Posts Tagged ‘war movies’

Oscarpalooza: Inglourious Basterds

In honor of Oscar weekend, NPI will be rerunning its reviews of the Best Picture nominees. Here, John S praises Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds:

inglourious basterds

Of all directors currently making movies, Quentin Tarantino is by far the most interested in movies themselves. All of his films include specific allusions, both in subject and style, to obscure movies, and they often work within the conventions of very refined genres. His latest work, Inglourious Basterds, is supposedly both a war movie (sorry, Josh and Tim) and a “spaghetti western,” as well as Tarantino’s homage to The Dirty Dozen. Whatever that means, it is really, really good.

Given Tarantino’s infatuation with cinema, it comes as no surprise that the climax of Basterds takes place in a movie theater. The “Basterds” of Basterds—a ragtag group of American Jews who (in case you haven’t seen the previews) like to kill “gnatzees” for their leader Brad Pitt—have chosen this spot for an attempted assassination of the crème de la crème of the Third Reich as they gather to watch Joseph Goebbels’ latest propaganda flick, A Nation’s Pride. Continue reading

Oscarpalooza: The Hurt Locker

A few months ago, when The Hurt Locker was just a small, art-house movie with a limited release, and not an Oscar nominee, A.O. Scott, in his review for The New York Times, said, “If The Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car.” He did not mean to damn the film with small praise—he was only highlighting how strong the visceral elements of the movie are. A few weeks later, he wondered why the movie—which he called the best feature of the year—was not marketed as an action movie meant for a wide audience.

Of all the films nominated for Best Picture, only An Education has made less money than The Hurt Locker, whose $19 million worldwide gross is over $2.5 billion less than Avatar’s haul. And yet unlike films like An Education, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, and A Serious Man, which generally had to be sold on the prestige of its directors/cast or the emotional complexity of its story, I don’t see why The Hurt Locker could not have found a broader audience. Kathryn Bigelow’s movie is certainly one of the most taut, tightly-packed, suspenseful films of the year; it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t take long to make an impact on the audience. Continue reading

Inglourious Basterds: A Review

inglourious basterds

Of all directors currently making movies, Quentin Tarantino is by far the most interested in movies themselves. All of his films include specific allusions, both in subject and style, to obscure movies, and they often work within the conventions of very refined genres. His latest work, Inglourious Basterds, is supposedly both a war movie (sorry, Josh and Tim) and a “spaghetti western,” as well as Tarantino’s homage to The Dirty Dozen. Whatever that means, it is really, really good.

Given Tarantino’s infatuation with cinema, it comes as no surprise that the climax of Basterds takes place in a movie theater. The “Basterds” of Basterds—a ragtag group of American Jews who (in case you haven’t seen the previews) like to kill “gnatzees” for their leader Brad Pitt—have chosen this spot for an attempted assassination of the crème de la crème of the Third Reich as they gather to watch Joseph Goebbels’ latest propaganda flick, A Nation’s Pride.

This film-within-in-a-film tells the story of Frederick Zoller’s (Daniel Brühl) attempt to fight off 300 Allied soldiers while holed up in a tower in Italy; from the glimpses we see of this film, it looks repetitive and boring— though Hitler seems to get a kick out of it.

The movie is decidedly unlike Basterds itself, which is altogether uninterested in the kind of glamorization of lone soldiers in bell towers that makes for great propaganda. Instead, Tarantino begins his story on a dairy farm in Nazi-occupied France. A lone SS officer, played with brilliant aplomb by Christoph Waltz, with the nickname of “the Jew Hunter” comes to visit the farm in search of Jews hiding from the Germans. Continue reading

Symposium: Movies and Objectivity

In response to the excellent ratings and reviews of “Saving Private Ryan”, Tim claims that “These two scores represent a reasonable enough cross-section of viewers and critics to call this film great”.

Tim then issues me a question, asking, “It’s obvious that there’s not complete objectivity in film, and that no one film will entertain and enlighten all of its audience. The question for Josh, then, is whether Up is his Saving Private Ryan, or whether the film subversively manipulates the masses’ reaction to it.”

Up is not my Saving Private Ryan. I haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan so I can’t comment on the quality of it, but, like Tim, I think I probably would not appreciate it as much as other people because of a general aversion to war movies. Nonetheless, despite my not having a taste for it, it is possible for Saving Private Ryan to be a great movie but I believe this for different reasons than Tim. I reject the notion (promoted in slightly different ways by Tim and John) that movies are great because people think they are great. John takes a more subjectivist approach claiming that “Calling a movie “great,” whether it be Saving Private Ryan or Mindhunters, is ALWAYS a subjective judgment. If you enjoy a movie, then you think it’s a good movie.” Tim takes a more collective subjectivist approach, believing that we should look to the mass view of a movie based on viewers and critics to determine a film’s greatness. I reject both of these views.
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