Monday, August 24, 2009

As Close as We Get to Goin' to the Movies: Dennis, Bill, and Inglourious Basterds - Part One

[Too little too late, possibly, but spoilers follow]

Two days ago, my good friend and esteemed blogger Dennis Cozzalio sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to join him in a public, on-line conversation about Quentin Tarantino's new film, Inglourious Basterds. Having just seen the movie when I got his e-mail, my answer was that yes, I very, very much wanted to do that thing he'd just asked. The film took off the top of my head, and I loved very nearly every one of its 153 minutes (which felt to me more like 80). You take my enthusiasm for the film, my affection and respect for Dennis, the honor I felt for being asked at all, and then add the fact that Inglourious Basterds seems to be the film of the moment, and you might start to understand why I've been anxious to get started. So let's get started.

DC: Bill, I’m sure you’ve been following it in the weeks leading up to the release of the movie, but there has been a lot of talk about how writer-director Quentin Tarantino disregards history in Inglourious Basterds, and how he flirts with the particulars of (German) film history with a flippancy that belies any serious intent or effect. Yet to his detractors Tarantino’s most heinous crime seems to have been, within the boundaries of an acknowledged cinematic fantasia in which rogue elements of the Jewish oppressed find ways to wreak horrific revenge on their mass murderers, to make a movie that isn’t itself punishing to endure. I don’t know how you felt about these other pictures, but wrapped up in all the heavily aestheticized moralizing of Schindler’s List, a movie I was instructed from the beginning to revere but one I’ve never felt compelled to see again, are strangely evasive episodes in which Jews are herded into showered in order to be bathed, not gassed, and in which a lost little girl toddles down a street filled with destruction, her coat tinted red for maximum pathos and visual effect. Is this not a form of fantasy, or at least a dodge by a filmmaker who would rather not deal with the grim reality he has set up for himself to explore? And as Scott Foundas observes about Life is Beautiful, all forms of wretched and distasteful coincidence and plot machination are forgivable as long as long as the death of camp prisoner Roberto Benigni, the clown who cried, is the result, thus paying for our collective innocence lost and restoring our righteous indignation amidst a throat full of tears. Tarantino acknowledges history the way he, and many of us, have experienced it—through the lenses of filmmakers and historians both fine and faulty—and it becomes for him a way to reflect on cinema’s place as a propagandistic force throughout history, to restructure and build upon the standard tropes of WWII motion picture iconography (while virtually ignoring the most obvious one, the battle scene), and make space for the emotional force of revenge, in a far more ambivalent way that either he or his detractors seem to care to acknowledge. In Inglourious Basterds, the war is capsulized in classically mounted, sometimes agonizingly drawn-out bouts of conversation and horrific release—the film is segmented into five chapters, so even the narrative itself feels strange, the otherworldiness underlined by titles like “Once Upon a Time… in Nazi-Occupied France” (which opens on a beautiful vista of a country cottage about to be set upon by a big bad wolf ), or even the misspelled title of the movie itself. Each chapter is built around conversations between antagonists that illustrate the methodology of warfare, the tantalizingly twisted thickets of wordplay, in which language itself is often central to deception or exposure, followed by an explosion of violence during which as many things go ghastly wrong as may go right.
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Of course, each section then is a foreshadowing of the movie’s already most famous sequence, in which all the strands of Tarantino’s outrageous plot meet in a tangled know within the walls of a Parisian cinema where, for the running time of this movie anyway, the course of world history will take a sharp left turn to orgasmic wish fulfillment. The outrageous climax of Inglourious Basterds has compelled some to equate it with Holocaust denial, but I don’t think it’s wrongheaded to suggest that Tarantino might feel that to deny the possibility that Jews might want bloody revenge, or that it’s possible to contrive an emotionally satisfying story (with its feet at least acquainted with reality) in which Jews themselves might take up arms against those who would obliterate them, is to deny those Jews an essential and universal human response, to make them somehow above such motivation, therefore either more, or less human. And despite complaints otherwise, I don’t think Tarantino is playing a game in which the Jews dispensing such explosive equilibrium aren’t cognizant of the horror they’re turning around on their Nazi oppressors. Shit-asses one and all are barbecued in that cinema, and we get a good look at their terror, as well as the looks on the faces of the two Basterds directly involved as the flames engulf the auditorium and they mow down the high command of Third Reich with great satisfaction. But I don’t think I’d be alone in noticing the looks on their faces curdle just slightly as they are confronted with the reality of what it means to have orchestrated a human oven on their own terms, even with history’s moist despicable villains inside.

There have been complaints that the movie is ungainly and too slow, the conversational set pieces (of which there are four which play out with Tarantino’s slow-burn style and structure) boring, that it plays bait-and-switch with its Dirty Dozen-Inglorious Bastards genre roots and turns more into a European art film (a fair cop!), and that Tarantino’s dialogue isn’t sharp enough to justify the length of the scenes. It seems to me that you’re on board with Tarantino since the beginning of his career, but particularly with what he was up to in Death Proof, his methods shouldn’t come as a surprise, and the complaints may actually be reassuring. The difference here is that Tarantino, because of the period setting, must be aware of the vernacular popular in conversation during the ‘40s (and more appropriately in movies of the ‘40s), and thereby adapt his typical concerns with the pop culture landscape to fit the period. But he doesn’t stop there-- Inglourious Basterds is, among many other things, an engagement with a period of cinema history that is enriched by the director’s incorporation of it into the veins and musculature of his crazy plot. When was the last time you saw a movie with a gruelingly intense confrontation that hinged on a plot point straight out of Leni Reifenstahl’s The White Hell of Piz Palu? When was the last time you saw a movie with a central character to whom cinema and knowledge of it is both a sustaining force and a means of destruction? Of course Tarantino has not figured the complete and unabridged history of UFA into his film, and if he did it would be quite a different beast. Call him a geek if you must, but Tarantino has not devolved, as some have suggested, into a hermetically sealed self-referentialist in the manner of, say, Dario Argento. Stephanie Zacharek, in her qualified appreciation of the movie, suggests that Tarantino vision, while remaining true to that movie geek philosophy, is actually expanding rather than contracting, and in Inglourious Basterds he has begun to approach the way Brian De Palma synthesizes cinematic influences as far ranging as Hitchcock, Antonioni and Godard into something unmistakably De Palma, with concerns and effects completely unique to his own sensibility. The bonus is that young film fans flock to his movies, perhaps not for lectures on cinematic influences, but for how he makes those moments and influences his own, and if one of these young fans, who may think an old movie is one made around 1990, is by chance inspired to learn more about UFA, or Emil Jannings, or Lilian Harvey (I had to look her up too, Stephanie!), or G. W. Pabst, or even Josef Goebbels and why he held himself up to be the Third Reich equivalent of David O. Selznick, well, what’s wrong with that? Tarantino is, frankly, the kind of fanboy I wish we had more of, one who at least understands that film history extends far beyond te usual boundaries of our experience with American films. Of course, since 1994 there have been many who have tried to prove themselves fanboys of Tarantino’s equal, as storytellers, mythmakers and human databases, and they’ve usually come off looking pretty lame in comparison. Inglourious Basterds is a brilliant development from our best film geek, one which suggests ways that understanding the fabrications and truths of the movies can lead to understanding of horrors beyond the cinema walls, ones that linger like images of the dead projected on billows of gathering clouds of smoke.

BR: Good Lord, man, you sure know how to kick things off. I don't quite know where to begin, not only because you've covered so much ground already, but also because I feel like I'm at a slight disadvantage in that everyone but me has seen the movie, absorbed all the various discussions of it going on around the internet, and then seen it again. All I've done so far is see the film once, two days ago, and spent the time between then and now getting pissed off at people who thought it was boring or as bad as Nazis.

Let me begin simply, by telling you that my wife and I saw the film at a suburban multiplex in southern Virginia on Friday night, to a reasonably full house, and I don't believe there was anyone in the audience who was anything less than totally absorbed from frame one until the closing credits, at which point a fair number of people applauded. So I think that any conversation about the film, and what it is, and what it does, has to acknowledge that Inglourious Basterds is, at its core, a genuine crowd-pleaser. An art-house foreign language (essentially) crowd-pleaser. Whatever the hell this thing is, it works, in a broad sense, and I find that pretty exciting and encouraging, considering what a mad fucking whirlwind Tarantino has put together.

Anyway, Dennis, you point out the complaints from certain critical circles that Inglourious Basterds "disregards history". I have indeed followed this to some degree, and that particular bit of hypocrisy is something I find especially confusing. For one thing, films based on history often disregard history -- what do these critics think of Amadeus or, for that matter, JFK? -- without quite the rending of garments that Tarantino's film is inspiring -- "akin to Holocaust denial"??? Who said that? And did they offer one ounce of logical reasoning to justify a statement that is nonsensical on its face?

Plus, let's look at the history Tarantino distorts. In essence, he says that the Allies still won World War II, but V-E day came maybe a year earlier, and for different reasons. I'm sure I don't need to remind you, Dennis, that there is an entire subgenre of science fiction called "alternate history", which imagines what the future, or the present, would be like if major historical events had not happened, or had happened differently. There is also an entire sub-genre of alternate history that deals with what would have happened had Hitler won World War II. To my knowledge, the publication Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle or Len Deighton's SS-GB or about half the ouvre of Harry Turtledove, or countless others, have been met without a peep from critics about their offensive disdain for historical record. But Tarantino's expected to line up for a paddlin'. Put it this way: I would have a hard time claiming that Inglourious Basterds is science fiction itself, but its sequel would fit that genre very comfortably.

You also bring up reaction to the film's aesthetics. I must say that I didn't think that Death Proof worked, largely because the dialogue spoken by the two groups of women always sounded as though it wanted to loved and regarded as cool. It was overwritten, repetitive, slogging, and robbed the film's best moments of all impact. But in Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino has done two things: he has created characters whose lives aren't given over to leisure, or who don't even have time for leisure (or, in some cases, whose idea of what constitutes "leisure" is quite different from what might be considered the norm); and he has been able to still make cinema one of his major themes, as it always has been, by constructing a plot that allowed talk of Pabst and Riefenstahl to not only flow organically, but to be essential. As a result of this, and many other things, I believe that Inglourious Basterds is probably the tightest film Tarantino has ever made, and one of the tightest bits of storytelling, genre or otherwise, that I've seen in years. .

Clearly, some don't agree (many do, though). While the brilliant opening sequence, the roughly 20-minute conversation between Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Pierre LaPadite (Denis Menochet) has been nearly unanimously praised, Tarantino tests the mettle of some pretty hardcore film critics with his nearly half-hour-long tavern scene, which goes from minor comedy, to expository dialogue, to a long section of relentless, ever-more-excruciating suspense that pays off with a shocking explosion of violence. To me, this scene is one of the most astonishing bits of filmmaking, film writing, and film acting I've ever seen, and it is all the proof I need that when I'm watching a Tarantino film, I am in the hands of a master. Letting this scene play out as long as it does (eliciting not a peep of impatience from the audience I saw it with, by the way) is far more ballsy, in my estimation, than his re-writing of history. If someone had described to me what the scene was about, and then told me how long it was, I think I'd have a hard time imagining how it could work. But it's exquisite, as close to a perfect example of suspense filmmaking since Hitchcock made Rear Window.

Dennis, this scene is uneblievable! It really is! Did you check your watch once in that entire half hour? Did you have any idea where it was heading, or how long it would ultimately last, and did you care? Can you imagine it being any shorter? The morals, or lack thereof, of Inglourious Basterds is currently the hot topic, but I was knocked stupid by this film as a film, and as a story, of the formal-and-otherwise wonderfulness of it all. The morals, we'll get to -- I have no doubt about that, and I'll address your points about that in the next round. But before that, let us please take a moment to acknowledge that Quentin Tarantino knows how the fuck to put a movie together, and anyone who says otherwise is...well, is someone who I would very much like to explain themselves.

End Part One, and I'm sorry about the disjointed nature of my response, but I'm very tired and sunburned right now. Sleep, then tomorrow my focus shall return.

39 comments:

Krauthammer said...

Oh God I need to see this movie.

bill r. said...

Yes you do, Krauthammer. You really, really do.

Kevin J. Olson said...

I'm seeing this in two days. I can hardly sleep at night. I'll be back with more thoughtful comments once I've seen the film.

Great stuff as always, Bill.

Rick Olson said...

Bill, I'm one who was bored by large sections of this film; if that pisses you off, I'm sorry.

In my estimation, only about 2.5 or maybe 3 of the 5 chapters work. I'll explain why I say that in a day or so over at my place.

bill r. said...

Kevin - Thanks. And I guess, since you haven't seen it, that you're unaware that there's a character in the film named Hugo Stiglitz...

Rick - Oh, I can't stay mad at you. But you know how it is: you find yourself incredibly enthusiastic for a film, and hearing people run it down just gets your blood up. I'll get over it.

But I guess this means you weren't crazy about the tavern scene?

Rick Olson said...

Bill, I liked the tavern scene all right, it was one of the parts I liked, although I thought it could have been a bit more tightly edited.

I don't think it's a bad movie, I thought it was too long. If you're going to have so much dialog as in a Tarantino movie, you'd better make sure it's great dialog, like in "Pulp Fiction." Unfortunately, I thought that missed the mark much of the time here.

bill r. said...

Rick, I loved the dialogue. I thought Tarantino was right back on his game after the rambling self-consciousness of Death Proof. The movie felt like it was about 80 minutes long to me.

Ed Howard said...

Great thoughts, Bill. Like you I was knocked flat by this movie, and especially that opening scene. I won't add too much, because I'm actually in the middle of my own conversation about this film (and Tarantino as a whole) for my forthcoming next discussion with Jason Bellamy. But I'm looking forward to reading the rest of you and Dennis' exchange.

Tony Dayoub said...

This is probaly Tarantino's best film since Jackie Brown, and despite the antics depicted in the movie itself, his most mature as an artist.

It's not just that he complicates the viewer's feelings for the violence. It's also the way he manages to combine this complexity with the playfulness of an artist that knows he can manipulate you and you'll enjoy it.

In many obvious ways it reminded me of De Palma. But one less obvious was how it echoes Raising Cain of all movies. Cain is much more flawed, to be sure. But De Palma seemed to use it strictly as an exercise to demonstrate his mastery in his ability to manipulate his audience with the medium.

Tarantino does him one better by doing that AND having something to say.

bill r. said...

Ed - I know what you mean. I've been talking about the movie on other sites, and I'm a bit worried about burning myself out, but now that Dennis and I have started, I'm going to remove myself from those discussions on other blogs. And I really look forward to your conversation with Jason.

Tony - I think Basterds might be Tarantino's best film, period. That's how I feel at the moment, anyway. It's the work of an incredibly talented, and more to your point, supremely confident artist. You have to be confident in your abilities to even conceive of that tavern scene.

As for the complicated attitudes towards the violence: you may already know that my own reaction to it was less complicated than others, but I do acknowledge that the attempt by Tarantino is there. More about that aspect of the film to come, however.

Greg said...

I shall see it tomorrow. At that time, I will be the final judge. At that point everyone will be welcome to adopt my opinion as their own. Thank you.

bill r. said...

But...what if your opinion is different from mine? I like liking this movie. It's nice...

Greg said...

I don't think I've ever hated a QT movie. He's not a favorite and I consider much of his work too clever and self-conscious by half but I always somehow enjoy them. Hell, I'm just looking forward to a big bucket of popcorn. Mmmm. Maybe I'll get nachos too. Wow, now I'm reeeeally looking forward to it!

Craig said...

Greg, I hate to spoil things, but the climax turns on an unbreakable wand....

bill r. said...

Greg, along with everything else this movie is, it's also a great popcorn movie.

Craig - Quit ruining everything!

Greg said...

Shit, so Rowling had a hand in it huh? That sucks. QT has just dropped immensely in my estimation.

Craig said...

Just wait til you see Lord Hitler-mort.

Pat said...

Bill -

I'm glad you netioned the audience reactions, because I had similarly exhilarating experience when I saw it,and I can't deny that it enhanced my enjoyment.

I have mixed feelings about "Inglourisou Basterds" that I'm still trying to process, and I'll sheepishly admit to being one of those people who is wrestling with the appropriateness of Tarantino rewrining history. But then,as you pointed out, there's a whole world of "alternative history" fiction. And one such book I particuarly like is Stephen Fry's "Making History" which imagines what would have happened if Hitler had never been born (courtesy of a modern-day time traveler who sends himself back to Hitler's hometown and contaminates the well from which Hitler's parents get water with a drug that causes infertility.) So I guess that takes some of the starch out of my carping.

Pat said...

"rewriting history" is what I meant.

bill r. said...

I don't think I've ever taken the starch out of anyone's carping before. How exhilerating!

I take it the alternate history angle isn't your only problem with the film, though...am I right, Pat?

And I've always wanted to read that Stephen Fry book.

Pat said...

Bill -

To be honest, I'm not well versed in Tarantino and what I have seen, I've had some problems with. I can't deny that he makes a wildly entertaining movie. Some of my problems with his work, though, are just my personal foibles, like an extreme inability to stomach violence (which made some scenes in "Inglourious Basterds" impossible for me to watch. And there's the show-offy incongruous stuff like the retro title superimposed on Hugo Stiglitz when he's introduced or the David Bowie song played while Shoshanna prepares for the finale - that stuff take me out of the movie and irritates me.

Roger Ebert has said that after he first saw "Inglourious Basterds" at Cannes, he felt he'd either seen the best movie of the year or the worst - he wouldn't know for sure until he saw it again. That's kind of how I feel, too. I can raise lots of objections to specific scenes, but I can't escape the fact that I had a great time, was never bored, never once wanted it to end. Ebert decided after his second viewing that IB was likely to be the best movie of the year. I don't know how I'll feel, but I do plan to see it again.

bill r. said...

The "Hugo Stiglitz" title didn't bother me, though I found it curious that Stiglitz is the only one that gets such a title. I have to assume it has something to do with Tarantino wanting to put the name "Hugo Stiglitz" up in big crazy letters on the screen There's apparently a real Stiglitz, a cult Mexican B actor, or something like that.

The Bowie song works better for me in retrospect than it did at the time. It's a bit jarring at first, but given where the film ends up, I thought that, stylistically (and lyrically) it fit.

And speaking of Ebert, here's a line from his review that has me puzzled:

A character at the beginning and end, not seen in between, brings the story full circle...

I can't think of any character seen at the beginning and end who is not also seen in between. Either Ebert's completely wrong about something, or I'm a total moron.

Pat said...

Yeah, I remember that line from Ebert's review,too, and I was just as puzzled as you are.

I chalked it up to the fact that I had my hands covering my eyes through most of the final scene (that sensitivity to violence) so I missed some character's entrance. Apparently I didn't.

Ed Howard said...

Is it possible Ebert forgot Shosanna was there through a lot of the middle chapters, not just in the ending? That's the only possibility I can think of.

Tony Dayoub said...

He might mean BJ Novak (The Office). But I don't see the impact he had on the story.

Also, I heard the film was edited differently when shown at Cannes, if Ebert saw it there.

Kevin J. Olson said...

In response to the Hugo Stiglitz thing:

There is indeed a wonderfully awful actor named Hugo Stiglitz. Most of you know that my blog is named after him. He was in a ton of bad Mexican disaster movies and Italian horror films. The only thing I can think of in regards to the notice he gives that name with with credits (I haven't seen the film yet, but Bill and Pat talk about it above) is that Tarantino is such a huge fan of this legendary B actor that it made him laugh when he saw it on the screen. Perhaps he wanted Stiglitz for the movie, and this was his way of getting him in the picture. I do know that Tarantino is a HUGE fan of Stiglitz' most popular film, the Umberto Lenzi film Nightmare City.

Anyway. I can't wait for that moment in the movie. I'm seeing this Thursday.

Pat said...

Actually when that scene come on, my first thought was "Hugo Stiglitz? That's Kevin's blog!"

I had to Google him when I got home to find out he was a Mexican actor.

Kevin J. Olson said...

Pat:

That's hilarious. It's nice to know that my blog was the first thing you thought of! Haha.

bill r. said...

Ed - How in the world could he forget that Shosanna was in more than just the beginning and ending? She's practically the main character!

Tony - I considered BJ Novak, too, but as you say, that doesn't make any sense. I was glad that Novak was finally given a little something to do at the end, but he doesn't bring anything full circle (meanwhile, poor Samm Levine was apparently left on the cutting room floor).

And yeah, I've heard the Cannes edit was different, but I've heard it's not THAT different. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Either way, Ebert says he saw the film again before writing his review.

Kevin - According to Wikipedia, Stiglitz at least has Under the Volcano to his credit. That's one good movie, at least. But although I've seen that film, I have no idea who he played, and would doubt that I've seen any of his other films. I'm pretty curious about him now, though.

Pat said...

Could Ebert possibly have been talking about Hans Landa? He's in the beginning and the end of the film - could Ebert have forgotten that he had a scene with Shoshanna in a cafe somewhere around the midpoint of the film?

bill r. said...

Pat, that's a pretty big scene. Hard to understand how he could have forgotten it. Plus, Landa has another brief moment in that tag to the tavern scene. I think he must have at least another scene in between, doesn't he?

Greg said...

Either Ebert's completely wrong about something, or I'm a total moron.

As of late, I would go with the option "Ebert's completely wrong" every time. And I strongly recommend everyone else go with this option as well. I used to really love Ebert and now I realize that, completely unplanned, I challenged his reviews/opinions twice in less than a month at my blog. In fact, hearing from Pat that Ebert thinks IB may be the best of the year immediately inspired an "uh-oh" in me. But so many others I respect like it too so maybe Ebert stumbled upon the correct conclusion by dumb luck.

Anyway, tomorrow - matinee. I'm psyched!

Ed Howard said...

Yeah, I mean there's no one who really meets what Ebert is saying. Shosanna and Landa are the only possible characters who bring the film full circle by being there for both the beginning and the end, but of course both of them are crucial throughout the whole film. I agree with Greg that Ebert hasn't been very reliable lately, at least in his reviews. I don't know if anyone reads his blog, but the essays he posts there are frequently very entertaing and well-written.

Kevin, I too thought of your blog when Hugo Stiglitz was introduced, and I made a mental note to finally look up who you (and now Tarantino) are referencing.

bill r. said...

I've read Ebert's blog on occasion. I honestly find it very self-righteous and egotistical, so I don't read it too often.

Kevin J. Olson said...

Not to pile on, but it's sad that Ebert has lost a lot of what made him such a great read. I was recently flipping through an old movie guide of his (I think 1997) and it's night and day how when you look at his old reviews and the stuff he puts out now.

Bill -- I haven't read much of his blog because I don't really care to get into discussions about politics, religion, etc. I wish the old Ebert would come back, because he's the guy who inspired to start writing reviews when I was in middle school.

Ed: I hope you enjoy looking into the fine career of Hugo Stiglitz. If you go to my blog and click on his name in the labels section you should find a post or two with various youtube clips of his fine acting ability, hehe.

I feel like I'll have to put a disclaimer on my blog now stating that it's not a reference to Tarantino's film, hehe.

The Caustic Ignostic said...

I caught IB on Friday night, and while I was immediately swept up in it, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. All of QT's movies tend to elicit this effect for me: initial emotional seduction combined with intellectual ambiguity, followed inevitably by deep intellectual admiration. It took me three days to conclude that IB is one of the best films of 2009 thus far, alongside Davies' Of Time and the City and Selnick's Coraline.

Oh, and I feel like I need to be an advocate for Death Proof here. It was one of the best films of 2007, in my opinion, and a much more searingly feminist work than Kill Bill.

Fox said...

I've read Ebert's blog on occasion. I honestly find it very self-righteous and egotistical, so I don't read it too often....

Totally agree with you there Bill, and he also seems to say some really baseless and whiny things on there.

I guess he has to be a but guarded on his Sun-Times reviews site, so he really lets it rip on his blog, but yikes, sometimes I get embarrassed for the guy. And though I will always love him, sometimes I feel some of my regard for the guy slipping away.

Fox said...

The "Hugo Stiglitz" title didn't bother me, though I found it curious that Stiglitz is the only one that gets such a title. I have to assume it has something to do with Tarantino wanting to put the name "Hugo Stiglitz" up in big crazy letters on the screen There's apparently a real Stiglitz, a cult Mexican B actor, or something like that....

See, that was one of the moments that felt really off-the-rails to me. Tarantino can usually mix-in styles effortlessly as I think he does pretty perfectly in Kill Bill v.1, but I couldn't help feeling that the 70's "big mama" lettering of the Hugo Stiglitz backstory was an old idea out of water. It was one of those moments where I thought to myself "what is he doing?!".

I like the idea of instinctual cinema - if, as you say, QT just wanted to see those big letters - but I don't think Tarantino is that kind of filmmaker. Maybe because it was an instinctual move on his part, I'm not sure if I can quite articulate yet why it didn't work for me. It just... didn't.

Kevin J. Olson said...

I thought the Stiglitz title card and brief backstory was just another way of Tarantino reminding us that we're watching a film...not a historical recreation. I thought that moment, along with the info about the film being flammable, was fantastic.

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