Friday, May 11, 2012

Inglorious Basterds (2009)

     I don't think Quentin Tarantino is a genius filmmaker.  Not even a little.  He made a good – especially given budgetary constraints é adaptation of City on Fire (1987) with Reservoir Dogs (1992), making it his own in the process.  That was 20 years ago.  Okay, it was less than that when he was making Inglorious Basterds (2009), but it was still a long time.  Since then he has made a series of overloved films that, when divorced from the adulation people seem to need to heap upon Tarantino, look like the trainwrecks I've taken them to be.  Okay, maybe they are fine films and I dislike them because I find Tarantino to be habitually unfocused and too in-love with extraneous bullshit to be bothered with telling an actual story.
     Inglorious Basterds is a little different.  It is loaded down with too many elements that don't seem to have any needful relation to the central story.  This would be fine in a novel (if well written), but there is a reason why movies need to be leaner than books.  Tarantino devotes a twenty minute scene to introducing a character and then kills that same character off in the following scene.  And neither scene plays particularly well because they all feel like they have no real relation to the heart of the story.  But Tarantino isn't interested in more than the loose framework of a coherent central plot.  It wouldn't allow him to indulge in various strange side characters, or to kill them off at the drop of a Nazi scalp.
     This is an odd war fantasy, but more than that, it is a movie that has no love of the actors in it.  Michael Fassbender (Lt. Wilcox) and Mélanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus) try to rise above the mediocrity Tarantino wants to enforce in the cast, but there isn't enough of them or their characters to salvage the film.  Yes, I'm aware that many people (critics included) had praise for Christoph Waltz as Colonel Landa.  I have no idea what they were watching.  Other than Tarantino wanting Nazi officers to have some occult supernatural ability to spot imposters or weakness in their enemies (it isn't just Landa who gets this), the character is an unfunny joke.
     I had originally intended to give a better accounting of my thoughts on the film.  Why bother though?  Those who needed to see it did so when it came out.  Tarantino fans undoubtedly love it and cannot be swayed to think otherwise.  All I can do is hope that Brad Pitt never gives a performance as bad ever again.

1 comment:

  1. While I liked this movie and most of his other movies, I agree that Tarantino is a little overrated. Great review!