Let’s Talk About…Inglourious Basterds
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (DVD/2009)
From: Sarah Gremillion
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:52 AM
To: Kimberly Faulhaber; Brian McClelland
So, Inglourious Basterds!
I liked it! A lot! You guys know that I am a Quentin Tarantino fan. Nearly all of his stuff works for me, and this movie was no exception. It took me a long time to sit down and watch this one because the subject matter seemed in such bad taste. But now that I think about it, good taste isn’t really something Tarantino strives for in any of his movies — with the exception of maybe Jackie Brown? Although not really there either. (Side question: Where is Bridget Fonda these days?) Anyway, rewriting the end of World War II as a gore-laden revenge romp is definitely not in good taste, but neither is Travolta accidentally blowing off an innocent person’s face and then having to pick up bits of his skull in Pulp Fiction, and damn if Tarantino didn’t make both of those scenarios really entertaining. It’s his gift. In addition to making giddy Jew-hunting Nazis and a merry band of Nazi-scalpers seem totally reasonable (to me), Tarantino has also made a visually beautiful film here. The cinematography during the opening scene is The Real Deal. And he manages to have his actors switch freely from English to German to French without it being distracting or even, after a few minutes, noticeable. Props to Pacey-arm-candy Diane Kruger, who I’m pretty sure spoke all three languages so effortlessly that I didn’t even realize she’d done it until hours after the movie was over. And Brad Pitt is hilarious. So much better here than when he’s trying to be all “I’m Benjamin Button and I have an Important Lesson to teach you,” or whatever. Eli Roth, on the other hand, was maybe not so great when asked to deliver more than a few words of dialogue. He made up for it with his bad Italian accent, though.
All this said, I think it’s totally amazing that this movie is up for multiple Oscars, including the big ones! It’s really well-made, yes, but it’s about a band of Nazi hunters who brutally beat to death, scalp, and slice up their prisoners! Really, only Tarantino could pull this off.
From: Kimberly Faulhaber
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 15:04:53
To: Sarah Gremillion; Brian McClelland
Excellent insights, all. Have you read that Eli Roth’s The Bear Jew (um, I feel weird typing that) was originally supposed to be played by Adam Sandler? Though, yes, this seems like a terrible casting choice, I cannot believe he couldn’t spare a few days in his busy schedule of talking in a man-child voice for Tarantino. My respect for him would have soared! What a boring old biddy he must be.
I liked IB infinitely more than I anticipated—though I am a vocal opponent of movies that are longer than 2 hours, this 153 minutes flew right by. I have previously praised Joss Whedon as being the only writer/director who truly respects women—how could I have forgotten Quentin? He continues his streak of creating kickass female characters (and hiring actresses) who are driven, complex, and smart. I had no idea that Ms. Kruger could do anything other than wear haute couture at various envelope openings—she was pretty tough here! I’ll have to review her previous work in the National Treasure series (I will not be doing this). Melanie Laurent was also heartbreaking—though she meets an unexpected end, she gets her revenge brilliantly. Although I was robbed of the Death-Proof style “Yay, we killed Hitler! High fives and high kicks!” ending I hoped for, this was pretty darn satisfying. Grade B+.
Kah-dooz to the Academy for nominating grinning-Nazi-without-remorse Christoph “yes that’s how it’s spelled” Waltz–while this does not excuse the Tucci, Cruz, and Damon nods, it helps ease the pain.
From: Brian McClelland
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 01:36:53
To: Sarah Gremillion; Kimberly Faulhaber
Wait–Are you telling me Funny People WASN’T about Nazi’s? I guess I should see that one again. (Perhaps at AMC Theaters’ BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE. Ha.) Tarantino really scored with this top notch weirdo mishmash of a variety of quite disparate genres/styles. It’s a testament to his talent that he pulled it off so smashingly, and to the tune of big world-wide box office and his first Best Picture nom since Pulp Fiction.
My only complaint? Expecting a Dirty Dozen-esque caper focusing on the various personalities of the Basterds, I was surprised to find that many of these characters—and especially the Basterds themselves—aren’t fleshed out as much as cut out from the awesomest, most blood-spattered cardboard. Except for “Giant Face” Shosanna*, we don’t really get to know much about any of these other characters. I felt I knew more about chapter one’s monosyllabic dairy farmer than any of the Basterds. Wicked opening scene, btw! Such tension! This scene, and much of this movie, really, showcases a unique, masterful filmmaker at work—proving he is capable of way more than cribbing (however successfully) Elmore Leonard’s dialogue and Scorcese’s visuals. I’ve long admired QT’s FU moxie, sometimes more than his actual output (I’m one of the only people I know left cold by Jackie Brown and both Bills), but he’s really come through, on his own terms, with a fantastic flick here—finally, QT shuts up and puts out. And how can you not love a man who uses not just a film, but cinema itself to destroy Hitler ‘n’ Company? High fives and high kicks, indeed!
Side note! I thought it was hilarious that the assassinating Basterds managed to run unmolested from the empty theater lobby up the main stairs to Hitler’s balcony box. You know, Hitler? The most paranoid, evil, and uh, protected dictator ever? No security? I think the last time that worked was at Ford’s Theater circa 1865. (BTW: Swiss cheese Hitler is my fave Hitler. You’re welcome, free world in this movie! Signed, Bitchin’ America.)
Pen Pals Forever-
PS, Did you see this awesome IB poster designed by Albert Exergian? Probably not, cuz it seems to have disappeared overnight from the interwebs. It is in the same vein as his minimalist TV poster series, and it is awesome. Kimberly directed me to them because she is one swell broad.
*Although many online are referring to Shosanna as “Shoshanna”, the film’s credits and subtitles specify the former. Nerd.