Archive for June 28, 2021

Ugh. Day 19. I’m starting to feel like those writers who do stuff like eat fast food for 30 days straight just to see what it will do their system, and give them something to write about. I’m doing this for society!

So, my favorite director. This is definitely an interesting one, because that has changed a lot over the course of the last, oh, 30 years or so. I went through at least two Steven Spielberg phases in that time, an Oliver Stone phase after I saw Natural Born Killers, a Christopher Nolan phase after his Batman movies, obviously a Sam Raimi phase, a Tim Burton phase, and even a Joel Schumacher phase before he killed that with Batman and Robin. But those were just phases. Other than watching Ed Wood for a recent podcast, I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a movie that was directed by any of those people. It doesn’t mean I don’t like their movies, but I just don’t really follow around directors like I used to.

Except one. One director that I usually buy a ticket to see the movie opening weekend based solely on the director’s name. And he apparently only has one movie left; Quentin Tarantino. 

Of course, I did lambaste his most recent movie way back on Day 3, but overall, I still consider him my favorite director. Not only does he have a very particular style, a genre-hopping slate of films under his belt, and dialogue that is incredibly distinctive, he even gave birth to a generation of copycats/wannabes back in the 90’s after Pulp Fiction. I know this because I wanted to be one of those copycats. I was basically a wannabe wannabe. 

None of those people, including myself, could ever measure up, and none of them made a movie as good as Tarantino’s (Sorry 2 Days in the Valley or Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, and other movies with 2 in the title , I guess.) None of them had the style, the knowledge of film history to draw from and the passion to go all the way. Most of them just wanted to do something for the shock value because they thought, “Well, that gimp scene was really shocking! I can do something like that!” But if you don’t have a story and characters to prop it up, it’s really not all that shocking at all because nobody cares.

Of course, it’s not just because I enjoy his movies that Tarantino is my favorite director. It’s also that I came of age with his movies. I had seen Reservoir Dogs and True Romance (which he wrote), and enjoyed them, but I was a young film student at Emerson College when Pulp Fiction burst on the scene, and I was hooked from there. That was 1994, 27 years ago as I write this. Obviously, a lot has changed, for me personally and the world, in general. But his movies have remained consistent (well, except Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but I’ll get over it.) He’s like a college drinking buddy that you stay in touch with even though the only thing you really have in common was drinking in college, but that’s enough, because the times were that good. And when Pulp Fiction came out, all of my fellow film students felt the same way. And then freaking Forrest Gump won Best Picture. I mean, Jesus.

But I actually don’t want to write about Pulp Fiction today. I could because I still love it, but really, I feel like everyone has done that already, and it’s not actually my favorite Tarantino movie. No, that honor goes to Inglourious Basterds.

Looking back, I can’t believe that this movie came out in 2009, because to me, it is still incredibly fresh. So many movies are a product of the era they are made in, even if they are a period piece like this one. But you could make Inglourious Basterds today, or you have made it in 1975 and it would have the same impact. The only thing that would date it would be the actors, who are all tremendous, of course.

I’m not a Hollywood insider or anything, so I don’t know if Tarantino has just gotten really good at pulling great performances out of his actors, or if the actors are just so excited because they have such great stuff to work with, or both, but in this movie, everyone is amazing. Even Mike Myers’ weird cameo is played well. And Brad Pitt, who is a very good performer, but often ends up playing himself, gets to chew the scenery here and I love it. His accent is somehow ridiculous and spot-on at the same time. (“We’re in the business of killin’ Nat-zees, and business is boomin’”) Also, I don’t know about anybody else, but this is the first time I ever saw Christoph Waltz in anything, and I think my life was changed for the better. The scene where Shosanna is sitting across from him, knowing he murdered her whole family, and they are getting ready to eat dessert, and he tells her to, “Attendez la creme.” has got to be one of my favorite movie moments of all time. It’s so simple, but it’s so well done that it seems like more. And when she finally does take a bite, with la creme, her eye-brows go up just a little bit, indicating to me that even though this guy is a Nazi scumbag who murdered my family, he’s right about how good the dessert is. He then puts his cigarette out in it before he leaves, just to show that he’s still a scumbag.

He does get his comeuppance, though, but he is not shot to death like so many other Tarantino villains. No, Pitt and BJ Novak (the two surviving Basterds) do to him what they did to every other Nazi they caught: carve a swastika into their forehead so that even when the war is over, people will still know they were Nazis. After Pitt has done his work, the final shot of the movie is him and Novak, smiling down at Waltz from his point-of-view, and Pitt says, “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” My brother posited a theory, which I agree with, that Pitt is standing in for Tarantino himself, looking out at us, telling his audience that this is his masterpiece. And I agree with that, too. 

There’s a lot more going on in this movie; the tavern shootout, Daniel Bruhl’s German solder turned actor, Shosanna’s revenge, but do i have to get into all of it? It’s a great film and if you haven’t seen it, well, what the Hell?

Ok. More to come tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the ol’ linktree for more Dursin.