movie: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

inglouriousYes, spellcheck, that is how you spell this movie title.

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 MΓ©lanie 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.

Rating: 4 scalpings.

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!

8 Responses

  1. Funny, I liked this one more than Django Unchained. I found his latest flick a tad too long and found my mind wandering some during the film. My fave of his is Pulp Fiction. Not sure he can beat that one.

    • Ah, well, wouldn’t it be a shame if we all liked the same things, the lines would be so long. πŸ™‚ Did you review it? I’d be interested.

      • I think that all the time–how boring this world would be if we were all the same. Now we can’t all by like Quentin–can you imagine the mayhem? I didn’t review Django–not sure if I will. So many reviews I can’t keep up.

  2. I had a somewhat different reaction. I think on a technical level it’s his best film, a step up from everything he did before. I could go on and on, but I’ll just say that his control of every aspect of filmmaking in order to have the audience thinking and feeling what he wants them to think and feel, moment by moment, is on a level with Hitchcock (which is pretty much the highest level there is).

    On the other hand, I found the message of the film to be awful. So,
    I guess that’s a mixed review πŸ™‚

    • Did you review this one? I would love to hear more of your thoughts on those technical aspects. I am far from a movie buff and I bet I’ve missed those things you’re referring to.

      • No, I never did. I’m mostly not reviewing movies these days. My big focus on movies was back in the 90s. These days, I only review movies I can’t not review. πŸ™‚ And, as I indicated, my feelings about this one are strongly mixed.

        A couple of quick examples:
        In the first scene, as I talked about on my blog, the language switches from French to English, for a reason that is not really convincing. I thought that this was just so Tarantino could do some Tarantino dialog, but of course there is a real in-story reason. And Tarantino knew I’d be thinking he was cheating, and he then told me, and movie-fan smarty-pants like me, that he was working on a higher level than that. And he was.

        Robert Altman did something similar more than once, showing something that looks like bad screenwriting right at the end beginning, then flipping it to say, “Okay, no, this is not actually a stupid movie, now pay attention.” I talked about that here:

        One more example: In the theater lobby, one character comes out of the theater doors and goes around and up the stairs, and the camera follows with a glorious, swooping crane shot. Then, soon after that, another character comes out and does exactly the same thing, but the camera does a completely different (but equally wonderful) move, following the actor up the stairs from behind.

        It’s showing off, but that’s okay if it’s good enough. There’s a fair amount of showing off in Citizen Kane, too.

  3. Thanks for the education. πŸ™‚ Those aspects definitely pass me by. It almost makes me want to watch it again and try to find those cinematic elements; I don’t have a trained eye for such things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: