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Foreign Correspondunce

August 26, 2009
Round 3 on Frothygirlz of Inglorious Basterds

By Jenna

Because having a mere two reviews for Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering simply isn’t enough for the likes of this fabulous website, where more is more and less is bad form, I have decided to make it a trilogy.  So much more complex, so deep, so I-simply-cannot-agree-with-what-has-previously-been-written.  My say, she will be said.  And besides, I either do this or we are all subjected to a review of that hamster spy film.  This is definitely the way to go.

While Messrs Nat and Crash may have had slightly differing views on the Basterds, they both fail to address what is the films most glaring fault, which I’ll get to in a moment.  Yes, I will agree that both the opening chapter and the card-playing sequence are some stand out cinema.  As Dana Stevens points out in her review for Slate, those scenes are, “near-perfect examples of taut, suspenseful moviemaking.”  I concur.  Big budget films that create old-fashioned-edge-of-your-seat suspense strictly through sharp dialogue and compelling performances seem to be falling to the wayside.  To get such mature movie making out of a director whose filmography is a fanboy’s bible, that’s saying something.  

And then there is the issue of Tarantino’s signature pastiche.  The spaghetti western, the 70s kung-fu flick, the shock/schlock of in-your-face violence are all there, as they usually are, but ratcheted up a few degrees, making them blend more seamlessly into the whole.  But ultimately, what does that pastiche achieve?  That Tarantino has a talent for taking known quantities, throwing them together and getting a filmic novelty is undeniable, but this go around has the trick wearing thin.  Pulling the likes of Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone in to do your music doesn’t make the attempt more authentic, it just makes it more obvious.  Pastiche is ultimately just empty homage, nothing new is to be gained, it’s just the same old same old, reworked.

The pastiche is also a way of Tarantino letting us know how much he knows about films.  As if the multi-genre illustrations weren’t enough, Basterds goes a step further and gets flat out pedantic with the inclusion of Michael Fassbender’s character, Lt. Archie Hicox, a spy and film critic who gives a talky run-down on German films in the Weimar Republic.  Yes, Quentin, we get it, you know all about Ufa and Mountain Films, now shut-up and get on with it!

But the real bone I have to pick with this film has to do with this one criticism: it was boring.  And I don’t say that like I wanted more stuff to ‘splode, no, I say that like how many times did I find myself starring at the mouldering curtains to the side of the screen?  How many times did I long to pull my phone out of my coat pocket and check the time (but didn’t for fear that I’d be called out like that douchebag sitting near Crash in his screening)?   How many times did I consider walking out because, really, I just didn’t care?  And I’m wondering if this was a result of Tarantino having raked this script over the coals one too many times.  He worked on the idea for years, tailored it exactly how he wanted it, lined up a stellar cast, got some international backing, filmed all over Europe, got every hair in place.  The result being?  A slick looking paste jewel to stick in his crown.  This is a film that is largely devoid of energy, because if nothing else, Tarantino can generally deliver a live-wire energy, a sense of spontaneity.  I can’t say that’s in the mix here.  With the notable exception of excellent performances by Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa and Mélanie Laurent as the haunted Shosanna, this is a cast that is by and large ACTING!  (thank you Jon Lovitz) and it shows.  Everything is brushed so smoothly that the usual crackle of Tarantino menace has evaporated.  Sure, the violence with accompanying gore is ever present, but the surprise is gone.  The unexpected brain-splattering of Pulp Fiction is absent.  In Inglorious Basterds, you know it’s coming, it’s just a case of can you stomach it.

I give it 4/10.

There you have it folks.  Three writers, three reviews, three opinions. What did you think?  The Editor


6 Responses to “ Foreign Correspondunce ”

  1. Nat on August 26, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Personally, I didn’t find it boring at all.

  2. Sara on August 26, 2009 at 8:29 am

    I haven’t had my own viewing yet, so my opinion may be lacking, but I’m still a little lost on what you found boring about the film. It’s my understanding that Inglorious Basterds takes place in Nazi-occupied France, obviously during WWII. With that information, and not being foreign to Tarantino’s style, I would assume he would choose to create a film somewhat less ‘traditional’ than ‘The unexpected brain-splattering of Pulp Fiction’.
    Don’t get a Girl wrong, I adored Pulp Fiction, but one of the reasons I’m actually going to view this film (and I don’t do movies) is for Tarantino’s personal cinematic story. I am a WWII & Holocaust History enthusiast, and I’m looking forward to seeing a film about the characters rather than the surprise or shock value. I I feel as though the general population has been privy to movies based on the ‘obvious’ shock of History and I believe the ‘shock’ in Inglorious Basterds is one that I usually look for when purchasing books and films about WWII & the Holocaust, which is personal/character/human relations shock.
    Or, I could be totally off base and should pipe down and just go see the film.

  3. pancake on August 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Jenna, Fairest Blossom,

    I haven’t seen the film yet (I am concerned that I won’t be able to stomach the violence, which is funny, given my film tastes)((also, I am currently too cheap to get a babysitter so that I can see the thing)) but I am more intrigued now that three different people whom I respect and am fond of have such differing opinions of the film. I may just see it in the theater…or I may not – I just don’t know if I can watch a guy (even a horrible, EEEEEEVIIIIIL guy) get his head bashed in by a baseball bat.

    parenthetically, do you remember how I squirmed and sighed my way through Topsy Turvy? Good times, boring-ass movie.

  4. anncine on August 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    This movie has gotten more play than a keyboard in a finger factory…(I have no idea what that means). I have yet to see it, but shall soon. I just swallowed my gum.

  5. Jenna on August 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    All anyone can do is see it and form their own conclusions. I still maintain this is an over-polished piece that is largely lacking any real character development. By the end of the film it is still unclear as to who the Basterds are beyond their mission. Brad Pitt has a funny accent, one brandishes a bat, one is B.J. Novak straight outta The Office and the others are anonymous aside from being Jewish. The end.

  6. JEBrian on August 27, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. I loved this movie. Loved the performances (even the hammy Brad Pitt), loved the plots, loved the long, tension soaked scenes. I don’t have a problem with Tarantino taking his time and getting it exactly the way he wants it – felt like good filmmaking, not over-cooked. Tarantino did an amazing job. It was every bit as exciting as Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. As for pastiche….I’m not a film afficionado so I didn’t pick up on all the homage but my husband did and he loved it.