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August 18, 2009


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Tom Carson

Funny, I kept thinking of Nabokov too. Unlike you, GK, I just didn't have the balls to come out and say so. But once you grant the difference in materials -- obviously a whopping one -- the parallels get kind of interesting. Besides the chess games with chronology and perspective they both play, the complaints about Tarantino's movies deriving from movies rather than "real" life sound a lot like the way fuddy-duddy critics used to bitch about VN's fancy literary origami. The "but he's got nothing to *say*" lament is pretty familiar, too. They both get accused of arch po-mo trickery for trickery's sake when they're clearly both driven by nostalgia.

As I recall, there's even a bit in The Gift when Nabokov imagines an elderly, beloved Pushkin being applauded at a theater. Not to spoil IB's climax, but as alternative history goes, one does kind of chime with the other.


tc: Nabokov and nostalgia? That's a grotesque misreading, especially of the Pushkin scene. Try again.

Tom Carson

@Brian: I wasn't citing the Pushkin scene as an example of Nabokov's nostalgia -- just for its amusing (to me) correspondence with Tarantino's historical revisions in IB. Otherwise, why should I try again? Are you really suggesting that nostalgia/memory/lyrical obsessions with irrecoverable pasts *don't* loom kind of prominently in Nabokov's work? "Beyond the seas where I have lost a scepter/I hear the neighing of my dappled nouns," like that?


Good article. Though I hate to be a pest, I'm fairly sure the first chapter is called "Once Upon a Time...In Nazi Occupied France." Looking forward to seeing the film.


I largely went to see this because writers I enjoy, like yourself, rate it, while writers I dislike seem to dismiss it. So why did I spend almost the entire running time wrapped up in a big ball of cringe, with my nervous system attempting to escape my skin and walk away to a nice pub down the road for a libation? I seriously think this film demonstrates irrefutably that QT no longer plays with a full deck, or knows the difference between a clever idea and a very very stupid one. It's easy to construct a screenplay out of sixteen scenes when you're using structures drawn from pop cultural iconography, but when you play around with Sergio Leone you better have a firmer grasp of mise en scene than is displayed in the opening scene here, where we keep endlessly cutting back to the same dull shot of approaching Germans - Leone would at least have stuck on a long lens and given us another bloody pretty picture before going into the farmhouse...


The opening sequence is an extended homage to one of Tarantino's favourite auteurs - Sergio Leone, even the pulling back of the sheets on the washing line to reveal the image of the Nazis arriving in the distance is a direct intertextual reference to ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. It is this opening massacre that impressed me the most – I thought the rest of the film was merely an afterthought as Tarantino manages to condense the entire film into this one sequence. Not only is this one of the finest sequences Tarantino has directed, it relies very much on the interchange of nervous glances and most strikingly, language.

Scott Nye

That opening sequence is a frickin' masterpiece. The rest of the film may well be, too. I just saw it a few hours ago, so I'm still kind of wrapping my head around it; I will say this - I've seen every Tarantino film multiple times and skimmed a few reviews before seeing this, and he still manages to surprise me on so many levels. It's tempting to call this his best work, but...well, it will definitely require a second viewing, which hasn't been true of any other of the forty-four films I've seen this year.

Account Deleted

I finally saw this baby last night and it sure is a beauty. Definitely Tarantino's best work since 'Fiction' and I may even rank it over that to be honest. A thrilling piece of cinema, the burning screen of Shoshanna laughing as the Nazi's are wiped out may be Tarantino's finest image yet.

Thoroughly, thoroughly impressive.

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