Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28, 2009

I was trying to hold off on writing about Quentin Tarantino’s new film Inglourious Basterds until I got a chance to see it again, but looking at my schedule, I’m not going to be able to go for a while. Since I promised to have something up this week for those of you that were waiting, I figured I would go ahead. Now, as with the ‘review’ on District 9, I’m going to refrain from talking about any major plot points or reveals, and trust me, that is going to be difficult. Once again, the conversation is fully open in the Comments section, so for those of you who want to discuss the movie fully, we’ll continue in the Comments section. I can’t stress this enough…If you haven’t seen the movie, do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES read the Comments section until you have.

In Random Thoughts format:

- To start off with, I’m listening to the soundtrack while I’m writing this. Great mix of instrumentals from Ennio Morricone along with some other tracks, like David Bowie’s Cat People. Fantastic soundtrack.
- I’ve always been a fan of Quentin Tarantino, so this was one of those movies that I was looking forward to for quite some time, and was accelerated even more after all of the buzz coming out the Cannes Film Festival this year. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and both Kill Bill movies are all high on my list of all-time favourites, and I think that after a second viewing and some more thought, Inglourious Basterds may top them all.
- I was never really a Brad Pitt fan until I saw him in Burn After Reading last year, and it really opened my eyes to how entertaining he can be. His turn as Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds is nothing short of spectacular, and he is definitely the comic highlight of the film. Perhaps the greatest horrible Italian accent in the history of film.
- I had a good conversation with my friend Caesar about the level of violence in the movie. It wasn’t over the top, but there are some things that stay with you. For me it was some of the sounds that came along with the visuals. You’ll understand more when you see it, I’ll expand in the Comments section. The violence isn’t necessarily cringe-worthy, like in Reservoir Dogs, or over-exaggerated, like in the Kill Bills, but it fits. And not because it’s a movie set during WWII. I can’t stress this enough…THIS IS NOT A WAR MOVIE.
- Christoph Waltz is going to win an Oscar for his role as Col. Hans Landa. Period. If you didn’t see the entire movie, you could argue that it was earned based on the opening scene alone, but throughout the film, you see a blend of comedy, drama, intelligence, sophistication, and pure, sadistic evil. All while being a character you will find yourself ‘liking’ while not rooting for.
- As with Pulp Fiction, a multitude of parallel storylines progress individually, culminating in a common resolution. I love the pacing of the film, broken into five chapters.
- Great cameo from Mike Myers. Not what you’re used to seeing from him.
- Newcomer Mélanie Laurent shines as Shoshanna, an endearing survivor with (justified) malice in her heart. I love how Tarantino has filled his cast with relative unknowns from Europe, almost all of whom are fantastic in the film, and lend an authentic feel to the characters and story.

I’m gushing, I know. But Inglourious Basterds flat-out blew me away. Come along with me to the Comments section for a more in-depth discussion


brytni said...

I just saw the movie last night and i dont know if i hate it or not.

It was slightly gruesome for somebody who normally watches comedy or romantic movies - like uhhh me, But, i;m in love with Final Destination movies so i cant really use that as an excuse.

It was an enjoyable movie for the most part i would say. Just not my type of movie. Although,i did find myself laughing a lot in the movie, and i felt like it was just my group of friends that were laughing but some parts were just hilarious.

Verdict? Probz wouldn't buy it.

Anonymous said...

To respond to some of your points:

- Brad Pitt has always been one of my favourite actors. It's not just the strange homoerotic feelings he produces in me; he's just a good actor. And not many people realize it, but he has a great sense of comedic timing.

- I doubt if Waltz will win the Oscar. Not saying he shouldn't, but I can't see the Academy recognizing him. I just looked him up on IMDB though, and he's done a LOT of work and won some other awards before.

- Tarantino has always been excellent with his choice of music in his movies. I liked the music as well, but didn't think it meshed quite as well as his soundtracks for Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction.

Now for my main thought on the movie: ** SPOILER WARNING **

Holy shit they killed Hitler? And every Nazi officer ever?? But...but that's not right! I felt really weird about that. I'm used to seeing movies that are set in historical circumstances where they at least pay lip service to what happened, historically speaking. That is, the story is set in a historical context and they respect that context, even if they don't deal with it directly. But in Basterds, Tarantino just ignores history completely and writes his own ending to WWII. It was really jarring because that's the last thing I expected to happen, and it left me just...confused. Like, imagine James Cameron's Titanic. Imagine if he wrote it like the Titanic didn't sink at the end. It would be weird, right?

What further confuses my feelings is that I know it's just a movie and NONE of it really happens. There were no Basterds, no Soshanna, none of it -- so on the one hand I feel that you can't make a movie where Hitler dies, because that defies common knowledge and everything I ever learned about WWII in numerous other books, movies, and high school courses, but on the other hand who the hell cares because none of it ACTUALLY happened anyway, so why not have some fun with it?
It's a very jarring experience when you're certain that "Well, there's no way this story is ever going to go in THIS direction" and then it goes exactly in that direction, on a runaway locomotive filled with dynamite, shooting off a cliff. Know what I mean?

But that's one of the things I like about Tarantino, you NEVER know how one of his movies is going to end. And I really liked Basterds, even if I got confused at the end, and even if there wasn't enough of the Basterds or enough Brad Pitt carrying on.


Sean said...

I agree with Caesar that it was jarring, and that it was completely unexpected, but if you’re EVER going to mess with history…wouldn’t killing Hitler be a pretty good test pattern? It’s not like he took Jesus and made him a sexual deviant, or took JFK and made him a child molester. He took Hitleer...Hitler, man!...and blew the shit out of him.

Based on the overall response of people to that aspect of the film—and nobody is talking about it yet, for fear of ruining it for those who haven’t seen it…but they will in a month or so—we’re going to look back on this film as the fork in the road for creative license with regards to rewriting history. If it’s applauded, we’ll see more…if it’s denounced, we’ll never see it again…but regardless, we’ll look back at QT killing Hitler as the lightning rod that got the discussion started.

Brytni, I’m not a big proponent of excessive violence in movies. I didn’t used to have any issue with it, but I consider it more as a dad now. Not that I let Lucas watch Tarantino movies, but it’s a different mindset.

Reservoir Dogs was graphic…Pulp Fiction’s violence was almost always comical…Kill Bill was cartoony and over-exaggerated…all of which were good for the individual movies. In Inglourious Basterds, I found myself a bit disgusted about the imagery of a locked theater and people being massacred while trying to escape. Not a great image…not a pleasant scene to watch. Except that I found myself smiling while watching it because it was a room full of NAZIS! What does that say about me? I don’t know, but I can’t lie and say that’s not what I was feeling. I don’t think I’m a vicious or vindictive person, but I would have had a REALLY hard time watching a scene like that if it wasn’t Nazis in the theater.