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Home and the deranged (plus Quarantino 8)

If there's one thing most of us know a lot about these days, it's home.
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A bamboo “tree house” in Bali is just one home featured in the new TV show Home. Photo courtesy of Apple

If there's one thing most of us know a lot about these days, it's home. And since we all signed up (and probably forgot to cancel) those trial Apple TV+ accounts to watch Beastie Boys Story a couple weeks ago, it's a good time to check out Home, an Apple series dedicated to cool architecture, innovative design, and the sense of what gives a space a soul.

Home has solid pedigree; executive producers Matthew Weaver (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) and Doug Pray (The Defiant Ones) lead a group that recognizes what makes a good story. Season 1 features nine episodes with dwellings all over the globe—a bamboo "tree house" in Bali, a transforming micro-home apartment in Hong Kong, a home within a greenhouse in Sweden—and the result is ideal chill visuals for dreamers and design geeks.

Ideas of sustainability and connection to the local landscape permeate the series—be it the streets of inner-city Chicago, a reclaimed industrial site in Austin, or the local markets of India—but the ideas behind "what makes a house a home" don't fully connect in every episode, probably due to the obvious economic gap between the subjects of the stories and the other 98 per cent of the world—it's easier to dream big when you can afford it.

In episode 9, however, Home tackles this head-on with a show about innovative companies 3D printing an entire community in an impoverished area of Mexico.

It's here that Home transcends the shackles of design porn and begins to show just how important four walls and a roof can be.

Still one of Apple's strongest series thus far though, it's all very soothing.

And 2009's Inglourious Basterds is most definitely not that. For our eighth week of Quarantino, we're jumping into the third phase of Quentin's storied career—long run times, historical tomfoolery, a maturity of craft, and big box-office takes.

For the uninitiated, Basterds is a "men-on-a-mission" style flick about a gang of Second World War Jewish American military operatives using guerrilla tactics to kill (and scalp) Nazis in occupied France. They luck into a chance to kill Hitler and the Third Reich.

At the same time, a Jewish woman who escaped earlier persecution and now covertly runs a cinema also plots to kill the Nazi brass, especially Hans Landa, the infamous "Jew Hunter" who murdered her family. So basically, revenge stacked upon revenge—a common Tarantino storyline.

Tarantino had been writing the script for Basterds (the title is lifted from a 1978 Italian war flick) as early as 1999, pre-Kill Bill, and many of his early career tropes are on display here: vengeance, feet, graphic violence, surprise epic performances (few North Americans had ever heard of Christoph Waltz before he made the film with his multilingual performance as Landa), and a love of cinema—movies, movie theatres, and film knowledge play hugely important roles in this story.

And tension: The opening scene with Waltz's Landa questioning a French dairy farmer is a 20-minute PhD on slow boiling doom (Tarantino considered it the greatest scene of his career at the time), and the "meet-up in a basement" scene where Michael Fassbender's British agent blows everyone's deep cover is another bloody nail biter.

For a war film, there are a lot more words than battle scenes, but it's personal, compelling, riveting at times, and comedic when you least expect it.

Of course, that caused some to criticize Tarantino for making light of the true horrors of the Second World War (though he seemed to get away with his subtle racism towards African Americans this time). More than a few viewers scoffed at Tarantino's insistence on making a film where "cinema saves the world," and they didn't like that he re-wrote history either.

Take that or leave it, Inglourious Basterds is a hugely bold step away from expectations and a resounding slap to anyone that had written Tarantino off as a chop-socky American cinema dork who belonged in the genre film playpool.

He made a film in Europe that ran over three hours, featured four languages, a shitload of subtitles, one of the best characters of the past 20 years, and a highly implausible plot that attempts to re-write the ending of the largest and most tragic war in human history. And the last line, delivered by Brad Pitt looking directly at the camera, was, "I think this might be my masterpiece."

And it was, until the next one.



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