So, there's been a whole lot of hoo-ha surrounding what's quite obviously the most interesting and entertaining movie of the year, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The moralistic critics have done their best to trivialize the white power movement's Holocaust revisionism by suggesting the film turns "Jews into Nazis" (Daniel Mendelsohn) and one wonders "what it was (and is) about the film that seems morally akin to Holocaust denial" (Jonathan Rosenbaum). On the other, "with friends like these ...," side, the defense hasn't amounted to much, either, the typical suggestion being some variation on the line that as pure entertainiment/fantasy, the movie has no morality, nor does it need it. Patooehy! I agree that entertainment is the film's virtue, but disagree that it occurs at the expense of morality. In fact, its morality grounds and justifies what Mendelsohn and Rosenbaum see as the Jews acting like Nazis, but what I call the aesthetic enjoyment of the film. Thus, I think a moral defense is in order. Be forewarned: MANY SPOILERS WILL OCCUR!
The Dreyfus Affair
What all retributive theories seem to share is the claim that the relation between crime and punishment is (primarily) conceptual (or “internal”). The justification of punishment is that punishment in itself is an appropriate response to crime. [...] Reaffirming the wrongness of the crime is good in itself, good enough (all else equal) to justify the punishment. Telling the truth about a crime is itself an important good.
-- Moral philosopher Michael Davis explaining the basic tenet of retributive justice
In his review, Mendelsohn is particularly offended by the final chapter that features Shosanna Dreyfus trapping -- with the aid of her boyfriend, Marcel -- the entire Nazi high command in a theater, then burning it down (referencing some science learned from Hitchcock). The fact that Shosanna is a Jew who barely escaped with her own life after watching a group of Nazis being led by Colonel Hans Landa slaughter her family in chapter one has no bearing on Mendelsohn's indignation. Violence is evidently content-free, the violent what-fer being morally equated to the violent crime. Even the dimmest of ardent capital punishment opponents should be able to free himself from Mendelsohn's mental paper bag here. That is, even if one holds that the state should never be able to kill murderers, it takes quite a bit of willpower to get mixed up on the order of events involved: there would be no state-sanctioned violence without the criminal act of murder occurring first. Now, there might be other good, moral reasons for not wanting the state to kill murderers, but they in no way make the two killings morally equivalent, or equally justified. Similarly, not all vengeful fantasies are the same, either. Here's a thought experiment:
With every Brazilian Independence Day (Sept. 7th) usually comes a plethora of great Brazilian music to Los Angeles. Still, it was a shock to see Os Mutantes on the Amoeba instore calendar when it was posted back in August. I’m sure it was more of a coincidence than something planned, but In the back of my mind I thought, “How cool is that!?” To say that I’m a fan of Os Mutantes is an understatement; in fact, it's probably one of the few groups that most Amoeba employees with all our collective vast tastes in music can agree upon. Since their reunion, or rather, their resurgence back in 2006, I have managed to miss all their shows in Los Angeles due to plain old bad timing. At last, I would finally see the band that was the gateway for me and so many others to discovering Brazilian music.
In the early nineties, I read an article on Os Mutantes. They were referred to as “The Brazilian Beatles,” but that is not what drew me to them. It was that they, along with the other Tropicalistas Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso and Tom Zé were radicals and into taking all influences, whether they was Brazilian, European, Avant-garde or folk music, and putting them all together. Mutantes were the easiest to digest because they had much in common with other Psychedelic groups of that era, but after listening to them on a continuous basis, I started to notice their musicianship and songwriting was much more advanced than most groups of that time. They were the best of the Avant-garde rock bands because they could swing better than any of them. I remembering going to a record store and buying all their import CDs that I could find. From there I got into Caetano, Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze and soon started to venture out into other non-Tropicalia artist such as Milton Nascimento and Jorge Ben. From then on, the doors of Brazilian music became wide open. My discovery of Brazilian music from Jobim to Funk Carioca is due in part to Os Mutantes.
Rats the size of a cats and fanged frogs were discovered by Smithsonian Institution biologists working with the Natural History Unit from the BBC in the remote Southern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea in the Mount Bosavi Crater, an extinct volcano. The huge crater, measuring two and half miles wide and rimmed with walls nearly half a mile high, appear to have trapped these creatures inside the isolated crater’s rainforests and they possibly have never been seen by man before.
Saturday September 12
Stars Michael Chambers & Lucinda Dickey will appear IN PERSON, schedules permitting, to discuss the film!
New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
11:59pm, All Tickets $7