After witnessing Inglorious Basterds, I am starting to lose my love for Quentin Tarantino.
Quentin is a movie geek in the purest sense of the word. He studied movies when he worked in a local videostore where he honed his keen eye for dialogue and homage to forgotten genres. Everyone of his films is a mixture of homages to some form or another. And that was what was so brilliant about Kill Bill as he embraced the Samurai vengeance films and brought them into present day.
With Inglorious, his homage is to one of his idol’s Sergio Leone, who along with Clint Eastwood revolutionized the Spaghetti Western into a genre that every film buff studies. He even hired Leone’s own musicman Ennio Morricone to do music for his opening. That whole opening is filled with talk, tension should have set up what was to come. The scene drags on for an eternity but it sets up a nice tone and aptly describes the tension between the Nazis and the French people in 1941. It is very subtle but does the job.
The film has two plots, one involves a young French girl, Shosanna (Melanie Laurent), who finds herself given the perfect opportunity to avenge her parents death at the hands of Nazis when she forced to befriend a German war hero who wants to premiere a film in her newly acquired theatre. The other is centred around Brad Pitt’s Basterds who become a thorn in the side of the Nazis as they occupy France. You could say they are a much bloodier version of Robin Hood. The storylines eventually intertwine and well you have a movie.
There are alot of dialogue sequences in this film and hardly any action. When action is displayed it is quick and fast. It’s like ripping off a bandaid, gotta do it quick so people will hardly notice it. And very little killing of Nazis, it is more of an afterthought and talked about. Whatever! What will shock a lot of people is the film is also 80% subtitled as Quentin kept the German & French languages. I actually really love watching foreign films but for your average male 18-35 who is Quentin’s main audience will probably run for the door.
I think the reason some people are saying they love it is because it is Tarantino and it still cool to still love Tarantino. Kind of like it is still cool among some circles to praise Kevin Smith. Smith is dead to me after he sold out with Jersey Girl and Catch & Release. Everything post has been crap. Tarantino is still riding a fine line.
I have loved 90% of Quentin’s work. For me his biggest miss-step was 1997’s Jackie Brown which I found just so all over the map, flimsy and amateurish. It was like Quentin was cleaning his boots and forgot to use polish. Pam Grier’s performance in Jackie was the best of the piece and that shows he does know how to get amazing performances from his leads like how he sculpted Uma Thurman into a killing machine in the ultra-brilliant Kill Bill movies. His half of the Grindhouse double-header, Death Proof, was far weaker than Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. Kurt Russell was amazing in Death Proof. Actually Kurt’s role in Death Proof reminded me a lot of his anti-hero Snake Plissken. (See links to my retro Tarantino reviews at the bottom of this review)
That brings us back to Inglorious Basterds, Quentin gets a great character performance from Brad Pitt who is the best thing about this film. His character is classic Tarantino but he is only in the movie for 30 mins of a 2.5-hour marathon.
I have already mentioned how much I liked Brad Pitt in this film but there are also great performances from understated people like newcomer Melanie Laurent and Til Schweiger. They could be breakout performances. Laurent is so sensitive and masterful in the subtle probably why she has become such a star in France. Schweiger’s blood-thirsty Nazi killer is what the movie should have been more about and he is a scene-stealer in every one of his scenes. I especially loved his knife-sharpening scene.
There has also been alot of praises about Christoph Waltz as the Jew Hunter but for me I felt he was brilliant at the start but the more I saw of him the more he got dull. I wanted to see him get his not because he was intimidating or damn evil but because he was annoying.
I have to admire Quentin’s affection for Ennio Morricone (still my favorite movie composer of all time), Sergio Leone, his choice of cast but for me as a whole this film marginally slips past Jackie Brown as Quentin’s worst film. It is just so dull!
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer
Quentin Tarantino’s Movies by the numbers:
Death Proof 3 out of 5
Kill Bill combined 4.5 out of 5 (review)
Kill Bill Vol.2 4 out of 5
Kill Bill Vol.1 4 out of 5
Jackie Brown 2 out of 5
Pulp Fiction 5 out of 5
Reservoir Dogs 3.5 out of 5