Seeing how the the visual gag that served as the punch line to Friday’s comic was so far out of left field, I didn’t there would be a reason or an opportunity to use “Mr. Poo Poo Head” a second time in the comic.

I was inspired to bring him back, however, after my friend Adam posted to Twitter that he and I were seeing the movie together and spelled it “Basturds.” For the record, I want to stress that I am not some kind of fecalfeliac.

Of course, who can fault my friend for the misspelling when Tarantino himself refuses to spell either “inglorious” or “bastard” correctly? The director claims the misspelling is an intentional artistic flourish that he will never explain, lest it ruin the motivation behind it.

As I have been forced to write the two words incorrectly over the last few days, I slowly feel like I am unlearning how to spell them correctly. I fear this might ruin ME for ever using these words correctly again. I’m not a strong speller to begin with.

Fundamentally, we’re all taking one step closer to the English language deteriorating into a hybrid of hillbilly, valleygirl, inner-city slang and various grunts just like they described in Idiocracy.

I’m still kind of amazed a film titled Inglourious Basterds is the number one movie in the country right now. I tried talking about the movie with Cami this weekend and had to refer to is as “That Tarantino Movie” when Henry was around.

There’s a quote for your one-sheet! “Inglourious Basterds – The movie with the title you CAN’T say around children!”

Enough bliblity-blather. What did I think of the movie? Well, I liked it! I must confess that it wasn’t the genre wank-off that I thought it would be. Truthfully, I spent most of the weekend thinking about the film in one way or another.

BE FOREWARNED – If you haven’t seen the movie, mild spoilers ahead!

Before I saw the movie, I read Jeffery Wells’s review over at Hollywood Elsewhere and he pointed something out that changed how I approached the film.

In his review, Wells says Basterds “reeks of arrogance and sadism and indifference to the value of human life. It’s a movie in which brutal death happens every which way, and by this I mean stupidly, callously, carelessly, plentifully. I began to hate it early on for the way it takes almost every character down (including ones Tarantino appears to favor) with utter indifference.”

Specifically, Wells cites the scene where Eli Roth (as Sgt. Donny Donowitz) caves in the head of Richard Sammel (as Sgt. Werner Rachtman) with a baseball bat after refusing to give up the position of another group of Germans that the Basterds are trying to flush out of an apple orchard.

“Isn’t this is what men of honor and bravery do in wartime — i.e., refuse to help the enemy kill their fellow soldiers, even if it means their own death,” asks Wells. “Compare this anti-Semitic but nonetheless noble fellow with the smug and vile Pitt, who does everything but twirl this moustache as he contemplates the delicious prospect of seeing blood and brain matter emerge from Rachtman’s head.”

When met with Ractman’s refusal, Pitt (as Lt. Aldo Raine) “We’re all tickled to hear you say that. Quite frankly, watching Donny beat Nazi’s to death is the closest we ever get to going to the movies.” The rest of the Basterds hoot and holler, tease and torment the remaining soldiers as Sgt. Donowitz’s brutality unfolds in front of them.

Reading Wells’s review, I took it with a grain of salt. He’s a contrarian by nature and likes to stir up these kind of debates that have less to do with the story being told on screen and more to do with his personal sensitivities.

However, listening to the audience I was with hoot and holler along with the Basters during this scene, I think Wells was onto something with his criticism. Tarantino takes it for granted that by virtue of simply wearing a uniform, every individual who serves the Third Reich is inherently evil. But he also goes to some length to humanize the Nazi’s in a way that doesn’t seem to warrant the extreme level of punishment and humiliation doled out by the bastards.

After interrogating a German officer for information, they ask him what he plans to do with his uniform when the war is over. He says he’ll burn it, acknowledging the wrong-doing he’s caught up in. That’s not good enough for the Basterds, so they carve a swastika into his forehead to serve as a warning to others.

Later in the film, a young German solider and some of his compatriots are celebrating in a basement bar. The soldier’s wife gave birth to a baby boy 5 hours prior. How he meets his end seems particularly protracted and cruel.

Another Nazi negotiates the condition of his surrender and the Basterds go back on their word before bringing him to justice.

As Lt. Aldo Raine, Pitt sermonizes that “Nazis ain’t got no humanity!” But neither do the Basterds. Their cruelty is justified as righteous by the fact that the entire squad is Jewish and that Nazis are the international shorthand for evil.

I don’t want to give the impression that I am defending the Nazi regime. Certainly Inglourious Basterds takes a stand against the defense of “only following orders” that many German soldiers used to justify their involvement in the war.

I mean, clearly Hitler was a bad guy that needed to be stopped. But more than the “good times Nazi killin'” that I think Tarantino was trying to push over, I felt like I was left with a profound commentary on “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

On the one end of the spectrum, you have Hitler TOTALLY abusing his power and doing unspeakable evil. To counteract that, you have the Basterds who are also WAY over the top in their delivery of justice.

Most likely I wouldn’t have had a problem with the violence Tarantino is promoting against the Nazis, but I think he did too good of a job humanizing them and not enough time developing the Basterds. Truthfully, the Basterds themselves are barely in the movie. Only a couple of them have any speaking lines.

The crux of the film’s conflict is between Christoph Waltz (as the “Jew Hunter” Col. Hans Landa) and Mélanie Laurent (the French-Jewish Shosanna Dreyfus who escapes from Col. Landa in the film’s first chapter). The Basterds are almost incidental in this showdown, drawn into the conflict by a movie premiere being held at Shosanna’s movie theater where Col. Landa has been put in charge of security.

Waltz as Col. Landa completely steals the film. Not only does he perform linguistic gymnastics – delivering his dialogue in German, English, French and Italian – but his acting is enthusiastic and knowing. Col. Landa is written as the smartest character in the film. He is usually three to four moves ahead of everyone else. The conflict between his intelligence and the Basterds’ brutality is brilliant and very satisfying.

Much the same can be said about Tarantino’s script. It’s very sharp, but also very ugly in parts. Tarantino is famous for his dialogue and here he uses it to glorious effect.

The movie is broken into five chapters and the way each chapter is set up, you know things are going to go completely FUBAR by the end. Tarantino uses his dialogue to stretch things out and ratchet up the tension. By the time the hammer is about to fall, you can barely stand it. When violence does occur, it’s made even more effective. A bold punctuation to each chapter.

It might surprise you that Inglourious Basterds really isn’t as violent as you might think it is. Compared to most World War II movies, which can be a flurry of bullets, explosions and images of young men being torn to pieces, Basterds is somewhat light on the gore. The gore you do see is so cartoonishly over the top, it’s hard to take seriously if you looked at it objectively.

But as I said before, the violence feels more impactful by way of Tarantino’s structure and his restrictive rationing of the action.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they thing Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s best movie since Pulp Fiction. It’s a good film, but I wouldn’t go that far. To me, Jackie Brown takes the number two spot because it features characters that act like real people. Basterds is limited somewhat by the fact that it is very arch, takes extreme liberties with history and really doesn’t give you someone to root for.

Not that every movie needs to toe the line between obvious heroes and villains. All I’m saying is that I think I would have enjoyed – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – if the Nazis were a greater caricature of evil than what Tarantino puts on screen. The Basterds could be as brutal as they like and I would have been along for the ride if the Nazis were a little more one-dimensional.

I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to say about Inglourious Basterds tonight on The Triple Feature. In fact, I believe we’re dedicating the whole show to Tarantino and dusting off some of his older films to talk about. I’m on the fence between watching Reservoir Dogs and True Romance this afternoon so I’ll have something more to discuss tonight.

Yes, I know True Romance was directed by Tony Scott. But the script was Tarantino’s and in some respects I consider it to be the most Tarantino-esque film that exists.

I encourage you to tune in live at 9:00 PM as Gordon, Joe and myself hash things out. It should be a great show and I’m looking forward to it.

What were your impressions of Inglourious Basterds? Leave your comments below!

↓ Transcript
There you go, sir.

Is that better?


You spelling "Inglorious" wrong, you idiot!