By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, December 21, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Christmas rush of holiday movies is upon us, and if you find this whole notion of peace on earth is already beginning to wear thin, they offer some harrowing alternatives. Two of them, Jack Reacher and Django Unchained, had their premieres cancelled last weekend because their scenes of gun violence were considered inappropriate so soon after the Newtown massacre. Jack Reacher, which reboots Tom Cruise’s career as a action hero, has landed with especially unfortunate timing in light of the Sandy Hook massacre—it opens with a scene of a sniper killing five random civilians, including a mother holding a young child. Django, Quentin Tarantino’s tale of slave liberation, is tale of merry vengeance that opens Christmas Day.
Jack Reacher opens Dec. 21, along with Judd Apatow’s fractious family comedy This is 40. Those two studio pictures will likely lead the weekend box office, but also opening Dec. 21 are The Impossible and Rust and Bone, a pair of potent dramas from European directors that could win Oscar recognition. The Impossible is the harrowing tale of a family on holiday torn apart by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami; Rust and Bone is a romance about an animal trainer (Marion Cotillard) who loses both her legs to a renegade killer whale. No one ever said escaping Christmas would be a walk in the park.
So many movies, so little time. Here’s the rundown:
As a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, I was as mortified as everyone else when it was first announced that the 5’8″ Tom Cruise would play the 6’5″ Reacher It seemed like a historic coup of miscasting. Since then Child has endorsed both Cruise and the movie, which is loosely based on One Shot, the ninth novel in the Reacher series. Now that I’ve seen it, I still feel Cruise is miscast, and not just because he’s too short. Size doesn’t matter so much on the big screen. But character does. Reacher is a rugged Army veteran, a multi-decorated former U.S. Military Police Major, who has gone rogue and become a drifter. Cruise doesn’t look like he’s a veteran of anything but the gym and the red carpet. Reacher, who has a brutal manner and a forensic intellect, is cool, detached and laconic. He’s like a human bullet: smooth, fast and hot. Too intensely polished for the role. That said, he’s an athletic actor who is always impressive in hand-to-hand combat. He functions best with blunt, minimalist dialogue, and in that sense he makes the character his own. Continue…
By Jessica Allen - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM - 0 Comments
The Maclean’s veteran dishes on the highs and lows of the festival, plus what he really thinks about Madonna
Read the entire interview with Brian below:
Q: Anyone who takes film seriously in this country knows who Brian D. Johnson is. He’s been writing about movies at Maclean’s since 1985, he’s been to Cannes for the last 18 years in a row, and this will be his 27th year covering the Toronto International Film Festival, and he wrote this book [Brave Films Wild Nights: 25 Years of Festival Fever], which in my opinion should be required reading for any journalist covering the festival. Heck, for anyone who loves movies. Now, Brian, let me get this straight. Your first involvement with TIFF was actually delivering films before you were writing about movies?
A: Oh, yeah. I was a freelancer, and when TIFF came around for three years I paid my dues at the festival by hoisting celluloid up fire escapes to projection booths, which is kind of what you had to do back then. It was really the best job I ever had. I’d pack an Econoline van full of, you know, metal crates of film, and go . . . they treated you like a hero.
A: You know, people were lined up around the block . . . you know, the organizers are very nervous because if I don’t show up with the film . . .
Q: There’s not going to be a movie!
A: There’s no show. I’ve never felt such a vital part of the film industry as when I actually delivered the movies to the theatres. It was great. And also it was like going to the gym, you get into great shape.
Q: I can imagine! But then you didn’t stop there, you just didn’t deliver film, you’ve had different roles with the festival. Such as…?
A: Well, mostly I’ve been a film critic, you know, being part of the publicity mill. But I’ve been a filmmaker, I’ve had two films programmed at the festival, and this year—I’m kind of dreading it—but I’m an interview subject in a documentary about Garth Drabinsky. So that’s going to be a bit weird because, you know, seeing yourself on the big screen is . . . I’m sure that can’t be easy. So I’m going to get some of my own medicine, you know?
Q: Exactly! That’ll be interesting. Now, listen, when you were a kid is this something that you always thought about? Were films always important to you?
A: Films, no. I mean, I liked movies like any other kid, but movies were not special to me until I became a film critic.
A: Well, I shouldn’t say that. But yeah, so I’ve had no education in film aside from just watching films at a particularly ripe period during the late ’60s and early ’70s when that whole kind of New Wave splashed through North America.
Q: You lived through it.
A: Yeah, and everybody who was at all kind of intellectually/artistically inclined, movies were a huge part of your life. I mean, you know, foreign-language films, we all went to foreign-language films, you know, it just was part of growing up in the late ’60s and early ’70s. So I had that kind of informal education in film. And I was politically involved, I was kind of left-wing, and also, you know, the New Wave movement, and also film criticism itself—although I didn’t know it at the time—was kind of a very, you know, somewhat ideological movement. It was critical of the status quo, it was full of all kind of French structuralist nonsense. But I just lucked into it. I went to journalism first—it’s a long story, you don’t want to hear the whole story, but basically I was sort of into hard news and then kind of flipped into the arts, and when the Maclean’s film critic kind of disappeared I stepped into his shoes, knowing a good job when I saw it.
Q: Enthusiastically, I imagine.
A: Yeah, it’s a great job, because films are about everything, so you can basically cover every single kind of human activity and write about it in a way that very few other beats allow you to.
Q: You mentioned that sort of the most memorable moments in the festival sort of in the 1980s and in the early ’90s were always in the cinema itself rather than at a party. Do you still feel that way?
A: Well, there have been some good parties, but the amount of time that I’ve spent sort of chasing celebrities and party tickets and all the rest of it, when you come down to it it’s just a blur. But, you know, what really does remain with you. It’s the films. And that’s particularly true in Cannes as well. I mean, you’re in this spectacular fairy-tale setting on the Riviera but it’s really in the dark room, that’s where the magic happens. And I remember in Toronto at TIFF… like, increasingly as journalists we have to follow, you know, the Oscar pedigree films because that’s what people are interested in. But meanwhile the joy of going to a festival, if you’re a cinephile, is that there’s this whole world of films that you’ll never get another chance to see. You know, or the notion of discovering a film.
A: And I remember once, after my business was kind of done, towards the end of the festival, Ruby Rich—who’s an American critic—and I, we sort of said, “Let’s try to find something,” you know, “really interesting to go to.” We went and we saw this film by Claire Denis, a French director, called Beau Travail, which was set in East Africa in the deserts, the moonscape of East Africa, where you had French Foreign Legionnaires choreographed like modern dancers with a Neil Young song in the background, and it’s… it was like dying and going to heaven because of the surprise. You know, it’s like you walk into a theatre not knowing what to expect, not knowing what you’re going to see, and then you’re transported to another world, and that’s the magic which doesn’t get old.
Q: Now, listen, you deal with celebrities pretty much on a weekly basis, you’re interviewing them for stories and so on. Have you ever been star-struck?
A: Well, it’s kind of your professional duty not to be star-struck. Inevitably there are celebrities who pose more of an emotional challenge than others. I mean, outside of film. You know, talking to Mick Jagger is kind of the Everest of interviews, you know, what do you ask and how do you. But part of the way you do a celebrity interview is you establish, as soon as you can, that we’re both just people and we have our agendas and you’re going to try to make it interesting for them because they’re on an assembly line. You’re not. I mean, you’re on a different kind of assembly line where during a festival you’re seeing one celebrity maybe after the other, but they’re sitting in a room having one journalist after another come in for maybe eight hours? And I’m not saying we should feel sorry for them—it’s a privileged existence—but that is difficult and it’s difficult to stay fresh. So it’s part of my job as a journalist, not quite buttering them up, but you want to kind of find the moment. You know, you want to find a chemistry of some sort, and usually that means that you’re going in there with a very specific set of questions, just like if you’re playing a jazz score and you’ve got the score in front of you, but you’ve got to be ready right from the opening moment; to find a spontaneous kind of hook into it that doesn’t feel scripted.
Q: You just gave away all your trade secrets. I feel so lucky right now!
A: One of my favourite TIFF interviews actually was with Errol Morris, the documentary director, who is a famous interviewer, so my first question was, “What’s the secret to a good interview? ” And he said, “Shutting up.”
Q: Oh, wow!
A: And then there was a long pause.
Q: Oh, no!
A: It’s true, though.
Q: Really? Because then you are forced to fill in the silence?
A: Yeah, in fact often if you feel uncomfortable with a subject and you don’t kind of pave over all of the gaps and if you ask a difficult question then say, “Like, like, you know, when…” if you don’t do that, you just leave an abyss and let the person fill it, there’s something about an open mike where people feel they have to say something, whereas if you make it easy for them you’re cutting your own throat as an interviewer.
Q: Twenty-seven years of covering the festival, there must be a moment that stands out. Is there?
A: It’s a blur. I wish there was a moment that stood out!
Q: Gotta be one, one juicy little…
A: One juicy little… I mean, there are lots of moments. I remember meeting Quentin Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs…
A: . . . before he was Quentin Tarantino, and you’re interviewing him, and this guy was talking, I mean, like a mile a minute. He makes Martin Scorsese sound like he’s on Quaaludes he’s talking so fast. And I’m asking him about violence, you know, and his language is violent, the way he defends his violence, because it’s more disturbing than Hollywood violence. And he’d been up all night partying with his, you know, festival rat friends, Robert Rodriguez and all these guys who are, like, this new sub-wave of American filmmakers that were coming along. In retrospect, you think, “You know, that’s when he was just starting out” . . . and that’s kind of exciting when you catch people early on or, you know, if you go to a diner and have a hamburger with Jason Reitman and he’s doing his second film, Juno, and you have no idea what’s in store for him. Talking to Jane Fonda and sort of studying her complexion. You know, the thing about movie stars that is really interesting when you talk to them, is that in person their beauty—or lack of it—you can’t really disguise it in person. You see the person, you know? I don’t think I was ever so star-struck by anybody as Gregory Peck.
A: Just because he was sort of an icon for movies of my youth. And most of all I wasn’t expecting much when I walked in. It wasn’t, “Oh, wow, Gregory,” but the charisma of the guy just bowled me over, I thought, “Wow, this is a real movie star.”
Q: That’s lovely.
A: Jessica Lange, back in the day, thinking this is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
A: Madonna, not so hot.
Q: Really? Wow! Wow! Incredible. You heard it here first! I read about, in this book, a place—was it called Heaven? An after-hours sort of disco club that everyone frequented and anything happened and everything did happen and was encouraged to happen. Did anything happen there for you?
A: No, nothing happened. I didn’t go to Heaven.
Q: You didn’t?
A: I didn’t die and go to Heaven, I didn’t live and go to Heaven. No, you know, a lot of the festival lore I feel I kind of missed out on.
Q: You were working.
A: And, you know, films get out late, and what are you going to do with Robert De Niro and, you know, Martin Scorcese . . . and it was a time in the film industry where the whole thing was kind of a river of sex and cocaine, you know? So I didn’t actually take part in that, you know? I mean, I was in a band at the time, in a different kind of world, but that sort of champagne-and-limousine world . . . escaped me.
Q: It’s for the best.
A: Yeah, for the best.
Q: Professional through and through.
A: Well, no, just missing out, I think. Just missing out on it, you know? Yeah, the parties, the parties. And it used to be I would go to a lot of TIFF parties, but now who’s got the time, you know? The TIFF schedule is so insane you spend all your time chasing films and interviews and you drop into a party to grab a bite or get a drink or talk to someone . . .but it’s definitely the TIFF industrial complex now, it’s not as festive a festival as it once was just because it’s not so local, it’s not so homey, it doesn’t really belong to us anymore, it belongs to the world, for better or worse.
Q: I want to ask one more question, if there’s something that you’re excited to see.
A: Yeah, I think The Master, which is… I think everybody’s excited to see The Master because it comes from Paul Thomas Anderson—Magnolia, etc.—because it stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, and because it is about—or not about, depending who you listen to—Ron L. Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and the trailer looks great. So that’s one we’re all dying to see. I’m kind of dying to see the De Palma movie. I mean, De Palma . . . with Rachel McAdams in it. I’m also dying to see the Terrence Malick film, also with Rachel McAdams. So there’s those, and there’s a lot of good films at TIFF that I’ve already seen, you know, at Cannes, including Michael Haneke’s Amour and The Hunt, a Danish film. There’s lots of stuff. You know, it’s funny, TIFF gets obscured by the celebrity glitz but the fact is there’s still a bedrock of world cinema there that’s there for the taking for those who want to expend the incredible energy it takes to actually navigate this festival.
Q: Do you ever get sick of movies?
A: I get sick of bad movies, and the majority of them are not great, but you never get sick of good movies. And whenever you see a really good movie it’s like, “What was I thinking? ” You start to sort of give the benefit of the doubt to kind of okay and mediocre stuff, and then something blows you out of the water and you say, “Wait a minute, that’s why we’re here. That’s why we care,” you know? So you never get sick of the good stuff.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 3:16 PM - 54 Comments
Tasteless, Ignorant Dismissals of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Movies of 2009, None of Which I Have Seen
500 Days of Summer: This is the one with that anime-eyed chick who has the indie-pop duo, right? And the whole movie is pretty much just her being super mean to some guy for a year and a half? And the title comes from the character being named “Summer”, which should have been a dead giveaway to her boyfriend that she was a narcissist raised by obnoxious people?
An Education: I’m guessing the working title was A Pedo-cation. The “-cation” is short for “hour-and-a-half vacation in a movie theatre that’s probably not gonna be crowded at all”.
The Hurt Locker: Whoa, wait, I actually saw this one! Protip: it’s the same old buddy-cop movie, only in Iraq. [NOTE: REVIEW IS NOT IRONIC]
Inglourious Basterds: I was going to make the standard cheap joke about how Quentin found a way to make Hogan’s Heroes look relatively tasteful, but then I remembered that nobody under 80 really has any business questioning the tastefulness of Hogan’s Heroes (several of those cast members ran from the Nazis or risked death fighting them or both; the guy who played LeBeau was in Buchenwald). I find myself wondering if maybe QT did us a favour by bringing WW2 back within range of a purely artistic treatment. I’m actually going to watch this later today, so pretty soon I’ll be entitled to an opinion!
Invictus: Am I the only one who literally couldn’t believe this is the first time Morgan Freeman has played Mandela in a movie?
The Messenger: Outstanding year for Woody Harrelson, with Zombieland, Defendor, and now this. It’s not even a comeback—he’s always popping up in cool stuff, even though he’s got that Skoal-stuffed Kallikak face and gives every indication away from the set that he started life with an IQ of 80 and gave away about a sawbuck of that smoking the chronic. This is a guy who spoke the following words about making this very movie: “It made me care about the soldiers. Prior to that it wasn’t that I didn’t care about them, I just thought of them and the war as all the same thing.” And yet here we are, legitimately wondering: great American actor, or greatEST American actor?
A Serious Man: Do you figure the Coen Brothers realize we’ve all figured out which ones to skip and which ones to go see? Given the pattern of their career, you can actually catch yourself thinking “God, it’s almost like they’re two different people.” Just fire the Hudsucker Proxy one and keep the Fargo one already!
Star Trek: My hypothesis about the Disney-Marvel deal was that comic books don’t need to be profitable because they’ve become storytelling R&D labs for the movies. This is confirmed here by the use of the time-honoured “retcon” strategy as a means of breathing life into an effed-out bunch of characters we could otherwise hardly stand the sight of.
Up: Let you in on a secret: I’ve never really liked, as in really really really liked, a Pixar movie. I find even the good ones a little bit sterile and contrived. Which, obviously, they are, but that doesn’t stop other people from flipping out about how deep the philosophy of The Incredibles was or how Ratatouille was pretty well the equal of anything Kubrick ever did. The emperor has no clothes, guys! Most celebrities are terrible at voice acting, most of these movies have Kricfalusi’s Cal Arts disease in the worst way, and we should be way past having “Ooh, cool” reactions to nerdy little touches in CGI animation! Plus, shame on anybody who fell for the 3-D thing. You’re, what, the fifth or sixth generation of audiences to fall for this crap?
Where the Wild Things Are: I didn’t think it was possible for any literary work to attain a higher exegesis-to-original-text ratio than either the New Testament or Shakespeare, but Sendak proved us all wrong.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:42 PM - 1 Comment
Tonight I had a beer with Germany’s biggest box office star. I was introducded to Til Schweiger at a small, jammed party for TIFF’s gala premiere of Phantom Pain (Phantomschmerz)—a German movie inspired by the true story of a Canadian cyclist Mark Sumner, whose life was traumatically changed by a car accident. Til Schweiger has been called Germany’s Brad Pitt. And he co-starred with Pitt, speaking English as one of his Nazi-scalping squad in Inglourious Basterds. But when I ask Schweiger about the comparison, after expressing his huge admiration for Pitt as an actor, he says, “I’m not Germany’s Brad Pitt; I’m Germany’s Will Smith.” (Given that Smith is Hollywood’s biggest earner at the box office, the analogy makes sense.) Inglourious Basterds has been a massive hit in Germany, bigger than Pulp Fiction. But Schweiger told me he was furious that European countries chose to dub the film rather than subtitle it—undermining the multilingual intrigue that serves as its central comic conceit. “Here comes this guy who goes against all odds,” says the actor. “At the risk of alienating all the Americans, Quentin had everyone speak their own language, so you wouldn’t have Germans speaking English to each other in a phony German accent.” In his role as a German-American soldier, Schweiger naturally spoke English with his comrades. But for Germany’s version of the film, he had to dub his English lines into German. “The German audience knows me as a native German speaker. And when I’m in an international film speaking English it’s a different timing, a different rhythm. Then I dub it into German, and the German audience wonders, ‘why does he talk like this?’ ”
When Schweiger asked me what I thought of Phantom Pain, I confessed I had to work late and missed the premiere but planned to catch it in a repeat screening. He said he appreciated the honesty, then recalled an incident at a party where he caught someone’s bluff. Once he was schmoozed by a producer who profusely congratulated him on his performance in a film that he didn’t appear in, but was incorrectly listed on his IMDB page.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 4:40 PM - 11 Comments
The director of ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Kill Bill’ once epitomized the future of moviemaking. But now he’s mostly interested in movies of the past.
Is Quentin Tarantino old-fashioned? There’s a question you’d never have heard 15 years ago, when Pulp Fiction made him arguably the most famous and influential semi-independent filmmaker in America. But his new movie, the Second World War adventure Inglourious Basterds (opening Aug. 21), has the usually cocky Tarantino sounding insecure. Sebastian Haselbeck, founder of the Quentin Tarantino Archives website, told Maclean’s that an important part of Tarantino’s persona is “enormous self-confidence in what he does,” but far from sounding confident, Tarantino told the New York Times he rushed to get the film cut because he hasn’t yet made a great film in the last 10 years: “I wanted to have a masterpiece before the decade’s out,” he said. Still, he wouldn’t say that Basterds would be it, only that “this was the hardest movie I’ve ever made.” Tarantino has also made some self-promotional comments that sound more like the brilliant, obnoxious media personality from the ’90s, like his statement that he refuses to hire composers because he doesn’t want a musician “coming in here and throwing his s–t over my movie.” But he’s increasingly acting like someone who doesn’t want movie history to pass him by. Others think it already has: Gerald Peary, a critic who edited a book of interviews with Tarantino, now says, “I don’t find him as significant a cultural icon” as he was in the Pulp Fiction days.
Audiences don’t always know what to make of Inglourious Basterds; the film got a mixed reception at the Cannes Festival (where Pulp Fiction took the top prize in 1994), and even favourable reviews warn that it’s not the rollicking action-packed movie we’d expect from the trailers. Inglourious Basterds has all the things we’ve come to expect from Tarantino: horrifying but cartoonish violence, silly comedy in inappropriate places, sexy women out for revenge (Mélanie Laurent as a Jewish woman trying to destroy the Nazis in retaliation for killing her family). But it also has surprisingly little action for a movie about ragtag Nazi-killers who take their victims’ scalps; two key scenes, the opening and a long one in a Paris tavern, consist of 20 minutes of dialogue followed by a few seconds of violence. And top-billed Brad Pitt, who plays the head Nazi-hunter, doesn’t have much screen time in the movie; his character doesn’t really drive the plot compared to the relatively unknown Christoph Waltz, who plays a charming but ruthless Nazi officer. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 10:16 AM - 0 Comments
A CANNES VIDEO PRESENTED BY CANON CANADA
At a festival loaded with heavyweight auteurs, and light on Hollywood celebrity, Brad Pitt was the designated superstar. But at the Cannes press conference for the premiere of Inglourious Basterds, he held off his entrance with noblesse oblige, and let his chuffed director, Quentin Tarantino, soak up the spotlight —flanked by leading ladies Diane Kruger and Mélanie Laurent
And you have to wonder, what deal with Brad’s English garden-party get-up—the cream jacket and the ascot-like scarf? All that’s missing is a shooting stick. Did Angelina dress him in the morning as a joke? You’ll notice, by the way, that in Cannes the press turn into fans in the presence of celebrity. Snapping photos I can understand—everyone, myself included, wants visuals for their websites—but the notion of journalists scrambling for autographs is downright embarrassing.
By Brian D. Johnson - Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 9:47 PM - 0 Comments
Aside from inventiveness with which filmmakers portrayed brutal violence, the other prevalent trend in Cannes this year was the camera’s tendency to turn on itself. So many movies contained references to cinema, and quite a few had stories that revolved around a film within a film, or at least a show within a show—notably Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Tsai-Ming Liang’s Visage, Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro and Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It makes you wonder if world cinema is fleeing the world, and happy to lose itself in its own reflection, like the characters who plunge through the funhouse mirror of Gilliam’s Imaginarium. Quite the vicious circle. You’ve got several thousand film critics obsessively watching films that are obsessed with film. One of the French soldiers in Tarantino’s movie is a film critic. And Isabel Coixet’s Map of the Sounds of Tokyo drew a big laugh from a mass audience of critics with this line: “How can you trust a guy who spends all day in a cinema?” Precisely.
In this incestuous mix of art and life, nothing was spookier than seeing Heath Ledger’s last performance in Imaginarium. His character makes his entrance dangling from a noose. And the film contains references to dead movie stars like Valentino and James Dean finding immortality on the silver screen—allusions that now seem like morbid premonitions. But then movies lend themselves to meditations on mortality. And these days, when every auteur seems obsessed with the Death of Cinema, it was thrilling to see a film by an old man that celebrates its life—Les Herbes Folles (Wild Grass), a gem by 86-year-old French master Alain Resnais, who’s most famous for Hiroshima Mon Amour. Resnais’s movie emerged as the festival’s sleeper hit, and after catching up to it late in the week, I can see why.
By Brian D. Johnson - Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 8:26 PM - 0 Comments
Playing catch-up, I’m posting a bunch of blogs today, most written on the flight home. The festival officially ends with the awards Sunday, but by now it’s effectively over, as all 20 features in competition have screened. Among the more high-minded entries, one of the favorites is The White Ribbon by Austrian director Michael Haneke. Set in a Protestant village in northern Germany on the eve of the First World War—and shot in forbidding black-and-white—it has the austere look and moral gravity of an Ingmar Bergman film. The village has become cursed by a contagion of strange and violent acts, beginning with the local doctor being thrown from his horse by a wire strung between two trees. A field of cabbage is chopped to bits. A retarded child is viciously mutilated. But there’s also systemic abuse in this corrupt domain. Children are beaten, a daughter is molested, a midwife abused. So we assume the mysterious crimes are acts of punishment. Various patriarchs—a baron, a steward, a pastor, and the doctor—emerge like suspects in a Germanic game of Clue. As with Haneke’s previous film, Caché (2007), this is a whodunit that’s never clearly resolved. But with the children somehow implicated in a cycle of abuse and retribution, Haneke appears to hinting that these are the future architects of the Third Reich.
Quentin Tarantino’s, Inglourious Basterds (sic) is radically different from The White Ribbon, but it’s another picture that doesn’t exactly make one predisposed to love Germans. Tarantino concocts a Jewish revenge fantasy that rewrites history, immolating Nazis in an eye-for-an-eye conflagration, a mini-Holocaust. At the film’s press conference, pulp filmmaker Eli Roth (Hostel), who plays one of the Tarantino’s avenging “basterds,” gleefully called it “kosher porn.” Although Tarantino’s fantasia exists in a world quite divorced from history, it makes flamboyantly explicit what is darkly implied in Haneke’s film—that the Nazis’ crimes are rooted in some sort of original sin.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 11:08 AM - 2 Comments
Yesterday was Brad Pitt Day in Cannes—although hard-core cineastes, especially the Gallic variety, perhaps thought of it as Quentin Tarantino Day. And for die-hard Canadians, it was Mike Myers Day. In the biggest blitz of Hollywood talent that we’ve seen during the festival, all three were on hand for the premiere of Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s outrageous Second World War epic. It was one of the most anticipated titles among the 20 films in competition here. The 2,300-seat Lumiere theatre was packed for the morning press screening, well before the 8:30 a.m. start time. And at the end of the two-and-half-hour opus, the Palais erupted with some of the strongest applause we’ve seen here. The movie is a hoot, and so was the press conference that immediately followed the morning screening. More on that in minute, but first a few details about the film. Continue…