Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Brad Pitt in Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'

Cannes report: Brad Pitt in Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'
May 20, 2009
by Lisa Schwarzbaum
Categories: Cannes Film Festival 2009, Film

I wish you had been there with me this morning.

Seriously, I wish everyone who ever wants to see Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino's newest, brash cine-geek homage to genre moviemaking, could have been there waiting for an hour with me at 7:30 on a sparkling sunny weekday morning at the Cannes Film Festival. It would have been so great if you could have joined the mob stamping and twitching and actually buzzing to get into the very first, 8:30 a.m. screening of the very latest, certainly very Brad Pitt-iest movie to arrive on the Croisette from the very oxygenated Palme d'Or winner. Oh, how you would have enjoyed breathing the heady atmosphere for which QT made his creation! Plus, you would have freaked out the squadron of guards!

As it is, the minute the festival tents fold and the movie is eventually released in less glamorous American movie theaters, it's unlikely that this joke-y, boyish, play-acted war-game fantasy (at least half spoken in German and French) can ever be inhaled with quite the right mixture of helium and nitrous oxide required to sustain the anticipatory hullaballoo. The tall-tale premise introduces a small band of primarily Jewish, Nazi-hating "basterds," led by doggone Tennessee mountain drawler Aldo Raine (Pitt), who join forces with one Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a French Jewish woman who escaped while her family was murdered, and who now runs a little local movie theater. While the boys scalp Nazis (watch! one of them also specializes in clubbing heads with an American baseball bat!), Shoshanna has plans to topple the Third Reich by killing Hitler and all his biggies assembled at one screening of a Nazi-propaganda war drama in her Cinema Paradiso of a movie hall.

And yet: It's amazing how little Nazis, Hitler, mass murder, or Resistance bravery mean in this action cartoon. Tarantino is a brilliant showman, the smartest, most erudite guy in the movie clubhouse, a master at re-creating old and/or exotic styles (Hong Kong action, blaxploitation) for a new audience -- no argument. Inglourious Basterds pays homage to spaghetti westerns, noirs, WWII war pics, and spy thrillers, and those who adore being in the know about cinema history will feel super satisfied to figure out throw-away allusions to past movie stars, movie makers, movie scenes, and movie costumes.

But how deep can a movie that repurposes recycled material go? Not very. I've never felt that Tarantino has ever been interested in real emotions or real characters, and that's fine, that's not his thing. But the choice is also an Inglourious limitation. So Pitt play acts; that's what's called for. And Jews and movies win the war this time around. But a Nazi steals the picture. I'm talking about Austrian actor Christoph Waltz -- huge in his home country, unknown in ours but about to be famous -- who's memorable long after the credits roll in retro typography. (Ennio Morricone's retro music works hard, too.) Waltz plays icily precise Nazi colonel Hans Landa, known as "the Jew Hunter." And from his very first scene, in which Landa pries information out of a French farmer, spaghetti-western style, he's irresistible, a one-man display of theatrical virtuosity applied to a villain we're meant to love to hate.

Second-best Nazi award, by the way, goes to the celebrated young German actor Daniel Bruhl (The Bourne Ultimatum), while German-born Diane Kruger wins the award as best German undercover agent/actress in high-heeled pumps. Oh, and B.J.Novak from The Office? He's a Jewish Basterd, too. No joke.


Anonymous said...

The rich and famous do not want to be seen as 'pigs' or go down in history as 'villains'. They want to be seen as 'heros' and go down in history as 'humanitarians'. The market for their product has become global. The fan base has become global. Therefore, the 'humanitarian' effort and 'good will' PR machine has gone global. These 'humanitarian' efforts and 'good deeds' are not chosen to address the greatest need or injustice. For the mostpart, they are not even chosen by celebrities or executives. Those little stories they tell about it are LIES. These 'humanitarian' efforts and 'good deeds' are chosen for the mostpart, by trained image consulting, tax deducting, and marketing professionals who work behind the scenes for every big name celebrity and business on the planet. They are chosen almost exclusively to appeal to the largest demographic for their respective commercial products. The largest fan base. Its all considered and calculated ahead of time. Real world efficiency or effect is of little or no concern. Its all about PR, marketing, image, fame, and profit. This is why so many of the rich and famous have taken up 'philanthropy' or 'good will' around the world. This is why so many have 'schools', 'foundations', 'clubs', or 'playgrounds' in their own name. This is why so many play golf or appear on a TV game show for 'charity'. This is why so many sign motorcycles on TV, other merchandise, or auction off their own 'personal effects' for 'charity'. This is why so many have TV shows with a 'charitable' gimmick. This is why so many arrange photo ops with wounded veterans, firefighters, or sick children. This is why so many have adopted children from around the world (Which they always pay others to care for full time. The hired professionals are sworn by legal contract to confidentiality. Not allowed to discuss or appear in public with the children they care for. Those 'photo' and 'interview' opportunities are reserved exclusively for the rich and famous 'adoptive' parents. Often sold for millions.). This is why every 'humanitarian' effort and 'good deed' is plastered all over the media worldwide. Its not about 'humanity' or 'good will'. Its all about PR, marketing, image, fame, and PROFIT. This is why we are so often reminded of their respective 'good deeds' and 'humanitarian' efforts shortly before or after the release of their latest commercial product. IT IS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT A BOGUS CAMPAIGN OF TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR MARKETING CRAP. GOOD WILL HAS BECOME BIG BUSINESS.

Anonymous said...

The Anonymous poster on June 3rd articulated the statements so very well that I was completely blown away by their enlightenment. No one could have tacked the issue better. Actors, musicians,and the whole lot of them are users of people basically the parasitical vampires of the world. It's hard to tell how many bodies they have stuffed in their closet's. Is that Brad Pitt calls himself a bastard in French?

bowler said...

judging by the trailer, it looks like Inglourious Basterds will be loaded with some awesome one (or two) -liners

dissertation writing services said...

I think the film has met some criticism from Jewish press, as well. In Tablet, Liel Liebowitz criticizes the film as lacking moral depth.