Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two Guys Email Review of: Inglourious Basterds

About two weeks ago, my friend Jamie and I went to see the Quentin Tarantino film "Inglourious Basterds". We didn't get a chance to really discuss the movie. I did the same thing with "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"*

I like to talk about movies, TV shows, sporting events, books -- any sort of medium a lot. This is obvious because I'm writing a Blog about these sort of things. So, the next day I emailed Jamie and asked him for his thoughts. We went back and forth for a little bit and this is what we had to say:

* Not only did I pretty much use the same opening paragraphs, but I used the same person to email. I'm all about value. BTW, there are a bunch of spoilers, but this movie has been out for six weeks, so be careful if you haven't seen it yet.

Also, I wrote about the experience of going to this flick a few weeks ago. Check it out here.

From: Byron
To: Jamie
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:38:23 PM
Subject: Inglourious Basterds

You've had about 20 hours to think about the movie, your reaction?

From: James
To: Byron
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009, 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: Inglourious Basterds

Technically it wasn't 20 hrs at the time of your sending of the email. We did sleep some and I wasn't consciously thinking about that movie. However, When I did get up I was thinking about it andI like it more and more with each passing thought.

As we discussed, the bar scene was very good. I also seem to like Tarantino's formula of scene development -he cool conversations before the climax of each scene.

It happened in Pulp Fiction with Samuel Jackson talking to the guys in the apartment before he and Travolta blasted that kid to shit. "Does Marcelus Wallace look like a bitch?..." "The path of the riteous is beset on both sides by the iniquities of the weak and the tyranny of evil men..."
Kill Bill, From Dusk til dawn... I could quote Tarantino all day..

And now with "Inglorious Bastards" "....we ain't into the takin prisner bid'ness. We inta Nazi killing bid'ness and bid'ness is a boomin."

Even in Chapter one. the talk between large face and the frenchman before the hail of bullets into the floor. All classic stuff.

I even like Tarantino's rewriting of history as to how the war ended. his movies are fun, funny, gripping. It holds you and doesn't let go until the ending credits

That last sentence was strictly for commercial purposes. when you hear the sexy male announcer saying " NY times says 'Tarantino does it again.' 'A Materpiece' hails entertainment weekly. Jamie from nowhere USA says 'gripping. It holds you and doesn't let go until the ending credits'

That's my take. your turn....if you even get this email

From: Byron
To: James
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:38:53 PM
Subject: Re: Inglourious Basterds

I agree. I think that Tarantino has a knack for writing the most believable dialogues in Hollywood. He makes some pretty profound points that are not necessarily germane to the plot, but he also is able to expound on the plot a bit too. His words give his characters a very rich background.

I don't anyone in Hollywood can touch him on this. Especially not Kevin Smith. Even though I like Smith very much, I feel that his dialogues are just monologues in disguise. Know what I mean? I think that Richard Linklater does a pretty good job of writing dialogues too. Very believable.

The bar scene was really awesome. I thought that the Basterds were going to get out of it alive ... just by the skin of their teeth. But next thing you know, three are dead and the chick is barely holding on. I liked that Tarantino took my expectation and knocked it on its ass. That's another thing I like about Tarantino, he loves his characters but doesn't fall in love with them, if that makes any sense.

Example: Vincent Vega from "Pulp Fiction" gets blown away while sitting on a toilet. The dude is supposed to be the ultimate hit man and he literally gets caught with his pants down by a washed-up boxer. And the kicker is, he's supposed to be waiting for that boxer. It's an undignified way to die both in terms of the setting (taking a crap) and the scenario. Also, Tarantino didn't make a huge deal out of it. He's dead and the story moves on.

Here, the same thing we have an Englishman who is built up as the greatest undercover man that the Brits have to offer is murdered because he was too sloppy. The one thing that drives a lot Englishmen nuts is that they always have a proper attention to detail. Getting your unit killed like this is akin to Vega's death.

The first chapter was awesome. Tarantino really makes you look at the situation that the French dairy farmer is in. Of course you want to save your neighbors, but when your family's lives are at stake you have to do what's best for your family. I bet that decision haunted that character to his dying day and that he felt a ton of guilt for what he did, but he really had no choice.

The atrocity that day was two-fold: the murder of the Jews under the floor as well as the (figurative) murder of the French farmer. He was probably never the same after that day and one can extrapolate that his three daughters weren't the same either. Today we call it post-traumatic stress disorder, but I'm sure back then there was no one treating that except maybe Dr. Vino.

Going back to my expectations, that was the main reason why I liked when Tarantino rewrote the ending of World War II. I know how Hitler and the rest of his crew die in real-life and I was expecting the bunch of them to be whisked away at the last moment leaving the Basterds and Shoshana's inevitable deaths in vain. But he didn't do that, Hitler's face was riddled with bullets, all of the high-ranking SS guys were burnt alive or shot in the back. It was great.

BTW, I'm going to use our exchange on my Blog much like I did with "Zack and Miri", so:

A. I hope you're ok with that
B. Write more

From: James
To: Byron
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009

my only question about QT's style is: why do all of his movies have to have chapters or titles for each section? the only one that didn't was his shorter, double-feature film planet terror... I didn't see Hostel II so I don't know if there was any chapter separation in that film..

I'm not complaining. It's actually kind of cool. The only other person who does that is Kevin Smith. So it's funny that you brought him up in the last post... and while I agree with you that QT's dialogue speaks more truth. I also feel you're not giving KS his due credit. I feel there was a lot of truth said in Clerks and Dogma. As for Linklater the only two movies I've seen are D&C and School of Rock. D&C is one of my all time favorite movies BECAUSE of the dialogue. so while your ready to drop to your knees and suck off QT like it's your last meal, I'm not putting him on the same pedestal. I'm only gonig to say his style is different. It's like when I was in high school and the coolest band in the world was Rush. I thought Neil Peart was untouchable. no one could hold a candle to him...John Bohnam, Manu Katche, Buddy Rich, Stewart Copeland.... As i've gotten older I've realized everyone has their own talents, but I digress.

I'm not going to break down every scene like you did. there's no point. I agree with you on every point. Especially on QT's love-but-that-doesn't-mean-I'm-not-going-to-kill-my-character attitude. That's why Bridget vonHammersmark death is still leaving a lasting impression. I was just as surprised as Bridget vonHammersmark when her life was about to end there in that back room of the cinema.

My last issue I have is a general issue I have about any character from any movie. Shoshanna could easily have avoided her death if she simply made the final one or two shots to Zoller's head when he was face down on the floor. I don't get why the sudden sympathy to a man who killed 500 italians in three days. not to mention the fact that she hates Germans enough to meticulously plan to burn down her own cinema, with her in it. she now hears him groan and decides to gently roll him over to....what? what was she going to do?

You can use this in your blog. I don't care.

From: Byron
To: James
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2009

I like that he has chapters or film titles at the beginning of different scenes, it's a different touch. Perhaps he's not proficient at using segues. Also, look at how IB was shown—there is no way that he could have connected that first sequence (in the house) to the second one (the forming of the Basterds). So instead of filming a card that reads, “In another part of France” or “Meanwhile ...”.

I'm not saying that KS doesn't speak the truth. What I'm saying is that QT's dialogues ring true. When people talk there is an ebb and flow to them where someone says something, maybe a sentence or two and then someone responds with a sentence or two. I don't think that what Tarantino has to say is any more relevent to the human condition than what Smith or Linklater has to say.

I liked “Chasing Amy” a lot. But one of the things that bother me about that flick is the most “dramatic” scene where Joey Lauren Adams screams at Ben Affleck for three or four minutes. Think about that for a second, if someone is screaming at you for even two minutes it's jarring but three or four minutes? That's Peruvian insanity peppers, my friend.

No matter how much I “loved” her (and let's be real, this was like a month or two at the most into their courtship) I would have walked away thinking that she was nuts. I'm sure that it looked great on the page, but it came off as crazy and hokey on the screen. It just didn't ring true for me and took me completely out of the movie. I'm not going to get into the whole “no guy would stand for that crap” cliché because a lot of dudes would—and perhaps I would too, but after that crying jag, no matter how hot JLA is she isn't worth it.

You're right about Shoshana and you have to wonder what her motivation for feeling any sort of remorse towards Zoller when he was essentially the poster boy for Nazi Germany—you know, the people who machine gunned her entire family to death. But maybe that was to really drive home the point that while the Nazis didn't show any compassion for the people they killed and because of that were subhuman, Shoshana did.

But after rereading that, that makes no sense too because she just torched a movie theater full of Nazis without much thought of their well-being. So, I agree with you that this was sort of a superfluous scene that some writers put in to give their characters “character”. It's pretty stupid.

BTW Zoller killed 500 Americans, not Italians. The Italians were part of the Third Reich.

You know what I liked about this flick? There was no backstory and no epilogue. Brad Pitt walked around with a rope burn around his neck for the entire movie and no one questioned that. I assumed that he was part of a messed-up lynching, but I don't know. Maybe the dude can't tie a neck tie well.

When this flick came out, there was a brief interview with the lesser-known Basterds like Sam Levine and BJ Novack in Esquire where they said that Tarantino told them to create backstories for their characters, the more elaborate the better. So they had all of these cool stories about what made these guys tick and why they were who they were, but we never got to see why the Jewish Bear carried a baseball bat—according to Wikipedia, he was from Boston and got all of his buddies to sign the bat when he found out he was going to WWII. There was a scene where he got an old lady [Cloris Lecheman] to sign the bat too and supposedly it says Anne Frank on the barrel somewhere. The old lady scene was cut.

And what happened to these guys after they came home?

Tarantino has a great way of showing a slice of his characters' lives. What happens before or even after doesn't really matter. All that matters is the story he is presently telling. To me, that's all what should matter.

- Fin -

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