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Inglourious Basterds


kimmy

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Aldo Raines is not an educated man. He's not a particularly smart man. In fact he probably couldn't spell "CAT" if you spotted him a C and a T. And he certainly can't spell "inglorious" or "bastards" (the title of the movie comes from an inscription on the butt of a rifle that I believe belongs to Raines.) But what he lacks in smarts, Raines makes up for in ruthless cunning.

Raines, nicknamed "the Apache" due to his grandpappy being 1/8 Indian, and due to his guerrilla tactics and ruthless violence, is the leader of a group of commandos waging war in occupied France during World War II. His group, known as "the Basterds", are out to strike terror into the heart of Nazi soldiers. The Basterds are Jewish (perhaps other than Raines, who is a Tennessee hillbilly, which would seem to make him an unlikely Jew, I would suspect) and take to avenging their people with a bloodthirsty zeal.

The Basterds themselves are only part of the story. The main plot of the movie involves a Paris theatre owner, a young woman who is (secretly) Jewish and has a personal score to settle with the Nazis. When her theatre is selected to premiere a Nazi propaganda film that will be attended by many top Nazis, she has her opportunity for revenge. But the Allied leaders sense an opportunity to cripple the Third Reich as well, and hatch a plot involving the Basterds, a German movie-star/double agent, and a British intelligence official/film critic. Things go off the rails several times and end up in a completely unexpected conclusion.

Although Brad Pitt is the big name on the marquee, the movie really belongs to Melanie Laurent, who is compelling as the theatre owner. Brad Pitt certainly does his part, playing up Raine's accent and lack of book-smarts for big laughs. When he goes undercover as an Italian stuntman, and manages to say all of his lines (consisting of "graci" and "arrivaderci") with a Tennessee accent, you've just gotta smile. Diane Kruger is also delightful as Bridget Von Hammersmark, Movie Star.

There is nothing particularly profound here. It's popcorn entertainment, for the most part (although, some of the shocking violence may have you spewing popcorn chunks.) It wouldn't be a Tarantino movie without some reference to 1970s cinema schtick, and the cop-show style introduction for Basterds member Hugo Stiglitz is hilarious.

I was fascinated by the contrast between Melanie Laurent's intense, serious performance, and Brad Pitt's cornball schtick. I am sure this was intentional, though I can't put my finger on what the objective might have been.

The opening scene, involving a Nazi detective interrogating a French farmer regarding a missing Jewish family, is a superb scene and might be worth the price of admission on its own.

-k

Edited by kimmy
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There is nothing particularly profound here. It's popcorn entertainment, for the most part (although, some of the shocking violence may have you spewing popcorn chunks.) It wouldn't be a Tarantino movie without some reference to 1970s cinema schtick, and the cop-show style introduction for Basterds member Hugo Stiglitz is hilarious.
A movie about killing Nazis in occupied France is popcorn entertainment?

I dunno. Charlie Chaplin (and later Mel Brooks) ridiculed Hitler but they didn't indulge in "popcorn entertainment".

----

I don't like Tarantino and I generally avoid his movies. Jackie Brown intrigued me and since everyone was talking about Pulp Fiction, I watched it. Well, I didn't like Pulp Fiction because first, it was dumb and second, it had gratuitous violence. I doubt anyone who has faced real violence could sit through such a movie. North American adolescents live safe, comfortable, civilized lives and can treat the violence in cartoon fashion. (Elsewhere in the world, all American movies are cartoonish or fantasies anyway.)

I then learned that Jackie Brown was based on a mystery novel (by Elmore Leonard) and the reason that I liked the movie was because the novel gave Tarantino structure.

Apart from the gratuitous violence, IMV, Tarantino is one of those directors who is like most actors - an empty vessel. They can portray someone else's structure but they are empty themselves.

Last point. The reported budget for this movie was $70 million. Reported gross in the US six weeks after release is at about $110 million. (What a business. Based on track record alone, I wouldn't give $70 million to Tarantino to make a movie.)

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A movie about killing Nazis in occupied France is popcorn entertainment?

I dunno. Charlie Chaplin (and later Mel Brooks) ridiculed Hitler but they didn't indulge in "popcorn entertainment".

Since when isn't killing Nazis popcorn entertainment?

I believe that once upon a time there were actors who built whole careers on the premise that killing Nazis was popcorn entertainment.

I have heard Inglourious Basterds called "a Jewish version of Dirty Dozen"... and while I haven't seen the whole movie, it seems to me that Dirty Dozen was more or less popcorn entertainment too.

Didn't people used to make war movies because people wanted to watch war movies? Have we entered some sort of new age where there has to be some sort of profound statement if you want to make a war movie?

People are fascinated by World War II. It was a war that everybody believes in, probably the only one in modern history.

Last point. The reported budget for this movie was $70 million. Reported gross in the US six weeks after release is at about $110 million. (What a business. Based on track record alone, I wouldn't give $70 million to Tarantino to make a movie.)

I believe most of Tarantino's movies have had commercial success-- Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies were highly successful from a commercial perspective (and widely admired by critics as well.) Only "Grindhouse" stands out on his resume as a real flop... even Jackie Brown was a modest success, I believe.

$115 million gross in the US, another $115 in the rest of the world... with more to be made from DVD sales and broadcast rights. It seems to me that $230+ million is a pretty slick return on a $70 million investment.

There are enough investors willing to gamble on this sort of a return to make it happen, and presumably enough tax write-offs to ease the pain on the ones that don't work out.

-k

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The movie 'really belongs' to Christolph Waltz, a central character and chief bad guy. It is an excellent performance more or less wasted in a silly plot.

I'm a big Tarantino fan, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kills Bills, Jackie Brown are all well worth watching.

But Planet Terror was brutal, and this one only a bit better.

QT needs to get his game back.

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I'm a big Tarantino fan, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kills Bills, Jackie Brown are all well worth watching.

But Planet Terror was brutal, and this one only a bit better.

QT needs to get his game back.

Just a little note... In the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror was directed by Rodruguez, while Tarantino directed Death Proof. (Although your point may still stand... Death Proof was certainly less enjoyable than Planet Terror, and probably not as good as Tarantino's other movies.

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All this director has ever done was steal ideas from every movie he has ever seen..You have to remember his beginings..He started out working in a video store and all he did was watch movie after movie after movie...as for the idea of punishing Nazis in the film by bashing our their brains with a baseball bat weilded by some super Jew is bizarre and not very useful - I dispise the little weasil director...who contributes NOTHING to making the world a better place.

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Just a little note... In the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror was directed by Rodruguez, while Tarantino directed Death Proof. (Although your point may still stand... Death Proof was certainly less enjoyable than Planet Terror, and probably not as good as Tarantino's other movies.
Oops. I meant Death Proof. Planet Terror was pretty good in the 'full cheese' genre, and the fake shorts were better yet.
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The movie 'really belongs' to Christolph Waltz, a central character and chief bad guy. It is an excellent performance more or less wasted in a silly plot.

I meant to make mention of him in my original post. He was, truly, excellent, and Col. Hans Landa was to me an interesting character.

In the riveting opening scene of the movie, Landa likens the Jews to rats. Not that they are vermin, but, as he explains, that they are no worse than other vermin. It is not rational, Landa explains to the farmer, to hate rats any more than rabbits or squirrels or other pests that might be equally destructive. Yet, people hate rats. Why? Landa shrugs. He doesn't really know.

He seems to not bear Jews any ill will. Yet, he's made himself famous throughout France for hunting them down. He is zealous in his persecution of the Jews not for any personal conviction, but because he is ambitious and he sees his "Jew Hunter" fame as a means of advancing his career.

He's not doing it out of hatred... he's doing it for personal gain. Does that make him less despicable? Or does it make him more despicable? Or does his motive matter at all?

-k

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World War II Time-Warp

World War II ended back in 1945. Since then we have witnessed the collapse of Communism in Russia and it's satellite states. The end of the Cold War is more recent and a major change, that has happened in our time, not our parent's. Why do we still get these vulgar wishful thinking World War II fairy tales rammed down our throats, in the movies and on television? This film is a vulgar glorification of war and violence. Tarrantino's films are blatant exploitations of gratuitous violence and brutality, that should be boycotted, by sane human beings.

When are we going to see stories about the fall of the Iron Curtain? That would be much more fascinating.

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World War II Time-Warp

World War II ended back in 1945. Since then we have witnessed the collapse of Communism in Russia and it's satellite states. The end of the Cold War is more recent and a major change, that has happened in our time, not our parent's. Why do we still get these vulgar wishful thinking World War II fairy tales rammed down our throats, in the movies and on television? This film is a vulgar glorification of war and violence. Tarrantino's films are blatant exploitations of gratuitous violence and brutality, that should be boycotted, by sane human beings.

When are we going to see stories about the fall of the Iron Curtain? That would be much more fascinating.

I agree...look at "Kill Bill" With old dead David Karadine creeping us out - I worked with David - he was totally drunk and drugged most of the time he was on set - a vulgar bastard that would crap on the floor of his trailer if he was preturbed with the director - Yet Tarrantino dragged him out of the wood work to glorify this slow kicking sexual deviate and coke junkie....Tarrantino has always been a talentless little weasil who lives off the work of others...listen to his sound tracks - the man is a born cut throat opportunist and a thief...and plus he's an ugly mother f**ker.

Tarrantino explains this film away as a type of revenge he had for Germans because he is a Polish Jew and his "grand parents" suffered under the Nazis - well so did 50 million others...He's like Micheal Moore - a talentless weasil. These are men that don't give a damn about improving society - being famous and causing more social rot is exceptable to them.

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World War II ended back in 1945. Since then we have witnessed the collapse of Communism in Russia and it's satellite states. The end of the Cold War is more recent and a major change, that has happened in our time, not our parent's. Why do we still get these vulgar wishful thinking World War II fairy tales rammed down our throats, in the movies and on television?.....

Because we want to see Jim Brown make it. Those of you who are old enough will know what I mean.

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World War II Time-Warp

World War II ended back in 1945. Since then we have witnessed the collapse of Communism in Russia and it's satellite states. The end of the Cold War is more recent and a major change, that has happened in our time, not our parent's. Why do we still get these vulgar wishful thinking World War II fairy tales rammed down our throats, in the movies and on television? This film is a vulgar glorification of war and violence. Tarrantino's films are blatant exploitations of gratuitous violence and brutality, that should be boycotted, by sane human beings.

When are we going to see stories about the fall of the Iron Curtain? That would be much more fascinating.

How would you make a film about the fall of the Iron Curtain? A movie that spans decades while only a few actual events occur? The reason nobody has made this movie is that it would be stupefyingly boring.

If you want to watch a movie about the fall of the Iron Curtain, how about this one?

Why does World War II remain popular subject matter for movies (and video games, and documentaries, and fiction and non fiction books?) Because people love fighting and combat and action and espionage, and World War II is the only war in modern history where right and wrong are completely unambiguous.

As for boycotting violent movies? Go ahead, it's your right. But what kind of crybaby culture did we turn into where people are for some reason expected to be appalled by violent entertainment for no other reason than that it's violent?

And at what point did war movies have to be somber and serious? Did everything change after Schindler's List or something? I know it didn't used to be that way. I've seen old war movies where heroes risked their lives to fight evil, and frankly I didn't see a problem with it.

I am going to go watch "Snatch". The Gypsy will help me forget about this outbreak of wussiness.

-k

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How would you make a film about the fall of the Iron Curtain? A movie that spans decades while only a few actual events occur? The reason nobody has made this movie is that it would be stupefyingly boring.

On the contrary, have you seen Goodbye, Lenin?

-----

I suspect that Hollywood likes World War II because it involves conflict, violence and it's 1960s politically correct. No wonder that when Tarantino arrived with his Inglourious Basterds script, some people gave him some money.

I believe most of Tarantino's movies have had commercial success-- Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies were highly successful from a commercial perspective (and widely admired by critics as well.) Only "Grindhouse" stands out on his resume as a real flop... even Jackie Brown was a modest success, I believe.

$115 million gross in the US, another $115 in the rest of the world... with more to be made from DVD sales and broadcast rights. It seems to me that $230+ million is a pretty slick return on a $70 million investment.

There are enough investors willing to gamble on this sort of a return to make it happen, and presumably enough tax write-offs to ease the pain on the ones that don't work out.

These are all invented numbers.

IMV, the fact that Tarantino had to go with a Nazi script is telling.

----

Until people like Clooney and Tarantino do something as radical as Salman Rushdie, I won't believe their claim to being innovators. IMV, Clooney and Tarantino are boringly bourgeois. They're not artists at all, and they're barely commercially successful.

Edited by August1991
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I suspect that Hollywood likes World War II because it involves conflict, violence and it's 1960s politically correct.

Of course. That's more or less what I was trying to say earlier:

Why does World War II remain popular subject matter for movies (and video games, and documentaries, and fiction and non fiction books?) Because people love fighting and combat and action and espionage, and World War II is the only war in modern history where right and wrong are completely unambiguous.

No wonder that when Tarantino arrived with his Inglourious Basterds script, some people gave him some money.

You still believe in the market system, right? It must have occurred to you that the reason people keep giving Tarantino money to make movies is that they think it's a good investment?

These are all invented numbers.

You started off using the yardstick of box-office receipts as a means of scoffing at the wisdom of investing money in a Quentin Tarantino production, and now you're doubting the yardstick you yourself introduced.

Do you have some reason to doubt that this movie has been commercially successful? Some reason beyond "Tarantino isn't a good director"?

IMV, the fact that Tarantino had to go with a Nazi script is telling.

I doubt he "had" to go with anything.

Until people like Clooney and Tarantino do something as radical as Salman Rushdie, I won't believe their claim to being innovators. IMV, Clooney and Tarantino are boringly bourgeois. They're not artists at all, and they're barely commercially successful.

With the exception of Grindhouse, all of Tarantino's movies have been successful to some degree, and some of them have been significantly successful.

Artistic merit is always debatable, but Tarantino's films are usually very well reviewed (present company aside.) Pulp Fiction in particular was immensely admired by critics as not just a good movie, but also an influential one.

-k

Edited by kimmy
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Oops. I meant Death Proof. Planet Terror was pretty good in the 'full cheese' genre, and the fake shorts were better yet.

Planet Terror was for sure the better of the Grindhouse flicks.

Death Proof got really good about halfway through. The 1st half was horribly slow. Way too much boring banter about nothing. Some people call that kind of scriptwriting "artistic". I call it "boring".

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Inveterate Fallacy

"Why does World War II remain popular subject matter for movies (and video games, and documentaries, and fiction and non fiction books?) Because people love fighting and combat and action and espionage, and World War II is the only war in modern history where right and wrong are completely unambiguous." -kimmy

The result of World War II was that half the world's population became incarcerated under Communism or Socialism, in the case of the Third World countries, such as India. Yalta was seen as a betrayal of the eastern European countries, by the United States, for no real reason, except that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was tired and in his dying stages. His administration and political party, had sustained some ideological affinities with Joseph Stalin, the biggest mass murderer, in all of human history.

So I fail, for one, to see the "unambiguous" moral clarity, of it all.

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  • 1 month later...

Tarantino's movies exist within a bubble. They're tautological, in a way, as they've not about reality as such, but rather about movies themselves. (We tend to call this "postmodernism," but in fact, self-reflexive stories have been around about as long as stories.)

I like Tarantino's movies, but I always find something that annoys. It's usually the self-consciously quirky dialogue during the longer conversations.

But in Inglourious Basterds, I found this irritant nearly totally absent...and there are a lot of long conversations.

The movie works because Tarantino is not buying the Great War Myths. All World War 2 movies are mythic adventures in righteousness.

So Tarantino devises a new set of myths. Gone is the patriotic masturbation. Gone is the passive Jew. Gone is the Churchillian colossus smashing Evil with his bare rhetoric. Gone is the Hitler as the Grand Miltonian Satan, the Evil-such-as-the-world-has never-seen. (You ever notice how the most reviled man in history is actually treated with RESPECT because of his Will-to-murder? Because mythologizing him IS a form of respect. He was NOT Evil incarnate. He was only another man. That's it.)

The only patriotism mentioned in this film is when Aldo Raines tells his cohort to "oblige" the Nazi officer who "wants to die for his country." The conventional Passive Jew is replaced by men laughing at the officer's head being beaten in by a baseball bat, and by the same men collecting scalps and knifing swastikas into foreheads. Churchill didn't end the war; a secret Jew and her black lover end the war. And Hitler is about as menacing as Stephan Dion.

Tarantino makes the audience complicit in his new mythology. That's why we are watching a propaganda film in which the characters are watching a propaganda film.

In Tarantino's movies, but especially in this one, there IS no objective reality. There are stories, many of them telling part of the truth, but never the whole truth, and always there are distortions and tricks of the camera, as well as untouchable officials constructing reality for us.

In this particular reality, Adolph Hitler is gunned down by the "Bear Jew," and it's extremely satisfying.

My only complaints are two minor ones: I think that the tavern scene could have been clipped a little--it's so long it's almost unbelievable. Also, Eli Roth (the Bear Jew) cannot act. He sucks. There was no need at all to put him in this movie. Luckily, he has very few lines.

Otherwise, really excellent, outstanding.

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Interesting comments, bloody.

Your comment about demythologizing Hitler reminds me of another analysis I read recently. Your point that Hitler made to look like just an ordinary man (and kind of a putz at that) is a good one. This critique points out that the mythology is also challenged by depicting Raines and his crew as being just as inhuman as the Nazis are supposed to be:

Yet, another review commends Tarantino for finally debunking the insinuation that Hitler embodied some unique kind of wickedness from which the rest of humanity is immune. During the film, for example, most people in the audience seem not to object to the gory death sentences that the Basterds mete out to the Nazis. Who feels sorry for fascists? But Tarantino, he argues, turns the tables on the viewers. The sadistic cruelty of the Basterds is much the same as that of the Nazis. Yet since the punishment appears justified, the viewer finds himself identifying with the violence in a way that one could never identify with much the same brutality when perpetrated by Nazis. Hitler’s evil and the Nazis’ cruelty suddenly become less singular.

We get "heroes" who commit savagery upon other humans, and we get "villains" like the young officer who just wants to go home to Frankfurt to see his wife and newborn baby, or Freddy the reluctant war hero.

The article I linked also makes some interesting observations about how Germans reacted to the movie. Other WWII movies have apparently been met with intense scrutiny and debate... Germans have apparently really loved Basterds, finding it almost cathartic: "a revenge fantasy for Germans born since the war who have been made to feel guilty for a war and crimes that they had no part in."

I have read that Christoph Waltz is an almost certain Oscar nominee for his performance as Col. Landa, and that Basterds could earn a best screenplay nomination as well.

-k

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Interesting comments, bloody.

Your comment about demythologizing Hitler reminds me of another analysis I read recently. Your point that Hitler made to look like just an ordinary man (and kind of a putz at that) is a good one. This critique points out that the mythology is also challenged by depicting Raines and his crew as being just as inhuman as the Nazis are supposed to be:

We get "heroes" who commit savagery upon other humans, and we get "villains" like the young officer who just wants to go home to Frankfurt to see his wife and newborn baby, or Freddy the reluctant war hero.

The article I linked also makes some interesting observations about how Germans reacted to the movie. Other WWII movies have apparently been met with intense scrutiny and debate... Germans have apparently really loved Basterds, finding it almost cathartic: "a revenge fantasy for Germans born since the war who have been made to feel guilty for a war and crimes that they had no part in."

I have read that Christoph Waltz is an almost certain Oscar nominee for his performance as Col. Landa, and that Basterds could earn a best screenplay nomination as well.

-k

Waltz is amazing. I admit I'd never heard of him before. I'd place him in my list of top movie villains of all time.

The remarks about the Basterds' savagery is interesting. Note the way they hoot and laugh while the violence is being meted out. (I'm not condemning it; I enjoyed it too. :) )

Bernard Goldberg, whom I have little use for generally, made an interesting comparison to Schindler's List. He said Spielberg's film was about Jewish passivity and Christian redemption, an idea that had never occurred to me. (I liked SL very much.) "Basterds" has no such underlying theme.

Edited by bloodyminded
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I am not sure if it is Waltz himself who made the character so memorable, or if it was a superbly written character, or some parts of both.

There are a lot of movies where the actors portraying the villains seem to be having a lot more fun than the actors portraying the heroes. I made this observation to a friend after watching Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust but I think The Joker (Nicholson version or especially Ledger version) is the classic example. There are probably countless more. These characters are disconnected from humanity and the actors are free to be as over the top as they wish. The heroes, by contrast, aren't.

At least, that's usually the case. In Basterds we get "heroes" who are as brutal and inhumane as the Nazis. And we get Colonel Landa... whose motive for committing evil isn't some kind of idiology, it's personal ambition and nothing more complicated than that.

-k

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I am not sure if it is Waltz himself who made the character so memorable, or if it was a superbly written character, or some parts of both.

There are a lot of movies where the actors portraying the villains seem to be having a lot more fun than the actors portraying the heroes. I made this observation to a friend after watching Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust but I think The Joker (Nicholson version or especially Ledger version) is the classic example. There are probably countless more. These characters are disconnected from humanity and the actors are free to be as over the top as they wish. The heroes, by contrast, aren't.

At least, that's usually the case. In Basterds we get "heroes" who are as brutal and inhumane as the Nazis. And we get Colonel Landa... whose motive for committing evil isn't some kind of idiology, it's personal ambition and nothing more complicated than that.

-k

Well said. As for the fun of evil (both playing it and watching it), this is a pretty old story. Milton was apparently himself concerned that in Paradise Lost, his Satan was far more interesting than his God.

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