Even though there were no Nazi's in sight - as far as I could tell - the Basterds made their presence felt in the City of Angels last night. These Basterds weren't in a scalping mood, though, as they gathered at the famed New Beverly Cinema theater in Los Angeles to celebrate the release of Inglourious Basterds, which just came out today on DVD, two-disc special edition DVD and Blu-ray. Stars Eli Roth, Samm Levine, Omar Doom and many more were in attendance to watch this amazing film in one of L.A.'s most celebrated theaters - a theater that director Quentin Tarantino himself has personally invested in. Producer Lawrence Bender, who has produced all of Tarantino's films, was glad to see the film come full circle here.
"We used this theater to train Melanie (Laurent) how to be a projectionist," Bender said, referring to Laurent's character, Shoshana Dreyfus, whose French cinema becomes a focal point of the film. "Quentin trained her on how to change the reels and the final test was he brought her here and had her project a screening of Reservoir Dogs. Nobody knew she was here, and she did a great job."
Samm Levine, who played the Basterd PFC. Hirschberg, was certainly thrilled to be a part of a Quentin Tarantino film from the moment he ready the lengthy script."Yeah, I think it was 165 pages," Levine said. "It was amazing. It was the best script I've ever read. As soon as I finished reading it, I went back and re-read that first scene between Hans Landa and Pierre LaPadite, because that scene is just so amazingly-written. It occurred to me that, if I read this and didn't get the movie, I was going to be crushed, because I've just completely spoiled it for myself."
Levine also talked about the film's somewhat rushed nature, after Tarantino promised, at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, that he would return a year later with this film, despite not even having the script finished yet.
"Quentin made sure we had enough time," Levine said. "He wouldn't leave until he got a shot right, that he wanted. I've never seen a film, especially a film of this magnitude and scope, put together, from start to finish, so quickly and so efficiently and with such great precision."
Omar Doom, who plays PFC. Omar Ulmer in the film, was excited for the DVD and Blu-ray release because Eli Roth's film Nation's Pride can be seen in its entirely on either release.
"Basically, I'm really excited for the fans to see what we saw when we were making the film, and that is Eli Roth's complete film within a film of Nation's Pride," Doom said. "Him and I saw that movie over and over and over again when we were filming in the theater, and it just never get old. It's so artistically done, and I can't wait for the world to see it."
(You can also CLICK HERE to read what Doom had to say about an Inglourious Basterds prequel.)
Speaking of Eli Roth, we also got to talk to the man himself, who also appeared in the meaty (literally and figuratively) role of SGT. Donny Donowitz, better known as "The Bear Jew" along with directing Nation's Pride. He spoke to us about the kinds of films and filmmakers he looked at in order to make Nation's Pride effective.
"We watched Leni Riefenstahl's films and Quentin had a Nazi propaganda film called The Eternal Jew," Roth said. "I took some creative liberties. I said to Quentin, 'You know, what are the rules? How accurate do you want this to be?' I wanted it to look like Kubrick's Paths of Glory, I wanted it to look a little bit like Dr. Strangelove, with a little bit of the handheld with the battle sniper, and I also wanted it to look like Battleship Potemkin. Now, none of those would have been in Nazi cinema, but there's something them that instantly evokes a certain period and I felt like that, combined with the subject matter, you had to look at the movie and instantly know it was a Nazi period propaganda piece. It was fun. It was fun to watch Daniel Bruhl do that hammy style of acting, just looking around, which, amazingly, he did effortlessly."
As the red carpet was winding down, we saw the iconic filmmaker himself, Quentin Tarantino, pulling up in a pristine black Cadillac right in front of the New Beverly Cinema. When he finally made it down the arduous line of the over-crowded red carpet of press, he talked about this massive achievement of a movie.
"It was like climbing Mount Everest," Tarantino said of making this film. "I've climbed it, I've planted the flag and now I'm sitting down in the chalet drinking hot toddy's by the fire."
He also spoke to his penchant of dropping loads of references to the obscurest of the obscure films in Inglourious Basterds."Well, if you've seen the movie, you know the references and the little touchstones are very wild and far between," Tarantino said. "But the jumping-off point of this movie is stuff like, for the most part, guys-on-a-mission, World War II movies, but also spaghetti western's. We shoot the film with a spaghetti western style, but instead of using cowboy iconography, we're using World War II iconography."
Tarantino also spoke of the daunting challenge in bringing this film back to the Cannes Film Festival, one year after promising he'd do so even though he hadn't cast a single role or even completed the script.
"That was pretty cool," Tarantino said. "That was a genuine accomplishment. It just required me to not eff around. I got back from Cannes and just started writing in the summer. I just knew I wanted to come back to Cannes (with it), so I had to finish it and I got it done. I finished writing the script on July 2, 2008, and literally three weeks later we were on a plane to Germany to start pre-production. Because if we were going to do it, we had to drop hammer."
After the red carpet, everyone headed inside where Tarantino went up on stage to introduce the cast that were present and to say a few words to the rabid fans in attendance. He told the fans that he had cut together a reel of trailers from movies that inspired him to make Inglourious Basterds and, basically, they were all the "guys-on-a-mission" movies that he referred to on the red carpet. Knowing Tarantino's affinity for obscurity, I was curious to see what he had included, but before we saw the reel, he gave us what was easily the line of the night.
"Sometimes when we do screenings for director's here, I'll cut together some trailers of other films in the genre," Tarantino told the crowd. "Then they'll say, 'Quentin, you just cock-blocked my movie.' Well, my movie is so good I don't mind cock-blocking it," Tarantino said to the racous crowd. Amazing.
Despite wanting to see this incredible film on the silver screen one more time, I didn't stay for the full screening, but, of course, I had to check out the trailer reel. The reel started out with an obvious choice, The Dirty Dozen and then moved into the Tarantino realm of obscurity with the Andre de Toth film Play Dirty, starring Michael Caine. The reel continued with The Five Man Army, starring Peter Graves, Hornets' Nest, starring Rock Hudson, and probably one of the greatest titles ever: Kill 'Em All and Come Back Alone, which was directed by Enzo G. Castellari, who also directed the 1978 film The Inglorious Bastards which QT borrowed the title of his film from. The reel was rounded out by the Clint Eastwood classic Kelly's Heroes, Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamil and, as a bonus, the trailer for The Inglorious Bastards was shown as well. I have to say watching this reel was not only an educational experience because of the exposure to some of these films that I had never heard of, but the dynamics of a movie trailer are so vastly different than today's trailers. Some trailers even had the narrator reading quotes from the actors discussing their roles, instead of a narrator reading a quote from a critic's review. Still, given my reaction to all of them (i.e. I want to see all of them that I haven't seen yet), they're just as effective as today's model for the movie trailer.
That about wraps it up from my night at the fantastic New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for the red carpet and screening of Inglourious Basterds, which you can find out on the shelves on DVD, two-disc special edition DVD and Blu-ray right now. And keep your eyes peeled on the Reviews section as I'll be throwing up a review of this stellar DVD in the very near future. Peace in. Gallagher out!