Tarantino’s working where few directors are willing to go

Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

ID_NC_MEIS_INGLO_AP_001 The plot of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is ridiculous. A group of Jewish American soldiers are recruited by a Tennessee mountain man played by Brad Pitt to kill Nazis during the Second World War. Along the way they discover a plan to screen a new propaganda film by Goebbels at a cinema in Paris. All the top Nazis will be there, Hitler included. Exterminating them in one fell swoop will end the war. A few twists later, that is exactly what happens. So what's the point? What is it about this counterfactual and openly farcical scenario that so intrigued Mr. Tarantino?

It must have something to do with the relationship between film and reality. The fate of Europe hangs, in this case literally, on a movie. Directors, actors, and even film critics are central players in events of world historical importance.

To the David Denbys of the world (he's a film critic at The New Yorker), this premise amounts to “moral callousness.” Tarantino, he says, is “mucking about with a tragic moment of history. Chaplin and Lubitsch played with Nazis, too, but they worked as farceurs, using comedy to warn of catastrophe; they didn’t carve up Nazis using horror-film flourishes.” In Denby's eyes, Tarantino will exploit any subject matter, even the most serious of real-world issues, in the name of schlock. A talented nihilist, he is the most dangerous species of auteur. Though this tells us little about Tarantino it does reveal something about Denby's conception of the relationship between movies and the real world. Movies that Denby doesn't like are therefore morally contemptible and should be kept out of the real world.

More here.