' ' Cinema Romantico: Inglourious Basterds: Revisited

Friday, September 04, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: Revisited

Ah, Quentin Tarantino, love him or hate him (I love him and I'm not ashamed to admit it), he generates conversation. From the cavalcade of discourse in the wake of Q.T.'s "slight" revisionist take on WWII the following quote from critic Glenn Kenny is the one with which I would side the most.

"With 'Basterds' we have Tarantino doing wish-fulfillment on a world-historical stage - rewriting the end of World War II. This takes the kind of chutzpah, both conceptual and logistical, that only a past master of grindhouse cinema could muster. In almost anybody else's hands the outrageousness of the various scenarios enacted in this epic would be an insult to history, but here they're not, because although the stage of this film might be world historical, 'Inglourious Basterds' is finally not about history, or reality, or any such thing but about movies, which is all that any of Tarantino's movies have ever been about...And it is, for all that, or maybe because of all that, a picture that is sometimes genuinely and breathtakingly moving."

It calls to mind Nick Hornby's "Songbook" and the chapter where he discusses The Avalanches and how their album "Since I Left You" was composed entirely of bits and pieces of other records as well as movies and TV shows. They borrowed liberally and used all of it to make something that was distinctly their own. "This is music created for the hell of it" wrote Hornby. "Inglourious Basterds" is definitely a movie created for the hell of it.

Yes, yes, I understand how this film could easily offend, but if you're at all familiar with Tarantino's back catalogue you have to know before setting foot in the theater that the movie is going to be a movie for a movie's sake. You just have to. It's his style. It's not suddenly going to change because the subject matter that is his jumping off point is more delicate.

Let me put it this way: Michael Bay movies offend me. They absolutely do, and I knew if I went to see "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" I would be offended by it. So do you know what I didn't do?


Q.T.'s next movie (and imagine if this is his next movie - oh, sweet Mary Mother of God if....) will be a movie that gladly, unabashedly says, "Hi there! I'm a movie! No, I know you know I'm a movie, but I know too! Please don't think I'm some Ken Burns documentary when I'm really just a lavish Broadway musical with more violence!" If you don't like self-aware movies, and that's totally fine if you don't, maybe you shouldn't go. But don't presume it's going to be something else just because you want it be something else.

(Note: Where, by the way, is Ron Rosenbaum on the subject? Isn't this exactly what he wanted? Cartoon Nazis?)

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