Inglourious Basterds (2009) Directed by Quentin Tarantino

A five day break from watching films made me willing to give anything a go, so this was Nick's chance to get me to watch something I usually would object to. Inglorious Basterds I certainly would never watch again.

Quentin Tarantino has made a b-movie with tasteless content, not enough tension or action, embarrassing acting, and too much floating referencing to the history of cinema.

I am too annoyed to go over why it is tasteless to make a joke out of Hitler. A revenge fantasy on this scale is also a lame excuse when we already had Tarantino's other films, especially Kill Bill. Then there is Brad Pitt who is still doing his Thelma & Louise role, because that's the only thing he can play – himself. Rarely have I felt this embarrassed for a millionaire. That said, there was only one acting role written for the script it seems and Christopher Waltz won an Oscar for it.

The various film history related facts and references Tarantino has inserted here are possibly the best content in this over-long piece. Yet, they seem to belong to another movie – a better one.

I am tired of Tarantino's recycling approach to cinema. He is a fan boy with a budget.

I was at an indie rock festival over the weekend. The TV in the chalet had a great selection of movies and I caught half an hour of John Carpenter's Assault On Precinct 13 between bands. The tension, soundtrack and the look of the film confirmed what I'd always felt. Carpenter is one underrated film maker. We need some of his films on this blog. Quentin on the other hand....oh dear.

You know you're in trouble when the first name on the box is Brad Pitt. How shit is Brad Pitt? How many films has this simian destroyed?  His first scene in Inglourious Basterds is Brad doing Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen . Yep, you got it, he can't do the accent. Tarantino however uses Pitt sparingly which is at least some realization from Tarantino.

So with Inglourious Basterds,  Tarantino serves up homage to (amongst others): Where Eagles Dare, The Eagle Has Landed, any Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, The Searchers, the films of Jean Luc-Goddard, Blaxploitation cinema, and of course the Nazi-hating Stephen Spielberg blockbuster such as Raiders Of the Lost ArkInglourious Basterds has an uneasy mix of super violence, poor comedy, cinema pastiche and art-house cinema pretension. Some critics have even claimed that Inglourious Basterds is feminist cinema. It's amazing what Quentin can get away with, talk about sacred cow.

His position in recent popular culture assured, Tarantino can release anything nowadays and have it labeled the work of a master. It's been a long time since Tarantino wooed us with his mighty mouth and his cinema geek charms.  The excellent Reservoir Dogs was way back in 1992. Yes it was derivative and responsible for a lot of bad films that followed but it shook things up. Pulp Fiction (1994) is not great in my book, but contained some good scenes. Since then, Tarantino has been drowning in hype and bad movies.  He often talks a good film. He reached his career nadir with 2007's awful Death ProofInglourious Basterds offered a different genre of film for Tarantino to refresh himself, the war film. He blows it.

It's not all bad of course. The opening chapter of the film looks fine. Christopher Waltz's scene stealing Nazi officer the first interesting character Tarantino has come up with in ages. Waltz is so good in this picture he deserves a better film for his talents. The liberal pillaging of Ennio Morricone from other soundtracks at least brings some quality to the proceedings.

But the casual offensiveness, shallow schoolboy humor, lack of characterization, meandering wordy script (where have the quotable lines gone?), slow slow pace, the "seen this all before but much better" quality of Inglourious Basterds means Tarantino serves up another dud. Don't believe the hype.


  1. Hello. This just made me (a reader you've had since day one, I usually check in every day or two) comment for the first time. I'm far from a Tarantino fanboy, but I must say that from the moment I saw the first trailer (teaser? can't recall) I was anxious to see this film. I know, I know, if I want to share my own opinions about movies I probably should do it over at my own blog, but seeing how that never seems to happen I'm just gonna ramble on for a while, hope you don't mind.

    First things first: I really really enjoyed Brad Pitt in this film, in fact it might be the only film that I've ever really liked him in. His "speech" about killing nazis ("One thang, and one thang only --")is absolutely priceless.

    And the tension, there are at least a couple of scenes where I was actually scared (for example the opening with Landa and the women/girls under the floorboards) of what was gonna happen next. This happened with Kill Bill vol. 1 as well, the first scene with Daryl Hannah, and with that music playing (I guess they don't call the piece "Twisted Nerve" for nothing, eh?) I still can't really watch that scene without being a little bit afraid.

    So. My point (if there is one) is that movies are certainly a fidgety thing, and since you've enabled comments anyway (and to tell you the truth, I've always been surprised that no-one's ever really commented) I thought I'd chip in, even though I really don't agree with the post. I found the movie in question to be really really FUN, if nothing else (and I, for one, believe that NOTHING is above making fun of, not even genocide), and I promise to comment in the future too, so I won't be labeled just as a Tarantino fanboy, because that's far from the truth. (The Truth, or something close to one, is that ever since now you've never written about a movie (in such a way, at least) that touched me (touched meaning that I either enjoyed it or hated it), or maybe you have and I just forgot).

    I'm just about done. Just a couple of things: I really like what you are doing, I've enjoyed every post (especially the ones where you don't really hold the same opinion), and I think this is a wonderful blog. Keep it up, you have at least one fan!

  2. Hi Joonas,

    many thanks for the considered comment and kind words. We're no authority here, so your opinion on this movie is certainly as valid as any of ours. I always enjoy Tarantino on some level, but I really felt this one was a mess. Oh well.
    Me and Astrid don't read each others posts before we publish, so I'm surprised how similar our views tend to be (although we have different tastes).
    But please keep reading and commenting, it's most welcome!


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