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 Ark. Inglourious 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 Proof. Inglourious 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.