Amoeblog

The Tarantino Solution 2: Inglourious Basterds (2009), A Moral Defense

Posted by Charles Reece, September 20, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Page 1  (Again, BEWARE SPOILERS!)

I’m waiting for any of the enthusiasts for Inglourious Basterds to come up with some guidance about what grown-up things this movie has to say to us about World War 2 or the Holocaust — or maybe just what it has to say about other movies with the same subject matter. Or, if they think that what Tarantino is saying is adolescent but still deserving of our respect and attention, what that teenage intelligence consists of. Or implies. Or inspires. Or contributes to our culture. -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, again


Certainly, there's a difference between Bonhoeffer taking no pleasure in his decision and the viewer's finding entertainment in Shosanna's, namely that between real world events and their aesthetic use. Since Mendelsohn and Rosenbaum are film critics, I'm guessing they aren't of the "art after Auschwitz is barbaric" persuasion, so their problem is with the film's message, its delivery and reception. The Jewish devised cinematic hell to which the Nazis become condemned might even be seen as tragic if you're sympathetic to their goals. As the administer and representative of the Volk's will, Col. Landa's murdering Shosanna's family sets into motion the wheels of fate that is their (the Nazi's, if not exactly Lando's) destruction. From the Greeks to Shakespeare, tragedies, we should recall, were (and still are) performed for pleasure, or what might be called entertainment. The world of art would be a lot less interesting if it came with the book of answers that Rosenbaum demands of Inglourious Basterds. How about a quote from Vladimir Nabokov?

I presume there exist readers who find titillating the display of mural words in those hopelessly banal and enormous novels which are typed out by the thumbs of tense mediocrities and called "powerful" and "stark" by the reviewing hack. There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, [...] Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art [...] is the norm. -- from "On a Book Entitled Lolita"

Now, Rosenbaum is one of our best film critics, not some "reviewing hack," and Tarantino ain't exactly Nabokov, but everything else fits the bill. This former's criticisms, this time around, don't amount to much more than pandering moralism, and the latter, like Nabokov, is more interested in staying true to the story he's telling than whatever it might say about the real world. But this doesn't mean that his story has nothing relevant to say about whatever Rosenbaum is referring to with "our culture." The film isn't mere entertainment, or what some fanboy defense might call "just a movie," but rather a sort of parody in Nabokov's sense when he said, "satire teaches a lesson, parody is a game."


Hitler and Joseph Goebbels were admirers of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, likely hearing echos of their own call for the restoration of a soul to the dehumanizing technocracy of modernity ("the mediator between the brain and hands must be the heart!"). However, humanity, like violence, depends on the details. They didn't see an analogy of the oppressed workers at the bottom of Lang's pseudo-utopia -- who kept it running for the pleasure of the bourgeoisie and rich -- to the Nazis' use of Jewish slave labor in factories like Mittelwork where the V-2 bomb was manufactured. As Col. Landa spells out to the farmer in Chapter 1, the Jews were seen as racially other, not deserving of the moral obligation that obtains to one's neighbors in the ethnic Lebenstraum (living space). For a similar reason, American kids aren't expected to look in abhorrence at singing grapes being used to sell their own execution or anthropomorphic squirrel-operated machinery in The Flintstones. Ignoring such human traits is fine in fantasy, but not when someone tries to supplant the real with the fantastic. And, as Landa argues, the Jews weren't seen even as the equivalent of squirrels (much less the happily working and talking kind), but rats. It's this kind of rationalization that makes the bureaucratization of evil possible.

So when Tarantino parodies the burning in Lang's Nazi-favored film with Shosanna's own version, there's more going on than geeky appropriation. At the moment in Goebbel's Nation's Pride when Pvt. Zoller (the Nazi "Sergeant York") asks, "who wants to send a message to Germany?," Shosanna's image cuts in to answer that she does, commanding Marcel standing behind the screen to set fire to the film stock. The real Shosanna is already dead, killed in the projection booth by the real Zoller as she was showing a bit of compassion for the not-quite-dead wouldbe rapist, having just shot him in the back. The last bit of human compassion having been drilled out her in grieving slow motion (one of the few nods to Enzo Castellari's Inglorious Bastards), the only thing left is a mechanically reproduced image to be shown only once in a particular place, creating an aura of terror for this particular group of "art" lovers.


In Metropolis, it is the mechanical Maria who is put to the stake, having tricked the workers into destroying the machines that would keep the city functioning. I'm not going to summarize the serpentine plot of Lang's film (read it here if you dare), so suffice it to say the means-end utopia was brought down by a robot simulation of one of the oppressed (Maria) that was the bypodruct of the city ruler's faulty/inhumane ratiocinations. (That is, Fredersen, the ruler, gained possession of Hel, the love of the inventor Rotwang, eventually using her up -- she died during childbirth -- which led to Rotwang making the robot as a replacement, but it had its own demonic plans that involved taking the form of Maria.) Thus, Shosanna (and maybe Tarantino) saw the analogy that Goebbels and Hitler didn't. Define another's humanity out of your ratio-moral system and the only interaction left possible is with the robotic husk. Shosanna's moral choice in such an immoral situation was, like Bonhoffer's, to point the demonic reproduction to which she had been reduced back at the Nazis and let it take its course.

Remembering Steve Goodman

Posted by Whitmore, September 20, 2009 06:42pm | Post a Comment
Steve Goodman
I’m not from Chicago, but I like Chicago, and though I’m a true blue, life long LA Dodgers fan, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field, Hippo Vaughn, Three-Finger Mordecai Brown (who really only had three fingers on his right hand, but two them sported World Series rings), Riggs Stephenson, Ron Santo, ‘Mr. Cubs’ Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Milt Pappas, Ryne Sandberg, Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray and on and on ... these have been some tough years for Cubs fans. It's been one hundred and one years and counting since their last World Series victory.

Anyway, today, September 20th, marks the 25th anniversary of the death of one of the biggest Cubs fans ever to cheer amid the hallowed ivy covered walls of Wrigley Field, singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. Born and raised in Chicago, he never had much success as a solo recording artist, though his albums constantly received critical acclaim; he found far greater accolades as a songwriter. Some folks say he wrote the greatest Country and Western song ever recorded, and it says so right there in the song. “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” was the biggest hit record David Allan Coe ever had and the lyrics mention everything a proper and perfect Country/Western song should ever need or want: mama, jail, dead dogs, trains, trucks and drunkenness. Goodman also wrote the greatest friggin’ song about the railroads, “City Of New Orleans,” which became the biggest charting hit of Arlo Guthrie’s career. In the early 1970’s Goodman saw Guthrie in a bar and asked if he could play him a song. Guthrie agreed only on condition that Goodman first buy him a beer. The song would become something of an American standard, covered by many others including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, John Denver, Jerry Reed, Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and even David Hasselhoff. Goodman also wrote some great songs about his own home town, “A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request;” “Go, Cubs, Go;” “The Lincoln Park Pirates,” a tribute to the notorious Lincoln Towing Company; and “Daley's Gone,” about Mayor Richard J. Daley, undisputed king of Chicago’s backroom politics, the last of the big city bosses, whose power didn’t create disorder, but was there to preserve disorder.

About the time Goodman's career really began taking off, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Still he managed to write and perform and fight cancer; he had a tongue-in-cheek nickname for the disease, “Cool Hand Leuk.” On September 20, 1984, Goodman died at University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He was 36 years old. Eleven days later, the Chicago Cubs played their first play-off game since 1945 at Wrigley Field.
 
During the 2007 season, the Chicago Cubs began playing Goodman's recording, "Go, Cubs, Go," after each home game win. When the Cubs made it to the playoffs, interest in the song and in Goodman surged, resulting in October 5, 2007 being declared by Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn as Steve Goodman Day across Lincoln's Great State.





THE AGE OF STUPID TAKES US TO THE YEAR 2055...AND IT AIN'T PRETTY

Posted by Billyjam, September 20, 2009 09:57am | Post a Comment

The unique and compelling film The Age Of Stupid's warning message of the impending doom of the planet brought on by global warming is quite clear. The film, directed by Franny Armstrong, who spent four years making it, strikes a perfect balance between documentary and Sci-Fi film styles. Back in March of this year, The Age Of Stupid opened in select theaters, but tomorrow, Monday, September 21st, the film will experience its official global premiere when this docu-drama, in an unprecedented coordinated effort, will simultaneously open in 700 theaters in 62 different countries around the globe. TIcket/venue info here. This carefully coordinated global screening, which was sponsored in part by such organizations as Greenpeace and MoveOn.org, was planned for tomorrow to be concurrent with United Nations Climate Week during the week of the UN Secretary-General’s Summit on Climate Change, September 19th to 26th.

While more and more news on the very real impact  global warming has on our planet is published regularly, it seems like the average person doesn't  realize the seriousness of this issue. Many feel that The Age of Stupid, which takes viewers ahead to the year 2055 -- and it ain't pretty -- articulates in an entertaining (albeit darkly dramatic) way exactly what climate scientists have been warning us of for quite some time... time is running out for the human race and its planet. For more info click here.

The Slingshot & Other Bathing Beauties

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, September 19, 2009 07:50pm | Post a Comment
michael henderson slingshotsergio perez michelle

We're having another hot weekend in L.A., so a batch of swimsuit covers seems appropriate.

anette at bikini beachannette muscle beach partyearl bostic dance to the best of bosticmercury spin girl for february lp coverdisco mambo con rulli rendo
hot hits 20 lp cover
frank chacksfield love letters in the sandmusic to listen to barney kessel by lp coverdon raleigh oaklahoma and merry widow lp
livio salles rendezvous in rio sandy reyes16 exitos de la sonora dinamita vol. 3

Continue reading...

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Posted by Whitmore, September 19, 2009 06:30pm | Post a Comment
Avast me mateys! By the powers this day be, a good day to pour ye self a tall, deep grog, get loaded to the gunwales, raise the Jolly Roger and scare the livn’ bejesus out of them landlubbin’ scurvy dogs, argh! Aye! On the account, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, no son of a biscuit eater goin’ to put up with them lily-livered scallywags, or them sprogs! Aye, I might toss a wee bit wi' a wannion on them scurvy asses, toss em into Davy Jones' Locker. Tell the tale me heartys! Slight no black spot on me troubled soul! Us gentlemen o' fortune need more than doubloons and booty before sailin’ into Fiddlers Green ... aye the sweet trade! Ahoy, ye need a furner to sail thar, wenchs ands the gates of Hades starboard to grabs at ye gods own swaggy golden pieces o’ eight! Yo ho ho ho!
 
Shiver me timbers, I think I was momentarily possessed by the ghost of some long dead privateer, or more likely a B-movie screen writer from the 1930’s!
 
Every September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The day was created back in 1995 by John Baur, AKA ol' Chumbucket and Mark Summers, AKA Cap'n Slappy as an inside joke. But the holiday didn’t achieve any real media attention until 2002 when Miami Herald syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of "distinguished commentary," Dave Barry, wrote about it. Today there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 “Talk Like a Pirate” videos on YouTube, and millions of websites dedicated in one way or another to Talk Like a Pirate Day. According to Summers, he chose this particular date because it would be easy for him to remember; it’s his ex-wife's birthday. Aargh! I hoist a tankard to ya and spit in yer eye, ye ol’ stinkin’ blaggards!

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