Basterds, Inglorious and Otherwise (Spoiler Alert)

NOTE: If you've not seen Inglorious Basterds and care about having it spoiled a little bit by a shitty non-reviewer, you can skip this one.

I'm usually shy of commenting on film. This is mostly due to the fact that I don't have much of a memory for quipping or quoting, especially from movies. But that's not the substance of film - this much I know. I won't get that far into the movie v. film issue here, but as far as I can tell, a movie is akin to beach reading, while a film meets some mysterious, perhaps even academic standard of quality, as does canonical literature. Of course there's more depth to that conversation than I could rightly provide here and in my illimitable laze. But since there's more substance suggested by the term "film," it will be my term of choice, since I am an elitist.

I don't see many movies OR films on the big screen. In the past six months or so, I've made an exception for two: the new Harry Potter flick (which was everything I dreamed it would be, all shiny and full of the teenage awkwardness I found so endearing in the later books of the series - so many people get all annoyed at that, but I find it delightful) and Inglorious Basterds.

Amanda Marcotte has a very fine review you should read (yes, it too contains spoilers). I do dig Mr. Tarantino's work, if not his personality, per se and find Marcotte's post-modern assessment of his oeuvre to be a good fit. I think she gives him maybe a WEE bit too much credit in the feminist dept., but I'm fussy. I think Shoshanna could have been sussed out even more and Marcotte seems to find the femme fatale trope to be a novel device. A bit puzzling, that. But the film (yes, I am brave enough to lend it that distinction) got me thinking more about how war movies figure propagandistically in our culture more than feminism. In fact, it is Shoshanna herself who uses propagandistic indocrination against her Nazi adversaries, in the end quite literally subverting their own film to serve her revenge against them.

In this really clever bit of irony, Tarantino showed us all these thoroughly indoctrinated Nazi propaganda film-types whooping it up to little more than enemy carnage on screen get blown up themselves. But then, aren't we similarly whooping, or at least grinning and hissing yes! to ourselves at that moment and many others throughout the film? Perspective alone makes that acceptable, which in addition to the constant ratcheting up of tension, makes one quite squirmy through the whole thing. I recall the buzz around the film's initial release billing it as a sort of pornographically violent rewriting of history, or how we shoulda done it. And while that is no less true, I think the fact that he employs it to turn the focus back on audience is why I find Tarantino's use of violence compelling and not pornographic. He's pointing to the nature of the author/audience relationship, how that relationship is couched in and nurtured by culture.

Sometimes it's all too meta for me to parse, but very cool nonetheless. Probably one of the best moviefilms I've seen in a long time. Though I still have a soft spot for Harry Potter.


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