From Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange and Mr. Blonde first punctuating each line of dialogue with the wave of a 45 automatic in Reservoir Dogs to the masterpiece of Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino changed cinema. A child of bloody sensationalism in movies, Tarantino fed from classics like Cagney's White Heat and amped up the violence past reality into fetishism. Nothing in his resume so far, has surpassed the brilliance and balance of his writing and directing skills or has shown so well, that his fascination with violent outbursts can find legitimacy as art, as in those earlier films. Death Proof, released as one half of 2007's box-office disaster Grindhouse, fell into a pit of lazy, self-inflated ego driven, crud. That film had as much right to call itself a movie as the "grindhouse" theaters Tarantino was trying to pay homage to (though the whole stunt reeked of gimmick marketing) had the right to be referred to as cinemas. "Awful" in reviews was the starting point.
This year Tarantino is back. Where Death Proof's Kurt Russell was the square-jawed machismo catalyst for pending havoc, this time it's Brad Pitt. Where 70's muscle cars were the testosterone spewing props, this time we go bayonets and machine guns (just for starters). Where kick-ass bar babes were the eye candy, this time it's a jewish victim of WWII Nazis. Most importantly, where in each of Tarantino's previous forays into violent laced depravity, there was a story conceived in fiction, the appetite for unrestrained bloodshed in Inglorious Bastards is told against true history, true geography and true tragedy.
Our question is this - by placing his story against the true and horrific events of the Jewish slaughter by Hitler's Germany in WWII, does Tarantino (with the backing of The Weinstein Company) take his brand of cinema over the line, from art to blatant and offensive exploitation?
The truth is that the trailer, now showing in our "Would you pay to see this movie?" feature for Inglorious Bastards, caused us to cringe. As the monologue continues from Brad Pitt, playing a US Army lieutenant prepping his Dirty Dozen like squad, the language becomes more extreme, the titles overlaid, like "exterminate", become more offensive and the premise of the film, more repulsive by the second. Fans of so called "torture porn" will likely recognize Hostel writer/director Eli Roth as one of the soldiers in Pitt's lineup and there's an extra cringe waiting at the end of the trailer with it's cavalier tagline "A bastards work is never done".
Set against true historical context and viewed in a world where torture and extremist terror kill thousands, as our own violent history is recorded, does Inglorious Bastards have a place as entertainment? Indeed, is Tarantino's penchant for explicit violence, in itself and anachronism to our present day circumstances, belonging more to a less troubled time and painted on a far more fictional canvas?
You be the judge. As with all of our "Would you pay to see this movie" features, you can click on the link in this sentence and watch the trailer embedded on Moviedozer's Pulling Focus page (just scroll down the page, the trailer's right below our Poster Gallery). Watch as many times as you like, then click on the links next to the trailer and you'll be returned to this column where you can add your comments.
Would you pay to see Inglorious Bastards? Let us know. We'll comment again in the light of a Summer Blockbuster season that will be just wrapping up as Inglorious Bastards reaches it's planned August 21st release.