It’s movie week here at pagesofjulia, isn’t it? Funny how that happens. Inglourious Basterds is another Tarantino film, from 2009, an alternate-history of World War II starring Brad Pitt as the heavily-Southern-accented leader of an American military team called the “Basterds,” and Christoph Waltz (who was positively outstanding in Django Unchained) as an S.S. leader named Landa. In this telling, the Basterds put together a plot to kill Hitler; but they’re racing a young Jewish woman named Shosanna (played beautifully by the lovely Mélanie Laurent), whose family was killed several years earlier by the “Jew Hunter” Landa. Shosanna is being courted by a young Nazi war hero, but her hatred (obviously) still burns hot, and she takes advantage of an unlooked-for opportunity to plan her own assassination of Hitler & the Nazi leadership.
In my opinion, this is not Tarantino’s best work. There are the requisite bloody scenes and over-the-top clever dialogue – the latter normally a fantastical element I enjoy, but here it kind of fell flat for me. Shosanna’s character is lovely and I felt that she could have been a little better explored. Landa’s character was also eye-catchingly evil. Maybe I just don’t like Brad Pitt, but the Basterds were less interesting than they should have been; maybe a little more character development there. The two parallel plots to kill Hitler could also have been more deeply mapped out for me. The whole thing lacked depth and interest for me, especially compared with Tarantino’s fine work in other films. [My favorites include Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, and my personal favorite, True Romance, which Tarantino wrote but did not direct. Both Kill Bill's were great, and Django Unchained was outstanding as well.]
Perhaps I am not entirely sold on the beauty of a farcical WWII history in Tarantino style. Why would that be, when I appreciated the Tarantino treatment of slavery so much? I don’t know. I credit incomplete character development and a storyline that tried to accomplish too much without delving deeply enough into any of its plots. Sadly, not up to Tarantino’s standards in my book.
On the plus side, I’m celebrating today’s over-Hallmarked, under-romantic holiday with Tarantino, and that makes me feel good. Happy Valentine’s Day!