'Inglourious' Presses Violence, Revenge Buttons

By Robert Marich
   Harvey and Bob Weinstein are famous for pushing controversy when they ran distributor Miramax, and so it’s not surprising that their film company is stirring things up with its fictional Jewish WWII revenge actioner Inglourious Basterds that opens today.
   The Weinstein Co. positioned the film as very violent, but reviews indicate that this an overstatement (there are some gruesome scenes—of course!). “Despite what the film’s ad campaign leads you to believe, this isn’t simply an unending series of brutal encounters between unsympathetic Nazis and the business end of the Basterds’ bayonets,” writes Mark Savlov of the Austin Chronicle.
 Wall Street Journal roundup of reviews notes: “The violence in this movie is over-the-top, of course, but it’s stylized and tongue-in-cheek and its actual screen time is pretty limited. The film is actually very talky.”
   Reviews from top reviewers at mainstream media outlets are mixed. “I think this is [filmmaker Quentin] Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction,” writes Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, citing a violent-strewn Weinstein-Tarantino collaboration. On the other hand, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times is disappointed that “so much attention to the film’s peripherals [that Tarantino] has neglected to provide a center worth embracing.”
   The film got attention for a pre-release screening at Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, which sparked an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal examining revenge in the Jewish religion. It’s a worthy topic for discussion that, by the way, promotes the film in the process.
   Weinstein Co. is said to be cash-strapped and in need of a hit with the $70 million production of Ingourious. Tracking surveys project a $30 million opening weekend, which would be great for an R-rated film with a longish running time of 2 ½ hours.
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