BEGINNERS is a fitting and exciting followup to Mike Mills’ feature debut THUMBSUCKER (2005), the story of Justin, a teenage boy struggling to make sense of the relationship between his mother and father, between his parents and himself and between himself and that confounding group, the other sex. Though it’s well known by now that BEGINNERS is largely autobiographical of the time in 2003 when Mills’ own mother died and his father revealed that he was gay, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) could very well be the grown up version of frustrated young Justin, if all his angsty teenage fire had died out by the time he was 38, that is.
It was about midway through the opening titles when I stopped taking INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS seriously. Why does Tarantino insist on changing the font half a dozen times? More legitimate problems with the film itself arose after a promising opening scene (with Christoph Waltz, whose ability to pull off an SS officer fresh from a Hollywood backlot speaks to his talent as an actor) when Brad Pitt saunters onscreen as Basterd-leader Aldo Raine. Raine maintains a look of constipation throughout the entire film, but what is supposed to be a cocky smirk, along with a thick Tennessee accent (funny!) and a scar that wraps around his neck, is all the backstory we get on him and his eight Jewish minions, and it’s hardly enough to give them and their killing spree any credibility. They remain strangers; All we’re able to grasp about them is their brutality.