Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brad Pitt to play a Nazi-Scalping Hillbilly in New Tarantino Film

Quentin Tarantino is known for exploring the B-movie genre, movies he says he enjoyed watching as a kid. For Kill Bill, it was the Japanese Samurai movies. In Grindhouse, a double feature including the two films Planet Terror and Death Proof, he explored the 70's exploitation film. Coming out August 21, 2009, Brad Pitt will be playing the part of Aldo Raine, who Tarantino describes as, "not your Warner Bros. 1950s WWII hero, this is a hillbilly straight from the mountains of Tennessee," in a new Tarantino movie called Inglourious Basterds. The story takes place in WWII France, where Brad Pitt's character leads a rogue band of men who torture and wreak havoc on all Germans, filling a mandated quota of 100 Nazi scalps per man.

Of course, I am always skeptical of films that pander to the crazed, violent hillbilly stereotypes. It's a typical villain format whenever a script writer or producer wants to fill the part of an evil, sadistic, demented, and somewhat ignorant antagonist. Just give him a hick accent and a greasy ball cap to wear and, voila, you got your bad guy. There are your heavy-handed hillbilly villains like in the movie Deliverance or more modern films like The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn, but then there are the more subtle hillbilly villains. For instance, notice how Randall Flagg in the miniseries of Steven King's The Stand has a Travis-Tritt-style mullet and blue-jean jacket. Or how about Zorg in the Sci-Fi movie 5th Element, who has this otherwise ambiguous Southern hick accent. Heck, even Billy Bob Thornton, who has been called the Hillbilly Orson Welles (in a respectable sense), plays a demented mechanic in the movie U-Turn.

Though this isn't the first time that Tarantino dipped into the Southern/Hillbilly inkwell, from my recollection this is the first time a hillbilly character has taken center stage. From the
Quentin Tarantino Archives, Aldo Raine's opening monologue is posted, "… I sure as hell, didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half Sicily, and then jump out of a fuckin' air-o-plane, to teach the Nazi’s lessons in humanity.” Knowing what a method actor Brad Pitt is, I'm at least interested in seeing how he pulls off this Sergeant York-turned-sadist character, and how believable vs. laughable this character is. You can watch the movie trailer for Inglourious Basterds and draw your own conclusions. Perhaps Tarantino is exploring the "hixploitation" genre in this film.

If you are cheap like me, though, you'll wait until it comes out on DVD and rent it.

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