Well, if any word describes Tarantino, it has to be bold.
My impression is of a mixed bag. So many people have said so many good things about it - including well-respected critics - I almost feel like it is heresy to say anything bad about this. I enjoyed much of it, but so much of it seems like a mess, which I suppose was the entire point. It just seems like such a wasted opportunity, but then saying that puts you in the position of appointing yourself as someone who knows more than the "great" film director. And as the character says in the film, certain people have "respect for directors", and apparently that is a virtue.
My first clue that something might be amiss was the fact that there were four different font types/character styles in the opening credits. Maybe that isn't a big deal, but seriously - that just looked plain weird. The Monty Python arrows pointing out Bormann and Goering looked goofy too, especially since they weren't even germane to the plot, really. Killing Hitler and Goebbels really shredded any interest I had in the film after that point. The acting was so good and believable that I could have accepted everything on screen as a kitchen-sink drama despite the outlandish aspects of the film, but QT took one step too far over the brink.
And what a shame, too; these were perhaps the most believable German characters I've ever seen in a Hollywood film about the Second World War. The reluctant hero who is trying to win the heart of a girl, stationed far from home, using what he presumes is a shared interest in films and feeding off her rejection off of him. He sees a big mystery to solve and of course the rejection has the opposite effect on him - doesn't it always? The writing was brilliant. The sergeant who just a baby, whose C.O. gave him the night off to celebrate with his comrades. And especially, as all the critics have noted, the SS/SD officer who fancies himself a good detective. He has realistic motivations, impeccable manners, is well spoken and cultured, and is anything but the "cartoon villain".
I could even buy the "cartoon good guys" though I don't much go for vivid on-screen violence (I thought the violence in Pulp Fiction was far more effective since you never actually saw, for example, the sword cuts landing) and I wasn't sure what point was trying to be made. It certainly didn't make the "heroes" any more appealling, though perhaps that was indeed the point. And I think by this point, Mexican Standoff isn't so much a "trademark" as it is a "cliche".
But after saying such brilliant things about the Germans, to end the film as a really idiotic alternate history revenge fantasy seemed like a colossal letdown. The movie could have been just as effective by leaving the historical bigwigs out of the theatre; I would have cared more about what happened at the end instead of thinking I had wasted a lot of time investing in characters and situations for which there was no obvious payoff. Wasn't looking for a typical happy ending by any means, so I can't say I was disappointed by the shootout in the projectionist's booth, but there were so many really excellent scenes of genuine suspense in the movie that placing squibs in the Führer's jacket was almost as nefarious as opening up the shower curtains on Bobby Ewing.
I'm sure there are "Tarantino fans" who enjoyed this just as much as "John Wayne fans" enjoyed his pictures did (still do), but it certainly didn't grab me. Perhaps I shouldn't complain simply because I am not one of them. It just seemed like such a shame to see something so slick put towards so little "purpose" that some of it did indeed come off as idiotic. I can understand a horror film having graphic violence, and if people enjoy that kind of film, I won't judge the movie based on it - I also won't watch it but will leave others in peace to enjoy their entertainment for themselves. But to use historical drama as a backdrop for senseless gore and then mix it with really well-written suspense and fleshed out characters - such a waste.
The central problem with Tarantino is that the next book he reads will be his first since dropping out of school. Let's look at the man and his films for a moment.
Of his only two unqualified critical successes, one (Resevoir Dogs) is a straight remake of a HK film. Tarantino has denied this, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including earlier contradictory admissions! The other (Pulp Fiction) is probably his best film to date, yet it relies heavily on a gimmick: in media res. In this case, I call the non-sequential narrative a gimmick, because it serves no thematic or narrative purpose (as it did in Resevoir Dogs). I would go so far as to suggest that Tarantino merely recycled an idea that the critics seemed to like.
Since then, Tarantino has mostly made exploitation films with big budgets. In the case of Grindhouse, the directors actually used that description themselves. By their very nature, these films are all highly derivative. For example, all of the major fight scenes and stunts from Kill Bill are lifted wholesale from other martial arts movies.
The problem is that Tarantino is making movies out of movies. His ideas don't come from life; they come from movies. His staging and cinematography don't stem from his own artistic vision; they are merely stolen from other directors. He has basically taken Sergio Leone's concept of "cinema cinema" to its depressing, albeit logical, conclusion.
You are basically presented with two distinct plotlines that eventually intersect. Either one of these would have made a decent action flick. By sandwiching them together, we end up with a fantastic hodepodge that doesn't really work.
Between the title and the ad campaign, I basically expected something like The Dirty Dozen: In Hell! or a live-action version of Sgt. Fury and His Fighting Leathernecks. There was a sample of this, but the film as a whole failed to deliver the promised goods. All of the conventions of this sort of story are ignored: the recruiting phase, the training montage, etc. As a fan of those types of movies, I felt cheated.
The second plotline would have been much more entertaining if the objective had been realistic. The entire German High Command goes to Paris after the Normandy Landings? I think not. If Shosanna had managed to kill Landa and his SS detachment, we would have been left with a decent revenge plot that I could swallow.
In the end, I felt like the title of the movie should have been Shosanna's Revenge, not Inglorious Bastards (sp).
After watching the interview with Tarantino on the extras, I came away with two main reactions. One was a revulsion of the sort brought on by sugar-crazed six year olds, instilled by his giggling and high whiney voice.
The other was an admiration for trying to realistically portray a couple of things that had not been brought to the screen before. He did have a point about movies like WHERE EAGLES DARE in which everyone speaks German flawlessly - or rather, all the German characters speak English. (This was brought to its illogical height in TV shows like Hogan's Heroes.) The "problem" with Inglourious Basterds is that he basically took one or two interesting concepts like that and tried to wrap 45 minute vignettes around them, then stitch the vignettes together to make a movie.
Being down with the sniffles, today I had some time to kill with a movie. Unfortunately, that move was this piece of garbage. Can I sue Tarantino? I think it made me feel worse. Now I have the sniffles, a sense of nausea and a headache! :kotz:
I never had a high opinion of Tarantino to begin with. I know some critics see him as some sort of avant-guard director, but he really is nothing more than a cinema huckster that repackages schlock as art. Credit where credit is due: Tarantino does know how to get some memorable performances out of his actors and he also understands how to artistically frame a scene, but other than those two technical skills, the man is little more than a purveyor of empty calories served by high profile actors/actresses.
Inglorious Basterds is a new low for Tarantino as far as I am concerned. If his other films were tributes to low-budget "B" films, IB comes across as a little more than a tribute to snuff films. It really is little more than that. I mean - and I hate to be so vulgar - but I seriously believe that Tarantino must have, er...pleasured himself while filming the finale's orgy of violence. Kill Bill may have been more bloody, but this movie comes across as downright depraved by comparison (and I don't just mean because of the nature of the actual scenes of violence but because of the mentality that was behind them).
If people complained that Kill Bill: Vol. II suffered from serious pacing problems...well, they have seen nothing yet. IB is so poorly paced that I almost fell asleep three times during the film. There are long segments where absolutely nothing happens...and I'm not talking about some sort of cinematic pregnant pause, but just moments where Tarantino seemed to have fallen in love with his own mental vision and needlessly strung out one performance after another to no effect. In many ways, IB comes across as a love letter from Tarantino to Tarantino.
Speaking of performances, this is the one high point for the film. Christoph Waltz was excellent, even though his character was just another take on affable detective whom everyone underestimates. Melanie Laurent and Diane Kruger were very good as well, providing two variations on the same character (for all intents and purposes) that were well executed and somehow gripping. Otherwise...yawn with Brad Pitt doing his usual awful best.
Last, this wouldn't be a Tarantino film without all sorts of onscreen nonsense (name tags with arrows, etc.) that I find to be anything but clever. I suppose, however, that I should be grateful that Tarantino did feel the need to insert some animation this time.
In short...tedious, over-produced, nonsensical, and just plain a waste of time. When will someone take this hack's camera away?
The performances were top notch and so were the sets. But while I'm usually a fan of Tarnatino's work, this movie just didn't really do it for me. I can't really explain why, but I found the ending a bit overblown and a letdown at the same time. The part where Brad Pitt starts speaking Italian was priceless, though.