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Friday, August 28, 2009


Here's another one at Huff Po: http://tinyurl.com/md3uda which is better than the others. But still not enough to shut me up. It is again all about violence Tarantino style. Tarantino says violence is like a color, and that's the way he uses it. It is not supposed to frighten and shake you to the core. You are to look at it like a movie, like TV. As he says about 9-11 it didn't affect him. He had seen planes crash into buildings in movies. There is an early Arnold flick where a young boy flying a plane crashes into a high (not a skyscraper) building to commit suicide. This was way before 9-11. Military and domestic intelligence need to use the minds of its imaginative thinkers to predict future attacks. But then there would be so many choices they would get confused. Not Condi Rice, though, the who woulda thought blah blah blah person who was guarding us at the time.

Back to the early sixties with the murder of Kitty Genovese. Genovese was stabbed to death on a public street in 1964 while thirty-eight onlookers watching from their apartments out their windows did nothing to help her. Her assailant took 30 minutes to stalkand stab her to death while she screamed for help. Bibb Latane, a young doctoral student, made his career on his dissertation as to what was going on with those bystanders. Actually they were just precursors to present day onlookers who watch atrocities on TV, in theatres, and on the streets as if they were not real, as if no one is suffering.We have all been desensitized in a behavioral paradigm long long ago. So quit with the ranting about violence. And just slow down for the next roadkill and look.

Back to Blankenship's take on violence. Resevoir Dogs is often brought up here to beat Tarantino over the head. RD shows us just how stupid and boring these aging petty criminals really are. Cocky adolescent delinquents now just low mediocre getting older men who have no imagination as to how to torture or obtain a confession. Just like those peon recruits in Iraq who went to prison for doing what the uppers wanted them to do. Remember the childhood game where you were told to do something bad. If you were clever you knew you would take the blame if caught and the one who instigated it would walk. It's the same fucking game. Cover your ass. Get the jerks to do the dirty work.

So much for blaming Tarantino for gratuitous violence. The theatre scene where the Nazis will get blown up and shot mirrors the film they are watching of the young German soldier killing Americans. The flames that devour the screen and the theatre with their locked doors mirrors the Reichstag fire (German's 9-11) just before Hitler came to power but which was instigated by his stormtroopers. A beautiful parallel with a footnote to Rienzi, the Grand Opera of Wagner where flames engulf all. We know Hitler loved that opera of destruction, the tale of the last Roman Tribune. The locked doors are also the locked doors of the church where Jews were herded and burned I forget where and when but it was a crucial scene in The Reader.

I am not finished with this part yet. Continued in part 5.

Inglourious Basterds Review Part 3

Hello again. I haven't mentioned that Tarantino is the film history student par excellence. The one and only time I heard him on Charlie Rose, many years ago, he took even my breath away with his fingertip knowledge of film. Most of us know he did not finish high school, was raised by a single mom who must have encouraged his curiosity and intelligence. He worked in a video store and saw movies, movies, movies non stop. Well that's the only way you can even approach catching up on film history. And with Tarantino does it ever show. He seems to have seen everything worth seeing and chooses his influences well. Godard for example. A filmmaker's filmmaker, revered all over the world for his risk taking and daring and non-commercial attitude. Still think he's a moron?

Now I am going to try to elucidate his structural analysis. Let's start with the women because they are so beautiful and perfect in this film. Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent, whose name in the film is Shosanna Dreyfus. The significance of Dreyfus is the Dreyfus Affair. Look it up. Kruger is the German film actress, double agent for M1 in the UK, where Operation Kino (loses me on this but maybe someone will tell me)has been concocted with the Dietrich like Bridget von Hammersmark, a nice play on words again. Kruger is an actress and plays the role as an actress would play it, that is as an as if personality. Laurent is different. She is clearly controlling her feelings lest she betray herself. Her interactions are authentic. We can see her holding in her fear to avoid betraying herself. In her scene with Christoph Waltz his refined brutality is pure evil. He orders her food, a strudel confection with whipped cream on top, he an expresso, her milk. He offers her a cigarette which she accepts. These are chilling details, and they do not escape her. In the first scene before he murders the hiding Jews under the floorboards he shares drink with his victim. He drinks fresh milk and shares tobacco and Shoshanna remembers this, thus her increased fear. Does he know who she is? Does he suspect? Is this an unconscious knowing on his part? Conscious? No, on second viewing he knows. Just before he goes he says, There was something else but I seem to have forgotten it. Oh well. Hans is disciplined to his core. He drinks two glasses of milk in the first scene. But only one expresso with Shosanna. He forces her to wait until the whipped cream is brought to the table, another communication to increase her fear. He does not finish his dessert confection and stubs out his half smoked cigarette in the whipped cream which is filmed close-up. a brutal and uncouth gesture by a cultured man, done for her benefit. A sign that her youth and beauty mean nothing to him.

So now I should tell you this review is a spoiler. I am little interested in plot to keep my attention and focus. I prefer to get it out of the way so I can concentrate on how the film or book is constructed. Feelings that drive one to keep viewing or reading cause you to miss many things;hence, a second viewing is necessary for the films who deserve more attention that one viewing can offer. A Beautiful Life is one such film. Such a deconstruction of authoritarianism and how it relates to fascism is awesome. Another time and posting.

On to part 4? Yes? No?


Are you ready? As the red analysis suggests let's do talk about language. Yes Basterds is intentionally misspelled. Say it out loud the way it is spelled. It forces you to pronounce it with a British inflection. Inglourious is spelled the UK way to draw our attention to the linguistic UK on a visual plane the way Basterds does on the auditory. Still think Tarantino is a moron? (One of the commentators said that at Huff Po.)

But I am not finished by a long shot. I will concede that red lipstick, fingernails, beautiful red dresses, Nazi banners and blood are alluded to here. Far from the whole story though. The film opens with Once Upon a time....., a fairy tale. To be taken as an imaginary fluff, right? Then you haven't read Bettleheim's The Uses of Enchantment or Picola's Women Who Run With the Wolves. Fairy tales are to be taken very very seriously. In childhood and in adulthood. And it seems Tarantino thinks we still need them. We do. The film is structurally composed in chapters: like one; two; three;etc. That means: Read it like a book! It also refers to Godard, Tarantino's genius of a mentor and his French films, most of which have chapter titles.

So an entire new level opens up. Godard has been teaching his audience how to view, perceive, analyze, interpret, understand, see reality. Remember the blood all over the place in the car wrecks of Weekend? Lots of red in that one and a prescient vision of the stupidness of the auto weekends from the suburbs. But I won't go there.

Inglourious Basterds can now be seen as an incredible attempt to teach us how to see. Let's go there in part 3 if you are still with me.


After reading one miserable review of Inglourious Basterds after another with piled on criticism of Tarantino I overcame my resistance and started blogging about it. IB is not about red except in a manifest dream way. You know the way you see some object in a dream vividly colored and you remember that upon waking. Well that is part of the manifest dream content and you can analyze that. It is not the deep structure of the dream, just the surface structure. You can choose how to look at it in a Freudian or Chomskyian sense. Your choice. But at Huffington Post Regina Weinreich got frontpaged with a red analysis, and other surface inanities about the film. Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/regina-weinreich/tarantinos-red_b_267178.html

The second poster that infuriates me at Huff Po is Johann Hari a columnist for London Independent who at the top of the front page rails about The Terrible Moral Emptiness of Quentin Tarantino, saying he coulda been a contender. I beg to differ. This is an extremely moral film at the cutting edge of ethics. In the sense of Camus or Sartre on the authentic personality versus the as if personality. (Think Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.) Here's the link so you can go there before you read further.

So go on to part 2 if you are still interested.