Posted by Danielle Berrin
Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Inglourious Basterds” is the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy. In it, a band of physically intimidating American Jews, led by Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine go on a Nazi killing spree that turns the brutality of the Holocaust onto its perpetrators.
The film is generating tons of buzz for rewriting the ending to one of history’s greatest tragedies and perhaps, even more notably, for challenging the cinematic legacy of Jewish victimhood and replacing it with a brutal, empowering alternative.
We’ve got much more ‘Basterds’ coverage coming your way, including exclusive interviews with director Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, actor/director Eli Roth and several other cast members. But for now, check out Jeffrey Goldberg’s quite brilliant interview with Tarantino, in which the acclaimed director is painted a hero for turning Jewish victimhood on its “mother*&%$#” ear. Though it’s worth adding that Goldberg isn’t afraid to take him to task on the issue of torture. Is the film too violent? Too brutal? Is it, as Goldberg concludes, a film that could only be made by a non-Jewish director?
Read more from the Atlantic:
...I found myself sitting beside Quentin Tarantino’s pool in the Hollywood Hills, listening in wonder as the writer and director of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction diagnosed what he saw as the essential, maddening flaw of every Holocaust movie ever made.
“Holocaust movies always have Jews as victims,” he said, plainly exasperated by Hollywood’s lack of imagination. “We’ve seen that story before. I want to see something different. Let’s see Germans that are scared of Jews. Let’s not have everything build up to a big misery, let’s actually take the fun of action-movie cinema and apply it to this situation.”
It is true that most—some might even say all—films about the Holocaust focus on the persecution of Jews. The Holocaust was very bad for Jews; this is an immovable fact of history. But Tarantino isn’t wrong to suggest that the cinematic depiction of anti-Semitic persecution can become wearying over time, particularly for Semites. In Judd Apatow’s comedy Knocked Up, Seth Rogen’s character praises Steven Spielberg’s Munich for featuring Jewish assassins: “Every movie with Jews, we’re the ones getting killed. Munich flips it on its ear. We’re capping motherfuckers!”
Early in the film, Aldo the Apache announces the goals of his unit: “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us.” Soon enough, the Basterds are committing war crimes, beating prisoners to death and collecting the scalps of dead Germans. “Every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps,” Aldo demands.
The horror-movie director Eli Roth—his film Hostel is the most repulsively violent movie I’ve ever seen twice—plays a Basterd known as the “Bear Jew,” whose specialty is braining Germans with a baseball bat. Roth told me recently that Inglourious Basterds falls into a subgenre he calls “kosher porn.”
“It’s almost a deep sexual satisfaction of wanting to beat Nazis to death, an orgasmic feeling,” Roth said. “My character gets to beat Nazis to death. That’s something I could watch all day. My parents are very strong about Holocaust education. My grandparents got out of Poland and Russia and Austria, but their relatives did not.”
Tarantino’s producer, Lawrence Bender, says that after reading the first draft of Inglourious Basterds, he told Tarantino, “As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherfucker, because this movie is a fucking Jewish wet dream.” Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the film’s executive producers, also reportedly enjoyed the film’s theme of Jewish revenge.
It is not an accident that it took a non-Jewish director to concoct this story of brutal Jewish revenge. It is difficult to imagine a Jew in Hollywood—each one more self-conscious than the next—portraying Jews as vengeance-seeking knifemen. Neal Gabler, the author of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, told me that Jewish revenge fantasies aren’t entirely alien to the movie industry, but they’ve always been exercises in sublimation, Superman being only the most obvious. “Jews have gone from being nonexistent in film to being thoroughly represented, but no Jew would ever make a film like Inglourious Basterds,” Gabler said. “It’s too brazen.”
Check out the trailer:
And this Atlantic video analyzing the film:
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August 11, 2009 | 7:52 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Approaching it’s third season, “Mad Men” can be counted as one of the most captivating shows on television. There’s hardly a newsstand in town without a January Jones magazine cover, a Jon Hamm profile or an interview with the show’s creator Matt Weiner. Plus, the show is nominated for the best dramatic series Emmy, which it won last year, and Weiner is up for four dramatic writing Emmys. Of course, we saw it all coming and scored an early sit down with Weiner back in summer of ‘07. That was before Joan Holloway raised the profile of secretaries everywhere, drinking on the job was—uh—performance enhancing and cigarette smoking began to look cool again. We owe the creation of these revolutionary trends to “Mad Men,” a show about the world of advertising in 1960s Manhattan. In Weiner’s decadent, male-dominated world, racism, sexism, antisemitism and homophobia rule the day, but those paradigms are subverted with rich, fully developed characters who happen to be female, Jewish or gay.
You may be wondering how such provocative material found its way into the Hollywood forefront. Most of it has to do with Weiner, who cerebrated over the concept for three years before finally making it big.
Here’s his story as told to The Wrap:
I had been researching this advertising idea for two years. Every night I would pay someone—I would dictate to them, and they would do research. And I would stay after work and work on this advertising thing. And in between the big second and third seasons of “Becker,” when I realized that I had a hiatus, three months where I knew that I still had a job, I just pulled the trigger.
I hired a writer’s assistant because I was so exhausted, and also I felt it was like having a personal trainer. I realized that I would work because I was paying that person $11 an hour to be there. And I knocked the show out pretty quickly. And that was the script that later became “Mad Men.”
It had been brewing for, I’m not kidding, for three years, I’d been taking notes and been thinking about it and doing research. I just did it and I gave it to my agents, and they didn’t pay any attention to it.
And finally two years later, I left “Becker.” I was working on “Andy Richter,” and I just said to my agents, “Send this script to David Chase, send it to Alan Ball.” They were both at UTA, which is where I was. And they told me Alan Ball wasn’t gonna read it; he only looked at playwrights, which I’ve since talked to him about and he was amused by. And David Chase’s show, they told me, they’re feature people, they’re “Law and Order,” they’re procedural, they’re one-hour people.
I had since gotten a manager, who really did help me a lot. And my manager told them, “If you don’t get this to David Chase, Matt’s gonna leave the agency.” So they got it to him, and a week later I was in New York on “The Sopranos.”
The most important thing people have to know is that I wrote a lot for free; I never sold a pitch.
August 7, 2009 | 6:47 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I’m off to interview Lawrence Bender, producer of “Inglourious Basterds” and Quentin Tarantino’s longtime collaborator. More on this producer/political activist/ballet dancer later, but for now, here’s a pic from the cast of “Inglourious Basterds” from last May’s Festival du Cannes.
August 6, 2009 | 1:48 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
They say no good deed goes unpunished as in the case of “Sex and the City” star Kristin Davis, who was dropped from her role with a human rights group because of her endorsement deal with the Israeli cosmetics company, Ahava. Oxfam International, an organization that fights global poverty and injustice claims that they cannot support Davis’s involvement with Ahava because it operates out of an Israeli settlement.
According to the original New York Post report, Oxfam says Davis’ arrangement with Ahava is problematic due to the fact that Mitzpe Shalem is “disputed” territory. “This has been a huge thing,” a source told the Post. “Ahava has factories on disputed land. From Ahava’s perspective, they are not doing anything wrong. From an Oxfam perspective, Ahava is a polarizing company and Kristin shouldn’t be involved with it.”
Davis became Ahava’s first-ever celebrity spokesperson in September 2007. “I was attracted to Ahava because of their use of the minerals found in the Dead Sea and their commitment to using only high-quality ingredients in their products,” Davis told Women’s Wear Daily at the time. “I noticed a difference in my skin the first time I had an experience with them at a spa.”
In the video below of the official Ahava/Davis launch party, an interviewer tells Davis that her ‘Sex’ co-star, Chris Noth, endorsed an Israeli deodorant and asks if they plan to take over the Israeli cosmetics industry. Davis replies, “I can only be for Ahava because Ahava is special to me and therefore I can only be for Ahava.” You can watch Davis get grilled by the Israeli press during her first visit to the country below.
What Oxfam is referring to as “disputed” territory is Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, founded in 1970 by a group of Israeli soldiers and located on the Western shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank. The economy of the Kibbutz depends on the tourism and agriculture tied to its location and many of Ahava’s products use ingredients found in the Dead Sea.
Davis has said she is “saddened” by the situation and intends to continue her work with Oxfam. Maybe when her Ahava contract is up?
Kristin Davis in Israel:
An earlier video of the Ahava launch party in New York (in Hebrew, but Davis’s interview is in English):
More on the controversy from Haaretz:
“[Davis] has been very active with both Oxfam and Ahava, and is very passionate about the causes of Oxfam,” the source told the Post. “She was completely unaware of this conflict of interest and is saddened to be on public pause from a group she has devoted so much time, money, and support to.”
In response, Oxfam told the Post: “Kristin Davis has done great work for Oxfam and we highly value her commitment as a supporter . . . Oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade, in which Ahava is engaged. Both Kristin and Oxfam do not want this issue to detract from the great work we have done in the past and plan to do in the future.”
A spokeswoman for Davis told the Post that the actress still intends to continue her work with Oxfam “for years to come.”
August 5, 2009 | 1:31 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
The “Inglourious Basterds” in Quentin Tarantino’s lushly-photographed World War II epic are a posse of blood-splattering Jewish-American soldiers turned Nazi slayers. These Reservoir dogs-of-war, led by Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, lend levity (and gore) to Tarentino’s new movie, which opens Aug. 21 and blends the stories of a vengeful French Jew (Melanie Laurent) who has witnessed the murder of her entire family, with other plots against the Reich. There has been much debate among critics about whether Tarentino’s new film is muddled or a masterpiece. But even if the movie is declined Oscar nominations, much pleasure may be gleaned by watching the Jewish soldiers kick Nazi butt, Tarantino-style. Here are five of the craziest basterd moments from the movie:
- Brad Pitt’s hick colonel character is nicknamed “Aldo the Apache” for his predilection for a particular kind of torture: “Every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps,” he tells the basterds before they’re deployed behind enemy lines. “And I want my scalps. And all y’all will git me, 100 Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of 100 dead Nazis, or you will die tryin’.” They do their best to oblige.
- The basterds bust the psychotic German Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, who has butchered numerous Gestapo agents, out of captivity, after blasting away the requisite number of guards. “We’re a big fan of your work,” Aldo tells Hugo, who in his estimation, however, is still an amateur. “We all came here to see if you want to go pro?”
- In one scene, Hitler (played by Martin Wuttke) goes ape about the basterd nicknamed The Bear Jew (Eli Roth), who has instilled fear among Germans because of his affinity for bashing Nazi brains in with a baseball bat. We first meet the Bear Jew as Pitt interrogates a German sergeant, ordering him to “Take your Weinerschnitzel-lickin’ finger and point out on this map what we want to know.” When the sergeant tells Aldo to f—-himself and his “Jew dogs,” Pitt gestures to the entrance of a tunnel from which we hear menacing booming sounds: the sound of Bear Jew’s bat pounding the walls. Suddenly the Bear (a.k.a. Sgt. Donny Donowitz) emerges: Eli Roth looking eye-bulging nuts, wearing a mezuzah around his neck as he approaches the German and caresses his face with the bat before he …you can leave the rest to your imagination. Appropriately, the Bear Jew— perhaps the bloodiest of the basterds—is played by Eli Roth, who is also the director of the super-grisly “Hostel” films.
- Even though the French-Jewish heroine, Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), is not a basterd (her role is basically played straight and adds gravitas to the film), she can be made an honorary one for her actions while in hiding as the non-Jewish owner of a Paris cinema. When a young Nazi war hero admires her selection of German films, she tartly replies: “I’m French. We respect directors in our country.” And when he keeps pestering her: “If you’re so desperate for a French girlfriend, try Vichy.” MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: In one climactic sequence, a close-up of Shoshana’s maniacally laughing face projects on the giant screen of her cinema, as flames leap up beneath her image and Nazi leaders in the audience are bar-be-qued alive.
- When an SS officer nicknamed The Jew Hunter (Christoph Waltz) cuts a deal with the Allies, the basterds can’t stand that he’ll be able to remove his Nazi uniform and live a respectable life in the United States. So they tell him they’re going to give him something he can’t take off – and gleefully carve a swastika into his forehead.
August 4, 2009 | 7:43 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
First it was bras and panties, familiar tokens of affection in the world of music fandom. But this afternoon, things kicked up a notch when it was reported that Adam Lambert fans were hurling sex toys on stage during the singer’s performance.
Lambert has been traveling the country performing for the American Idol Summer Tour and has since experienced all kinds of peculiar fan behavior. But not like this.
“It’s going further, and somebody threw onstage a red-leather tasseled whip,” he told E! Online. “Yeah, and then the next night, I got one that was made out of, like, purple fur. It’s getting really S&M.”
Sounds like Lambert fans are taking his candid, carefree approach to sexuality very seriously.
Gene Simmons, star of the band Kiss, saw this coming. No stranger to the world of sex and rock-and roll, Simmons told AOL that Lambert made a mistake coming out to Rolling Stone magazine last June.
“He’s enormously talented, best talent ‘American Idol’ has had, but I think he killed his career because now the conversation is not about his talent but about his sexual preference. He’s done,” Simmons, who performed with Lambert during the American Idol finale, said earlier this summer.
“Life is unfair, and the masses don’t all live in L.A. They live in Wisconsin and Nebraska, and you’re on crack if you think the same rules apply there. My advice is still the same, shut the f*** up, just sing and let people say whatever they want.”
Simmons said that the world is homophobic and not prepared to accept a singer, like Lambert, on talent alone.
“But I do wish him the best because he’s got all the talent in the world…I would be the first one to vote for equal rights for gay women and men, and get the church and the state to stop telling everybody how to lead their lives,” he said. “But do I think he’s killed his career? Oh, in an instant. I hope I’m completely wrong. I hope he becomes the next Beatles and proves me wrong.”
More Adam Lambert on Hollywood Jew:
Adam Lambert’s gay liberation
Adam Lambert: Jewish and gay
Talk about ‘Idol’ worship
Adam Lambert: the Jewish American Idol
Adam Lambert sings “The Prayer”
Adam Lambert dubbed a ‘rock god’ on Idol
August 4, 2009 | 7:14 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Three reasons I’m proud to be Jewish:
1) Leonard Cohen
2) Israelis have good taste in music
3) He refused to cancel his concert in Israel despite protests
4) In compromise, he decided the concert would benefit both Palestinian and Israeli peace activists
Read more at Huff Post:
JERUSALEM — Tickets for a Leonard Cohen concert to benefit Palestinian and Israeli peace groups sold out in less than a day, an Israeli ticket agent said Sunday.
The 47,000 tickets for the Sept. 24 concert at a stadium near Tel Aviv went on sale at 8:30 Saturday evening, and by Sunday afternoon they were all gone, ticket agent Avi Messing told Israel’s Channel 2 TV.
“All of Israel is coming to watch Leonard Cohen. It’s really great,” Messing said.
Prices ranged from $90 to $315.
Cohen entertained Israeli troops during the 1973 Mideast war and last performed in Israel in 1975.
Adding Israel to his current world tour brought complaints from Palestinian sympathizers, and British fans posted a plea on the social networking site Facebook asking him to cancel the date in response to Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip in December and January.
Cohen’s manager, Robert Kory, said the singer instead decided to make the concert a fundraiser for Palestinian and Israeli groups working for reconciliation.
Proceeds will be channeled into a special charitable fund in partnership with London-based human rights organization Amnesty International, Kory said.
Initial beneficiaries include a peace group made up of the parents of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the conflict called the Parents Circle-Family Forum.
Others are a children’s health program run by the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, an organization that brings together Israeli army veterans and former Palestinian fighters and a center for special needs children in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
More Hollywood Jew on Leonard Cohen:
Leonard Cohen back on the road, still looking for God
August 3, 2009 | 8:16 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I gotta give a shout out to my gal Emma Forrest who turned a broken heart into sweet, sweet Hollywood revenge. Boyfriends beware! Her triumph came in the form of a screenplay, “Liars (A-E),” penned in just three days following a bad breakup with actor Colin Farrell (well at least that’s the rumor), which she promptly sold to producer Scott Rudin.
Last week, Variety profiled her in their “10 to Watch” feature, which highlights up-and-coming screenwriters. Well, duh. We’ve been following Emma for a long time and so if I were to say, ‘We saw it comin’!’ you’d have to believe me.
More from the Variety profileby Adam Dawtrey:
Don’t date Emma Forrest if you’re afraid to see yourself immortalized in her next script.
“I’m from the Nora Ephron school,” she confesses. “Everything is copy. Every guy I get involved with for five minutes knows I’m going to write about him.”
She wrote “Liars (A-E)” this spring in just three days following the breakup of her yearlong relationship with actor Colin Farrell. A couple of weeks later, the script was sold to Scott Rudin and Miramax. Richard Linklater is attached to direct, and shooting is slated for fall.
“It came like a fever dream. I was afraid to stop writing because I was so afraid to lose it,” she recounts.
Forrest has always been quick off the mark. Born and raised in London with an American mother (TV writer Judy Raines) and a British father, she landed a column for the London Times when she was only 15.
“It was supposed to be about my generation, but the problem is that I live with a melancholy for things I never experienced, so I would write about Leonard Cohen and pretend that’s what my friends were talking about,” she says.
She wrote her first novel, “Namedropper,” at the age of 18 and has since published three more.
She moved to New York at 20, and for the past couple of years she’s been living in Los Angeles. But her projects are getting made on both sides of the Pond.
Among them, “Know Your Rights,” inspired by another breakup, is in the works at Film4. And “Love Minus Zero,” an adaptation of Nikita Lalwani’s novel “Gifted,” is in development at BBC Films.
Emma writes on her blog that she was slightly misquoted. What she really said was:
“If I talk to you for more than five minutes, I’m probably going to write about you” - an interpolation of a Taylor Swift quote (viva Nashville!) I mentioned here before. And it’s true: my friends, family and lovers, not to mention the mailman, the bikini waxer, and this construction worker who once yelled something crazy at me on 8th avenue, are all in my writing in some form or another. Men become women, women become men, 40 year olds become wise beyond their years 16 year olds - there’s even one short story where I combined an ex-boyfriend with a cat. The point is, everything I write is real experience strained through wild imagination.
She also adds that she loves Scott Rudin and would like to stroke his beard all day—which is just, kinda weird. On the other hand, if that’s what it takes to get him to buy your screenplay, then Emma has something to teach aspiring screenwriters everywhere.