I had the pleasure of watching America’s number one movie “Inglourious Basterds” this morning and I was not disappointed. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who borrowed the name and skeletal storyline from the 1981 army film starring Fred Williamson,’Inglourious..’ has just saved us from another less than stellar summer movie lineup.
The movie starts in the first year of the German occupation of France, Shosanna Dreyfus (a Jewish refugee played by Melanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.
Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (played by a jestful and very Southern Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers to hunt down kill and scalp Nazi soldiers. Later known to their enemy as “the basterds,” Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquis, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own
I love Tarantino because it seems like he doesn’t give a crap about stomping all over society’s neat little ideas of the way things HAVE to be to make a movie his own way. I loved this movie and not because everybody else does but because of the questions it brings to the forefront.
I was confused and curious about the audience (and my own) reaction to this film. Albeit we are watching the enemy die, the way we’d whoop and cheer as these men (Hitler’s by products) are murdered in the most vicious of ways was questionable. It’s amazing how quickly we play judge and jury so that we can excuse ourselves of sympathy in the right situation.
For example: You may not believe in the death penalty but with if some maniac murders your loved one? You do not condone senseless violence but if it’s that jackass Perez Hilton then he probably deserved it. In the case of this movie the ‘basterds’ are seeking revenge for their people who were brutally murdered by brutally murdering other people. Yet because of circumstance they get our moral seal of approval.
‘Basterds…’ is filled with cinematic trickery, forcing you out of your neat little life and urging you to relieve yourself of human responsibility. Hitler was evil, there’s no denying that. I’ve seen pictures of those young German soldiers, some barely big enough to handle their guns. The ever present kill or be killed factor that they had to deal with would have forced even the best man to do unthinkable acts. ‘Basterds..’ inadvertently asks you to celebrate the malicious torture deaths of these soldiers while internally excusing yourself of moral responsibility. In the end 10O% of those guys were evil incarnate and they deserved it, right? Tarantino has made a movie of transcendence and redemption, where the tables are turned and we become the audience that is willing to cheer for a bloodbath, the more torturous the better.
As an advocate of hypocrisy I will admit to soft cheering and laughing it up at those soldier’s deathly expense but when it was all said and done, I feel a little internal shame for wishing that the ‘Basterds’ had killed more people. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that I witnessed superior film making and screenwriting today. It takes a unique filmmaker to take one of the most major events in history and turn it on it’s ass. Only a ballsy man with a foot fetish and great taste in music could’ve compiled such an entertaining and thought provoking semi factual fiction war dramedy. Thanks Tarantino for continuously pushing the cinematic envelope.
A wave of shock poured over me when I hit the newsstand at work and saw my beloved JGL (or Joseph Gordon Levitt as you normal folk may know him) on the cover of Nylon Guys. I paid a few pence and was on my way home to enjoy the 3 page article that would surely give me a little insight on my favorite actor.
Now I’m no Sally Come Lately. I’ve been purchasing this man’s eclectic lineup of indie movie goodness since “Manic “in 2001. It saddens me that he is coming so dangerously close to breaking through commercially because I want to enjoy his awesomeness with only a select group of diehard JGL lovers.
While there is nothing more irritating and snarky than using the word sellout, using a phrase like “break through commercially” is pretty much the same thing. As a fan of “Mysterious Skin”, Sweet Jane” and “Latter Days”, I feel almost like I possess one of the silver screen’s biggest most talented secrets.
Then the Summer of 2009 arrived…
and a little movie named “500 Days of Summer” rocked the indie world and my precious secret was revealed. Hark my shattered heart, this commercial indie is being touted as one of the best movies of the year, a must see original take on the old romantic comedy.I was there on opening night in a sold out theater wrought with self aimed disgust. It was only 2 years ago that I sat in a similar theater watching “The Lookout” (one of the best thrillers to come out of 2007) on opening Friday with only 4 other people in the audience.
The people that referred to Levitt as the “10 things I hate about you guy..not Heath..the other guy..” and ” oh you mean that kid from 3rd Rock?” knew his name and jumped all over it. My bandwagon is now over run with newcomers. Then to make matters worse, 2 weeks later he stars as the most charismatic bad guy in the August blockbuster “G.I. Joe”. Now I’m fighting little kids in Target to get my hands on a Cobra Commander action figure. My cuppeth runneth over.
Finally I had my very own rude awakening. How dare I insist on keeping Levitt to myself! How dare I even mildly suggest that this talented actor is ready to sign up to become Shia Labeouf’s long lost older brother in Transformers 3! I hate exclamation marks, a thousand pardons. Joseph Gordon Levitt can and will make any movie he wants and I hope he continues to do so. I don’t care if he’s staring at a jar of grape jelly for 2 hours, I’d never get bored watching him do it. He is always the best part of any movie I’ve seen him in and if he has to make “G.I. Joe” to make some money so he can get paid scale for his next 20 super indies then who am I to question any of it?
I know who I am. A person that’s gonna stick my one of my favorite actors until he gives me a reason to walk. Most importantly, I am a person who will never use the word sell out because I’m a 26 year old struggling artist, not a snot nose 14 year old talking about the commercialization of punk music. JGL is the one of the best actors of my generation and I plan on enjoying every moment of his rise. Vive La Levitt.