Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Live diary: "Inglourious Basterds"

I was pretty excited to see this movie in theaters. But I didn't because I needed those $10 to buy pornography and drugs. Hah! I'm just kidding, nobody buys porn. The last live diary was pretty well-received so you guys have earned yourself another one. Pat yourselves on the back; you did good. The biggest revelation after all was said and done, without spoilers: the bearded steely-eyed French dude in the first scene gets more lines and face time than Brad Pitt does through 3/4 of the movie. All right, let's get it on. As always, time stamps are from the theatrical release and begin with the start of the credits.

0:20 Sorry to join you so late, but the first thing just happened! Some Germans killed some Jews and a teenaged girl (who will probably be a major character later) escaped. I'm not sure I had to sit through 15 minutes of colorful expository dialogue just to determine that Nazis Are Evil, but I'm glad we made the journey together.

0:22 Cut to Brad Pitt talking to the entire cast of the movie about their upcoming mission. There is no preamble or introduction. After the first scene, I'm inclined to believe a good chunk of the script got lost.

0:23 I'm not entirely sure why the U.S. Army has assembled a squad of ultimate badasses with the ultimate mission of torturing and murdering some inconsequential German infantry grunts. Brad Pitt talks a good game about the evil the Nazis are and how the enemy will think of their Torture Squad when they do evil things, but here's my question (and I honestly don't know the answer): how much day-to-day evil was the average Nazi soldier in occupied France responsible for? From everything I've learned about the military, it's essentially 90% sitting around and waiting for something to happen. I'd bet your average German soldier in the French countryside had a weekly Evil Quotient of about 0.83. Put in more conventional terms, this is the equivalent of inappropriately touching one barnyard animal every 5 days.

0:25 Props to Mr. Tarantino for not extending his German dialogue past my high school German education. Nice slow delivery, too.

0:27 I guess Brad Pitt's Jew Squad has already been operating for months by the time this scene happens. 5 minutes into "Chapter 2" of the movie, we've progressed through months of activity. 5 minutes into "Chapter 1," a sweaty French dude was still washing his face. Pacing!

0:28 Brad Pitt is a famous actor and all that, but does he really deserve that much credit considering that all of his characters are a) badasses, b) goofballs or c) both? I'll give you a minute to think about that. You could do his job, if only you were that good-looking. But you're an ugly hump and have no chance.

0:28 Sweet guitar riff for Stieglitz. Sold.

0:33 They talk a lot about Eli Roth's character, who is famous for braining Nazis with a baseball bat. My first thought was, "is this really so intimidating?" but then I remembered that Nazis are, fundamentally, video game henchmen. They fear melee combat more than anything else, and that's why they're quaking in their boots.

0:34 Eli Roth is the most fearsome 5'10" 180lb Jew I've ever seen! I see he and Zachary Quinto see the same eyebrow specialist. Also, he is from Boston; in case you couldn't tell from his second, fourth and fifth Fenway references. The first and third were pretty subtle, I'll give Quentin that.

0:40 There sure are a lot of reasonable German soldiers who speak good French.

0:50 The director of "Chapter 1" is apparently the director of "Chapter 3" as well. I understand most of the German and I'm still bored out of my mind. You don't get to throw APACHE ALDO RAINE at me one scene and then expect me to tolerate 10 minutes of pedestrian expository dialogue in French.

0:51 Oh lord, Dr. Goebbels is speaking in German which is being interpreted into French and subtitled in English. My head is filled with ache and bore.

0:54 Just in case you weren't completely aware that the woman in Chapter 3 is the fleeing girl from Chapter 1, Mr. Tarantino threw in a flashback to something we saw 45 minutes ago. Which might be okay if the original shot hadn't been pretty freaking dramatic to begin with. I get it, just keep this beast moving.

0:58 After some momentary excitement, we are returned to lengthy subtitled dialogue. We learn many things, like how this woman has a black projectionist at her movie theater and how the Nazis don't approve! They are racists, you see.

1:00 The Evil SS Colonel just extinguished his cigarette in an apple strudel. I could handle the racism, but it burns my blood to see quality baked goods defiled in this fashion.

1:02 Sammy L as narrator: yes. A thousand times yes.

1:05 Thank God, Chapter 4. I wondered where Quentin Tarantino got to.

1:06 I lied, he's still not back. Lengthy discussion of film theory between some Brits and Mike Myers in the most underwhelming cameo since Jack Nicholson appeared in "The Departed."

1:08 So Brad Pitt's guys are legendary in Germany (who would have every reason to cover up their activities) but Allied soldiers (who would have every reason to be told about their activities) have never heard of them.

1:13 Why is it necessary to develop the characters of random-ass German soldiers when the entire construction, development and deployment of the titular Basterds got only 30 seconds of Brad Pitt drawl?

1:19 Stieglitz demonstrates the great strength of the German people: getting shit done by yelling.

1:24 This scene keeps rolling on but violence is inevitable. Stieglitz is hankering for a shankering.

1:26 Okay, this is Tarantino. But it's not glib/violent/awesome Tarantino; rather, it's the self-indulgent-dialogue Tarantino. Remember the scene in Kill Bill vol. 2 where David Carradine prattles on about comics forever? It takes forever for Uma Thurman to get her ass in gear and hang him naked in his closet.

1:29 Oh hey, they have those neat boot glasses from "Beerfest!"

1:32 Finally violence. Solid.

1:34 Brad Pitt and German Soldier have a conversation about the meaning of "Mexican Standoff" and waste an opportunity for comedy. For shame.

1:40 The name of the big kill-the-Nazis-in-a-theater plan is Operation Kino. "Kino" is a German word for movie theater. The secrecy is imprenetrable.

1:45 This super-secret Nazi-killing squad not only left three of their dead comrades in a shot-up bar for the Germans to find, but they also left two pieces of evidence which clearly incriminate their secret contact. No wonder they've been able to operate absolutely undetected for months behind enemy lines.

1:48 I caught myself wondering why Quentin didn't get Uma Thurman in this movie like he does with all his others. But then I realized that the woman playing Shoshanna (the young Jewish woman who flees in the first scene) looks exactly like a shorter Uma. She's also in love with her projectionist, who's black. Controversial! In fact, so controversial that their relationship is entirely implied. They kiss once in the whole movie; that's it. Yet we are subjected to the life story of some German soldier in the cellar/bar scene who gets shot in that very scene.

1:51 "The Bear Jew," legendary terror of the Allied Armies, who had a whole scene devoted to his notoriety, is standing in the middle of dozens of German officers without being noticed. On the other hand, Brad Pitt speaking Italian more than makes up for the missed "mexican standoff" opportunity.

1:53 Brad Pitt stands around making a funny face. He's been in like four scenes and all of them appeared in the trailer.

2:03 The SS Colonel is by far the best character in this movie. He's had more quality lines than every other character combined. From here on out I'm switching sides and rooting for him.

2:04 Brad Pitt sounds like Matthew McConaughey on Vicodin.

2:05 The whole "Little Man" joke is actually funny despite B.J. Novak not having a real character or even really getting a speaking role until now. Imagine how funny this might be if we actually gave a shit about his character or even heard him speak before this scene. Seriously, how do you fill a whole movie with badass characters, even give them nicknames, then ignore them completely?

2:07 These Americans are such jerks. They're all focused on killing and toughness and Saving the World, but all the SS guy wants to do is work things out.

2:16 Watching a movie based on his combat exploits is more horrifying to this young German war hero than the actual exploits. Pathos!

2:19 But now he's yelling at Almost Uma Thurman. Anti-pathos! But now she shot him. Pathos! But now he shot her and they're dead. I'm confused.

2:24 Eli Roth just shot Hitler. With a gun. It was about as anticlimactic as the actual death of Hitler.

2:28 Still sympathizing with the SS Colonel. Why'd Brad Pitt have to kill his buddy? The whole swastika-scar thing was fair.

2:29 I was wondering where the last Brad Pitt clip from the trailers would be in the movie. Turns out it's right at the end, letting us bat 1000 on those scenes. Officially, every scene featuring Brad Pitt appeared in the fucking trailer. All five of them. This movie was totally about the SS guy. Hell, the total number of Nazi soldiers killed in this movie couldn't have been more than a couple dozen. Hundreds of Nazi civilians were killed, and uhhh...I guess that's something. It's kind of what made the Nazis evil in the first place, massacring civilians, but who am I to judge?

There are some unfortunate gaps, especially near the end of the movie. Those were filled with straightforward plot development--which was kind of boring, but a welcome change of pace from all the intensely boring other scenes. When the SS Officer or Brad Pitt aren't on-screen hamming it up, there's nothing going on here. It's the self-indulgent execution of a plot that might have been conceived in the head of a seventh-grade boy studying for his Bar Mitzvah. From all of us at "We Drop Things," thanks for reading.

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