Song of the Day #4,087: ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’ – David Bowie

Continuing my countdown of the films of Quentin Tarantino:

#2 – Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino cheekily ends his 2009 World War II fantasy Inglourious Basterds with the line “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” He was on to something.

That line is spoken by Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine, after carving a swastika into a Nazi’s forehead so the man will never be able to blend into polite society after the war. That uncompromising thirst for justice drives this film, which rewrites history in brazen and thoroughly satisfying ways (much as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would a decade later).

Split, like most of Tarantino’s films, into chapters, Inglourious Basterds contains some of the most well-executed set pieces of the man’s career.

Start with the opening sequence, set on a French dairy farm, in which SS Col. Hans Landa (Academy Award-winning Christoph Waltz) interrogates the farmer about a missing family of Jews from the area. Tarantino shows us early on that the family is hiding beneath the floorboards, then draws out the suspense until the heartbreaking realization that Landa knows as much as we do. Slipping effortlessly between German, French and English, Waltz is slithery but charming, a magnetic sadist.

Another sequence finds English film critic turned spy Archie Hickox (Michael Fassbender, then a relative newcomer) accompanied on a mission by German movie star/spy Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) into a basement tavern unexpectedly populated by Nazi officers. It’s a brilliant study in tension and character, worthy of a Short Film Oscar if it were plucked out of this movie.

Pitt’s Aldo Raine and his titular team of Jewish mercenaries start out uncomfortably vicious but provide much-needed comic relief when they are thrust into the subtler world of espionage. And French actress Melanie Laurent proves to be the film’s beating heart as Shosanna, a Jewish girl who survives the film’s first scene and plots her own poetic revenge against the Third Reich.

Because this is a Tarantino film, the climax takes place in a movie theater, and the fiery spectacle of revisionist wish-fulfillment serves as a glorious tribute to the redemptive power of cinema.

[Verse 1]
See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Colder than the moon
It’s been so long

[Verse 2]
Feel my blood enraged
It’s just the fear of losing you
Don’t you know my name?
And you’ve been so long

[Chorus]
And I’ve been putting out fire
With gasoline

[Verse 3]
See these eyes so red
Red like jungle burning bright
Those who feel me near
Pull the blinds and change their minds
It’s been so long

[Verse 4]
Still this pulsing night
A plague I call a heartbeat
Just be still with me
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through
You’ve been so long
And it’s been so long

[Chorus]
And I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline
Putting out the fire
With gasoline

[Verse 5]
See these tears so blue
An ageless heart that can never mend
These tears can never dry
A judgement made can never bend
See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Just be still with me
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through​
You’ve been so long
Well, it’s been so long

[Chorus]
And I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline
Putting out fire
With gasoline

[Outro]
(Been so long)
(Been so long) and it’s been so long
(Been so long) I’ve been putting out fire
(Been so long) it’s been so long
(Been so long) been putting out fire
(Been so long) it’s been so long
(Been so long) putting out fire
(Been so long)
Been so long (so long, so long)
Been so long (so long, so long)
Been putting out fire (been so long, so long, so long)
Been putting out fire (been so long, so long, so long)
Been so long
(Been so long, so long, so long)
(Been so long, so long so long)
Been putting out fire
Been putting out fire
Been so long
Been so long
And I’ve been putting out fire
I’ve been putting out fire

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,087: ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’ – David Bowie

  1. Amy says:

    Damn… I really need to see Jackie Brown again! 🙂

    What I remember most about this film is that unbearable tension in the scenes you mention, so unbearable that’s it’s kept me from wanting to revisit the film at all.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    I really thought this was going to be your number 1 film. Looking forward to reading why Jackie Brown, which I had assumed would be more middle of the pack, is your favorite.

  3. Peg says:

    I recall the tension in this film as well and don’t wish to revisit it either. While I am a fan of revenge films as you all know, I still have to weigh the tension I have to experience first. This movie won’t be one I will see again. Along with Reservoir Dogs! Looking forward to your number one tomorrow!

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