Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Cost of (Inglourious) Delay

I seem to be the only film fan in America who did not see Inglourious Basterds last week. I had my reasons and I will stick by them - Basterds might turn out to be a better film than the two I saw, but 24 City was only showing that weekend, and I'll bet on Park Chan-wook over Quentin Tarantino any time (not to mention my terror at the short runs Asian films - even great Asians films - get) ... but it's a bit maddening to watch the kinds of conversations it's sparking and not be able to get involved quite yet. Watching the entries from the conversation between Dennis Cozzalio and Bill at The Kind of Face You Hate come across the RSS feed, and not actually read them (let alone jump into them, or any of the other conversations about the film) is very painful. Oh well - 2 more days! Though in the meanwhile, I get to watch my own anticipation about the film go through a fine roller coaster ride. I remember when I first started seeing comments about it - I figured, it's Tarantino, it will be entertaining, but it looks rather pointless... Then people started seeing it - some whining, but a lot of them starting to push it up - Glenn Kenny in particular made it seem very unmissable... but now, alas - the flood of hyperbole is starting to wear on me to the point that the curmudgeons start to sound like they have a point. Or not! I don't know! Terrible!

I admit, even now, I'd put my money on Thirst being the film that holds up... There are the facts: that Tarantino has never really matched his first three films since; that this is taking on History, and History is not always to be trifled with... though there are other facts - that for all his reputation as a fanboy's director, he's always made art films, playing with narrative structure and form, in scenes and whole films, and between films - this sounds like more of the same, maybe even more adventurous and sophisticated than ever; that for all the talk of a slump, he's really (in my opinion) only made one crappy film - Kill Bill I - part 2 was a nice comeback, and Death Proof is as formalized, "parametric" as - I don't know, pick your favorite formalist. And - while History is not to be trifled with, Great Things can emerge from giving it a twist here and there - I'll take Alexandria Why? or Once Upon a Time in China over pretty much any more "responsible" historical filmmaking - if Tarantino can approach those heights (and it's not unthinkable here) - then we could be on to something.

So - 2 more days.... it's been a while since there has been a film getting this much attention in the blogosphere that I actually cared about. I admit I'd be a lot happier if Thirst was getting this much attention - but hey...

I will end with one more comment - Eric Rentschler, who wrote the book on the subject of Nazi cinema, is offering his Nazi cinema class through Harvard's extension school this year... that's something else to look forward to...

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