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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Basterds

Um. . . Hmm. . .

Ok. It's a film by Tarantino. And although I have not seen a great many of his movies maybe I should have kept that in mind.

Or maybe, having seen both Defiance and Valkyrie in the very recent past, I should have altered my expectations.

This is no drama. This is no comedy. This is no action movie. This is, to me anyway, farce.

The Nazis are not portrayed as "a pack of pompous trash -- thoroughly trivial bad guys." They are portrayed as complete buffoons. Goebbel's crying tears of joy in a theater next to Hitler because he has been complimented by the Fuehrer? C'mon. A compassionate (well, sorta) SS Major?

If anyone out there remembers the movie Walker with Ed Harris from 20 or so years ago, that's what this is, moved from Nicaraugua to Paris.

It's no spaghetti Western but does use spaghetti Western music.

And if you're looking for rivers of blood and steaming piles of gore, it's largely not there. There is some killing of Nazis in graphic fashion but not what you would expect from the trailers. And there are LONG conversations in French or German, subtitled. Ok. I admit it. I started nodding off a bit during these and didn't miss anything.

While the Nazis may well have been "pompous trash" they were by no means buffoons. Portraying them as such diminishes the horror they perpetrated. And it diminishes how their victims suffered.

Some may not think that important but consider at tonight's show (10:15) there was a large representation of young people. They don't get enough proper history in school now. This only reinforces the idea that the Nazis are ancient history, maybe it wasn't as bad as we've been told. Maybe warnings about future holocausts are overblown.

And, in fact, a number of comments I heard from the younger generation were disappointment in the film.

If this were intended allegory (and I'm not saying Tarantino meant it that way) as to our current situation with the Jihad then we'd be in trouble, because it would paint the Jihadis as ignorant, incompetant buffoons.

And you all know better than that.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Culturist John said...

I seriously like that you use a political reference to evaluate the film. When a movie is vapid killing and sex and people say "It was a good movie," they have no such ethical system in mind.

That said I think you under value the impact on the first scene leading to the vengeance scene. There are moments when the Nazi crimes' depth resonates.

And on the whole, this film will be longer judged as an enduring piece of art and film criticism. It is not a politician's, or an ethicist's film, it is an art theorist's film. And, a darn enjoyable one at that!

Saturday, August 22, 2009 1:17:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I haven't seen the film, but I think you miss the point that Tarantino is a film "critic" in the context of his own films, and also the fact that Tarantino views his movies as comedy.

If you don't think they are funny, then that simply means you don't appreciate his brand of comedy.

It could be that this particular movie isn't funny. But, given the trailer, it looks pretty funny to me.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112085605&ps=cprs

Saturday, August 22, 2009 2:33:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

By the way, when Culturist John and I say that Tarantino's films are about Film Criticism, what we mean is that Tarantino's larger context is usually a spoof/appreciation of earlier styles. This was most evident in Kill Bill, which was a criticism of Japanese cinema.

If you are a fan of the various cinematic styles he "criticizes", then you will see, even more, the comic dimension in his works.

I read an interview with him about a year ago where he said that more than anything what he believes he has contributed to cinema is a "new form of comedy."

I thought that was a great assessment of his own work, and it is certainly self-effacing for a man of his genius.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 2:36:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

But it really could be that this movie is just an ahistorical piece of shit in the way it treats the Nazis. And, that would be a tragedy.

However, having read a bit about Nazi history, it seems to me there is a lot of truth to the idea that they were buffoons. Sure, Hitler was POSSESSED of a certain genius, but his ranting a raving would have been, I'm sure, nothing but comedic to anyone who had any sense, which his followers did not.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 2:55:00 pm  
Anonymous andre79 said...

Tarantino is a big Asian cinema fan and collector (like myself) and I wouldn't say Kill Bill is a criticism of Japanese cinema but rather an homage to Lady Snowblood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMlONL-BR2M

I like all Tarantino movies and not only I have them all on dvd but also the sountracks. Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, From Dusk Till Dawn, Death Proof, Reservoir Dogs... have a lot of good songs otherwise not found on the same cd.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 8:27:00 pm  
Blogger Culturist John said...

Tarrentino said he drew upon the original WW II films in that they were entertaining rather than heavy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 9:27:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Andre,
I didn't mean his films are critical of other styles, but that they are analytical reworkings, and critiques in the positive sense.

Tarantino is not understood by those who believe his movies are just blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore.;

I agree with him, he's invented a new kind of comedy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 10:31:00 pm  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

I'm only sorry Hattori Hanso cannot make an appearance in this movie since he apparently has no trouble showing up anytime after the 15th century

Saturday, August 22, 2009 10:31:00 pm  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

BTW From Dusk Till Dawn has one of the most meaningful and touching moments in cinema as Cheech introduces the crowd to the bar outside on the steps.

This kind of emotional bonding with the audience can only occur in a Tarantino piece of true art.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 10:38:00 pm  
Anonymous jaujau said...

I am looking forward to seeing this flick. I know that Tarantino's movies are bloody and gratuitous, but they are hilarious send ups of other genres, to be sure. I really liked the Kill Bill movies. You have to get him in order to get him.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 2:00:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I loved Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. Wasn't that into Jackie Brown, and didn't see the other ones.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 2:01:00 am  

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