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Old 13th Aug 2009, 17:55   #21
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

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Originally Posted by Lucoid View Post
I'd assumed it was a pre/post watershed thing, but was proved wrong at about 10.30 the other night.
And I was proved wrong this afternoon when a bus drove past with the full title glouriously emblazoned across it.
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Old 14th Aug 2009, 15:33   #22
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

An absolute rave review from former Premiere critic Glenn Kenny:

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I can't think of a single contemporary filmmaker who brings out the scolding third-grade teacher in so many cinephiles more than Quentin Tarantino does. Get thee to just about any film-enthusiast message board, or any comments thread to a post about Tarantino on any film blog, and you'll see any number of what we might call "Work Habits And Character" complaints, which all boil down to something like "While Quentin is a bright, clever, and sometimes resourceful student, he needs to focus more on the 'real world' and less on his own personal obsessions if he ever hopes to amount to something." Put another way: Quentin Tarantino could be a genuinely great filmmaker if only he could get over his puerile, annoying insistence on making Quentin Tarantino movies.

And so, Inglourious Basterds, which is a loud, proud, unabashed Quentin Tarantino movie that will not satisfy the scolders in any way, shape, or form. And which I found one of the most balls-out insane, and insanely exhilarating, films that I've seen in many a year, and cannot wait to see again, maybe three or four more times before it hits DVD.
Very, very excited now.
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Old 20th Aug 2009, 21:07   #23
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

Just got back from seeing this. I'll try and post some more collected thoughts tomorrow, but for now I'll sum it up in three short exclamations:

Wow. That, like, totally rocked, dude.
Woah. Did I just root for one of the most sadistic on-screen nazis in years?
Why? Is Tarantino trying to make a point, or is he just dancing very impressively to hide that ultimately that's all he does?

.
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 4:04   #24
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)



More later...
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 9:41   #25
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

Saw it last night and thought WTF am I watching. Is it an action movie, a buddy movie, a war movie, or fantasy? Maybe all of the above.

And the soundtrack - David Bowie's Cat People (Putting Out Fire), to give it its full title, in a war movie!

I haven't decided what to make of it yet. Might go again this week to see it with another few friends.
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Old 22nd Aug 2009, 20:37   #26
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

Right, so. Possibly overanalysing review.

Quentin Tarantino made it big early on. The problem, for any film-maker who's as recognized and recognizable as Tarantino, is how to handle the audience's expectations – how to not be stuck making the same kind of movie over and over again. As brilliant as Pulp Fiction was when it came, it's impossible to keep doing the same thing. Kill Bill had the subtitle "THE FOURTH FILM BY QUENTIN TARANTINO" and delivered superficial Tarantinoisms – the violence, the fractured timelines, the comic-book imagery, the clever dialogue – in spades until we almost forgot that underneath it all, there really wasn't a whole lot more than cleverness to it. The problem of 1990s ironic postmodernism: ultimately, it had nothing to offer but references to itself – that's how we got Scary Movie IV. Death Proof, on the other hand, started out by being almost a Tarantino parody – only to kill itself and the audience's expectations of what was happening, and start over with a brand new focus.

Inglourious Basterds, in a lot of ways,has more in common with those last 40 minutes of Death Proof than it does with any of his previous movies. Both in the way it ends with an explosion of rather gratuitous violence that the audience is explicitly told makes our heroes as violent as the bad guys, but we still can't help applauding; and in the way it seems like a post-Tarantino Tarantino movie – one which leaves out most of the superficial trickery, performs rather than shows off, and cuts to the basics.

Because yes, it's tremendously entertaining, if maybe a bit long and with one or two too many faceless side characters. It's violent, it's got great dialogue that's never as self-consciously witty as some of Tarantino's earlier stuff but still zings, it digs out obscure actors and gives them the sort of roles that you know they loved playing. Christoph Walz as Landa, especially, is a revelation; at the same time a thoroughly despicable character and one of those villains you can't help but love for their sheer bad-assery, always a step ahead of our heroes, and so gleefully selfishly lovably evil that I almost cheer for him. And seeing Daniel Brühl ("Goodbye Lenin") as a "nice guy" Nazi is actually creepy – he's one of the characters that's played almost completely straight, as opposed to Pitt's and Walz's larger-than-life ones. In fact, the lone huge Hollywood name – Pitt – is almost a side character, more Chekhov's gun than the gunman himself. The nazis are portrayed as insane, and the higher up the crazier, but our "heroes" aren't really very nice either as they kill, butcher, slaughter, torture their way through Nazi-occupied France to a big showdown with Hitler himself – damnit, it's practically Wolfenstein 3D: The Movie.

But at the centre of it all, as always in Tarantino's movies, is the image. Both in the sense of pure "wow, that looks cool" cinematography, and in the sense that it's all about selling an image of yourself.

We will be cruel to the Germans and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, disfigured bodies their brothers we leave behind us and the Germans will not be able to help themselves from imagining the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, at our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the Germans will be sickened by us, the Germans will talk about us and the Germans will fear us.

Inglourious Basterds, fittingly for a movie featuring Joseph Goebbels, is about the power of a good story to change the world around it. In Tarantino's world, WWII is far enough in the past to get the "Once upon a time..." treatment; this isn't the real WWII, it's a mythical version of it in which the ending can be re-written just like Disney re-wrote Grimm's (German) fairy tales; and he loves playing with the idea of himself as both propagandist and subverter of propaganda (carve a swastika on the surviving nazis so they won't get to spin their own story when they get home; re-cut their own propaganda movies to beat them at their own game; Tarantino, as always, is all about hiphop-style battles and one-upmanship). At one point, we see a bunch of nazis watching what's very obviously a Tarantinoized take on a Nazi propaganda film, complete with dozens of American soldiers getting gunned down in spectacular fashion by a lone Nazi hero. I, and others in the audience, can't help but laugh at the obvious self-reference... and just then, he cuts to Hitler, who's watching the same movie and is also laughing his ass off along with us.

Ahem.

But damnit, the man knows what he's doing, he's using it better with every movie, and it works. Inglourious Basterds is simply one hell of a romp, mixing and subverting genre clichés all over the place in a way that's pure joy to watch, while still sticking to the plot, making his usual tricks work for the story rather than just be there for their own sake, and never drifting into self-conscious cinematic masturbation. He has the characters speak four (five if you count Pitt's dialect) different languages in what looks like a bid for authenticity that's bound to scare off a few viewers (subtitles, eww!), and even turns it into a plot point in several key scenes, yet happily undermines it by having both plot and characterisation be just enough over the top that nobody in their right mind would ever think something like this happened. This is a fairy tale, after all.

(Of course, and I don't think I'm nearly the film geek I would need to be to appreciate it fully, Tarantino is still a magpie. In previous films he's ripped off kung fu, blaxploitation, samurai, gangster and... well, every genre under the sun; he's now added both US and European war movies (and spaghetti Westerns) to the mix. I'll be damned if the big finale (not the final scene, but the big final shootout) here doesn't owe a debt of gratitude to Elem Klimov's masterpiece Go And See, for instance.)

So the question above remains: why? Does Quentin Tarantino have anything of his own to say? Well, yes. It still says "How fucking cool is it that people pay me to do this?" in huge letters everywhere, but he does it so well, and the further he gets from Pulp Fiction, the more of a chance he'll have of doing something truly powerful.

Quentin-san, may your walls fall, and may you live to tell.
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Old 23rd Aug 2009, 0:23   #27
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

I watched IB tonight and thought it was top class! To me it came across like the director was out to have fun (as always). But it also managed to translate well for the viewing public. In my opinion it's predecessor, Death Proof, came across like the director was out to have fun, but without a care in the world what the audience got as a result of it. And it's good to see that the king of slick dialogue and quality soundtracks is back on form.

Everything about this film was highly, highly enjoyable!

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Old 26th Aug 2009, 23:24   #28
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

Johann Hari adopts best 'scolding third-grade teacher' tone in The Independent. A sample:

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“Violence in the movies can be cool,” he says. “It’s just another colour to work with. When Fred Astaire dances, it doesn’t mean anything. Violence is the same. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a colour.” He scorns anyone who tries to see simulated violence as having meaning. With a laugh, he says: “John Woo’s violence has a very insightful view as to how the Hong Kong mind works because with 1997 approaching and blah blah blah. I don’t think that’s why he’s doing it. He’s doing it because he gets a kick out of it.” Praising Stanley Kubrik’s direction of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, he says: “He enjoyed the violence a little too much. I’m all for that.”


In the slightly pretentious language of postmodernism, he is trying to separate the sign (movie violence) from the signified (real violence) – leaving us floating in a sea of meaningless signs that refer to nothing but themselves and the sealed-off history of cinema.



What’s wrong with this vision? Why does it make me so queasy? I don’t believe works of art should be ennobling. I don’t believe the heroes should be virtuous, or that bad characters should get their comeuppance. It can show deeply violent and deeply cruel people, and tell us that – as in real life – they can be charismatic and successful and never pay a price for their cruelty. But what it should never do is tell us that human suffering itself is trivial. It should never turn pain into a punch-line.



Violence has particular power on film precisely because it involuntarily activates our powers of empathy. We imagine ourselves, as an unthinking reflex, into the agony. This is the most civilising instinct we have: to empathize with suffering strangers. (It competes, of course, with all our more base instincts). Any work of art that denies this sense – that is based on subverting it – will ultimately be sullying. No, I’m not saying it makes people violent. But it does leave the viewer just a millimetre more morally corroded. Laughing at simulated torture – and even cheering it on, as we are encouraged to through all of Tarantino’s later films – leaves a moral muscle just a tiny bit more atrophied.
Full discolsure - I haven't got the slightest twitch of enthusiasm or curiousity to see it, nor have I felt the urge to see any QT film since Jackie Brown.
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Old 27th Aug 2009, 7:40   #29
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

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Laughing at simulated torture – and even cheering it on, as we are encouraged to through all of Tarantino’s later films – leaves a moral muscle just a tiny bit more atrophied.
I thought muscles atrophy when they experience no exercise, not when they are, to carry on the theme, flexed the wrong way.

I feel more or less the same, Lurgee. I found Jackie Brown disappointing on the whole, even while everyone was saying it was TnT "growing up". I've kept seeing his films since, but I've not been satisfied in the moment since Pulp Fiction, and not retained that satisfaction long term since Reservoir Dogs. I would just like for him to make a proper film, not a knowingly Tarantinoid film - that is, one where someone forced him to use a script editor before production, and maybe a film editor after, cut the thing to a two hour maximum, etc. etc.

Since film one he has proved he has a real skill for creating characters, novel scenarios, bringing them both to life - but I've lost all patience now. What sticks in my mind is his "Guest Director" slot on Sin City - you have a two hour flick that zaps you between the eyes like lightning... except for this long, slow five minute stretch in the middle, where two guys in a car trade sort-of-one-liners, filmed in long takes, as if that means something when you get it to the editing room . . . How did this just get so boring?
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Old 28th Aug 2009, 0:40   #30
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Default Re: Inglourious(sic) Basterds(sic)

Earlier in this thread, I said "More later" and then disappeared. Well, you can all breathe again, because I'm about to plug my blog. Sorry, but I've been carrying on a three day discussion (and it will go to four, and then that's it!) about Inglourious Basterds with a very smart fellow blogger named Dennis Cozzalio. And I do honestly think this is all way too long to repost here. The short version is that I think this film is both deceptively rich and ridiculously entertaining.

If you're interested...

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

And Day Four to come.
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