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Inglourious Basterds

tn_basterds(SPOILER GENERAL’S WARNING: I wish I had gone in knowing less, so you probaly shouldn’t read this before seeing the movie. To be safe though I’ll try to be vague.)

You always kind of know what you’re gonna get with Tarantino, and yet, you never know what you’re gonna get with Tarantino. Every movie he’s made after PULP FICTION seems to throw people for a loop at first. Why isn’t JACKIE BROWN more like PULP FICTION? Why isn’t KILL BILL more serious, like JACKIE BROWN? Why is KILL BILL VOLUME 2 all this character and shit instead of all the killing like part 1? Why does he take so long to make his movies, what an asshole. Why did he make DEATH PROOF as a quickie just-for-fun movie, what an asshole.

mp_basterdsI don’t know what the conventional wisdom will be on this one, but the advertising is definitely gonna mislead some people. They try to act like it’s gonna be a bloody, nihilistic action movie, but the electric guitars and blood splatters are liars. It has a couple scenes of ultra-violence but even more than any Tarantino movie except maybe RESERVOIR DOGS this is a movie all about long conversations. In a way it kind of reminds me of Jim Jarmusch’s challengingly uneventful THE LIMITS OF CONTROL. It’s not as deliberately repetitive, as minimalistic or as strict about its structure, but it is mostly built out of a series of conversations that repeat the same motifs. In almost every scene there’s one party trying to hide a secret, like that they’re a double agent, that they’re not the nationality they say they are, or the location of the other troops. And the other party engages them in a long conversation, pretending to be friendly, trying to draw out information to be sure of their suspicions, or trying to convince the other party to do what they want. And usually the secret is revealed and some violence happens.

The characters are always proud to know that their reputations precede them, but they still want to listen to their own legends. I assume you’ve heard about me? Yes, of course I’ve heard about you. What have you heard about me?

Meanwhile there’s a plot in the works, a slow, almost DePalmian build toward a secret operation that if successful would mean some very satisfying Jewish revenge against their Nazi oppressors. And Tarantino has the balls or poor taste to go much further into exploitation than any other American World War II movie. So it’s a slow slog but with a nice warm bath at the end. (note to self replace analogy with good one)

I also thought a few times of Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, which is not very similar either but it’s another case of a director with a distinct, idiosyncratic style that I’m surprised to see applied to a WWII movie all the sudden. In Tarantino’s 1941 you still get pop culture references, but instead of FRIDAY FOSTER they talk about MATA HARI, and there’s alot of G.W. Pabst references. I’m not joking. But believe it or not it’s all very organic. The assassination plot takes place at the premiere of a German propaganda film, so some of the main characters include a theater owner, some actors and Joseph Goebels (portrayed like a Hollywood studio honcho). In one scene a soldier who is also a film critic briefs Winston Churchill on German film movements.

In fact, the fake and the pretend seems to be one of the main themes of the movie. People pretending to be on the other team, pretending not to be Jewish, pretending to be different nationalities, playing a game where they pretend to be a famous person, actors playing roles, real people acting as themselves in a propaganda film which is a fake version of his true story (true within BASTERDS, but not in the real world), BASTERDS itself being a propaganda movie with a fake version of history… Pitt’s character Aldo has to pretend a few times, but he’s not very good at it. He doesn’t like it. One of his obsessions is making sure that Nazis can’t just take off their uniform and pretend not to be Nazis.

Taking place in France, with plenty of subtitled French and German dialogue, and with the historical context, BASTERDS has a bit of a European arthouse feel. But Tarantino doesn’t seem to feel at all restrained stylistically. He still recycles Ennio Morricone cues (and Lalo Schifrin and others), he has chapter titles like in KILL BILL, some goofy hand-written captions now and then, some blaxploitation freeze frame character introductions, a montage set to a David Bowie song (which made people laugh when I saw it), even a celebrity third person omniscient narrator. These seem like occasional indulgences though, not a constant barrage like NATURAL BORN KILLERS or CRANK or something, so they’re kind of charming. Usually WWII movies try to be so reverential. This movie’s pretty funny.

Tarantino misled people about the movie with all those years talking about it being “my men-on-a-mission movie.” I think it must’ve evolved as he was writing it, because it’s not anything like THE DIRTY DOZEN or the original correctly spelled INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. The Basterds aren’t even really a team of badasses. I guess Pitt is playing tough, and Eli Roth (who does surprisingly fine in his role) put on some muscle. For most of the other guys they just cast weiners. The only guy that seems genuinely tough is Hugo, played by Til Schweiger. He has a great introduction but doesn’t do much after that.

The Basterds are also only inglorious to their Nazi foes, they’re not outcasts from their own side like in those other two movies I just mentioned. Unless maybe we just didn’t get their backstory. Aldo does have a scar on his neck, maybe he was facing execution. Anyway, the Basterds are only one component of the movie, they’re on screen maybe half of the movie. There’s alot of other stuff going on.

The most memorable character and performance is definitely Christoph Waltz as the lead villain, Hans Landa. He’s a classic villain, a murderous Nazi with the job of tracking down Jews hiding in France, who fancies himself a master detective. He’s an unusual portrayal of a Nazi because he’s a goofball, a dork. You want to laugh at him but you know how dangerous he is. He plays with his victims by pretending to be friendly, but not in that usual “I’m saying friendly things but you know I’m really threatening you” kind of villainous way. He makes it so you almost believe him – maybe he really doesn’t know? And sometimes he doesn’t.

Tarantino takes full advantage of the ultimate bad guy status of Nazis. By definition Nazis are horrible people. Any other group, you’re gonna feel kind of bad seeing them beat to death with a baseball bat, maybe they don’t deserve it. Not so much with a Nazi. This Landa guy, he’s infuriating because he doesn’t seem as hateful as your usual movie Nazi. He’s almost worse because he seems like he just found something that he’s good at and sees no reason why he shouldn’t choose that as his vocation. He’s playing a game, he has no idea that he’s the bad guy. And you wish you could fucking convince him.

But still, they’re human beings, that’s the weird part. There’s another major Nazi character who, from what you see on screen, is mostly a nice guy. And when SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER THIS IS THE BIG ONE a crowd of unarmed Nazis are running in panic while being machine gunned it really messed with my emotions. My face smiled but my brain thought oh Jesus, they’re scurrying around like rats. That’s harsh.

Tarantino is both renowned and notorious for his dialogue. Sometimes maybe he goes overboard. I think there’s more going on in the conversations in DEATH PROOF than some people give it credit for, but he does get excessive there. BASTERDS I think must have his most precise use of dialogue. The conversations are the movie, they’re the characters, they’re the suspense, they’re the action (most of it). I mentioned DePalma before – think of the bucket of pig’s blood in CARRIE, the way he draws that scene out in slow motion. You know what it’s leading up to, but you have to watch it go down veeeeeeerrrry slowly, all the pieces coming together, all the people who are there, the looks on their faces, the bucket, the rope, who sees the bucket, who tries to stop the bucket, Carrie doesn’t see the bucket… the grueling wait is the beauty of it. Tarantino’s BASTERDS conversations are the same way. You know what the secret is. You know that the one side is probaly gonna figure out the secret. And you’re gonna have to sit there as they slowly pull it out in conversation, word by word. It’s a bunch of individual scenes of suspense that seem somewhat disconnected until you find yourself at the climax, all the characters are there, are the plans are in motion, and you’re wondering how this is all gonna come to a head.


I don’t want to lecture anybody, but I just want to say that I wish the internet hadn’t covered this movie the way they did. Before the movie was made the script got leaked and everybody from Ain’t It Cool, Chud etc. couldn’t restrain themselves from reading it. I didn’t read their reviews because I didn’t want to know anything. But I still couldn’t avoid the spoilers because they all had to constantly drop the names and nicknames of the characters, the name and significance of a film-within-the-film, and all that kind of shit. If there was a story about Brad Pitt they had to drop in “who plays X in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, nicknamed Y because of Q.”

Yeah, we get it, you’re on the inside, you’re in the know, you’re ahead of the curve, whooptee fuckin doo. If it was “the watchmen” and everybody read the comic already then yes, you can show off that you know who Dr. Manhattan is. But I purposely didn’t read any spoilers and still knew the names of every fuckin character. It felt like going to see THE LION KING on the first day and all the kids say “Simba!” at the first sight of a lion. Man, can’t I just see the thing and find out for myself?

And there’s a pretty unusual thing Tarantino does in the movie, I’m sure it has been spoiled by many sources but for me it was spoiled before the god damn thing was filmed by somebody writing that he wouldn’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say (then goes on to make it very clear what happens but then pretend he didn’t ruin it for you because he didn’t say it in so many words). And as much as I enjoyed the movie it would’ve been much better if I watched it not knowing where it was going.

So, thanks alot, fellas.


In case you don’t know already, I should say that my record of enjoying Tarantino-directed movies is unblemished. I love all of them – yes, even DEATH PROOF (although I think it’s his weakest). I’m not sure if I have a favorite, but the KILL BILLs (and especially part 2) are my most rewatched and beloved movies of the 2000s so far. So if you’re one of the people who hates some of his movies you can mathematically divide my praise of this movie by the number of Tarantino movies I like that you don’t like in order to get the probably level of enjoyment you’ll get out of this. I think that’s the equation.

Walking out of the theater my instinct was that BASTERDS was great, but low on my list of Tarantino favorites, maybe just above DEATH PROOF. It hit me, but I don’t think it hit me as hard as his other ones did the first time I saw them.

My complaints are all minor. Brad Pitt is really funny in the movie and gives a good physical performance, so I’m not complaining too much, but I don’t think it’s as good as the casting Tarantino usually does. I was always very conscious of it being Brad Pitt doing a funny accent and a funny face and acting tough. Most of the great Tarantino characters are more natural than that, not as much of a broad comedy character. I think it could’ve been even better with an actual (or more naturalistic) Southern tough guy in the role.

I also don’t at all get the casting of Mike Meyers. It’s a small part and he does fine but there’s no way to not think “that’s Mike Meyers” the entire time he’s on screen. It’s not shocking or anything, just distracting, kind of confusing. What is the point? The scene would work better if it was a generic British character actor.

Also, some of this is not historically accurate in my opinion. And I believe some of the spelling in the title could have been improved if he hadn’t been rushing to get it ready in time for Cannes.

But you know, those are the things I could quibble with, the list of the things I loved would take me a while. It’s like criticizing an ice cream flavor or something. Saying it’s a lesser ice cream is not saying it’s not delicious. I just don’t like it as much as the Snoqualmie Ginger, the Ben and Jerry’s Creme Brulee or the Haagen-Dazs Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan. (Don’t worry, that’s an analogy and not product placement, although if you are an ice cream manufacturer willing to pay me money to mention ice cream flavors in movie reviews please drop me a line).

That’s what I was thinking as I left the theater. But then I started thinking back to the beginning of the movie, the first dramatic scene with the man trying to bravely stare down and wait out Hans Landa, and I just wanted to go right back and watch the movie again. I have a feeling I’ll end up re-watching this movie every couple years or so, and whatever my misgivings about the casting probaly won’t even occur to me anymore, and there will either be something else that bothers me or something I love that I haven’t even noticed yet. We’ll see.

I’ve already noticed that like DISTRICT 9 last week I liked the movie but then gained more respect for it as I started to write about it. Because the more I think about it the more I see going on beneath the surface. With these two movies coming out now at the end of August it looks like the summer movie season is finally kicking off. Should be a good one!

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 at 11:20 pm and is filed under Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

180 Responses to “Inglourious Basterds”

  1. Vern, you’re right to bitch about the general spoilerific nature of the Geek Internet. Yes I was one of those who read the script, quite enjoyed it, but didn’t fucking spoil that shit. Yes I loved the ending too.

    Now is Eli Roth a guy who might be a better actor than director?

  2. Nice review Vern.

    This has been a weird one for me, while I was watching the film I seemed to be appreciating aspects of it more than as I was actually enjoying it. But over the course of the week after seeing it, thinking about the scenes and how things came together I’m getting a fonder opinion of film than at the actual time of watching. If that makes any sense.

    Saying that, even at the time there were things I really liked, and the imagery at the end was amazing.

  3. I had the same experience you did with the internet spoilers leading up to the movie. I experienced it all through AICN, and it was ridiculous. You don’t need to convince us you’ve read the script or seen the movie by ruining the ending, and then you probably shouldn’t pretend you were being vague about it. “Not to give anything away, but let’s just say the sixth sense ends with bruce willis not being entirely as alive as you may have thought he was…” super subtle.

    I loved basterds, but I thought it was kind of odd. It almost felt like the violence was supposed to be cathartic, but if anyone has any pent up nazi rage anymore it’s probably not the target audience. The movie was great though. I can’t wait to see it again.

  4. About Mike Myers:

    I read in a recent L.A. Weekly (I think) article that Michael Fassbender’s character’s meeting with Hicox and Churchill in that large, open room was intended as a straight parody. In Tarantino’s tireless mishmashing of genres, he was probably going for a Sellers-esque parody of the “important men in a room” meeting scene we’ve seen in so many films.

    In this case, the casting of Mike Myers, who is kind of a parody icon of the late 90’s-2000’s, makes perfect sense. And also, I have to stick up for the performance. When you look past the glaring celebrity of it, he does nail a British accent, carries Tarantino’s dialogue with flair, and is given very naturalistic makeup to disguise his basic appearance. I liked it.

    Great review (:

  5. I also read the script in a moment of weakness when it leaked but it didn’t ruin anything as I had kinda forgotten the details. The thing is that the script didn’t suggest the mood or tone of the film at all, feeling more brutal, without the details of the close-ups and pauses. I don’t know if bits were cut but in the script the first, best scene seemed over-written but was prefect on screen. (It’s that Hawks comment, if it reads well it won’t play well). The script was solid and interesting but the execution really raised it.

    I’m glad someone else noticed the DePalama influence. I was emailing this to a friend how the final section felt completely under DePalama’s influence, from the strangling (which also feels a little Fritz Lang in execution, and that’s a big compliment), the vaguelly 60’s paranoia of cynical deals being made by unseen voices (Harvey Keitel if I’m not mistaken) and the sacrifices of many major, symapthetic characters, the Carrie burning section (witha very Hi Mom style of arts being dangerous) and the Scarface like massacre at the ending. I don’t think this was in any way a rip-off, just conscious/unconscious influence within his own ideas (and I’m probably reading too much into them but hey, I’m a massive DePalama fan and I enjoyed spotting the influences)

    The other two influences i think were Sam Fuller and his fifties movies (also check out Pitt’s big red one on his uniform(although that was a 1980 film)) and Jean-Peirre Melville films, which were either resistence or gangster films, the subtle paranoia and pacing of both types were felt throughout Inglorious Basterds.

    So I loved this one in all of its sections. Don’t know how it places for me on his films. I liked Kill Bill Part 2 and Jackie Brown better I think but I have to see it a few times to see where it places beyond that.

  6. 1) I thought this was just straight-up fantastic.

    2) I didn’t read anything about it beforehand on the internet, so take that, AICN!

    3) I am an ice cream manufacturer and I think we could make a deal, Vern.


    Thinking about the movie today I started formulating a theory that Landa is actually the protagonist. Think about it: he totally knows who Shoshanna is in the scene where he orders the milk for her. Otherwise why does QT give us that extreme close up of him looking all serious like he does in the opening scene right before Landa lays out the whole “I know you’ve got them hiding under the floorboards” bit? Tarantino’s using the language of cinema to say: HE KNOWS. But the question is, how does he know? He just met this chick two minutes ago in a cafe, he’s really gonna instantly recognize her as the girl he last saw four years ago running away from him across a field? No, he knows because he knew who she was before he even walked into the cafe. How? Because he’s been keeping tabs on her. He WANTS her to set fire to the theater and kill Hitler. That moment at the end where he switches sides isn’t a spur-of-the moment thing; he’s literally been planning it from the opening scene. That’s why he let her live instead of gunning her down as she ran away; the whole story – from beginning to end – was orchestrated by Landa.

    What I like about this is that it makes the ending a tragedy. Landa arranged for Hitler’s death, and he gets a swastika carved in his forehead for his trouble.

    But he killed Hammersmark, so I guess he deserved it.

  7. My favorites were two scenes with the audience as a captive nazi and Tarantino as a basterd having his way with us. Both Brad Pitt’s lines were so self-indulging and self-congratulating it’s beautiful.

  8. Also, the weird thing about this movie is that it doesn’t have a middle per se – only about five different beginnings and a great ending. It’s like if you take The Good The Bad The Ugly, show all the characters’ introductions, then show them finding the stagecoach in the desert then immediatly cut to the climatic bridge battle. It will basically be the same movie, but without all the epicness. All the small stuff from TGTBTU we have seen in a million other westerns – but Leone didn’t cut it from his movie. Tarantino did.

  9. “Tarantino misled people about the movie with all those years talking about it being “my men-on-a-mission movie.” I think it must’ve evolved as he was writing it, because it’s not anything like THE DIRTY DOZEN or the original correctly spelled INGLORIOUS BASTARDS.”
    You’re right. He said in an interview last week that it WAS originally written/conceived like the Men-On-A-Mission type thing, but he came up with so much stuff for that it was something you’d need a miniseries to do properly, not one film, so he adjusted to what it is now. That said, he’s apparently got all sorts of stuff filmed and cut out he could put into a prequel.
    I also agree with you on the difference between the conversations in DP and this. I like Death Proof a little more each time I see it, but the conversations in that still feel like stuff I have to sit through, while in IB, it feels more like the reason I’m watching the movie.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed it myself. They could have done a bit more with the very last scene of the movie, but overall I think it’s great.

  10. I feel like I’m having the opposite reaction, the more I think about it, the less I’m enjoying it. For me, it felt too self-referential, too much like a Tarintino film, which I realise is a stupid complaint when you’re going to see a Tarintino film, but there it is.
    As I sat there and watched it in the cinema (and was totally loving it) I just felt like I was watching Kill Bill in a WWII movie. Look, another long conversation, another long set-up, another camera move up and down some stairs. I’ve been describing it to my friends as “Tarintino Fatigue”. But the thing is, those things I complain about are the things which make it so enjoyable. Those long conversations really do raise the tension, the performances are riveting to watch. And when the tension builds and the violence explodes, it feels more shocking because it has been building, and there’s just been a couple of people talking, and then there’s gunfire and wood splintering and lightning quick cuts and the sound of gunfire exploding from the speakers, it’s all very effective.
    I’m planning on seeing it again so I can wrap my head around it a bit more. Isn’t that the nature of a Tarantino film?
    A few more comments before I finish. My mate I was sitting next to didn’t realise it was Mike Myers when he saw it, so didn’t know why half the audience was laughing. It took me a couple of seconds to recognise him as well, so the casting didn’t faze me too much. I quite enjoyed that scene, it seemed like it was meant to be funny, a parady I guess a someone suggested above.
    Also, I prefer Sara Lees French Vanilla ice-cream, very creamy texture and pleasantly sweet.

  11. This is my third favorite film of the year(Hurt Locker #1, Public Enemies #2). I’m glad this wasn’t a man on a mission film, great dialouge scenes, great tension(basement bar).

    I’ll never get the hate for QT, other than he has a big mouth. His films are all entertaining as Hell.

  12. Personally, I loved every minute of this movie. It’s the first movie this year (with the possible exception of UP) that I just gave in to. I stopped being critical and just got completely and totally “into” it.

    I didn’t read the script (but, like Vern, knew everything about it long before entering the theatre), but for anyone who did, I was wondering how fleshed out Shoshanna’s character was? I was most caught up in her performance (although giving her status as a beautiful young french woman it’s possible that I’m predisposed to admire her) of any in the film, and just wanted to know if she had become more central to the story as production progressed.

  13. Well, entertainment value is at least as subjective as humor.
    I for myself consider most of Tarantino’s movies* as self-absorbed bores, without any feel for pace, story or interesting characters. So I don’t get all the love for him, except that I remember how I thought that Pulp Fiction was the coolest movie EVER when I was 16.

  14. Of course my post was @ the last line of Stuntcock Mike’s post.

  15. I said this before in the Potpourri thread, but I’ll repeat it for the record: I fucking loved it, and my kneejerk reaction is that it’s his best since Pulp. I might change my mind the next time I see Jackie Brown, but it’s definitely superior in terms of filmmaking and storytelling to Kill Bill and Death Proof.

  16. Excellent review Vern, the stuff about the film being about the fake and the pretend was great, and kinda goes along with my thoughts on the film being about WW2 propaganda Cinema itself. The whole film feels like some kind of meta-propaganda film in reverse. The scene with the British seems far more important looking back on it, as they talk abotu Goebbels as a film maker. How we don’t see much of the Basterds activities, but instead just see the propaganda they’ve put out through their actions – that the bear jew is a golem etc.

    And then the finale, like you said Vern it’s both horrible yet I’m glad QT had the balls to go through with it. The obvious parrallel to the jews being killed in the ovens at camps needed to be seen.

    It’s almost like The Reader in that way, it’s trying to bring up the issues of how we deal with the holocaust and our anger directed towards the people who did it. The revenge is right there on screen, the “eye for an eye” logic. And it’s horrible.

    Daniel Strange – That’s an awesome theory, it’s maybe a little far fetched to think that Hans could have orchestrated for the film premiere to be at her cinema when it was the german dude who was pushing for it. But I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that he had been keeping tabs on her and when he found out they wanted the premiere there it was like a piece of gold had fallen into his lap.

    I still think the film struggles in some ways. Individual parts were fantastic, especially thinking back on them. But I’m not sure it works together as a whole as perfectly as it should. It does need a little bit of trimming, and it’s still a bit of a curveball when who we consider the “protaganist” to be is constantly changed. It feels like brad Pitt should be there gunning Nazis in the cinema, instead he’s taking Landa to the allied forces. It’s a bit jarring from normal narrative structure.

  17. I loved this movie, and also find myself on the same end of the Tarantino-love equation as Vern. I like all of his movies to different degrees (a recent rewatching of Death Proof found me digging it more than when I first saw it), and definitely felt a Pavlovian response type of deal with the first Morricone music cue. I just dig the guy and his style, it all works for me. I think Basterds will go down as one of his best, its just so thought out and layered, much more so than his earlier, pulpier films (though this is still pulpier than some fresh squeezed OJ)

  18. Roachboy – I think you are spot on there. I think the influence is much more Leone than anyone else. People always associate Leone with action movies – but his films are really more about tension and climax acheived through an orchestration of dialogue, music, camerwork and editing that feels operatic. The first scene in IG really made me think of Once Upon The Time In The West – and although it’s only the tagline you could make a case that this film should have been called Once Upon A Time In Nazi Occupied France.


    I thought it was a mixed back of mostly delicious treats – but not necessarily a perfect meal (note to self replace analogy with good one).

    There were a bunch of character decisions towards the end that I didn’t really feel revealed anything true about them – and it felt wierd (although clearly intentional) that Shoshanna and the Basterds were operating in their own narrative bubbles (although this might be a subverting of the Leone narrative model)- it made the ending (the big kill, not Landa’s branding – which was incredible) less satisfying to me.

    But I loved a great deal of it and I’ve never seen anything like it.

  19. And I don’t know about you guys but this review really made me want to buy some Ice Cream. And some Movie Character Maquettes. And a Mercedes.

  20. What do people think about QT considering it for a TV mini-series due to the numerous stories? I’m wondering if it would have worked better that way, the basterds and shoshanna’s etc story spread out over 6 episodes or something.

  21. Vern, the times I’ve brought up similar concerns about overly aggressive spoilers and film coverage I’ve encountered only hostility and belligerence.

    Movie sites don’t want to hear about people wanting to discover films for themselves. After all spoilers are kinda their bread and butter.

  22. @ for me it was spoiled before the god damn thing was filmed by somebody writing that he wouldn’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say (then goes on to make it very clear what happens but then pretend he didn’t ruin it for you because he didn’t say it in so many words)

    That. fucking. sucks.

    I’m sad to say Roger Ebert did something similar in his review. And even though I’d already seen the movie it still made me very angry.

  23. To try and answer the question asked earlier if Roth is possibly a better actor than director, I would have to completely disagree. Now, keep in mind that I don’t really enjoy any of Roth’s films, but his films are in a very distinct way exactly like Tarantino’s in that they are technically perfect films. Eli gets great performances out of his actors, his films have a great pace to them, and his direction (compositions, general style, etc.) is superb. Yet, unlike Tarantino, he has yet to make a film that has a greater purpose than just being a horror film, etc. It just seems to me that his films are about nothing, besides being stylistic exercises. He has an incredible amount of talent and potential, but I feel he needs to find a story that he really feels about strongly in order for him to make a truly great film. I just wish he would start caring about story more.

  24. Amazing to see that we have the same “Tarantino scale”, Vern (I, too, would put Kill Bill, Vol. II as his highest mark and Death Proof as his lowest, probably putting Jackie Brown as the creamy center of a consistently entertaining body of work). These last couple movies have both had some major experiments for him that he’s managed to pull off and that relatively few people have commented on. Death Proof sported a primarily–indeed, almost entirely–female cast, and it didn’t seem particularly jarring because Tarantino’s dialogue, for all the flak some people give it, is fairly gender-neutral. It’s a language of expertise, of passion, and of silenced pistols, when necessary, and it’s tough for me to take my ear from, regardless of who’s speaking it. But Death Proof proved to me it wasn’t exclusively “guy talk”.

    Inglourious Basterds seems, to me, to ask the question, “can Tarantino’s dialogue work when it’s not even spoken in English?” Most of the movie was in either German or French, and while I don’t imagine he wrote it directly into those languages (I never read screenplays before they’re produced), it’s uncanny how the cadences were still there, the lopsided sentence economy of the lecturing bad guy with the upper hand (Jules/Ordell/Landa) eking out pained one-sentence or one-word responses from his opponent. The best scene of this movie–the verbal showdown in the café basement–was ABOUT language, and the exact way it’s spoken, and how much extra-verbal communication truly matters. So Tarantino has now started to make me wonder if his signature is even limited to English. I’m hoping his next project will be a silent movie, so we’ll see if he can get his dialogue over without the benefit of sound. Maybe without humans. “Quentin Tarantino’s Koyaanisqatsi”.

    Interesting theory, Daniel Strange. I’d have to see the movie again, but one odd item–“odd” by movie Nazi standards–that stuck out to me was that Landa always seemed to keep his word. I’m used to seeing movie Nazis making deals only to shoot people in the back, etc., but we got no scene of the French farmer’s death, no pouncing across the table to wring Shosanna’s neck when it was clear to him who she was (she never lied in her answers to him, I don’t think; von Hammersmark did, and got what was coming to her), no slow and obvious torture of Raine when he’s in Landa’s clutches…the guy is a GENTLEMAN. Landa even goes out of his way to get his own accents right so as not to offend anyone’s ears; the audience I was with laughed heartily when he switched to a virtually flawless American English in the scene with the French farmer. When’s the last time I saw a non-sadist Nazi in a movie? It’s pretty refreshing. I mean, he’s an asshole, but a refreshing asshole. Next to Bill, this is Tarantino’s most fascinating villain…and, as you mentioned, a case can be made that he’s not the villain.

    What does anyone make of the occasional disconnect between the dialogue and the subtitles? E.g. Sometimes “merci” was rendered as “merci”, other times as “thank you”? I thought it was a comment on the sincerity of the speaker, but the individual contexts would have to be examined again.

    In any case, I need to see this movie again, if for no other reason than to try to piece together exactly which bullet comes from which person in the climax of the basement scene.

  25. I dunno… i came in this expecting a badass action movie. And i’ve never seen a proper Tarentino film. So i was pretty let down

    might need to rewatch it though

  26. which improper tarantino movies did you watch Christian?

  27. Chopper Sullivan

    August 23rd, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Just saw it again. I loved it the first time, but it is much better seeing it without the “men on a mission” expectation. The fourth chapter might be top to bottom my favorite thing Tarantino has done.

  28. GoodBadGroovy – As much as I enjoyed IG, I think it would’ve been even better had he gone ahead with his idea to make it a miniseries. He said in another interview that he would’ve added more stories and sideplots, including — if I’m not mistaken — one involving an all black platoon. When Luc Besson convinced him not to (saying that QT is one of the few directors who makes movies worth attending the cinema for), he decided to just concentrate on Shoshanna and the Basterds for the big-screen version — and even the theatrical cut had to lose quite a bit. I would’ve liked to have seen what else he had in mind, had he gone the HBO route.

  29. Christian, are you implying that you’ve never seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, etc? By all means drop whatever you’re doing and go through the man’s early filmography. I like everything the Quentin’s done to some degree or other but Dogs is the epitome of 90’s badass. It’s the movie every other crime movie of the decade tried to be and failed.

    As far as Basterds goes, I loved it. With reservations. I also can’t wait to see it again. My biggest complaint is that I wanted more of everyone. More Aldo Raine, more Stiglitz, more Donnowitz. Any one of those characters deserved a full film, and they got little more than an extended cameo. But that’s also part of the bane of being a Tarantino fan. I’m still waiting for a full movie about Jules Winfield or The Wolf. Quentin loves to leave us wanting more of his characters when he has no intention of giving it to us. Part of me hopes he makes good on his prequel threats, but after THE AMAZING END OF THIS FILM WHICH I WILL NOT SPOIL, what could he possibly do to impress us in a fucking prequel?

  30. Internet people complain about movies being over-hyped yet they are the ones who over-hype them with script reviews and leaks and all that nonsense.

    If you are a regular reader of AICN, CHUD and those sites you will always be disappointed by the films you see because they cant live up to months (sometimes years) of ridiculous hype.

    You get what you deserve, internet.

  31. Vern, what is the pretty unusual thing Tarantino does that was spoiled for you? I can think of a few unusual things he does in the film. I’m wondering which you are referring to. Feel free to just hint at it or it’s location in the film if you don’t want to give it away.

    Daniel Strange – I’m not sure I buy that theory (mainly because I don’t see how he could have orchestrated her getting the theater or that the premiere would be there or know she would burn it down). But also because I don’t think we can say for certain that Landa knows she is Shoshanna. That shot you mention doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows. It could just be Tarantino wanting us to think that he might know. That way he gets to wring a whole lot of tension out of the scene since it is similar to the first one. Yes, he could be ordering milk to show he knows. Or he could be ordering milk because he thinks it goes good with the strudel. By making it ambiguous (at least in my opinion) Tarantino gets to string us along, while we hope nothing bad happens to her.

  32. Chopper Sullivan

    August 24th, 2009 at 1:09 am

    As much as I love the film, I don’t want more of everybody. I thought the point of the film (maybe the first Tarantino movie to have a point) was about everybody’s reputation proceeding themselves. So Hugo’s little bit was his propaganda. The Basterds, the Bear Jew, Aldo the Apache, we only see them as mythical figures. I thought the movie was about people’s histories (real or fake) fighting against each other. I felt I got enough information about each character, and anything more would feel like a prequel that revealed too much without saying anything important.

  33. Speaking of more…….are we ever gonna get THE WHOLE BLOODY AFFAIR cut of KILL BILL?

    Five years Quentin.

  34. Jake –


    I believe it was Harold of Austin, Texas who wrote something along the lines of “I don’t want to give it away, but Quentin rewrote WWII to end the way it should’ve ended!” I wish I never read that because it must’ve been fun to watch the movie thinking, “Wait a minute, how are they– are they really going to– oh shit, does he really have the balls to do that?” Sort of like if you could watch VALKYRIE or TITANIC and have them end different than you expect.


  35. RRA, Tarantino said in a recent interview that after the press for this movie is finished that he shall begin working on the Whole Bloody Affair DVD, one of the major things being him extending an anime sequence (if I am remembering correctly).

  36. Yeah, Vern, I am glad I didn’t know that going in because I had that experience you describe. I remember thinking, “Wow, I do believe he is actually gonna do this.” Almost any other director ever I would have assumed the opposite.

    Sometimes I think I just need to cut out reading any internet sites and go back to just having the marketing people spoil all the cool stuff in the movie for me. I haven’t been successful in tearing myself away for any extended period of time though.

  37. The worst was the reviewers that wanted to mention the ending without actually mentioning it, but they did it so obviously you could still guess what they were getting at.

    spoiler etc

    Saying shit like “oh this is QTs alternative time line take on WW2”
    “The first WW2 film that gives us a happy ending!”. Yeah combine those two things and it’s not a massive leap to guess they’re talking ’bout old Adolf gettin it.

  38. I thought the worst was in Eli Roth’s interview on AICN where there’s a spoiler warning and then less than half an inch away it’s like “So you machine gun the fuck out of Hitler.” Man, you have to leave at least four inches of demilitarized zone in between the warning and the spoiler. Otherwise, I’m gonna read it by accident.

  39. Unfortunately , I’m skipping this review until the movie comes out over here (2 October).But I’m so excited , that I started to catch up with all the trailers and interviews released so far . Yesterday I realized that one of the basterds is Gedeon Burkhard , famous here in Italy for Squadra Speciale Cobra 11 ( Special Squad Cobra 11) , a cop show from Germany . I never watch tv series , but sometimes I catch glimpses of this show during dinner , and , man , this show is full of car chases and stunts ! This guys destroy half city in every episode that I’ve seen! The interesting fact is that most of this stunts are old school , with little to zero CG effects , and this is even more apparent if afterward I watch a movie like XXX , full of computer shit .
    Well done , Germany , I wonder if Tarantino is a fan of Cobra 11!

  40. That Eli Roth one’s pretty bad. But I still think Ebert takes the cake:

    “For starters (and at this late stage after the premiere in May at Cannes, I don’t believe I’m spoiling anything), he provides World War II with a much-needed alternative ending. For once the basterds get what’s coming to them.”

    WTF! And on his websight that’s above the fold right now.
    And I love Ebert but that’s just beyond all beyond.

  41. CallMeKermit: Yeah, the stunts in Cobra 11 are fucking great! Action Concept, the company who is responsible for them, wins pretty much every year at the World Stunt Awards and they deserve it.
    I don’t think that Tarantino is a fan of Cobra 11 anyway. He maybe just casted him, because he was German. Kinda like all these German actors got roles in Speed Racer (I still wish Moritz Bleibtreu and Benno Führmann had switched their roles. :P)

  42. Majestyk: Seriously, man. That Eli Roth interview was fucked up. I’d been following the project for a long time and I’d unintentionally gleaned that something like that was probably in the works, but to have Roth just drop the bomb in the interview with almost no warning pissed me right the fuck off. It’s like if Kevin Spacey was doing press for The Usual Suspects and started out with: (spoiler alert) “Well, to prepare for the role of Keyser Soze…

  43. Well, in Roth’s defense, it was whoever the fuck was interviewing him who dropped the H-bomb, then compounded the fuck-up with the poor spoiler warning placement.

  44. Rusty James – I defend Ebert, because his review came out what, Thursday?

    AICN did that shit what, months/weeks ago?

    Yet Ebert is the crippled crook here?

  45. Well, I agreed the Mr. Beaks / Eli Roth one is bad too.
    But Ebert takes the prize because
    1. Beaks at least put in a spoiler warning, however ineffectual. Ebert said it wasn’t a spoiler. It was the opposite of a spoiler warning.

    2. At least you had to click on the interview. Ebert’s was above the fold.

    It’s just an example of how these spoilers jump out and get you. Here it is eve of release, like Danny Glover a day before retirement, and Ebert Riggs ambushes you with this shit.
    And then his justification that the film’s been out for months now (at the cannes film festival?!?! That counts as being released now! Can he really be that out of touch?) so we can’t complain.

    But the Beaks one is eggregious too.

  46. Last year I got in a tiff with Campea over at the movie blog after he posted a shot of two face on the front page less than 24 hours after the movie had been released.

    His response was “that picture’s been on the internet for months”. So apparently by virtue of being released on the internet they don’t count as spoilers. It’s literally like saying “your not allowed to avoid spoilers anymore”.

  47. CJ Holden : I remember one episode with a fucking TANK ( a Leopard if I remember right ) laying waste in the streets that was absolutely crazy! Even if he’s not a fan , I believe Tarantino keeps an eye on the stunt crews all over the world , after all he made Death Proof as an homage to this crews and to real stunts vs CG effects , and a lot of action movie fans are always on the lookout for professionals like these , the Muay Thai Stunt crew and , going back to old martial art films , the Venom Crew .

  48. Or what of that critic who spoiled that great one-liner ending of MARKED FOR DEATH in his book? I forgot his name, but let’s be consistent in the witch hunting.

    Again, Beaks that pseudo-insider did this long ago, Ebert this thursday. If both erred, then Ebert is lesser of the evil-commiters. Also helps he has usually something worth saying. Remember when Beaks championed Michael Bay and his “evolving sensibilities”?

    That dude sure can suck good cock.

  49. I guess the lesson to be learned here is that we just shouldn’t read anything at all to do with any movie before we see it, because no matter how careful we are, some asshole will ruin it. When The Expendables comes out, I’m just not gonna look at the Internet at all a week ahead of time. In fact, I might get a T-shirt made that says IF YOU SPOIL THE EXPENDABLES I WILL SPOIL YOUR FACE.

    Now that I think about it, that would be a pretty fucking awesome T-shirt.

  50. Mr. M – Print that shirt! I would buy it.

    “because no matter how careful we are, some asshole will ruin it.”

    Well, yeah. Not I dont bother with AICN outside of Vern, so I was spared that Beaks disaster.

  51. RRA, I don’t quite share your hatred of Jeremy Smith. I don’t really keep up with his writings on AICN but I did enjoy his reviews on CHUD.
    Who did what furthest out is not the last word on the matter for me. Sorry.

    Actually, the John Campea one bothers me most of all.

    MR. M, I don’t know if you’re being serious or not. But my experiences have led me to pretty much the same conclussion. There’s just no reason to to read reviews and interviews about a film you already know you’re going to see.
    If you really want to read that stuff, just go back to it after you’ve seen the film. You’ll appreciate their points more anyways.

  52. thanks to everyone for bringing up such great points to mull over. a day later, and i also feel like I appreciate this more now that it’s had time to digest. i don’t rate Quentin’s stuff on a scale (like a fair chunk of the internet enjoys doing), all i can say is that this was a very interesting and entertaining movie, that i think will appreciate in value for years. this guy never fails, and i’ve yet to seen a film from him that i only sort of enjoyed. flawless track record. sure he’s a loudmouth freaky nerd, but he know what the fuck he’s doing.

    i can’t wait for the DVD, and any other additional material left unseen.

  53. Rusty, I was being dead-ass serious. I always try to avoid the reviews of movies I’m excited about, but sometimes I can’t help myself. But even that’s not foolproof, because interviews and message boards let shit slip all the time. Can you imagine if Empire Strikes Back came out today? Lucas would have had to car-bomb motherfuckers to keep “Luke, I am your father” a secret.

  54. Rusty James – Because he’s the nerd Ben Lyons. And if that reference means nothing to you, than nevermind.

  55. [SPOILERS] what stunned me were the number of dicks who cheerfully ruined the best fucking moment in the movie:


    people used it as a headline! burn in hell assholes.

    also david poland of all people said something i found interesting about IG; basically that if at the end, shoshannah was bleeding to death in the woods having been shot by landa as she made her escape from the farmhouse, and it turned out chapters 2-5 were just her dying fantasy or whatever, it would still be pretty much the same movie. maybe this is why i found it so hard to get invested in this picture.

  56. Just saw this and this is definitely Tarantino’s best movie since Jackie Brown. I like Kill Bill, but it feels more like an imitation of kung fu movies then an actual Tarantino origina and Death Proof just didn’t cut it for me. I tried to stay away from the spoilers but the ending seems to be in every single review written. They all dance around it but by doing this they pretty much all give it away.

    I disagree with Vern about Brad Pitt and I actually felt he did a great job. Every scene he was in he pretty much owned. I actually wanted more of his character in the movie and would love to see him again in the prequel that Tarintino has been talking up in all his interviews. Only problem is that I know better,Tarantino always talks about ideas he has that never seem to materialize(Vega Brothers and Kill Bill standalone anime) . I’ll just enjoy this until his next movie 5 to 7 years from now.

  57. a – that is precisely my issue with the movie – that the two plots seem to operate in hermetically sealed tunnels of incident. To the extent that I feel it must be intentional and some sort of riff and subversion of the slowly intertwining multi-narratives of Leone films like For a few Dollars More, The G,B & U and Once Upon A Time in the West.

    That’s why the climax didn’t seem to have the emotional effect on me that it seems to have on others.

    I still really enjoyed many of the scenes immensely – but didn’t feel the film ever really became greater than the sum of its (really quite great) parts.

  58. a – I’m not really sure what you’re getting at. How would the movie be pretty much the same if we found out the whole thing had been a dream? I mean yes, it would be the same movie, just with a shitty ending that renders the story pointless instead of a good one that does not.

    Telf – I totally get your argument, but it didn’t bother me at all. I just thought it was funny that there were two nearly identical conspiracies afoot which never found out about each other. For me the hermetically sealed storylines served as a fail-safe for each other. When Aldo gets captured, you know that Shosanna is still in the game, and when she goes down, you know that the Donnowitz and Whatshisname have it covered. Either way, you as the audience can rest assured that some serious shit is about to go down, even if you don’t quite know how.

  59. harker – i’m not quite sure what i’m getting at either. on one level, the movie seems to basically be the “revenge dream” that poland describes. you could tack on the “she wakes up and it was just a dream” ending and it would be lame, yes, but it would just make explicit what the movie already is, for those of us who know how wwii actually went down. but instead of the revenge dream of a jewish victim it’s tarantino doing the dreaming. inadvertently or not, poland seems to have gotten at something pretty fundamental about the movie. it seems like this is all tied up with tarantino’s ideas about movies and revenge and propaganda and so forth, but i’m still thinking it through.

    telf – yeah the movie seems very schematic, with the two intertwining stories being “hermetically sealed” as you put it, and with the first three chapters deliberately mirroring one another: “tell me what i want to know or i will fuck you up” and then someone gets fucked up. there’s clearly something going on but i couldn’t get at what it actually was; it seemed like the mirroring and repetition should have been creating intellectual and emotional resonances which, for all my straining, i just couldn’t perceive. so instead it seemed weirdly repetitive and kind of pointless. it’s like a puzzle and i have no idea how to solve it.

  60. Well, as usual it looks like I got here kinda late.

    Just wanted to throw one idea out here and see what people thought. (Apologies if someone already mentioned this). I think a few people here mentioned Tarantino making points about propaganda and the power of film. One of the things that stuck out for me was the Nazi audience during the finale and their reactions to NATION’S PRIDE. They seem to be eating the film up, cheering and calling out at the screen, reveling in the violence. Tarantino follows this up with a sequence in which the audience of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is encouraged to enjoy and revel in the massacre of the Nazi officers and their wives.

    Is Tarantino trying to implicate himself and his audience in the Nazi’s bloodlust as well? Is our reaction to INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS the same reaction as the Nazi’s reaction to NATION’S PRIDE? Is he encouraging us to analyze what we enjoy about violent action pictures and why we enjoy it? Any thoughts?

    Also I’d like to hear more about people’s feelings on the theater climax in general. I found it emotionally overwhelming. I was excited, entertained, disturbed, primally satisfied, disturbed by how satisfied I was, and on top of all that I was inexplicably moved. That I was somehow touched really confused me, I think it was some weird mix of being moved by the power of the images, the poetic nature of the revenge and maybe an odd form of delight at the fantasy of seeing Hitler’s face filled with bullets. I guess my question is, did folks simply see the ending as a satisfying action climax, or did it stir up more complicated emotions?

  61. Dan Prestwich – Yes, I think it is no accident that the audience’s reaction to NATION’S PRIDE is a mirror of our reaction to INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Tarantino has often been criticized for his cavalier treatment of violence, and he obviously does know that violence in movies can be a lot of fun, but I think he has always had a bit more going on with his violent scenes than just that. At least that has been my reaction to his films. A lot of his violence can be fun and funny but it can also be very disturbing.

    I think along with the NATION’S PRIDE audience, the bat scene shows some of these more complex feelings about violence. A lot of the audience laughed when Pitt says Donnie is “gonna beat your ass to death.” But then Tarantino says, “Alright, let’s take a good look at what you were just laughing at.” And he drags out Donnie’s arrival for what seems like an eternity, with that bat noise making it more and more tense, and forces you to think about just what is about to go down. I love gory scenes but I was thinking, “I’m not sure I really want to see this guy get beat to death.” Especially since you know with Tarantino he isn’t gonna shy away from showing it in graphic detail. It reminded me of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE where Cronenberg lets you enjoy the violence but then makes sure you see the aftermath.

    This question is fascinating to me. Why do I enjoy watching people get killed in say FINAL DESTINATION but was sort of dreading seeing a Nazi, of all people, get killed? So whether or not he intended people to analyze what they like about violence in movies, he certainly led me to think about it quite a bit since I saw BASTERDS.

    And yes, I did have some pretty complex emotions going on during that climax. I agree with you on it being moving. I even started to tear up a little when the giant face finally showed up. A first for a Tarantino film, for me. I think it was because of the perfect convergence of fantastic filmmaking technique, totally badass revenge (using the medium of film itself! which, for me as a film lover, is just about as cool as it gets) where she reveals herself and sends her message to Germany, and, most importantly, the fact that the character I most wanted to see survive the film has just died and doesn’t even get to see the revenge play out. The death itself is heart-breaking (and beautiful, another scene where Tarantino is using violence on a couple different levels) but the posthumous message of vengeance is what really got me.

  62. Nah, this was a poor, disjointed film that added up to very little. You can compliment it for not being reverential but it seemed to me that Tarantino was either too swamped or intimidated by his subject matter to do something exciting and ended up writing a bunch of long and pointless conversations. The ending was desperate rather than anarchic. Brad Pitt was given an underwritten role and played a cartoon. Eli Roth was AWFUL.

    And that’s not even considering the numerous examples of illogic and ridiculous writing, even given the movie’s obvious lack of seriousness. Hitler seeing a film in France while the Allies are invading? Churchill discussing Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick? The whole Michael Fassbender sequence was utterly pointless and made the British look like clowns for organizing such a dumb plot (send a English film critic alone behind enemy lines to pose as a German–yeah, that should end the war).

    By the point you get to Christopher Waltz suddenly defecting and talking about “Jewish trials” it’s clear that Tarantino is just making it up as he goes along. The use of Sam Jackson, kooky captions as picked out in the review, old music cues, falling back on another female revenger, all points to lazy repetition in the absence of any proper ideas for a film. Even the ending was lifted from DEATH PROOF.

    Tarantino desperately needs someone who won’t treat him like a genius and pander to every half-baked idea he has. Turns out all he really had was a title.

  63. I’ve liked a lot of QT’s movies, but I left this one irritated and depressed.

    Should this really have been the way WWII ended? With Jewish soldiers becoming as brutal and heartless as the Nazis? With Allied soldiers torturing and disfiguring their enemies? The ultimate crime of the Nazis was in believing themselves gods and treating their ‘enemies’ as subhuman. How is the behavior of the ‘heroes’ in this movie any better? (Oh right, because Nazis are evil, and therefore less than human, and down the rabbit hole we go…)

    What bothered me about this movie wasn’t the violence. It was that the violence — especially at the end, when a crowd of unarmed Nazis and their wives are being gunned down — was presented almost purely cathartically. The whole sequence builds into an emotional release. You can argue that we’re supposed to recognize/dwell on the irony, maybe after Pitt has carved his final swastika and the credits have rolled, but the audience I saw it with didn’t seem to be thinking that way. They were a bit grossed out, sure, but also laughing and cheering it on.

    I don’t know, maybe on some level this movie is supposed to be satire of propaganda films, but if so, I think it misses its mark by succeeding too well as the real thing. And for a talented filmmaker like Tarantino, that’s an easy, cheap thing to pull off.

  64. grasshopper – how fair is it to hold the reactions of the dumbasses against the movie itself? de palma or verhoeven actually fold these dumbass reactions into the movies themselves, making them part of their films’ critique. with tarantino i find it harder to work out exactly what he’s getting at because sometimes he seems supersmart but at other times just a fucking retard, but i am inclined to be generous in my interpretation.

    a movie is not only as good as its dumbest viewer’s understanding of it, is what i’m saying.

  65. a-

    Sure, I agree that it’s unfair to judge a movie strictly by how an audience receives it. After all, a lot of people probably thought Starship Troopers was a straight-up action film about killing evil aliens, and missed the satire completely. Or saw Robocop as a straight-up fascist law-enforcement flick.

    But I think it’s also a mistake to assume a movie is deeper than it is just because of the director. I guess what bugs me about IGB is that I got the feeling that Tarantino really, honestly dug the Basterds and what they were doing. They were never, in my eyes, presented less than completely respectfully. I never felt that double-edged sword, with regards to the torture, the slaughtering, the mutilation. I just don’t think it worked as satire, and I’m not even sure it was meant to.

  66. Has anyone noticed the similarities between the end of Inglourious Basterds and the ending of Gremlins?

    Before I go on there are SPOILERS. (It should be obvious since it’s about the ending.)

    The gremlins (Nazis) taking a break from their usual destructive (killing jews) behavior to watch Snow White (Stolz der Nation or whatever it’s called) and they fucking love it. Meanwhile Billy and Kate (The Basterds and Shosanna) are plotting to burn the theater down while the gremlins (Nazis, remember) are distracted by the movie (propaganda film) afterwards Stripe (Col. Landa) leaves the theater before it burns to the ground only to be killed by Gizmo (swastikad by Aldo Raine) afterwards.

    Also Mr. Futterman even mentions the gremlins (Nazis) role in WWII (World War Two).

    Likewise Billy and Kate’s (The Basterds and Shosanna’s) involvement in WWII (World War Two) was non-existant.

    The best news (for me anyway) is that I don’t have to worry about a shitty Gremlins remake because Tarantino already beat them to the punch. (Not the shitty movie part, I really liked Inglourious Basterds. I was talking about the remake part.) Unfortunately there were no actual gremlins in Inglourious Basterds.

  67. I did notice the Gremlins similarities. When Marcel was in the back of the theater, I kept expecting the movie to turn off and all the Nazis to start clawing their way through the screen.

    Did you read that interview with Joe Dante on AICN where he talked about Tarantino showing him IG? I wonder if the subject came up. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation between the biggest movie-nerd directors of their respective generations.

  68. I’m actually kind of suprised that Joe Dante didn’t think of using the film as an explosive. It may have been somewhat of an anacronism but Gremlins doesn’t really seem to be set in a definite time period so it could have worked.

    I was going to suggest that Tarantino interrupt one of his movies like they did in Gremlins 2 but he already kind of did that in Grindhouse with the fake trailers.

  69. Dante got his start as an editor, and he’s known for collecting little bits of film oddities and splicing them together. I think the notion of burning movies would be horrifying to him. I suspect he’d rather let the gremlins win. His sympathies seem to be more with them than the human characters anyway.

  70. Of course, the movies burned down with the theater in Gremlins, so maybe I’m full of shit.

  71. That’s a good point, but I think the notion of using old movies as a means of killing monsters for the safety of mankind is a noble sacrifice he might be willing to consider.

  72. I don’t know. Dante doesn’t seem to have much faith in people. I suspect he’d be willing to give the monsters a shot.

  73. Damn, that’s cold. Perhaps we should give Mr. Dante a long overdue hug.

  74. I just saw this last night and thoroughly enjoyed this. Oddly enough, the drawn-out dialogue scenes culminating in ultra-violence seemed to remind me most of KILL BILL PART 2, except that the burning cinema had a bit more of kinetic WHOOSH then David Carradine barely fighting with Uma Thurman.

    I got a hold of the script ages back, but didn’t read further than Donnie Donnowitz’s introduction. I was avoiding anything to do with the film on AICN or sites like that, but for some reason, the ending played out pretty much as I thought it would. Maybe I read one of those spoilers and forgot about it, but it seemed to be exactly the sort of ending Tarantino would go with; I mean, BASTERDS is to WWII what KILL BILL was to professional contract killers… ultra-stylised, playing fast and loose with historical and narrative conventions…

    DANIEL STRANGE: I think that your theory holds a lot of water, but were one to follow this line of thinking – the protagonist instigating and propelling the narrative – I’d lean towards the angle that Landa only started to formulate his plan after meeting and somehow – maybe ever subconsciously (you remember how he seems to have one question to ask her, but can’t remember what it is) remembering Shosanna.

    There’s an equally strong – perhaps stronger – case for arguing that Shosanna is the protagonist…

    Did anyone else think that Omar Doom stole the scene in the cinema out from under Waltz and Pitt by doing the cajones sign after he’s introduced with the silly Italian name?

  75. Just saw this this afternoon. I wasn’t really blown away. There were lots of parts where I think I laughed (not out loud) where I think I wasn’t supposed to.

    I think he was trying to do what Leone does with visuals, only with dialogue: stretching out the buildup to gunfights. I wish the movie had been a bit more visual in some parts. And I think some of the narrative devices like the blaxploitation narration and writing things on screen should’ve either been there more consitantly or not at all.

    I had an okay time, I think this is an okay movie, but I’ll admit some of the scenes in the first half didn’t work for me.

    I’m fine with it not turning out to be a men-a-mission movie like we were promissed, but I do wish they could’ve established the commradery among the basterds a little better. That one basterd who was sitting next to Pitt when Landa is making the deal, I was just sitting there wondering if that guy had been in the movie before then.

  76. My kneejerk reaction: Best Tarantino movie. Couple of notes on that though. 1) It’s just a kneejerk, rewatching and time may alter that, same way Jackie Brown became my previous favorite owing to the way it gained depth, and the way my love for those characters developed and deepened over multiple viewings. 2) I LOVE World War 2 stories and iconography so that might have just made me especiall susceptible to the game Quentin set up. 3) This is the first Tarantino I have been able to watch in theaters, and I watched with my Dad right next to me, laughing at the dialogue and jokes, so the simple experience may have been enough to tip the scales. We’ll see what happens on the rewatch.

  77. I’ve gone back and read a bunch of your comments. A lot of you have talked about the satirical elements of this film and about exactly what message Quinty was trying to deliver and I think it’s made one thing clear to me: Tarantino isn’t really capable of doing social satire or historical commentary because he does not live in the real world. He lives in movies. He’s great at writing movies because movies are like people to him, he has full blown relationships with movies. But I’m not sure what actual people are like to him. He probably just finds them lacking in style and snap.

    So for us to try and take a concrete message away from one of his films is probably impossible seeing as he is practically from another planet.

    I think it becomes ephasized in a film like this where he is dealing with a subject that can go either way. We have all seen and enjoyed serious WW2 movies as well as more cartoonish WW2 movies, but IG is both. Its Basterds plotline wants the cartoon Nazi stuff of Raider Of The Lost Arc, but the Shoshanna plotline wants to be taken seriously like a Black Book type movie. I can totally see how many viewers can take both of those tones in one shot, but I just can’t completely reconcile them.

  78. Just watched this one. It was good. First chapter is the best. Great performance by Brad Pitt and the main evil Nazi guy. Some really great scenes and dialogue. What is Eli Roth doing in here? He didn’t embarrass himself, but he’s clearly out of his depth. Read the Harry Knowles review about how he wants to spend more time with these characters. Come on. My immediate reaction to this film was, “I’m glad I saw it, but I will get on just fine if I never see it again.” Jackie Brown I’ve seen probably 7 times. Jackie Brown had substance. Lots of quirky characters, but the movie had wholeness, integrity–it held together and had soul. Pam Grier gave the movie a center, and the characters were quirky, but you at least believe a person like that could exist. This movie has style and confidence, but no soul. I give Tarantino credit for making a whacked out movie like this (or Kill Bill or Death Proof), for doing something different and wild when he could just coast. Plus, unlike Charlie Kauffman, Tarantino’s crazy, self-indulgent junk is at least fun for the rest of us. The first chapter of this movie is taut. Riveting performances. Great suspense. Great, quirky choices by the Nazi and the French guy–but restrained. Pitt’s character is obviously quite broad, but is just fun to watch, so I give him a pass. By the time we’ve gotten to Mike Myers, we’re in self-indulgent, quirky “Snatch” territory, even though Myers keeps his schtick restrained. Movie loses its compass at that point. The broadness of Pitt’s character and the dorkiness of Roth’s undercut the evil Nazi guy’s quirky but restrained performance. I believe a guy like that could exist, but not so much Pitt (who still gives a great performance) or Roth. By the end of chapter two, I’m having fun but I have absolutely no investment in any of the characters. I don’t care what happens to any of them, because they’re cartoons.

    Have any of you watched Dexter? Just finished w/ Season 3. Premise and plots are twisted. Characters are quirky and eclectic. Dry wit. Wacked out fantasy sequences. Lowlifes. But you know what? I care about Dexter. I care about his colleagues and his family. I actually experience edge-of-my-seat suspense. I feel ambivalent about the character Dexter, conflicted for liking him. Meanwhile, Tarantino is hamming it up but eliciting nothing more from me than moderate amusement. Is that the best he can do? Jackie Brown says otherwise.

  79. Just got back from a double-feature of this & Ponyo. I wanted to make this day a good one by watching the two newest films of two of the world’s greatest filmmakers alive today.

    I greatly enjoyed both and would go as far as to say both are excellent.

    I didn’t know anything about Basterds going in so I guess I was lucking with that. The only thing I knew about it was that it was a Tarintiono version of a World War II film.

    I actually enjoyed it alot more that it went against my expectation from what the trailers told me. Usually the other way around, I go in expecting something interesting and it just ends up being silly or stupid instead.

    I only skimmed the talkbacks because I’m so late but I’m positive anything I have to say has already been said. So I’ll just say that I loved how in typical Tarintino fashion that he pretty much made two movies (Bastards and the lady who owned the theater) spliced them together and both were great.

    One part that I haven’t seen many talk about it is the one guy who was crushing on the theater owner. At first I was like ‘he’s just some dumb kid who doesn’t know he’s working for an evil empire’ to ‘holy shit the kid is a murderer’ to ‘just some kid who is crushing real bad’ right back to ‘wow. what a dick’. I really like how Tarintino played with the audience with that character.

    Also I didn’t hate Eli Roth, thus proving I can like him and not his crappy movies.

    As for Ponyo… something tells me I’m not going to get too much of a discussion out of that one here so I’ll just say it too was excellent and that it’s a shame that Disney didn’t do jack to push it and that many will not see it but many will instead see another Dreamworks Animated feature.

  80. I’m looking forward to PONYO, but no word on an Irish release date.

  81. I can confirm that PONYO is a delight. Between it, UP, and CORALINE, we’ve had a stellar year for animation.

  82. And I just read that the Irish release has been delayed until 20-and-fucking-10. Boo-urns…

  83. Yeah, this seems like it will be the first year that the Best Animated Film category of the Oscars will actually be filled with great films. And we still have 9, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and FANTASTIC MR. FOX coming. All of which have potential. If they even get close to the quality of PONYO, UP and CORALINE I will be very happy.

  84. I would love to see Vern take a look at Coraline. But I know he won’t.

  85. Enough of this Saturday morning cartoon crap, stop the fucking presses and let’s talk about Rambo 5: The Ramboning. The question on everyone’s lips is: Will it totally fucking rule or simply own?


  86. I think that is a false dichotomy. If the past films are any indication the new Rambo film will both rule and own.

  87. Rambo was great, and I’m glad to see Sly has hit a groove as a filmmaker. Now if only he would dig out Cobra again. Unless Brigette Nielson is to busy.

  88. Yeah, when you look at Sly’s comeback, it’s really pretty amazing. The dude had worked his way into DTV land, and when you first heard that he was doing new installments of both Rocky and Rambo, I think a lot of folks thought this was just a sad ploy from a guy who couldn’t accept that it was over. Now, look at him. Rocky Balboa was dope. Rambo was fresh. And this new one looks awesome, too. Plus, I love that all these other franchises are getting remade and rebooted, while Sly is still going strong. Yo!

    BTW, I actually tried to watch Cobra again a few years ago, and it was not pretty. Man, that one does not hold up well over time.

  89. If Stallone can maintain the quality of action from the last RAMBO film and drop the moralizing/misguided attempts at relevance, then I will be a happy camper.

    Less crass exploitation of real tragedies and more crass exploitation of fake violence, please.

  90. I think that Cobra has only gotten better with time. It’s like three awesome movies for the price of one: It starts out Dirty Harry, turns into Halloween 2 for a minute, and ends up The Road Warrior. I will seriously watch Cobra whenever and wherever the fuck.

  91. Cobra is fucking fantastic! Yeah, it starts out like a Dirty Harry knockoff, but then it gets into being about some crazy cult full of business men and shit who are anarchists in their spare time, which is a contradiction Cobra points out with bullets.

    I also really love the part where Cobra gives Neilson that giant toy burger. It’s so surreal because it’s like the lamest flirting ever but it’s Stallone writing this and acting it out with the woman he married so you wondered if that sort of thing actually worked in real life.

  92. Cobra is indeed awesome, of course I’m sure for many people it hasn’t aged well as it’s like some kind of freakish mutant born out of 80s music videos, Top Gun, Rambo II, Rocky IV, Reagan speeches on crime and Friday the 13th, but for a lot of us that’s a large part of its charm, although “charm” is too sissy a word to describe Cobra

  93. I forgot to mention 80s Pepsi and Toys R Us commercials also make up the DNA of this action Frankenstein/Serpentor

  94. Sorry, I cannot jump on the Cobra bandwagon. The guys with their weird dance where they bang sledge hammers together…or maybe that was a dream I had. Too unintentionally weird.

    With Rambo, I don’t think Sly is intending to engage in crass exploitation, though that may be the outcome. But intentions matter. Just in terms of Sly’s work and his appreciation for the characters, I don’t think he’s being gory just for the fun of it, or just to draw an audience, and there’s no Tarantino silly irony to the gore. The problem is that the film tries so hard to capture the realism of war violence and the realism of the situation in Burma that it magnifies how unrealistic Rambo’s exploits and ultimate survival are. Still, Rambo is much more “real” than Pitt’s Aldo Raine (this is an IG talkback after all), and that is why I actually care about him. Aldo Raine might as well be Elmer Fudd or David St. Hubbins. Not saying Sly’s was the better performance, but I was more invested in it because of the tone of the film.

  95. Maybe this is just me, but I don’t think there’s any such thing as too unintentionally weird.

  96. Yes, there is. It’s called Cobra. I’m saying I have the crystal ball into Stallone’s intentions, but everything about his body of work tells me that subtle irony is not a strong part of his repertoire. When he’s trying to be goofy, you get stuff like Oscar or Demolition Man. When’s goofy but not trying, you get Cobra or Driven.

  97. “not saying,” that is.

  98. Of course he didn’t make Cobra that weird on purpose. He was 100% serious about that shit. That’s why it rules.

  99. I’m pretty sure that Cobra didn’t feel that weird when it came out. Back then it must be one stylish movie on the pulse of the time!
    (Kinda like the Miami Vice series, which now looks like a serialized punchline, but was the coolest thing ever when it came out [of course I should note that Miami Vice has behind its dated facade still more substance than Cobra ever had.])

  100. Maybe I need to go back and see it again, but who am I kidding, I probably won’t.

    Maybe it’s a bout expectations. Last time I saw it was when I was getting psyched up for Rocky Balboa. So, I went back and watched a bunch stuff. Watched Cop Land again. Then I remembered thinking Cobra was pretty awesome. Then I tried to watch it, and it was such a mess, and I wasn’t expecting that. I also think you have a point about whether things can be too unintentionally funny, so I may have misspoke. I guess Cobra was in that sucky part of the curve where it’s unintentionally goofy enough to take you out of the film but not silly enough for me to just have fun with it. Not quite MST3K goofy.

  101. Yeah, you gotta be in a Renny Harlin kind of mood to fully appreciate Cobra. It’s not what you’d call a “good” movie, but hell, goodness is overrated in my book.

  102. I concur that it’s a great year for animation so far but unfortunately Dreamworks has a new one coming out later this year so considering 9, Fox, & Forg is good that one is going to keep it from being an excellent and flawless year (well it can still be excellent: Up and Ponyo is enough to do that)

    let me fix your post for ya Mr. Majestyk

    “We need to only talk about mature movies for mature viewers such as ourselves. And funny books. Particularly ones about furry billionaires who beats two-dimensional over-the-top bad guys up. But not any of this silly kiddie crap. Not here. Only mature movies. Like Transformers II as that tickles my intellectual fancy.”

    There ya go you can thank me later.

    I really dug John Rambo so I’m game for this one. I hope they shake the formula up a little this time though but from the current-plot description I’m not holding my breath.

    I think they should call this one Fifth Blood!

  103. So Vern is allowed to call graphic novels “children’s comic strips” but I’m not allowed to call anime “Saturday morning cartoons?” That seems like a double standard to me.

  104. As for Cobra…

    I only saw it once years ago and didn’t care for it (can you believe that’s what Beverly Hills Cop was going to be for a while). Perhaps it deserves another shot. But can it possibly be any better/crazier than Over The Top. Now there was a great ‘wacky’ Stallone vehicle.

  105. Mr. Majestyk – Are we sure Vern IS allowed to call graphic novels “children’s comic strips”? Has geoffreyjar ever come down with a definitive ruling on that? Maybe Vern has been breaking the rule this whole time.

  106. Mr. Majestyk

    It’s called kidding. It is where one has a bit of fun at another’s expense. On here it’s not done as a personal insult. I knew I shouldn’t posted it, especially after you went off on RRA or whoever on the TF2 berating thing. But I couldn’t resist.

    Point is: no offense was meant. It was just me having a bit of fun (I thought it was funny at least). Stop taking shit personally.

  107. Aw, man, now I’m known as the sensitive one. I knew you were just fucking around. So was I. I can take my lumps about Transformers 2 as long as you can take your lumps about whatever magical dolphin cartoon movie you were talking about.

  108. And for the record, I have seen many of the works of Hayao Miyazaki and am well aware that they are about a swillion to the power of infinity times more sophisticated and mature than the works of Michael Bay. I also know that I start looking at my watch after about 15 minutes every single time, the same way I do with every animated movie that doesn’t star beloved television characters. That’s my cross to bear, though.

  109. Jacks Lack of Motivation

    August 31st, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I had the impression that Stallone was working on Rambo for some time before Burma became headline news again when the Junta failed to adequately cover up their efforts to murder a lot of Buddhist monks. I guess that doesn’t make it any less exploitative, but at least he didn’t just grab the issue of the day. Apparently it’s a very popular bootleg over there, too.

    Anyway, as an action movie it was fucking awesome. I’ll be interested to see how Rambo fares back on American soil again; could be enough to stop a formula developing. I mean, I’ll be upset if he doesn’t snap and kill a lot of despicable assholes in Rambo 5, but maybe change things up a little on the way there.

    I haven’t seen Cobra, it was one of those that always got away. Sounds like I’ll have to check it out. Torque was a modest success, I’m ready for the next step of craziness.

  110. Cobra is worth the price of rental for the scene where Sly leatherfaces the bad guy in the melting plant alone. It’s also plays out like Judge Dredd, but completely serious about the fascism of the main character. Ironically the Judge Dredd movie did not achieve the same level of Whatthefuckisgoingonthisisawesome that Cobra did.

  111. I am constantly attached to the internet yet somehow managed to avoid any hint of a spoiler concerning the UBs. I guess that goes along with focusing mostly on websites about programming languages and PDAs. Hell, I thought the baseball bat guy was that villain from Heroes… that’s how clueless I was. The movie definitely works if you view it through innocent eyes.

  112. Skani and Jacks:

    I wasn’t faulting Stallone for trying to be topical. When I mention crass exploitation, I’m faulting him for including frequent references to real life atrocities, including newsreel footage, in his silly action movie.

    I’m not really much of a moralist, so it’s not that I’m offended. I just feel like it works to undermine a lot of the entertainment in the film.

  113. The Rambo movies are a strange beast. I don’t think anybody felt that First Blood “exploited” the Vietnam experience because it was such a sincere movie. Obviously the sequels got sillier and by the time you get to Rambo 4 you’ve got a series that is both serious and silly. Rambo 4 takes a serious issue and makes a silly action movie out of it just like how the whole series has taken the anguish of Vietnam POWs and turned it
    into a silly action musclefest.

  114. Still, I’m betting Rambo did more to raise awareness of what’s happening in Burma than the news media did. And like someone else mentioned, the Burmese themselves love it. In fact, Rambo and Sly in general has always been insanely popular in the Third World. I recently watched Werner Herzog’s documentary The White Diamond, which was filmed in Guyana in 2004, and a local was walking around with a headband, asking people to call him Rambo. So maybe the “one guy with a gun can change everything” fantasy isn’t just an American thing. Maybe it’s a fantasy that all the powerless people of the world (of which there are many) can relate to.

  115. Wolfgang,

    A fair point. I would agree that FIRST BLOOD is not a crass exploitation of Vietnam, but that’s because it’s a far less silly movie, and it only elliptically refers to real world violence instead of rubbing the audiences’ noses in it, a la the first half of RAMBO. I’m not a huge FIRST BLOOD fan, but I would argue that it’s a more serious exploration of its topic than RAMBO is.

    Again, I’m not saying this as a moral judgement. I’m coming from a film criticism perspective, where I feel that the references to real-world violence in RAMBO are an attempt to impart a sense of seriousness that the movie doesn’t earn, and hence undermines some of the fun. I wrote on my blog that RAMBO is “an A minus action movie trapped inside a C plus corny B-movie, trapped inside of a D minus political/artistic statement.” I enjoy it overall, but would like it more if it embraced its genre and dropped the pretentions.

    Mr Majestyk,

    I’d be interested to see data on whether or not RAMBO raised awareness on the subject. You may be right, although my guess is that most audience members didn’t even remember where it was supposed to be set by the time the credits rolled.

  116. I know it raised my awareness. I’ll admit it, I’m a bad citizen, so I don’t follow the news very closely. Rambo was the first I’d heard of the situation in Burma, but afterword, I read up on it a little. I didn’t do a damn thing to make the situation any better, but such is the spurious benefit of “awareness.” You know all about the shit you can’t do anything about.

  117. Well put, Majestyk. I know how you feel.

  118. Not a bad film, would have loved for the languages to be spoken in English though as I dont like reading subtitles. Everyone to their own though.

  119. I wasn’t as impressed by this as everybody else seemed to be. It was kind of a mess, actually. Not a bad film, and there’s a lot of interesting formal ideas that Tarantino throws out there – the shot with “Cat People” in the background as we progress from the girl’s room and out into the theatre hall, for example – but, on the whole, it just feels like, “We waited five years for this?”

    There’s no real arch for any of the characters, save perhaps the owner of the theatre maybe. And, even though the film is obviously focused on and around her, the film keeps switching to talk about these secondary characters, the Basterds, and their plot which doesn’t really amount to anything in the long run. Characters do things without real motivations, like Hans Linda near the end.

    And, I’m not a guy who has a problem with a film moving in between different tones and measures, but it has to be organic. This film, however, is just herky-jerky with the disconnect. In one scene, we’re given a drawn-out, tense and overwhelmingly depressing and solemn sequence where the main character’s family is slaughtered – and then, the next scene features the quirky introduction of the Basterds with Samuel L. Jackson giving a select few some of their backgrounds.

    Also, there’s the whole issue of the violence in the film – not that it is violent in itself, but to what purpose. It’s kind of – needlessly sadistic, a kind of sick Jewish revenge-fantasy by a guy who’s not even Jewish. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t take any pleasure seeing a guy get his head caved in with a baseball bat, even if he is a Nazi.

    Enjoyable, sure – but, I think Tarantino’s long since gone insane.

  120. I get a lot of pleasure seeing a guy get his head caved in with a baseball bat, particularly if he’s a Nazi. But I think Tarantino would be okay with you being skeeved out by it. Remember, this is the guy who started off his revenge epic with a kung-fu murder witnessed by the victim’s daughter. He’s interested in making the audience question how much “righteous” violence they’re willing to accept. Obviously, he pushed you past your threshold, and I think that’s valid.

  121. The thing is, though – I have the same problem with “Death Proof,” and the violence here really isn’t that much different from the violence in his other more recent films. All he’s done is placed it into a WWII context – there’s still the base underlining of “hey man, violence is cool!” and of human death as a punchline. Johann Hari wrote a great article about it all that kind of sums up my thoughts perfectly:


    Sure, there’s the attempt at meta-commentary near the end, with the audience enjoying seeing the Allied Forces being slaughtered. But, it seems as if Tarantino wanted to have the proverbial cake and “eat it too” – which isn’t impossible, but I don’t think he pulled it off, myself.

  122. “the violence here really isn’t that much different from the violence in his other more recent films.”

    That’s what I was getting at. All of his post-hiatus work deals with revenge that ends up being even more brutal than the crime (although I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything more brutal than what the Nazis did in real life, if not in IB). If you have Tarantino’s sick sense of humor, then you cheer for the violence. If you don’t, you feel sickened by it. I think both responses are valid. The thing I like about Tarantino is that he doesn’t apologize for letting the darker angels of his nature out on film. He knows that most people have a bloodlust that needs to be sated, and he’s not afraid to serve it back to them raw and unfettered.

  123. And if this sickens some people, all the better. That’s a moral point: I have crossed this line and you disapprove. It teaches by negative example.

  124. >>The thing I like about Tarantino is that he doesn’t apologize for letting the darker angels of his nature out on film. He knows that most people have a bloodlust that needs to be sated, and he’s not afraid to serve it back to them raw and unfettered.

    I don’t even really think it’s that complex, with him. I mean, you’ve heard that quote about what he said after September 11th, right? “It didn’t affect me because there’s, like, a Hong Kong action movie… called Purple Storm and they work in a whole big thing in the plot that they blow up a skyscraper.”

    He literally just seems to think violence is “kewl -” but not even in some sort of sadistic sense. Like Hari said in the article I posted, the violence is nothing to him. It’s almost frivolous. It’s almost like he’s caught in some sort of weird, reverse arrested development, as a filmmaker. And, I say that because you didn’t see this in his earlier films. The violence there had impact, it had heft.

  125. I disagree there. I don’t think he’s changed his tune at all. The death of Marvin was a punchline. The infamous ear scene was black comedy. True Romance gleefully killed off nearly its entire cast in an orgy of nihilism where there is not one single decent character. But occasionally he does let the emotion out. Kill Bill has several scenes where we are meant to feel what the Bride has lost (you can’t tell me that the scene where she wakes up and discovers that her baby is gone is meant to be funny), and obviously Jackie Brown has a melancholy that his other films don’t, even though that’s just Tarantino doing justice by Elmore Leonard.

    I ask you this: Why can Sam Raimi make violent death a joke but Tarantino can’t? Why can John Woo treat violence as a beautiful ballet but Tarantino can’t? I guess the question is, why do people ask more of Tarantino than he has ever promised them? He’s never been a moral filmmaker. He just tells his stories in whatever way feels satisfying to him and leaves the interpretations up to us.

  126. I think it’s a stylized thing Majestyk. Yeah Reservoir and Pulp used violence as punchlines and dark humor, but they had a layer of grit to them that kept everything at Earth level. With Kill Bill and Death Proof and (sort of but not really for me) Inglourious, the look and feel is so stylized that when violence occurs it doesn’t really have the same kind of weight. Individual moments, like what you said with the Bride, or Rose McGowan’s death in Death, but the vast, vast majority is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. Like Boss Tanaka, or Sofie Fatale, or O-Ren Ishii. I thought Basterds was a welcome change from that, not only did the violence have weight again, BUT he also used it as an exclamation point for sequences of unbelievably high tension. The baseball bat scene in particular. If you’ve seen one trailer for the movie, you know that Eli Roth is going to come out and bludgeon the dude into oblivion, Tarantino knows you know this and he makes you WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT for it.

    And who says Raimi and Woo didn’t catch shit? Evil Dead is still banned in country’s all over the world, and the tree rape scene still catches him shit. Woo made Hard Boiled BECAUSE he was getting criticized for glorifying gang violence, so he instead made a movie where it was the cops who were dual-wielding pistols and kicking ass. Twenty years from now, no one is going to give a shit about how violent Basters is or isn’t it will have been absorbed into the consciousness in such a way that anyone who watches knows exactly what they’re going to see (similar to how everyone knows about Dogs’ ear-cutting and Pulp’s needle to the chest). But right now, the film is new, and part of the discussion is the film’s violence and how it relates to his other work and to movies as a whole.

  127. >>I ask you this: Why can Sam Raimi make violent death a joke but Tarantino can’t?

    I don’t think Raimi’s ever made violent death itself a joke, really – sure, in “Drag Me To Hell,” he plays with the body of the gypsy woman in a couple of scenes, but the thing is – we’re supposed to be as repelled as the characters are, because it’s a dead body. There’s slapstick in his films, but he’s never had a scene quite like the ones in Tarantino’s movies.

    Ditto John Woo. In his earlier films, he’s using those scenes as an excuse for composition and all of that, but he’s not trying to get us to laugh at the guys who are getting their bodies riddled with bullets by the protagonists.

    >>I guess the question is, why do people ask more of Tarantino than he has ever promised them?

    Because we’ve seen that he can do better films, and he’s not doing those films, which he should be doing. And, it’s not the subject matter of the films, but their treatment – all is schlocky, and all is tired pop-culture references and drawn out dialogue sequences that don’t even feel original anymore. What happened to the guy that Siskel called “the next David Mamet?”

    And, yes – you’re completely correct. There are times in his movies where emotion seems to slip out, which is another reason his approach to violence kind of flakes.

  128. I guess it always seems to me that people want Tarantino to stop doing what he likes and start doing what everybody else is doing. Plenty of filmmakers have spent their entire careers making cold, calculating films that showcase their own personal fetishes: Kubrick, Hitchcock, De Palma, etc. And the whole time, somebody was saying “Man, if they’d just get serious they’d be great.” But they didn’t want to, and that’s why their filmographies are distinctive and personal. I want Tarantino to keep making his movies exactly the way he wants to make them because nobody else is making them that way. Yeah, not every line of dialogue or pop culture reference is a gem, but that’s the price you pay for having a guy who does every single thing his own way. Sometimes it’s not gonna work out, but I’d rather he

  129. (Whoops.)

    swing for the fences and occasionally miss than go for the easy bunt. A Tarantino film is a Tarantino film: schlocky, post-modern, black comic, violent, concerned with aesthetics over morality, and completely removed from normal reality. I don’t think that every filmmaker has to be well-rounded. Some can just keep following their narrow muse with blind faith. The results might not always be good, but that’s a sign of greatness.

  130. “I don’t think Raimi’s ever made violent death itself a joke, really”

    …except the death of the hick in Evil Dead II who’s too stupid to know you can’t say “I can’t breathe” if you can’t breathe, until his head goes all ‘splodey.

    …except for all of the bad guys in Darkman, just about each death played up for knee-slapping hilarity.

    …except for untold slapstick murders in The Quick And The Dead.

    etc, etc…

  131. I loved this movie. Tarantino’s best since Pulp Fiction.

    There are countless of reasons why I liked this so much, but one is that I felt it was genuinely different when compared to past Tarantino films – Mainly the Shosanna storyline.

    Following the discussion about the tone of the film, and the violence in it, I think it’s important to point out that IB has two different movies in it. The storyline of Aldo and his team is what we typically expect from Tarantino. Also the violence is mostly the kind of “cool” violence he often does.

    But then there is the Shosanna storyline, and in that one every death is played very seriously and emotionally. Did anyone here really find it either cool or humorous when the jew family was killed in the beginning, or when Shosanna killed the young soldier, or when Shosanna died? All those deaths were played as tragic, and not “fun” at all. And I would add that her portion of the film in general was very serious, tense, and quite cerebral. I would love to see Tarantino making an entire feature with this style.

    The change of tone between the two storylines didn’t bother me, although I can understand it might feel uneven for some.

    Another important reason why I think this shows new sides to Tarantino is that I think it’s a lot more emotional than his previous films. It’s often very, very suspenseful, and sometimes truly sad and tragic. Tarantino hasn’t really done this kind of shameless manipulation of his audience’s emotions before, but I think he’s really, really good at it. He should try doing it more.

    Great film.

  132. Finally got to see this one — I know, I know, I am shamed. Except for my beloved local arts theater (Cinema Arts in Fairax, for those in the area) I don’t usually have the spare cash to pony up 12 bucks for a new movie, and I have to admit, I was much less excited to see this one than any of Tarantino’s previous offerings. The trailers just didn’t do much for me — Brad Pitt looked like a hoot but I couldn’t quite figure out what the tone of the thing was going to be. It looked confusing where it should have been badass.

    Well. Turns out the trailer was right. It is confusing and not particularly badass. It also happens to be kind of stunningly great, IMHO. I would say it may well be among his best films. But the thing I love about it is that it seems Tarantino may finally be sliding into actual, literal incoherent insanity. It has to be among the most bizzarely constructed films I’ve ever laid eyes on, and probably among the most mysterious, too.

    Except for the weirdo Star Wars Prequels, I can hardly think of another mainstream movie which is this ambiguous about its characters and plot. There are literally no character arcs whatsoever in the whole thing (Shoshana being the only possible arguable exception) nor does there seem to exactly be a central story being told. Sure, it all comes together in this big thing at the end, but the centreal characters are only peripherally involved in that, and vast portions of the film’s running time have either nothing or almost nothing to do with it. If that sounds like I’m bashing it, I would be in any other case. But here, it almost gives it this sort of dreamy poetry of mis-e-scene which is unique in my experience. Given that we never really learn anything about any of the characters, we just drop in on their lives occasionally to see them go through some of the most gorgeous cinematic ballets of the year. Scene after scene of mesmerizing suspense coupled with perfect performances and sublime images. Its a delicate duet of the fabulously understated and the frightening agressive. Rarely have the two ever been paired quite so eloquently.

    The real weird thing, though, comes when one tries to discern the meaning of the thing. I like the idea of the film being about people trying to hide their identity – which is a way of life to everyone except the film’s most barbaric characters. I also can kind of see the thing Tarantino kept talking about, which is the idea of empowering Jews instead of victimizing them, with the added twist that when they’re in a position of power they’re just as brutal.

    But ultimately I think I tend to side with the Filmatist on this one. I don’t think Tarantino really cares enough about any of that to have it be the main point, and if anything is in there along those lines its because its in some other movie he loves. Because that seems to be the thing with the guy. His love is for films. The act of watching in itself is the ultimate meaning to him — image doesn’t need to have any independent meaning outside our ability to watch it and submerse ourselves in its power (too bad Marshall McLuhan never got the chance to talk to him). But wait a second — is that entirely a bad thing? Lots of people make message movies. Tarantino makes pure cinema the way Hitchcock believed in it. The maximum possible impact out of images and words. This film is almost an avant-garde experiment in removing all conext (even historical context!) from the content and letting each scene be a tiny world of motion and sound in itself. No characters. No plot. No history. Nothing real. Just cinema.

    Does he slip a few times? Yeah, I think so. The narrator, 70s texts, written labels, and a few odd musical choices are self-conscioussly hip enough to draw you out of the weird dream he’s lulled you into. But then again, if the movie is about removing all real context and replacing it with cinemaic artifice, then it makes perfect sense that one wouldn’t discriminate between styles and time periods. It may feel odd or incongrous to us, but to Tarantino it’s all more real and natural than real life ever is.

    Tarantino is the ultimate nemisis to the Dogme philosophy. He’s not at all interested in reality, and would like to argue that he can replace it with artifice which is much more compelling and involving than anything you can try to capture from the real world. And he’s good enough at it that he’s probably right. The people are prettier and smarter, and their lives are intense and gripping, and finally, we get to decide who wins and loses based on whatever feels more interesting to us. Why in the world would you choose to depict reality when you can create something better? Not everyone can create a better universe, but love him or hate him, Tarantino’s a man who really has a gift for being god. His universe, built of nothing but artifice and callow superficiality, has a real chance of being the most interesting thing you see any given day you choose to watch. Watching the images alone is more interesting than anything you’ll probably do in your real life.

    It’s sort of a frightening concept, but to those of us who are steeped in cinema, I think it can also be a truly remarkable experience. And there’s something profound about that, too — even if I doubt Tarantino would be able to see it.

  133. watched it again for the first time since the theatre. to my surprise it was just as great the second time around. and vern was right on, the casting is a lot less distracting once you already know what to expect. definitely in the top 5 this year.

  134. I, too, am viewing this late as I rarely go to the theater any more, so I watched the Blu-ray this afternoon. Boy did it suck. I was prepared to suffer the subtitles (I watch movies, I don’t read them), but most of those scenes would have been just as boring if they were in English. Did Tarantino just forget about entertainment value in movies after Pulp Fiction? Obviously there are a lot of pure Tarantino lovers here, otherwise there would be no love for the boring and vile Kill Bill crapfests, but do you guys really enjoy hours of snooze-worthy blather? Inglorious Basterds is a yawn-fest.

  135. I can totally see why you might not like it, because it is a weird pace and if it doesn’t catch you right at the beginning it’ll pretty much lose you for the duration. But you gotta know that when you say something like “I watch movies, I don’t read them” most serious movie lovers are going to use that as an excuse to dismiss your opinion outright. I’m not saying you need to like subtitles, because hey, it’s a free country. But I would recommend keeping that little tidbit to yourself if you want to be taken seriously.

  136. I wouldn’t consider it hours of blather to be honest. Very dialogue heavy for sure. But all the dialogue is expertly crafted and fine-tuned to eek every last drop of suspense out of every scene.

    That being said it’s certainly not for everyone and it could be a letdown if you went in expecting a badass WW2 action movie.

    And not to be a dick or sound dismissive but I doubt Tarantino had you in mind for his target audience after your comment on subtitles.

  137. Sorry if that came off as condescending. Wasn’t my intention, but I got that impression rereading what I wrote.

  138. No doubt about it, its a very strange film (read my above comment for my whole take on it) and I’m actually sort of surprised it was as well-liked as it was. I consider virtually every scene, however, to be an expertly crafted masterpiece of slow-burn suspense. But oddly, given that nothing’s really at stake and there’s almost no character arcs or plot developement, its not all that suspenseful as a whole, and it doesn’t exactly build up to what it pretends to (or maybe thinks it does). I find that the people who love it most are those who love cinema the way Tarantino does, and can simply appreciate the beauty of a single scene playing out pitch-perfectly.

  139. Some thoughts on “Inglorious Basterds” that I wrote soon after seeing it but never sent anywhere:

    It seems to me that “Inglorious Basterds” isn’t so much a movie, as a meta-movie. A movie about movies.

    There has been much discussion about the level of violence in the movie. It is pretty violent, but what makes it disturbing is that the most horrific violence is perpetrated by the heroes. Even though we are disgusted and shocked by what is shown there is still a little bit of glee as we see Nazis beaten, scalped, mowed down, and mutilated. They’re Nazis, right? They deserve it.

    Then Tarantino shows us a Nazi propaganda film with endless Allied forces getting shot one by one by a heroic Nazi sniper. The audience cheers and Hitler laughs madly every time one falls. Does QT want us to see a little bit of ourselves here? Does he want us to feel guilty for cheering on the Basterds earlier?

    Then there is Tarantino’s Hitler – the stereotypical caricature. His Hitler is a boorish idiot, a silly fop who sits in large, mostly empty rooms wearing a ridiculous red cape, disconnected from the world and out of touch with reality. This isn’t just a caricature, it is a caricature of a caricature.

    Hitler was a real man. He told jokes and loved to hear them. He had dogs, a lover, he painted watercolors when he was young. And yet people prefer to see him lampooned, as QT shows him in “Basterds”. They would rather think of him as a failed, pathetic artist, a man who (allegedly) had only one testicle, the crazy dictator who shut himself up in a bunker and killed himself as the end drew near. It is easier to think of Hitler as a psychopath than a real, three dimensional person, no matter how disturbed. Perhaps it is because he seems less dangerous that way – but then what stops history from repeating itself? It is not Kim Jong Il that we should fear, after all, it is people like Putin who commits atrocities in Chechnya and then publishes photographs of himself on fishing trips.

    The real Hitler was much more like the two main Nazi characters in the film: Hans Landa and Major Hellstrom, the Gestapo officer in the basement bar. These guys are brilliant, quick-witted, wily, sneaky, and cunning. They tell jokes one moment and then draw a gun the next. They are dangerous because they hide their crimes and motives beneath a veneer of politeness, bureaucracy, and platitudes. Hitler was a brilliant politician who would invade a neighboring country and then placate its allies with false promises. If he had been anything like the lunatic QT shows he would have gotten nowhere. By portraying Hitler as he does and contrasting him against Landa and Hellstrom, is Tarantino purposely drawing attention to the ridiculous stereotype of the “movie Hitler”?

    Tarantino doesn’t seem to be showing us a real movie here. He’s showing us what an American WW2 movie would look like (the Basterds), how an American film would portray Hitler, Churchill, and Goebbels, even how an American revenge film would wrap everything up, with the dreamlike climax in the theater (which looks more like the end of “Carrie” than anything else). None of these scenes are meant to be taken seriously. The scenes in the movie that seem to be most “real” are those where Landa and Hellstrom are at their most menacing – the showdowns in the farmhouse, the cafe, and the basement.

    I’m not sure what Tarantino is trying to say. Maybe I am reading too much into the caricature of Hitler, but I don’t think so. I need to see it again, maybe a few times, but I think “Inglorious Basterds” may eventually be viewed as a dark satire of American movies themselves.

  140. I love the commenters here as well as Vern which is why I was sure to include my subtitle bias. I should be dismissed for that by many, but I am certainly not alone in my disdain for them. And since I wasn’t being constructive I wanted to make sure I was as up-front about things as possible. Since I didn’t enjoy the movie, I just wanted to get it out there given so much stroking of the film here. I consider myself a movie lover, I have seen and own thousands of them of course, but maybe I’m not a “film” lover. I can’t think of a black and white movie other than Clerks that I love (though there could be others) or any movies made before the 1970s, even if I collect some of them and liked them when I was a child (like The Wizard of Oz). I think knowing those things about my “taste” *cough* could be important in reading my opinion. But that’s what is so wonderful here, some great opinions and discussions. I didn’t like it but find much of the reaction and debate interesting, and have bought movies I would normally have skipped thanks to this great community.

    I think the best way to illustrate my point about Basterds to anyone landing here is the scene in the tavern. It is well done, has rising tension, the need for the actual languages spoken is inherent, and what happens is important to the story both in its execution and reverberation. Yet I was bored shitless. It seemed to go on forever. Some people like that sort of tension-building. It certainly has its character moments. It was also connected to the title characters which is something that can’t be said of 75% of the film. It was just too long, and felt even longer than the number of minutes it occupied.

  141. Clubside- hey man if the movie didn’t connect with you, it didn’t connect with you, no problem whatsoever. Me personally, I was on the dge of my seat pretty much every minute of this movie but my brother hated it and was bored shitless by every scene not involving characters named “Bear Jew.” So don’t worry pal, so long as you express your opinion in an intelligent manner, no one here is going to give you shit about that opinion. Well, no one except Au-Armaggedon, but he’s funny so we’ll ;et that slide.

  142. Hey Chris, what about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD? You don’t love that one? There must be something.

  143. clubside-i too am a fan of Clerks, and Kevin Smith in general. His Evening With Kevin Smith documentaries have some of the funniest stories ive ever heard. I forgive your lack of enthusiasm over subtitles, but don’t let them get in the way of you enjoying Let the Right One In.

  144. rainman — I agree with you generally but I do have to point out that the historical Hitler wasn’t necessarily “wily, sneaking, cunning” or anything like that. By all accounts, he WAS a total vapid crackpot, completely disconnected from reality. Like we discovered with our last president (in the US) you don’t have to be particularly wily to pull off some seriously mess-up shit. You just have to be brazen enough to do what it takes to keep your reality on top, which is exactly what Hitler was. All those successes he had early on were largely due to the fact that no one could quite believe he was really as crazy as he was, and sort of assumed he would stop somewhere, like a sane person. Crazy people who don’t know when to stop make great ideagogues and often inspire people to do a whole lot of work for them — but it doesn’t make them deep or clever. They’re just loud enough that they can drown out reality, at least for awhile (see: US Economy).

    On the other hand, though, I do agree with you that QT’s treatment of him is, intentionally or not, a cartoon parody. My theory on the film is that its Tarantino’s experiment in filmatic artifice without context, in which case he isn’t at all interested in the real Hitler — there might have never been a real Hitler for all he cares. He’s interested in the MOVIE Hitler, which is who turns up in his film. The movie is entirely a giant gathering of simulacrum, culled from the way the iconography of film soaked into Tarantino’s worldview. The film has nothing to do with history, hell, it doesn’t have to do with its own story. I think Tarantino was seeing what would happen if he took this simulacrum –copies of copies originally based loosely on real life– and let it speak for itself, with only the implied cultural context to give it any meaning whatsoever. Hell, even the title is a decontextualized version of something else. The result is a very weird film which seems to be about something different than what I suspect its actually about (or conversely, Tarantino made an incredibly revealing film while thinking he was making a different one). Just a guess, but it would explain the way the film presents Hitler, since you brought it up.

  145. I have to say, I loved this movie. Really, really loved it. Only two things wrong with it for me: the casting of Mike Myers as a British officer (it was just too way-over-the-top and spoilt the tone of the film for me) and, more seriously, Brad Pitt’s role. Look, I love his early work as much as anybody, and much of it forms a large part of my favorite / most watched films (Seven, Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys). But I didn’t think he could pull off this role, and indeed he didn’t. They should’ve cast a tough guy, not a pretty boy.

    That said, this is a freakin’ AWESOME film. I’d recommend it to pretty much anybody who’s into this kind of thing. I also agree wholeheartedly with everything “Rainman” said – that’s a great analysis there, and it’s not something I’d thought of when considering the film. The broad racial stereotyping didn’t bother me because 1) Tarantino is so good at subverting this kind of thing, which he does to great effect here (hence references like the “Bear Jew”), and 2) it fits the tone of the movie. As a comparison, I’d never make the point I made about “Saving Private Ryan”‘s two-minute portrayal of the craven British cowards in the “Badass” thread, because “Ryan” was clearly going for ultra-realism and “Basterds” is pure escapist fantasy. It’s also visceral – like “Kill Bill pt 1”, Tarantino knows what buttons to push to get a reaction.

  146. Also, the British guy is the toughest motherfucker in the whole movie. I love that before he dies all he wants to do is finish his whiskey and speak the King’s English one last time. Stiff upper lip indeed.

  147. Heh yeah I forgot about that. Good point Majestyk.

  148. Also, Vern, regarding “A note to The Internet”:

    I knew almost nothing about the film before I saw it. It’s a weird world in which it’s harder to NOT be spoiled. You gotta know what sites to avoid.

    Regards, Paul (on behalf of The Internet).

  149. Hitler was indeed delusional and crazy as a bat towards the end (1944-1945) but before then he correctly predicted that the world would bow to his demands, accept his BS treaties, and fall before his tanks. He might have been a racist, nationalistic sociopath but he was no dummy. He made a couple huge blunders that cost him dearly in the early war (a severe underestimation of the British in the Battle of Britain, and of course the classic blunder of getting involved in a land war in Asia). And once the entire world was united against him, well he was screwed and there was nothing else to do but retreat into his crazy bunker.

    But I think it is wrong, and dangerous, to dismiss Hitler as a lunatic or especially as a buffoon. I suspect Tarantino is making a point about American portrayals of Hitler because it’s hard to see what he’s doing otherwise.

  150. Well again, I just have to say that success does not always mean there’s talent behind it. Nothing I’ve ever read of his (including Mein Kamf, which I took a gander at awhile back) suggests to me a man of particular intellect or cleverness or even creativity, though obviously he had people working for him who were plenty brilliant. He was right that people would believe bigger lies than anyone else was willing to try for, but that doesn’t quite equate with brilliance in my book, more like hubris which paid off… for awhile, anyway.

    Obviously that doesn’t mean that just anyone could have done what he did; not just anyone can pull this sort of thing off, so underestimating or dismissing him and his ilk is indeed wrong and dangerous. It takes a particular kind of maniac to inspire a nation to that level of insanity through fear, nationalism, scapegoating, etc. Tarantino’s portrayal doesn’t address or even comment on the things that DID make him dangerous. I think you’re absolutely correct that Tarantino is not at all interested in Hitler the historical person but deeply interested in Hitler as an artistic representation. That’s what we see in the movie; the type of Hitler that wouldnt look out of place in a Disney wartime propaganda cartoon. As such, its a perfect representation. As reality, no. But then, its a caricature, not a complete fiction, which is what I guess I was trying to say.

  151. I don’t think that Tarantino really tried to make a statement when he portrayed Hitler that way, considering that I don’t suspect him to be a filmmaker who wants to make any other statement other than “look how cool I am” and because Hitler became over the last decades nothing more than a punchline anyway. (Especially in the USA, where many people seem to have their knowledge about WWII from Indy Jones movies and among other things still think that we celebrate Hitler’s Birthday every year, because German’s have never been anything else than Nazis. [But that’s a different topic.])

  152. Something weird I noticed when I watched this the other day was that Zoe Bell is listed in the credits as being a stunt double for both Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent. When I first saw that I was like, “Oh really, that’s cool she’s still doing stunts with Tarantino after Death Proof made her an actress.” Then I started thinking and I can’t for the life of me think of a moment where a stunt performer would have been used. The only stuff where they might’ve used one (strangulation/shooting) Tarantino always shot it in such a way that you could tell it was 100% the real actress. So I’m not sure what there was for Zoe to do in this movie.

    Did anybody see Tarantino on Conan? He tells the story of how it was actually him strangling Dian Krugeer in that scene and he explained why exactly he chose to have Landa strangle her and why it was decided that he needed to be the one to actually do the deed, so to speak.

  153. Have you guys seen this clip of Tarantino demolishing a smug local news talking head? Its pretty funny and the lady’s a self-reighteous idiot, but I also think it kind of demonstrates Tarantino’s desire to have his cake and eat it too — he can’t seem to make up his mind about whether his aguement is that his films teach us something about violence (“revenge never turns out the way you want”) or simply entertain us (the classic “BECAUSE VIOLENCE IS FUN, JANET!!”). I’m not sure you can have it both ways, and it seems to be like he sometimes hides behind the old Peckinpah defense a bit hypocrtically. You can claim you want violence to be shocking or you can claim it’s just a movie, but I think arguing both is a tad self-serving. I mean, you think girls learn a positive message of empowerment from the KILL BILL movies, but don’t learn any positive lesson about violence? I’m more inclined to believe the Tarantino that simply says, “my movies are fun and what you take away from them is your business.”


  154. I’ve seen that before man, pretty fucking funny. My favorite Tarantino vs. critics story is how he went on the View to talk up Kill Bill and he talked about how these samurai revenge stories are so revered in Japan. Barabar Walters pipes up that “But this is America!” To which Quentin responds that his movies are for everyone everywhere, not limited to one continent.

  155. Finally saw it, and like Vern, had almost every plot point ruined, even while I tried my damnedest to stay away from any and all spoilers. The ending was ruined by the headline of Ebert’s review, and the death of a major character was ruined by a comment on this site in a discussion about a totally different movie(!). Hell, even the commercials on TV gave away the very last line and shot of the movie! But even without the spoilage, I’m not sure how much I would have dug it – it just seemed way too bloated, long, and repetitive – like watching 5 different versions of the Walken/Hopper interrogation scene from True Romance in a row. I know people love how “tense” the tavern scene was, but all I could think was “wait, again??”

    The most interesting thing about this movie I hate to say, is how popular it was – everyone I know loves it, it’s Tarantino’s biggest hit (made almost as much as both Kill Bills combined!), yet it’s easily as bloated and decadent as the talky bits of the maligned Death Proof. It’s just a weird-ass movie – the plot, the pacing, the two or three Family Guy-esque cutaways, even the inconsistent Sam Jackson narration and wacky scribbled subtitles. It doesn’t feel like Tarantino’s dream war epic – it feels like a notepad of half-baked ideas.

    And isn’t it odd that the main character/hero, despite being on the poster holding a machine gun and standing on a pile of dead Nazis, somehow misses every single action scene of the movie (kinda like how Vincent Vega kept missing important scenes in Pulp Fiction because he was taking a shit)? Seriously – Pitt shows up late to the jailbreak flashback and the tavern scene, and is across town for the fiery climax. He doesn’t even kill anyone or fire a gun till the last scene if I’m not mistaken.

  156. neal — the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the notebook/ hodge-podge vision of the film is actually intentional and integral to the point (or, if it’s not, its a much more interesting perspective into Tarantino’s brain than anything the actual movie has to say). I’m convinced the movie is not, in fact, about the story or about World War II at all, and is, in fact, one big post-modern joke on cinematic conventions. I didn’t know that it was Tarantino’s biggest hit but that makes the joke al the funnier. See my post from Dec. 3 for a clearer picture, since I don’t want to just repost everything. (for the record, btw, I think the “talky bits” of DEATH PROOF are far and away the best part of it, and I think they are here, too).

  157. Subtlety – great post above as always. Yeah, it’s fascinating that if this movie truly is Tarantino’s biggest cinematic in-joke, it’s also his most popular. Not to stereotype people, but I know some guys who love shit like Transformers 2 and thought Inglourious Basterds was “awesome”. I’m gonna take a wild guess and assume they didn’t love it for the mise-en-scene or film references. I guess I just feel weird that I (who’s watched countless oldies, foreign films, and indie talk-a-thons) was bored to tears by something that apparently most of America was riveted by. Makes me feel like a snob.

    Oh, on another topic – I agree with the idea of Landa being the secret hero, because he really does stick to his word. You do expect him to kill the farmer anyway at the beginning, and he doesn’t. He lets Shoshanna go, which seems weird for a guy nicknamed the Jew Hunter. His plea in the final scene- “I made a deal for that man’s life!!” seemed absolutely sincere to me. Think about it – Tarantino chose to show the carving in his forehead in excruciating detail (and his fists clenching the ground) for a reason – I didn’t find it funny or cathartic at all, and I don’t think it was supposed to be. I wonder how the opening night audience reacted to this scene – cheers?

    And by the way, was i the only one disappointed when the “hero” German soldier/movie star suddenly turns into a creepy asshole in the projector room? It seemed less of a natural character arc/hidden side to the character than just a formulaic cop-out – it was like Tarantino took a page from shitty romantic comedies where the “bland other guy” suddenly turns into a raging dick so the audience sympathy’s doesn’t get split, ala Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers. Totally out of character for Tarantino.

  158. I didn’t think he was being a creepy asshole. He’s been bending over backwards for this girl, getting her business oppurtunities that it never would’ve had in a million years without him, and she’s not only turning him down but doing it in the rudest, coldest way possible. Every time she shoots him down and mocks him, he winces and looks downtrodden and finally he explodes, at the worst possible moment. Frankly, I found Zoller to be one of, if not the only, upstanding, moral prescence in the movie, despite the fact that he’s a Nazi war hero.

  159. neal2zod- So…the scene where he brutally chokes an unarmed, injured woman to death for treason, only to then turn around and assure the destruction of the same people he was ‘defending’ these are the actions of a hero? He may have an (arbitrary) code of honor to keep him from breaking deals or committing unnecessary acts of violence, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a sociopathic piece of shit that deserves every second of pain and humiliation that swastika brought and will bring him.

    I’m honestly softer on villians then most people, you don’t need to do to much to make me have a sliver of support for them. Shit, have a villian honestly stand by some kind of code (Mad Dog in Hard Boiled) and I’ll give credit where it’s due. But not Landa. Fuck that guy.

  160. I wanted to jump through the screen and choke Landa myself! This, in my opinion, is a hallmark of great acting and this dude whoever he is deserves a fucking Oscar. He was brilliant.

  161. Brendan – great points. For clarification, I personally didn’t think Landa acted heroically, but felt Tarantino wrote him as “the hero” – he’s mentioned in interviews that he’s always wanted to write a detective character, and finally got his chance with Landa. Tarantino definitely admires him and seems to have a lot more love for Landa than Ray in interviews. Landa’s definitely no Mad Dog, but he does have his (self-serving) code of honor and Holmes-ian detective skills. Ray just steamrollers over everyone, ugly-American style. Look at the scene where Landa busts out the Italian (his FOURTH language!) – it’s definitely written as a holy shit moment of verbal badassery in stark contrast with Ray’s Bush-like ignorance and “funny” mangling of Italian. (I’m actually surprised there weren’t more Ray=Bush theories out there)

    Seriously, if Ray is supposed to be the hero/main character, he’s easily Tarantino’s least interesting and most underwritten one yet. Stuntman Mike and the Gekko brothers had more thought put into them. (I’d say Shoshanna is more the hero of the movie than Ray, but I guess what’s so fascinating is that film conventions, such as plot progression and a clear cut hero and villain, are all undermined).

    And yes, Landa does strangle Hammersmark, but I feel Tarantino had Hammersmark shoot the unarmed, surrendering guy in the tavern for that very reason, like weird karmic payback. (see Tim Roth accidentally shooting the lady in Reservoir Dogs.)

    Hmm..maybe the fact that I can’t stop talking about or thinking about this movie a week after I saw it means I liked it more than I thought.

  162. Shoshanna is the hero of the movie, no question.

  163. I think the key to Landa is that he believes he’s living by this moral code of absolute devotion to truth, but actually he’s just deluded himself into believing he’s just “working” for the Nazis without actually being one of them. He’s just as involved in deception as everyone else in the plot (and as Tarantino is, behind the camera) it’s just that he’s the only who thinks he’s above it. Ray and the Americans are the ones who have no stomach for any kind of subterfuge (they do try it, but they’re comically inept at it).

    That’s why it’s Ray’s “Masterpiece” — it’s the ultimate revelation of truth for Landa. He’s turning him into his own picture of Dorian Grey, telling him he can’t simply decide that his previous actions don’t define him. It may be that Tarantino is trying to make some point about the divide between Europeans and Americans, with the Europeans like Landa espousing a fairly Kantian viewpoint (‘you are what you believe’) and the Americans expressing a more existential viewpoint (‘you are what you do’). The “Basterds” are just as vicious as Landa, but they don’t pretend or believe themselves to be civilized the way he does.

    Of course, the postmodern level takes this theme one step further because Tarantino isn’t actually cultivating a plot here; he’s parading cinematic tropes and allowing the simuacrum to speak as if it had independent meaning. So he’s in on the con, too, and I think he wants to see how many people he can take in.

    As for people liking TRANSFORMERS 2 and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, I have no fucking clue how to account for that. I guess they bought into the idea that it was badass and just never gave up on that, even though the movie clearly doen’t bear that theory out. Then again, I brought a group of folks who loved ALIEN VS PREDATOR to a showing of TRIPLETTES OF BELVILLE — and they loved the shit out of it. So sometimes you neve can tell with people.

  164. Unless I remember it incorrectly Mr. Orange didn’t “accidentally” shoot the woman – she shot him first and he struck back in a moment of weakness / knee-jerk reaction / anger / something. You could call it an accident of getting caught up in the moment I guess but the fact is, he pointed the gun and pulled the trigger, no question. So yeah he got his karma.

    Mr Subtlety – Good points about Landa vs the Americans. I know a lot of people who liked the movie on a visceral level and some who were bored by the dialogue, but the more you dig the deeper this movie really is, in my opinion. And yet at the same time Trasformers 2 fans can enjoy parts of it too, because “Bear Jew” = “Robot Testicles”.

  165. I tend to think that Tarantino’s film is amoral, he’s not trying to make a statement about good guys and bad guys. The Americans are the good guys because Tarantino’s an American and he’s making an American-style WW2. The Germans are the bad guys because they are the Nazis, and Nazis are always the bad guys in movies. Shoshanna is a good guy because Tarantino likes to use revenge as a plot device.

    It doesn’t matter what either side does in the movie, right or wrong: the good guys are the good guys because Tarantino says so. Having the Americans do some vicious, awful shit is a nice subversive touch and helps texture the film, but for the most part I believe Tarantino is asking us to go along for the ride and enjoy it. In a way, he’s demonstrating the way movies gloss over moral questions via the strength of their narrative.

  166. Dan-The Americans are good guys? Beating people to death with baseball bats, carving unarmed prisoners’ heads up after they’ve surrended, unloading machine guns into a crowd of frightened terrified people fleeing for their lives? Shooting a new father after he agrees to a cease fire so no one will get hurt? I don’t buy it.

  167. Brendan,

    Yes, and the audience is laughing with them the whole time. What they do is repellent, yes, IF IT WERE REAL LIFE. But it’s not, and Tarantino knows that cinematic violence can be way satisfying. I’m not saying he doesn’t throw in some subversive touches (i.e. the propaganda film as a commentary on the movie we’ve just been watching), but mostly he just wants you along for the ride, he wants to entertain you.

    And not to nitpick, but it’s actually German actress Bridget Von Hammersmark who kills the new father, not the Americans.

  168. Dan — I think you’re exactly right, and to me, that’s the point. I think Tarantino is fundamentally interested in what happens if he just presents the iconography of cinema independent of context. He’s not the least bit interested in the real world, and at this point in his career, I don’t think he’s really even interested in telling a story. He just gives us the pieces of movies he’s collected over the years and dares us to derive meaning from them, independent of any and all context in the real world or even in its own fictional world. Even the title doesn’t really have any meaning outside its cinematic historical context.

    But we’re so steeped in the iconography that cinema has provided us with that we understand and accept what we’re seeing completely. Cinema is Taratino’s first language, and he wants to show us we all speak it too. The simulacrum of icons and formula now have their own independent meaning, and he wants to show us you can tell a story just by appealing to that network of associated meaning that’s been meticulously constructed in your brain through every film you take in. As you say, we already know who the good guys and bad guys are, we already know WHAT they are. Tarantino is just interested in filling in the details, and he just RELISHES his chance to create these fantastic, textured sequences without ever having a story get in his way.

    Of course, it’s equally possible that Tarantino just finally fucking flipped his shit and made what he thought was a normal movie but was, in fact, a product of his shattered cinemaphile psyche finally losing all touch with reality. But if that’s the case, its actually kind of even more cool.

  169. Mr. Subtlety – That’s the beauty of diverse tastes in film. My DVD collection contains WINGS OF DESIRE and SMOKEY & THE BANDIT. Not on the same shelf, mind you, but there it is.

    On IB – I only saw this once theatrically and liked it with some reservations. You guys have convinced me that some of the things I had problems with may have had some subtextual relevance. I’ll be sure to give it another spin.

  170. Subtlety,

    Very well put, my friend. You continue to be my favorite poster on these board.

    The WW2 of IB is not meant to be (or at least, does not function as) the real thing; it’s Tarantino’s dream version of WW2, culled from all the war movies he’s watched in his life. Although I’d still like him to go back at some point and make a relatively more grounded film a la RESERVOIR DOGS or PULP FICTION or JACKIE BROWN (all unrealistic movies, but realistically unrealistic), I do very much appreciate the this-could-only-happen-in-a-movie mode he’s been in since KILL BILL. He’s not letting realism or logic tie him down, he’s trying to chase all the big cinematic images and moments that pop into his head.

  171. Dan – thanks mate. Always glad to hear from you too — I’m excited to read your massive blog post on everything from last year, its been way too long since youve had any new material up there.

    As for Tarantino, I deeply loved BASTERDS but I sincerely hope he’ll return to “real” movies sometime soon. I loved the masterful scenes of BASTERDS but it doesn’t really have any kind of satisfying narrative to it, and the postmodern take is interesting on a cerebral level but not really enough to inspire love. If he put the kind of lazer-like attention to detail he did in BASTERDS into a movie with an actual plot, holy shit. I’m glad he’s done KILL BILL and BASTERDS, and I love em both dearly, and even enjoy DEATH PROOF, but I’m hoping that this phase of his career has reached its zenith and he’ll go back to telling stories rather than talking about watching stories.

  172. Subtlety,

    Actually, I’ve posted part 1 of my 2009 horror movie roundup, and part 2 should be up in the next day or so.

    I love both kinds of Tarantino movies. In fact, I’d say that JACKIE BROWN and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS are my two current favorites, because for me they each represent the pinnacle of what he’s done on the “real” side of things and the “fantastical” side of things. So I’m on board if he keeps making movie-movies, but a return to a less exaggerated style would be a nice change of pace.

  173. My apologies to Vern for advertising my blog on his site, but I just published a post where I break down the shootout in the bar sequence from INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS:


    Anyone who takes a few minutes to read it will have my gratitude. Bonus points if you leave me a comment.

  174. I don’t know bathroom lighting there are many words to describe Inglourious Basterds but ‘nice’ isn’t one of them. I mean, unless you and I have different definitions, I don’t see anyone inviting this movie over for a pleasant meal or anything. It’s probably break something.

  175. Yeah, simon, I’ve long believed Rupert Murdoch to be an inglorious bastard.


    Topical spambots?

    That’s crazier than, than. . . a green t-shirt???

  176. Man, that spambot made a post more interesting than anything I’ve ever said.

    Sorry for making this place stink, guys.

  177. Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you happen to proceed this in future. Lots of other people will likely be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  178. Matthew McConaughey as Aldo Raine?

  179. Last night I caught a re-run of an old episode of KOMMISSAR REX, a German/Austrian crime show from the 90s, about a cop and his dog. It’s seriously cheesy, but pre-fame Oliver Hirschbiegel was one of their regular directors, including for the episode I saw yesterday, which was definitely the best of the whole series.

    In it a pre-international fame (he was already a known character actor in German speaking countries) Christoph Waltz played a serial killer, who dressed his victims up as dolls. The episode still holds up for all the right reasons and Waltz and Hirschbiegel are two of them.

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