Yesterday we were fortunate enough to attend the Canadian premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated WWII romp Inglorious Basterds. Security was intense–all cellphones with camera capabilities were checked upon entrance–and metal detectors greeted us at the door. Clearly, this wasn’t just another screening. Buzz about Tarantino’s presence was fierce, and after learning that he had done Canadian press earlier that afternoon coupled with a security guard’s mutterings–”the director really wants to get started by 7 PM”–our anticipation had reached a fever pitch. Thirty minutes after the scheduled start time, Canada AM’s resident film geek Richard Crouse took hold of a mic and stood before a packed-to-the-brim theatre, to introduce a very special guest. “I remember when I first saw Pulp Fiction….”
Tarantino was greeted with a no-brainer standing ovation, and was joined by fellow director Eli Roth–who plays basterd Donny Donowitz in the film–two giants of modern cinema standing before an adoring audience. Clearly these men have little to no self-esteem issues. After the obligatory bigging up of Toronto (Eli Roth called it his “home”), Tarantino opted out of the requisite “bonne cinema” and instead belted out “ARE YOU READY TO WATCH SOME NAZIS GET THEIR ASSES KICKED?” And with that, the lights dimmed…
It’s easy to describe Inglorious Basterds as a film about Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine and his team of rough-and-tumble Nazi killers (who also happen to be Jews), as they plow and pillage their way through occupied France, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an homage to the cinema of the 1940s, to noir films, and it’s classic QT. Long, tense scenes of surgical dialogue are punctuated with explosive, whip-quick instances of extreme violence, orchestrated by a director who has checked into his comfort zone, and shows no signs of vacating anytime soon. Giving major plot points away would spoil all the fun, but let’s just say Tarantino takes a few liberties with historical facts, especially in the film’s blazing final act. I’ve already said too much. Inglorious Basterds opens wide on August 21st, and in case you’ve been hiding out under a floor board (too much?) for the last year, check out the trailer below.
Quentin Tarantino called Django Unchained, his new revenge film starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Leonardo DiCaprio, a spaghetti Western set in America’s Deep South. He’s even coined a name for it—”a Southern.”
The inspiration came from wanting “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery but do them like spaghetti westerns; not like big issue movies.”
The director has already explored many of the genres that fired his imagination as a clerk at Video Archives, the store in Manhattan Beach where he got his informal movie training. He covered off kung fu in Kill Bill, grindhouse in Death Proof and war movies in the Oscar winning Inglorious Basterds.
Each of his movies has contained classic western themes— ultra violence, codes of honor and revenge—but this is the first time he’s attempted an all out oater.
The obvious starting place when looking at inspirations is the work of Italian director Sergio Corbucci, most notably Django, a spaghetti Western from 1966. This violent (body count is 138) movie’s style and take on race clearly had an influence. “His West was the most violent, surreal and pitiless landscape of any director in the history of the genre,” he says.
Though it clocks in at number 3 on the director’s all time favorite spaghetti Western list (topped by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), QT obviously loves the movie. He echoed Django’s ear severing scene in Reservoir Dogs and five years ago appeared in a Japanese tribute called Sukiyaki Western Django directed by Takashi Miike.
Also influential was The Great Silence, a violent 1972 Corbucci about a mute gunslinger facing off against a gang of bounty hunters. Set in the snowbound Nevada mountains, the look of the movie impressed Tarantino. “I liked the action in the snow so much, Django Unchained has a big snow section in the middle of the movie.”
Number seven on his favorites list is Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger starring spaghetti superstar Lee Van Cleef as an aging gunman taking on a young protégé. Tarantino used Riz Ortolani’s main title theme in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and looked to the film’s climatic shootout as inspiration for Django Unchained.
The director proudly wears his influences on his sleeve. “When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘No, I went to films.’”