22 August 2009 | Jawsphobia
Not for critics, but people who love a good movie
Some critics might claim to need a code key to interpret what Tarantino means by this revisionist adventure film, but I'd say it's right under their up-turned noses: There's a great little scene where Mike Meyers plays a British military man who anticipates attacking a Nazi film premiere so he brings in an a film critic as an adviser. This may or may not be necessary but it does allow for a dialogue exchange like: Meyers: What do you do? Critic: I am a film critic.
Meyers: What are your accomplishments? Even though the critic goes on to list some compilation books, it may as well be a rhetorical question.
Tarantino thumbs his nose at convention and that is part of the movie's appeal. His movies are often about movies as much as they are about the content at hand. Yet he still manages to sustain genuine tension. The opening Nazi interrogation of a French farmer and a later a tavern basement guessing game scene must have had whopping page counts but they play out as chapters and remain engrossing high stakes set pieces. In the same film he can introduce a character by throwing a title onto the screen as if this member of the "Basterds" was cool enough to have his own movie, or play a 1980's David Bowie song while a woman prepares to do battle in her own way while Nazi flags hang outside the window.
The movie takes place in an alternate universe that could either be a dream or the unreality of the grind-house era Tarantino has celebrated in Kill Bill and, well, Grindhouse. Anyone with a brain will get that. If that sounds good, see it. I notice now there are blurbs about "how Jewish critics feel" about the movie. Well, those who go to a movie with a deliberately misspelled title knowing it is a revisionist fantasy and can't bear to see the character of Hitler as the butt of the joke don't have an opinion worthy of note. If you are an expert on NASA, your views on George Lucas' Star Wars movies are not necessarily of use to me. In fact it's a little galling that such a critic-proof designation as "Jewish critic" should be trotted out. They can say what they like about a sensitive document with the intentions of Schindler's List and God bless them. But if someone gets his boxers in a bunch over slapstick Nazis or clueless Hitler autographing the Grain Diary for Indiana Jones, then they just aren't going to be the right audience for Inglourious Basterds. In fact they shouldn't be watching fun movies at all. They should try staring at a blank wall and talking to themselves rather than type up their blather.
But it's not all fun. Sad things do happen and unfortunate events occur in this movie. The tension even in dialogue does come from the danger of having a Nazi at the table or someone daring to ask him to leave. But when you get reviewers comparing the Basterds to Al Qaida I think we can excuse those critics from the table as well. Or call Eli Roth over to them and yell "Play ball!"