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‘Basterds’ divides Cannes crowd

It’s fascinating to look at the blog postings Wednesday from the Cannes Film Festival of the premiere of “Inglourious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino’s WWII Nazi-scalping action fantasy (he has the Reich apparently coming to an end not in Hitler’s bunker but in a Paris movie theater). To me, the postings reflect each blog’s rooting interest in the film and the director, whose PR campaign is orchestrated by the Weinstein Co., which will release the film later this summer.

In other words, the bloggers who tend to like Harvey Weinstein are posting good reviews; the bloggers who loathe him are gleefully accentuating the negative.

For example, we have New York magazine’s Vulture blog playing up the snark, writing off the film as “boring,” bolstering its verdict with a host of negative reviews, including one from Movieline’s David Bourgeois, who writes: “By the end of the film -- almost two-and-a-half hours later -- its hard to care much about what happens to anybody on screen.”

On the other hand, Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke was helpfully touting the movie, running a trio of favorable reviews from the British press, which she introduced with the claim that “Inglourious Basterds’ ” Cannes debut had been greeted with a “great reaction from the general audience with a huge ovation even with no talent in attendance.” She only posts positive reviews, including a critique from Empire magazine that calls the film “rather brilliant,” saying it was a “wonderfully acted movie that subverts expectation at every turn.”

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But even Finke’s readers were skeptical about her review choices. The first post on her comments page was from a reader who asked, “Why not include the Guardian’s review too?” The reader helpfully supplied a highlight from the Peter Bradshaw review: “Quentin Tarantino’s WW2 schlocker about a Jewish-American revenge squad intent on killing Nazis in German-occupied France is awful. It is achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious.”

The reviews keep coming in from all media outposts, with Variety mixed, the Hollywood Reporter largely negative and Time magazine’s Richard and Mary Corliss declaring the movie “a misfire.” My colleague Kenneth Turan, who was also at the screening, calls the film a “self-indulgent piece of violent alternate history.”

However, my favorite assessment of the film comes from director Eli Roth, who plays Sgt. Donnie Donowitz in “Basterds.” He defends the film’s narrative conceit about tough Jews getting revenge against Hitler, describing it as “kosher porn. It’s something I dreamed since I was a kid.”

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patrick.goldstein@latimes.com


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