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  1. I haven’t seen it, and it’s not a high enough priority to make it onto my “worth parenting arrangements” list.

    But from movies past, I feel I have enough of a basis to say that Tarantino’s juvenile fascination with/pleasure in getting away with saying “nigger” is intensely problematic. It seems obvious to me that he is being deliberately transgressive by using it so prodigally, and enjoys that he can get away with it under the guise of artistic license.

    Which is a shame, because I think he’s a brilliant filmmaker who’s done a lot to promote incredibly talented actors of color. But it’s a glaring flaw.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      That really captures my thinking, far better than I did or could have put it.

      What stood out was that his character does NOT use it… instead using the term “Blackie.” Of course, he had no problem using it on the press circuit so who really knows what the fish he is thinking.Report

  2. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    My thoughts are over at MD. In short, I liked the film quite a bit, especially the development of Waltz’s character, until it turned in to a blood orgy at the end.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      There were scenes I found truly remarkable, and I don’t use that word lightly. The visuals, the pacing, the acting… some real “Wow!” moments. But, as a whole, it didn’t stick. I definitely think there is room to disagree on that front.

      As I noted during early conversations of the film but before I saw it, I wondered aloud about Tarantino’s tendency to tell stories that are “not his own”. I wonder if that contributed to the unevenness I perceived. If he had a more emotional connection with the source material (the “slavery” part, not the “revenge” or “violent” part), it might have been more gripping.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        There are three scenes that make Inglorious Basterds worth watching, and they all take place at tables: the opening with Waltz and the farmer, the scene with Waltz eating the strudel, and the table in the basement. I think he should do a whole movie at a table.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Chris says:

          My Dinner With Quentin?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

          What do you think it is about tables? The confinement? The reasons we end up at them? The distance they create?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

            I should note that I really enjoyed IB, much moreso than DU. I also loved RD but am not sure I’ve seen his other work. Did he do “Dusk Til Dawn”? Or just act?Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            I don’t think it’s the distance, but the intimacy. In each of the three scenes I mentioned, someone (the farmer, Shosanna, the Brits and Americans) were trapped at a table with someone who they really didn’t want to be sitting at a table with, and who, in each case, could mean death to them. And they weren’t just forced to sit there, but to engage. The table was confining, it created a nearness that could not be escaped, and in doing so it created an almost overwhelming tension. That’s something Tarantino has always done well, of course.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

              See, I never would have thought of it this way. The most I would have gotten was, “All those great scenes happened to take place at tables.” I don’t think I would have arrived at, “Those scenes were great in part because they happened at tables.”

              There really does seem to be something about being at a table. Those scenes don’t work if everyone is standing around. Nor do they work if everyone is sitting on couches. You’re never really comfortable sitting at a table… not lounging comfortable at least. Your tightly packed yet there is a physical barrier between you and some others. You are presumably there for a shared purpose, even if you would rather not be. Fascinating stuff… thanks for pointing it out.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Chris says:

          Agree the table scenes were excellent, but disagree that they were all that made IB worth watching. No tables were harmed during the “destruction of cinema”/”annihilation of Nazis”/”destruction of reality”/”revenge of the Jews” climax, and it remains for me one of the signal moments of the 2000s in popular culture, not the “best” moment, but a moment when the art form, the artist, and the subject matter combined to reach beyond themselves and beyond success or failure. I suspect DU was supposed to capture something of the same thing, but the statement is purer in relationship to WW2, itself for us and possibly for its key participants a kind of movie from the Golden Age of movies.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            CK, I’m not sure I agree. In both Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, the denouements were where Tarantino said something about film, about us, and about history, and in both cases they were almost separate movies from the rest of the film. In fact, he wasn’t so much making films at those points, but making a meta-films, films that were only connected to what had led up to them by the flimsiest narrative strings.

            But in the movie making that led up to them, I think he showed his true talent for telling a story, developing characters, and creating incredible amounts of dramatic tension.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

              What’s a denouement? Specifically, what scene/part of DU are you referring to? Because, as I said, it felt disjointed. But if there were scenes that were really part of some other commentary and not the actual narrative arc, that might explain it.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Chris says:

              Chris, even if I thought that the climax of IB was connected only by the flimsiest of narrative strings – though I don’t – I might still consider it “worth watching” or part of what made IB “worth watching.” T has the various skills you mention, and they make for diverting movie experiences, even if a particular technique can begin to seem somewhat contrived, “one of those things that T likes to do”: have people talk and talk in proximity to an imminent threat, typically conducting an interrogation regarding truth or identity, awaiting the moment when the threat itself has its turn to speak, or is realized or “stated” as violence, or sometimes is averted or deferred. In the case of the IB climax, you have numerous peculiar permutations of that same ironic juxtaposition, of cinematic action and death, death speaking through cinema, cinema causing death, cinema overcoming death, levels and types of “truth,” etc. It’s not the typical Tarantino “thing,” but is built up from it and, at least for me, more interesting if not necessarily anymore more entertaining in the moment.

              Haven’t seen DU yet. Haven’t had enough motivation, but I think I do now.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                I appreciate this, and I’ll chew on it for a bit. I hope you enjoy Django Unchained. I still struggle with it a bit, because there are issues outside of the film that shape the way I view it, but that may just be me.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot4 in reply to Chris says:

          He could make a movie about coffee tables, where the DVD is a coffee table.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      Mike, I agree with you. I thought the part of the movie that was a western was awesome. I thought the dinner with DiCaprio, though incredibly uncomfortable, was really well done (Tarantino does table scenes really well). I thought the ending was too over the top.

      Also, Waltz is my favorite actor now. He is engaging in everything he does (have you seen Carnage?).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        The table scene was phenomenal, and I believe Jaybird explained that Leo really did hurt his hand during the filming and they ran with it because he was nailing it. If that was the case, even cooler. Washington’s reaction must have been wholly authentic.

        So, yea, some really, truly “WOW!” moments. But not a cohesive whole. I’m also not a movie buff. I’ve never seen a Western. So I’m sure I missed certain allusions and references.

        Waltz is the shit, though.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          I don’t *KNOW* that he really did hurt his hand. That’s one of those things that I can see actually happening because Leo is Just That Professional. It’s also one of those things that I can see QT saying “we should include a scene where something like this happens” because QT loves taking people out of a movie for a second before dragging them back.

          I’m torn between seeing it as something awesome that happened or an awesome trick.Report

        • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy says:

          I’ve never seen a Western

          Whu…wha…seriously? Friend, we have got to kidnap you for a few days and fix this.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


            The Outlaw Josey Wales
            High Noon
            True Grit (the first one)
            True Grit (the second one)

            I’d say in about that order, too.Report

            • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird says:


              Pale Rider
              The Searchers

              And buy and read the books “True Grit” and “The Searchers.”Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              Jaybird’s list is excellent. To it I would add:

              Any and all Sergio Leone westerns.
              The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
              The Searchers
              Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
              The Wild Bunch
              The Magnificent Seven

              Not necessarily in that order.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                I was going to say “if you can only see *ONE*, see High Noon” but…

                If you can only see *ONE*, see The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird says:

                Honestly, I’d say Pale Rider. Not the best as a movie, but great sate of nature theory on the big screen.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

                I really liked Pale Rider, but mostly because I see it as Clint Eastwood’s first “this is the last Western I’ll ever have to make” movie.

                You can see everything he’d learned (so far) and see him say pretty much everything he’d wanted to say.

                But I can’t see that I’d think it was anywhere near as good without also watching High Plains Drifter, or Josey, or even Unforgiven. But that’s me, of course.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, maybe I should put drifter in it’s place. But the need for someone to lead and protect us, in both that’s powerful stuff. And yes to both Josey Wales and Unforgiven.

                But, dude, his last western? Did you not watch Gran Torino?

                (P.S. how long into Inglorious Basterds did it take before you figured out it was a western? As soon as I saw the rider in the distance, I was so geeked. And the twist on the poker game/bar fight was frackin’ awesome.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                See… here is where my ignorance shows.

                When you say “Western”, I think “Movie about cowboys.” I see it thematic moreso than stylistic or conceptual. Which I’m wrong about, obviously.

                I’ve seen “Gran Torino”. That was a western?

                I don’t much think I need to fix this, but do like the idea of being kidnapped by y’all.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Stagecoach is very worthwhile so are the major John Ford westerns like Fort Apache and Tie a Yellow Ribbon. A great late period western is Ulzana’s Raid with Burt Lancaster.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

                No love for Unforgiven?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Unforgiven is a very good movie, but it’s a movie you see after you’ve spent some time with Westerns, because it’s about what comes after Westerns. It’d be like seeing Die Hard 15: Die Hard with a Walker, without having seen Die Hard… if Die Hard 15 were a really good movie.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot4 in reply to Jaybird says:

                You are so right about Liberty Valance.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I would say that one of the points he was (hamhandedly) trying to make was to get you to see the difference between when these characters were saying it and when those characters were saying it.

    “I count six bullets, slur.”
    “I count two guns, slur.”

    And that’s a laugh line.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      So was he making a point about the contemporary usage of the word and the inconsistency of our response based on the user?
      Or he was making a point about good guys and bad guys?
      Was Waltz’s character one of these characters or one of those characters?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        Dude. I don’t know. He’s meshuggah.

        He does a lot of stuff like have you wince at one application of something and then laugh at another application of the same thing.

        Remember the dynamite scene? He throws dynamite in the back of the wagon and everyone winces and pulls their knees to their chest… not two minutes later, someone else is killed by dynamite and we laugh at that.

        As I said on Mike’s post, we’ve got a scene where Django’s nuts are threatened and everyone in the theater is watching through their fingers. A few minutes later, we see someone get shot in the nuts and it’s funny.

        He does this all movie.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I notice that in a lot of films, not just QTs, though I don’t think they necessarily do it as deliberately as he does.

          In most movies, we’re constantly fretting over our hero’s life while indifferent to the unnamed extras who get mowed down just off camera. Worse is when the hero has to go rogue and go up against other “good guys”, punching his way through a mob of cops who are just doing their jobs and who we have no beef with other than they oppose our hero. That always seemed odd to me.

          So I think his commentary to that point is worthwhile because it has to do with how we tend to value people based on our proximity to them.

          Yet, I still think he missed on this front. For me, the level of revulsion I felt at hearing the word was not solely predicated on the skin tone of the speaker. For me, it had much more to do with their intent. If it was spit with venom, such as many of the times that Samuel L. Jackson used it, it sounded and felt hateful. Conversely, many of Waltz’s utterances did not feel the same, because they didn’t seem to carry such hate.

          This still plays out. I’ve heard black people use the term with each other affectionately and no one bats an eye. I’ve also heard black people use the term with hatred and venom and it is just as bad as if a white person used it so, perhaps worse. It is sort of the “nigga” versus “nigger” debate.

          So, sure, I can see how he might have used it in service of that point. But I’m tempted to think that his thinking was, “Hey, let’s make a point about how we wince sometimes and laugh sometimes. And, OH FUCKING YEA, let’s say nigger 500 times.” I could be wrong, but that is the visceral reaction I saw.

          And, yet, I’m not even sure that is my biggest criticism. The story just felt flat to me.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          There was a lot of that in Inglorious Basterds too.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

            I’m going back through my “times I laughed in IB” file and there was twice.

            Once, at the very beginning, when they discussed smoking at the table and the farmer had a simple pipe and Christoph had a gimungous horn pipe. That scene turned not funny very, very quickly, though.

            The other scene was the scene where they were all speaking Italian and Christoph was asking the Americans to keep saying their names that he might hear the music of the Italian language. “BEN-A-ZHIN-A-NI” and the American was pumping his arms while he was doing that. That shit makes me chuckle even now.

            But the rest of the movie? Dude. I was one of the people at the table.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              I laughed at Brad Pitt’s character a few times. Especially when he said, “You know, fightin’ in a basement offers a lot of difficulties. Number one being, you’re fightin’ in a basement!”Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              But by “a lot of that,” I mostly meant where he makes you either comfortable with something and then uncomfortable with it, or vice versa. Hell, the whole ending involved us trying not to cheer the death of a bunch of Nazis because he’d just shown us what such cheering looked like when the Nazis did it at the death of Americans on screen.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, yeah. I see what you mean. Yes, he’s brilliant at that.

                I just wish he’d stop implicitly asking “what the hell is wrong with you?”Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think after you’ve made a ton of money off of movies that were as cartoonishly and as pointlessly violent as the Kill Bill films, you might just have moments in which you wonder what the hell is wrong with us. Which is not to say that I think there’s something wrong with us, just that, well, it does raise questions. And I think the World War II film is the perfect place to explore those questions, because we’ve been celebrating the killing of Nazis on film since before the war was even over (and I say this as someone who friggin’ loves Sahara, and has probably seen just about every World War II movie made since). If there’s anyone whose deaths it is culturally OK for us to cheer, it’s the Nazis.

                Which reminds me of a story (I’m southern, we tell stories, so shoot me… wait, Tod might take that literally). When I was growing up, my grandfather, who’d lost an eye in 1944 when the jeep he was walking next to drove over a mine on a road somewhere in France, lived across the street from Mr. Mueller, who immigrated to the States in the mid-50s, and who was a former infantry man in the Heer from 1942-1945. Mr. Mueller and my grandfather were best friends, and he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met (and I never, not once, saw him without a beer in his hand).

                One day, when I was a teenager, Mr. Mueller was sitting in his garage doorway on a folding chair, drinking a beer, and saw me walking around my grandparents’ yard. He waved me over, and started talking to me about school and girls and other teenage things, and after answering his questions, I decided this was as good a time as any to ask him about his past. So I asked him when he came over, and when he told me, I asked him what he’d done during the war, at which point he spent another 2 hours telling me the story of his time on both the Eastern and Western fronts, fighting in the Nazi army. He said several times that he was not a Nazi, and that he didn’t want to fight but had no choice, and he felt like he had to defend his country. Of course, after the war just about everyone said that (one of my favorite authors made a career out of that fact), but he was such a nice guy, so laid back and peaceful, that I had to believe him. And I suppose to this day, though I haven’t seen him in probably 20 years, and he’s been dead for 10, I do believe him. Hell, the Germans had taken my grandfather’s eye and put him in the hospital for almost 8 months, and he loved Mr. Mueller, so he must have been a good guy, and not a Nazi, right?

                Which makes me wonder, when I’m enjoying watching Yanks and Tommies and Reds (and the occasional Canuck or Frenchie) killing Germans, how many of those characters whose deaths I’m enjoying are Mr. Muellers?Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I should note that we had Mayonnaise in the room with us as we watched it. I think there is at least a 1 in 3 chance that his first word is that word.

    Parents of the year, we are not.Report