18 January 2010

Awards season: Is Tarantino getting the shaft?

As he received the Golden Globe for best screenplay last night, Jason Reitman opened with: "Quentin, I'm still waiting for them to say your name. I'm really confused right now".

Is this an Italian American thing? Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar (they've given him lifetime achievement Oscars, doesn't count) and it seems the same is happening to Quentin. No, it's not an Italian American thing, Francis Ford Coppola has won Oscars. Is it the violence? But Quentin is killing Nazis this time. Killing Nazis doesn 't count.

Quentin is no Marty, but the glimmers how brilliance to be found in the midst of his erratic style and parodic violent world is unique and it deserves at least one Oscar. Quentin is a better chronicler of our times than many dramas and refined filmic explorations into the contemporary state of human nature. Few writers can encapsulate a rampant disease of our time, that of emotional and psychological dissociation, but Quentin did it with two professional killers who pursue a discussion about foot massage whilst killing a room full of people.

In Inglourious Basterds, we can observe the dissociative pathology arcing back historically to a charming, open, and articulate Nazi who attempts to woo a woman partly using, with naked genuineness, his reputation as a mass killer. (Ok, so pathological dissociation has always been except our post modern world seems to be the first in acknowledging it, exploring it stylistically, and perhaps unfortunately, embracing it.)

And, lets face it, Inglourious Basterds in just plain hilarious. The cathartic experience of fantasising, along with an entire audience and everyone who worked on the film, is a truly healing one. I think the last time I had so much fun thinking about how much fun the actors were having was whilst viewing 1991's Impromptu. Except Inglourious Basterds does one better. One comes out of the theatre feeling positively zen. Yes, the film is messy and too long but when a film stirs you up and leaves you spent, that film is art.

The HFPA missed their chance last night but the Academy really needs to step up to the plate. It's their chance this year. Don't award voters realise this is the closest to making Shindler's List as Quentin Tarantino is ever going to get?

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