Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Inglourious Basterds 2nd Look & Controversy

I'm not ashamed to admit that I can miss a few things the first time around. Once in a while there are movies that I don't fully understand what I saw until I saw it again. After two viewings of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator I was able to fully grasp what Scorsese was doing and I fell in love with it. Someone once said that if if you watch a movie and are left thinking about it later wanting more, it's a sign of a truly great film. Apparently I owe an apology to Mr. Tarantino because 2nd time around his latest film Inglourious Basterds is indeed one of the best films of the year.


Last time I wrote about this film, I criticized it for having too much dialogue that took too long to get anywhere but it turns out that's not the truth. All the dialogue the second time around does have a purpose and helps the suspense going all around. The Tavern scene is miles better and plays with one of the films central themes: performance as a weapon. All the characters in the film are putting on some kind of show in order to survive. Col. Landa plays the role of the detective with his pipe prop and changes languages because he has an audience. It all works so well the second time and builds the suspense even thought I know the ending of the scenes.

There are, however, only a few nit-pics I would make for it: the Kill Bill soundtrack for some of the scenes still doesn't work. When Michael Bay used the soundtrack from Kill Bill in The Transformers, I never thought in a million years that Tarantino would do the same in his movies. It would make sense if the music had a meaning to the situation but it just feels really out of place. But all the other music choices play with the audience and help build suspense for all the scenes. Just lose the wink at the camera and we're all set.

Now one thing that a few critics have pointed out about this film is it's ending. In a Newsweek article by critic Daniel Mendelsohn said that by having the ending be what it was, it's a form for Jews to be as horrible as the Nazis were. Another critic responded to the article by saying that the ending is a form of Holocaust denial. I can see there arguments however I disagree that it's a form of Holocaust denial or that anyone should forget about the horrible things that happened. First of all, what Tarantino has happen to one character at the end is his way of reminding people never to forget what happened during WWII.

Basterds a Holocaust Denial Film?

Second; speaking as someone of non-Jewish decent, is seeing an Ass-Kicking Jew movie necessarily a bad thing? To me, film is a way to release some feelings of anger and remorse over moments in history, personal life, or any problems. In Japan, they get this kind of violent material all the time from Ichi the Killer to Violence Jack and that country hardly ever sees violence. I remember in an interview how one of the actors from Germany found the ending as rewarding as anyone did; they certainly are not a fan of what Hitler did.

Also, I do think it is a bit unfair to Tarantino to label his film a holocaust denier. The movie is about how movies portrayed this moment in history form before the war started with propaganda and after the war ended from the 70's to this day. There's still something to have your mind digest with movies but all a movie does is cast light against celluloid. Film should never try to be reality because the minute it hits that editing lab, it is pure fiction and I think Mr. Tarantino recognizes that.

Well, getting past the controversy, a lot of the problems I had with this movie aren't problems anymore. It's a thrilling, satisfying revenge flick filled with suspense, great acting, and really does remind me of why I got into film reviewing in the first place.

To give only one spoiler Brad Pitt says to another Basterd "This just might be my masterpiece." Well Tarantino, I think I just might agree.

Here's hoping Christoph Waltz has some Milk at the Oscars

Link to Daniel Mendelsohn's Article:

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