The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds': Kosher porn?

May 20, 2009 | 12:24 pm

For me, the most fascinating thing about the blogs that've been posting reviews today from Cannes of Quentin Tarantino's WWII Nazi-scalping action fantasy (he has the Reich apparently coming to an end not in Hitler's bunker, but in a Paris movie theater) is that the postings clearly reflect each blog's rooting interest in the film and the director, whose PR campaign is orchestrated by the Weinstein Co., which will release the film later this summer. In other words, the bloggers who tend to like Harvey Weinstein are posting good reviews; the bloggers who loathe him are gleefully accentuating the negative.

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For example, we have New York magazine's Vulture blog playing up the snark, writing off the film as "boring," bolstering its verdict with a host of negative reviews, including one from Movieline's David Bourgeois, who writes: "By the end of the film -- almost two-and-a-half hours later -- its hard to care much about what happens to anybody on screen."

On the other hand, Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke was helpfully touting the movie, running a trio of favorable reviews from the British press, which she introduced with the claim that "Inglourious Basterds' " Cannes debut had been greeted with a "great reaction from the general audience with a huge ovation even with no talent in attendance." She only posts positive reviews, including a critique from Empire magazine that calls the film "rather brilliant," saying it was a "wonderfully acted movie that subverts expectation at every turn."

But even Nikki's readers were skeptical about her review choices. The first post on her comments page was from a reader who asked, "Why not include the Guardian's review too?" The reader helpfully supplied a highlight from the Peter Bradshaw review: "Quentin Tarantino's cod-WW2 schlocker about a Jewish-American revenge squad intent on killing Nazis in German-occupied France is awful. It is achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious."

The reviews keep coming in from all media outposts, with Variety mixed, the Hollywood Reporter largely negative and Time magazine's Richard and Mary Corliss declaring the movie "a misfire." My colleague Ken Turan, who was also at the screening, calls the film a "self-indulgent piece of violent alternate history." However, my favorite assessment of the film comes from director Eli Roth, who shot some of the film's second-unit footage. He defends the film's narrative conceit about tough Jews getting revenge against Hitler, describing it as "kosher porn. It's something I dreamed since I was a kid." 

Photo: Director Quentin Tarantino at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Patricia Williams / For The Times 

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