Monday, September 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: I want my money back

Warning: Spoilers

I think my title pretty much sums up my feelings about this movie. I literally couldn't be more disappointed in Quentin Tarantino's new film. Seriously.

Were you/are you one of the red-blooded males who saw the trailer on TV where Brad Pitt was goin' on 'bout killin' Naatzis in a Tennessee drawl and got fired up? Well I certainly was.

You know, it's one of those movie marketing tricks. Make the whole trailer about Brad Pitt killing Germans and pretend that's what you'll see for two and a half hours. Well, you had better see a matinee show if you plan on getting your money's worth.

I am well aware that half of you reading this think I'm crazy, dense, and "that I just don't understand the "genius" of Tarantino."

Oh I understand it alright.

The guy is by far the most self-indulgent narcissist in the history of cinema. And luckily for him, he's established a "mainstream cult" following that collectively believes that he walks on water and can do no wrong.

The guy is a good director and writes a good script, there's no doubt about that. The storylines were definitely intriguing. Also, the casting in Inglorious Basterds was incredible. Each character actor was impeccably chosen and were not only believable, but weren't distracting. Basically, we have no idea who these people are other than Pitt (and you'll recognize Diane Kruger). This is especially true for the actor playing Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), an SS Colonel disturbingly, yet aptly nicknamed "Jewhunter."

Landa is probably one of the most intriguingly developed and and superbly acted roles I've ever seen, and at times, this sadistic bastard (pun intended) steals the show. He makes some very long, drawn out scenes tolerable because he is so damned authentic.

Other than the casting, the superb cinematography (camera work, contrast, composition), and a handful of brilliantly acted non-action scenes, this movie had few bright spots to speak of. It just went on and on, and very little happened or was accomplished.

As Peter Griffin once said about The Godfather, "It insists upon itself."

(That's right, I quoted Peter Griffin.)

There is so little action between the 20 minute and 1 hour and 20 minute marks that I seriously considered leaving the theater. I'm not one to hate a good dialog or relevant scene, but we're talking scene after painful scene of slow character and plot building, endless subtitle reading, and single scenes of people sitting around a table for almost 30 full minutes with zero cutaways.

I appreciated the subtitles at first, as Germans and Frenchmen aren't going to be speaking English to one another during WWII. But trust me, it gets old REAL quick. Again, it's as if Tarantino was so pleased with himself for finding actors who could switch seamlessly between three and four languages easily, that he had them do it for a half hour at a time.

And who's going to tell him otherwise? He's the delicate prima donna who's had his ass kissed so much for the last 20 years that if anyone suggested that half the movie was a snoozefest, he'd probably pull some kind of less masculine Christian Bale fit on the set, fire his editors and/or key grips, and go hide in his trailer with a cappuccino for 6 hours.

More disappointments:

Brad Pitt was on screen for about one third of the movie. He was by far the most entertaining character in the entire film. Obviously Waltz's Landa character was the most compelling, but that doesn't mean he was keeping me awake.

While Tarantino's bizarre, seemingly irrelevant short stories took their turns on screen, one is left thinking, "What the hell do these people have to do with each other?"

The answer simply is, nothing. The only link between the Inglourious Basterds (Pitt's unit of Jewish-American army assasins), and Shosanna Dreyfus (who we meet in the movie's first scene) is Colonel Landa.

Even at the end of the movie for the big bloody finale, the stories end up coinciding in the same place with the same goals, but they do not cross paths or join together in any manner. This is something that Tarantino almost surely delights in while his droves of lemmings notice its obviousness and fancy themselves film aficionados.

It is this cinematographic hubris by Tarantino that drives me crazy. He thinks he can just juxtapose two totally different plots and stories on top of one another, vaguely tying them together in one absurd final bloodbath. All the while he's crossing his fingers and hoping no one notices the ugly staples and seams holding the movie's parts together underneath all the oozing bodies on the ground.

Another thing that drives me nuts about this Tarantino is that he'll just randomly put arrows with names superimposed on a freeze frame that befits John Madden or Jeff Van Gundy during a sports telecast. There were also a couple cutaways to a random narrator (who sounded like Samuel L. Jackson), and out of place German 80s pop music during key parts of the movie. Guy drives me nuts. No one else can get away with a fictitious "period piece" like this. No one.

As I mentioned before, there is painfully little action in this film, (maybe about 20 minutes out of the (at times) agonizing 2 hours and 33 minutes. And as is Tarantino's M.O., the violence is so grotesque and unfathomable that it borders on the absolute absurd-- in effect making the bashing of a man's skull with a Louisville Slugger and the constant scalping of Nazis seem hilarious.

Even I felt weird about laughing at a dead guy getting his brain exposed by an antler-hilted buck knife as Brad Pitt drawled on about the Smoky Mountains. It was just awesomely bad.

Look, if you're in the Tarantino cult, I know you've already disregarded this. You're all as in love with him as he is with himself. If you're not in his cult and think this is an action movie, you're mistaken. Catch it on Netflix in 5 months.


Let the Quentin Tarantino defense begin.

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Blogger KrafftyMan said...

You know, I do like 'most' of Tarantino's films. I can't say I belong to the cult though. I too was mislead by the trailers and was a bit disappointed. However, with that said I enjoy a large array of movies themes and thought this movie kicked ass. I loved the character development and subtitles. I agree with Dan that this movie isn't an action flick by any means. Yet, if you like more than just action flicks then check it out and you will not be disappointed! By far my favorite character in this flick was Col. Hans Landa. Seriously, this guy made the film. Pitt's role was good too but was short lived. Landa stole the show. I don't know if it is true or not but I heard the movie almost didn't go into production because of his role. No one was up to par on the character. Then at the last moment this guy comes along and knocks it out of the park.

So, I agree it's not an action flick, that Landa was AMAZING but disagree that this movie was crap. I loved it and will watch it many more times when it is out on DVD.....

Monday, September 21, 2009  
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Sunday, June 26, 2016  

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