancing around to the music, thinking, “Oh my God, am I actually getting into this?” And then what if Brad Pitt caught me listening to Hannah Montana? It’d be like, “What the hell are you doing back there?” And then what if Quentin knew I was listening to Hannah Montana? How would I explain that away? And I just went psycho. And that was the song that would take me to my psycho place.

So when I was beating the guy, I started thinking, “What if I was Hannah Montana?” And Quentin’s like, “Eli, you ready?” I’m like, “Oh yeah. Yes, yes sir.” [Laughs.] And little do they know that that’s why I look so insane, is I’m torturing myself with thoughts of, “How could I actually pull off being a high-school student and a pop star at night as Hannah Montana?”

posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


All I know is I've seen IB twice and will see it a third time
posted by A189Nut at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2009


And here I was, naively thinking that the post was about Hetalia... not that I know a lot about it yet, but hey... it's downloading. ;-)

As for Tarantino, I know he's a big fan, but I'm tired of him wanting to make a sword-fighting movie or a war movie or a (select genre) movie...

I'd like to see him find -- or write -- a good script, and make a movie that's actually more about something.

Reservoir Dogs is still his strongest movie and strongest script by far, with an emphasis on character perspective and style that has been much imitated. Unfortunately, he's been coasting on that ever since.
posted by markkraft at 2:06 PM on August 23, 2009


Even Reservoir Dogs was one part The Killing and nine parts Lung Fu Fong Wan. But I agree, it's his best movie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:28 PM on August 23, 2009


Oh hey, paisley, no problem! I have such mixed feelings about Tarantino, and I appreciate seeing people argue about his stuff.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:58 PM on August 23, 2009


Jackie Brown is crap.

Oh, nola, I'm so sorry for the massive head trauma you seem to have experienced.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:08 PM on August 23, 2009


Did anyone else think it might have more sense if the Basterds carved Stars of David into Nazis' foreheads, rather than swastikas? I understand the whole "can't take off this Nazi uniform" thing, but still...
posted by stinkycheese at 8:31 PM on August 23, 2009


Johnathan Rosenbaum on Daniel Mendelsohn on the film:

When Jews Attack” by Daniel Mendelsohn, a two-page spread in the August 24 & 31 issue of Newsweek, begins to help me account for what I find so deeply offensive as well as profoundly stupid about Inglourious Basterds [sic sic — or maybe I should say, sic, sic, sic]. A film that didn’t even entertain me past its opening sequence, and that profoundly bored me during the endlessly protracted build-up to a cellar shoot-out, it also gave me the sort of malaise that made me wonder periodically what it was (and is) about the film that seems morally akin to Holocaust denial, even though it proudly claims to be the opposite of that. It’s more than just the blindness to history that leaks out of every pore in this production (even when it’s being most attentive to period details) or the infantile lust for revenge that’s so obnoxious. When Mendelsohn asks, “Do you really want audiences cheering for a revenge that turns Jews into Nazis, that makes Jews into `sickening’ perpetrators?”, he zeroes in on what’s so vile about this gleeful celebration of savagery. He also clarifies the ugly meaning of Tarantino’s final scene when he points out that Nazis carved Stars of David into the chests of rabbis before killing them — a fact I either hadn’t known before or had somehow managed to suppress.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:30 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: Mintyblonde = 'Kubrick-like' in obsessive attention to detail in wardrobe, framing, photography, art direction.

re: Astro Zombie = 'I think Kubrick is a bad parallel...Kubrick was also provocative in a way that Tarantino isn't; not only was he willing to deliberately alienate his audience, he sometimes delighted in it, as with Eyes Wide Shut, which promoted itself as a sex farce and turned out to be a morose and supremely ironic updating of Schnitzler."

This is exactly what Tarantino has done: in interviews saying the film is a 'men on a mission' picture when it's nothing of the sort. One is reminded of Hitchcock in the 20's saying he was an artist and his films were art...and then...he stopped - started telling people he an entertainer - giving him room to do what he wanted - could be wrong of course = I don't know Tarantino and it's a bit improper to ascribe motivation.

Also per Astro Zombie: "Because the bad guys in Basterds are Nazis, I suspect we're supposed to enjoy the brutality that they experience, but in the real world the Basterds would be war criminals, and that might be one of my biggest problems with the film -- Tarantino refuses to address the immorality of their behavior, but instead expects that we all share a sense that Nazis are so evil that they don't deserve a second thought, that there is no act that can be done to them that could be considered evil. Kubrick would never have been so shallow."

One has to mention here what no review I've seen of the picture has. So you've got Brad Pitt galavanting across Europe ritualistically scarring Nazis so they will always be marked as the scum that they are.

But hey.

What's that on Pitt's neck?

A rope burn? He's from the South and he's got a rope burn around his neck? Holy s**t he's been marked as a lyncher, (let us be mindful of the King Kong/Slaves brought to US section of the pic).

So there's a lot in there. I respectfully disagree with the 'Tarantino is gleefully immoral' statement - if ya want immoral, then bam! take a look at Bay's filmography. In mainstream cinema Tarantino may be one of our most moral filmmakers, (next to Bahrani perhaps?).
posted by jettloe at 10:23 PM on August 23, 2009


The film-within-a-film reminded me of the similar scene in Saving Private Ryan.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:49 PM on August 23, 2009


A rope burn? He's from the South and he's got a rope burn around his neck? Holy s**t he's been marked as a lyncher, (let us be mindful of the King Kong/Slaves brought to US section of the pic).

I don't understand how this makes anything he does in the film moral, or Tarantino a moral filmmaker. It's an element in the film that is meant to indicate that there is some complexity in Pitt's past, but, because it is just hinted at, it's ambiguous. And I suspect you mean it's an indicatipn that he's a lynchee, rather than a lyncher, but we are given no indication of what this means. Racially motivated lynchings weren't unique to the south (they were alarmingly common in the north), and, in general, it wasn't white people who were the victims of these lynchings.

Tarantino wants the rope scars to mean something, but doesn't give us enough information to actually make any use of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:50 AM on August 24, 2009


No, I'm saying he's been marked as someone who lynches - he's a horrible person - as are so many of the 'Basterds' - the look on Eli Roth's face, shot from below, as he kills people in the theatre - the bloodlust, the white-heat of madness is unmistakable.

- - -

Re: "Tarantino wants the rope scars to mean something, but doesn't give us enough information to actually make any use of it." Yes, exactly - another way in which he's like Kubrick - a huge amount of time and effort is put into developing a story and the markers, the pointers as to what it means are stripped away, (as in the famous removal of the narration in 2001, etc. - p.s. Astro you sound like an admirer of Kubrick = check out this interview we did with 'Dan Richter' - the ape-man who threw the bone in 2001 - you might get a kick out of it :)
posted by jettloe at 5:00 AM on August 24, 2009


Oh, nola, I'm so sorry for the massive head trauma you seem to have experienced.

Well it was a terrible film but I don't think it did permanent damage. I think Dusk to Dawn gave me herpes though.
posted by nola at 5:35 AM on August 24, 2009


The big difference... Kubrick is a great director whose films I love.

You don't watch "The Shining" or even "Full Metal Jacket" and say "This is Kubrick's (enter genre) movie, nor do you feel that this section is a gushing homage to _______.

Creativity and originality matters.
posted by markkraft at 5:40 AM on August 24, 2009


Tarantino wants the rope scars to mean something, but doesn't give us enough information to actually make any use of it.

I think he didn't want it mean anything more than that Aldo is a hardass who has survived certain death, and preferred that we project our own backstory onto it.

What really bothered me (and I'm currently debating a friend via email about this) is that there are basically two movies going on here at the same time. The first is a quite moving and real drama about a young Jewish woman who escapes execution and tries to live anonymously, only to be pulled against her will into the heart of the Third Reich, where she tries to get revenge for her family and her people. The second is an over-the-top Nazisploitation black comedy-slash-revenge fantasy. The thing is, I very much like each of these movies. Each is brilliantly executed, in most ways, and there are even moments approaching genius, IMO. Even the second film -- I love over-the-top stuff like that, especially when it's that well executed, which it never is

The problem is that they don't blend well together. My buddy likens the film to being a grown-up, explicit take on that old Captain America cover that shows Cap punching out Hitler. Well, that's fine and good for the "Basterds" side of things, but then Tarantino had to ruin that by blending it with a moving, grown-up drama. Conversely, his touching war tragedy about Shoshanna is tainted by Team America's splat-sticky adventures in Hitlerland. I likened it to being served steak au poivre with a side of donuts -- I love each food very very much, but for very different reasons, and wouldn't dream of combining them for a meal.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:41 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


My buddy likens the film to being a grown-up, explicit take on that old Captain America cover that shows Cap punching out Hitler.

I would agree with that, excpept for the words "grown up."
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2009


Well, "adult-themed," more accurately.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:15 PM on August 24, 2009


I think he didn't want it mean anything more than that Aldo is a hardass who has survived certain death, and preferred that we project our own backstory onto it.

Yes. Hang 'Em High, anyone? Quentin's a grab-bag of flashy movie tropes that he strings together for visual effect, and he more or less admits as much in every interview. I respect him for being honest about his motivations. He loves film. He loves the ideas, the symbols, the shots, the archetypes that others have created, and loves to play with them. Good on him. I just don't think there's a great deal of depth and vision to be read there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:42 PM on August 24, 2009


Let's not forget his star turn in Destiny Turns On The Radio. And, eesh, Four Rooms and From Dusk Til Dawn were forgettable at best.

While I love Pulp Fiction, I don't care for QT's Jimmy, who delivers some of the most vile lines in the film with his "dead African-American storage" quip. Quentin the motormouth got old quick in the late 90s.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:22 PM on August 27, 2009


In the late 90s? I was fast-forwarding past his whole "Like A Virgin" monologue at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs. Why the hell was it there? It had absolutely nothing to do with story. Kudos to Tarantino for creating a scene that felt tacked on at the very beginning of the film. I think that was a cinema first.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:43 PM on August 27, 2009


This comes from the "Tarantino is an idiot-savant" school = he's not aware of what he's doing.

Just the opposite - this is a very smart guy - watch the Basterds Charlie Rose interview where he continually deflects any analysis of his work - this is a guy who is very aware of what Hitchcock and Kubrick did in interviews re: not revealing the meaning of the work - as Kubrick said "I don't want to know why the Mona Lisa is smiling". Tarantino has promoted this film as a 'men on a mission' picture - that's just to get bums on seats; 'Inlglourious Basterds' is a multi-level work that stands up there with anything by past masters such as Kubrick, Lang, etc.
posted by jettloe at 10:08 AM on August 28, 2009


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