Friday, August 21, 2009

I Am Ready To Kick Some Nazi Ass!!!

One thing that is so great about friends is that they know what you like and it's so cool when they get excited about stuff you like. And vice versa, you get to get excited about the stuff they like too. I say this because I've had a lot of heads-up about reviews and stories regarding Tarantino's new movie. Friends called when Tarantino was on American Idol, when the local paper or a major paper had a review or something abut his new movie.Tarantino is a director I get super excited when he has a new movie. I am so stoked. I don't read reviews before i see a movie. I wait until I've seen a movie then read reviews....but want to have them ready for when I get home from the movie theatre. I usually save or clip critiques and save them in a folder until a later date. Or right here on my blog. Sometimes, a blog is just a great place to keep track of stuff on the internet. (I have a whole bunch of links to reference sites...easier than bookmarking them)

As some of you know, I've been helping a first-time film director do pre-production stuff for the last three weeks. The film is a documentary about a massacre during the Second World War. Some of the things I was doing was looking for insurance companies to cover the production, going through archival photos, looking for interns, arranging seats for flights...a lot of stuff. Sort of multi-tasking betwen a lot of different procedures. A film is insured to protect the camera and sound equipment, to cover the crew, and to have a back up in case principal photography is lost or damaged.

One of the things I was doing was going through a lot of photos. Often very difficult photos. Tragic, heartbreaking. Last week I had been gathering photos for the whole day...and finally around 4 o'clock in the afternoon I just filled with rage. I was sorting some photos of the Nazi's taking over a city...some walking dogs, some driving tanks. And I just got pissed off. I said out loud in the office "I want to kick some Nazi ass!" serendipity or destiny would have it...Tarantino is ready with a movie to suit my anyways here are some various reviews I'm collecting to enjoy later after we see the movie...tonight!

Inglourious Basterds is such a potent, cathartic revenge fantasy, for Jews and basically almost everybody in the world at this point.
Yeah, exactly.

What do you think is so cathartic about it?
Well… I think a lot of it is, we’ve just seen the other story ad nauseum.

The victim story?
Exactly. You know, the Nazis come into the town, and somebody kills the Nazis, so the Nazis come in and line up 10 people and shoot them against the wall and say they’ll kill 10 more till the guy gives himself up. We’ve just seen that a bunch of times.

So, it’s about time that we got to see somebody…
Well, it’s ’cause the Nazis were so ruthless, there’s nobody who could match them so it’s hard to see the opposite end.

Other than fictional characters — zombies, or whatever — it seems there’s no other actual historical group about whom a straight-out revenge fantasy could be so unobjectionable.
But… yeah, but if you’re from the Pacific, y’know, you have very understandable reasons for not liking the Japanese. If you’re Korean....

The linguistic realism in the film is really powerful. When you were writing the script, did you ever feel you were writing yourself into a corner with what you were asking your actors to do?
Yeah, well, it… the only aspect about writing myself into a corner… my only aspect of writing myself into a corner was, I just had to go all the way with it. Which meant that I had to cast German[-speakers] to play Germans. I had to have French to play French.

Now, I was always planning to have the French play French — but the Germans, that meant, no Swiss, no Dutch, none of that stuff you see all the time. Sorry Max von Sydow, see you later Rutger Hauer. Definitely no British. It would be full-on Germans.

How did you find Christoph Waltz?
My casting director found him. I wasn’t aware of his work before, and he’s a television actor. He does, like, a miniseries — the second or third part of a miniseries. And he showed up and picked up the script and just started reading the opening scene, and halfway through the opening scene, I mean, this was the guy. And I had him read everything, but, you know, this was the guy.

It’s just such an incredible performance.
He’s well-known in Germany, but there’s that wonderful aspect that for a lot of people — he’s just a new face. It’s like that for a lot of people in the movie.

When you started out to make a WWII thriller/adventure film, what aspects of the genre were you most drawn to? There aren’t a lot of machine gun action sequences…
Yeah, there’re no tanks or big battle sequences and all of that kind of stuff. I was drawn into the more human aspects of conflict rather than running away from a tank, defending a hill or any other stuff like that. For instance, if you watched the old Combat! TV show with Vic Morrow, there’d be some episode where he’ll get the drop on a German or the German’ll get the drop on him and they’re in some cavern, and then they start dropping bombs and the cave caves in, and now they’re trapped. Now, one of them has to put away the gun and they have to work together to get out of the cave. It was stuff like that that I was really drawn to, the things that can happen between people trapped in situations. That sequence — the equivalent [in Inglourious Basterds] would be the tavern scene.

Also, I am using the real languages to give the suspense that can come out of that. That’s what I’ve always felt was lacking in the cool movies of the ’60s — Where Eagles Dare, The Devil’s Brigade. Like, for instance, in Where Eagles Dare there’s a scene where, apparently, Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood speak German so perfectly that all they have to do is put on some officer outfits and they get into a big officer party in a tavern and just blend in perfectly. But because English is supposed to be German in this movie, you watch it and, one, it’s not convincing, and two, there’s no suspense.

Because they’re all speaking English.
They’re all speaking English.

You can’t hear [their supposedly flawless German].
And, y’know, and so, to actually take that [language] for real, and the actors really have to pull that off, and they’re pulling off their German and everything, that can be suspenseful.

There’s a spaghetti western feel to this movie, too. Was that something that you started out wanting to include?
Yeah, I wanted the film to have a spaghetti western feeling, and it does in the first two chapters. I think it becomes something else after that. I wanted it to have a feel like a spaghetti western but done with World War II iconography. So it’s just… even when you see the Nazis ride up during the opening scene, it still feels like a western. The house is like a western, and everything feels like the west. And, the Nazi iconography doesn’t break it, oddly enough.

Y’know, an aspect about that was, if you like spaghetti westerns, one of the things you like about them is the landscape that they take place in, which is a very bleak landscape. Life is cheap, death could be just around the corner, death could happen any minute. There’s no pity. It’s very brutal. No mercy, and, really, only the strong survive. Well, that’s a good description of Europe during occupation. So I thought, Well, that could actually apply.

Last week, a couple of theatres-full of VIPs, connected cineastes and EYE WEEKLY readers attended the Canadian premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which opens in Toronto this week on August 21. The director and one of his stars, Eli Roth, were in attendance to introduce the screenings, and it’s fair to say the audience was humming with excitement and high expectations — how often do you see a crowd applaud the opening credits of a film? It’s also fair to say that few of them left disappointed.

A picture so big and audacious doesn’t come along often. Inglourious Basterds is a war epic and a comedy and a hyper-violent revenge flick and a postmodern commentary on cinema that has more layers than it does plotlines. It’s a brazen revisionist history; a multilingual, multi-faceted stare-down of our sense of justice and of how we tell ourselves stories. Last Wednesday in Toronto, Tarantino dropped a bomb on the tradition of war cinema that exploded through the consciousness of the audience.

Here in the office, we were talking about it for days. We had debates about how it stacked up against Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, about whether it was, in each of our opinions, a three- or four- or five-star film. (Our film guru, Jason Anderson, weighs in here.) We had long, rambling discussions about The Moral Obligations of the Filmmaker and the Proper Treatment of the Holocaust and The Accent of Brad Pitt. Many of us plan to see it again (some of us for the third time). One thing there was consensus on: this is a film we’re unlikely to soon forget.
In Inglourious Basterds, as he has throughout his career, Tarantino has rewritten the rules, shaking us laughing and cheering and flinching out of our comfortable patterns, taking our beliefs about how things are supposed to be and completely screwing them over. What a basterd.

The world needs basterds, of course, in art and elsewhere. In Tarantino’s film, the Basterds of the eccentrically spelled title are a group of Jewish soldiers with the singular mission to exact gruesome pain on Nazis and inflict terror on the WWII German military. Should it go without saying that we don’t think the world needs any more terrorists and torturers? Well let me say it anyway: the world needs fewer — many, many fewer — terrorists and torturers.

But outside the realm of physical violence, and especially in the realm of art and ideas, the world needs more basterds. We need more people who will disregard conventions and rules and norms (in the service of good, as Tarantino himself explains on page 6) to force us question to pat assumptions to see the world in a new way. Has progress ever been made without some basterds leading the way?

This issue then, is dedicated to basterds. We recruited Quentin Tarantino and various members of the Inglourious Basterds cast — especially Eli Roth, the “Bear Jew” of the film — to discuss what basterds are and how they live, and got their opinions and ideas about history, food, fashion, film (naturally), music, relationships and more. You’ll find the results spread throughout this week’s issue. We hope you enjoy it. And whether you do or not, feel free to write and tell us what basterds we are.

Related Links:

1) Review from Toronto Star's Eye Weekely
2) Slate Magazine
3) New York Times
4) Rotten Tomatoes
5) Review from Pajamas Media


L.M. said...

Last week I was visiting my mom at her new retirement home, one of the dear old hens at her dinner table told me that she lived in Toronto for a few years (1941 to 1943) working at the Ontario Small Arms Manufacturing Company. (and actually lived in my current neighbourhood) When I told R.M. Vaughan this story he started laughing and said that no matter how crowded a room was, I could always find someone who helped defeat the Nazis.

(yes I am going to see this movie, I'm a goof for Tarantino too)

Gardenia said...

Thought-ful post. I'm ready to kick Nazi ass too - I was thinking today - my mother called and was upset about what a friend was saying about our President - many crazy things going on around the internet, even the accusations of Nazi-ism. Which makes no sense - I believe Obama symbolizes the antithesis of Nazi-ism. But her friend grew up in Germany during the time of Hitler and her father hid Jews - so she really knows how the seemingly so outrageous could become the reality so one can't blame her thoughts -

anyway I raised my children to know about the halocaust - to sort of keep an ancestral memory going by proxy - so we are all excited to see this movie!