Droid witnesses an ‘Inglorious Basterds’ revisionist history of Nazi occupied France.
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’ is a lot of fun, but has many, many problems. The biggest is that it goes for 2 ½ hours, which is 30 minutes too long. The films structure is that it’s basically a series of self-contained scenes (which is highlighted by the fact that each scene is introduced with a title card Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc), and each scene goes on far too long. QT has always been self-indulgent, and it’s worked for him in the past, but it appears he hasn’t learnt from the mistakes of his previous effort, the tedious borefest Death Proof.
One reason for that is he’s far too in love with his own dialogue. A scene that runs for over 20 minutes in IB could run for 10 minutes and still have the same impact and effect. There were certain scenes, particularly the ‘meet’ in the basement bar, that dragged on for so long that it took me out of the film and actually had me thinking “Hurry the fuck up Tarantino, you self-indulgent twat!”.
All of QT’s flicks are talkfests, but they usually aren’t boring. So why have the past two dragged so badly? What’s changed?One theory I have is that in his earlier flicks many heavy dialogue scenes are set on the move, mostly in cars or people walking, getting ready to do something or go somewhere that involves the plot. There’s something else going on in the scene, whether it be physical or a subtext to the characters motivations that give these scenes an automatic energy. Although the dialogue is often about nothing to do with the plot, we still feel as though the plot is moving forward. Here, in IB, each scene is set with characters sitting around a table. Each time it does this, it feels like the film is pausing to regard itself. To appreciate its own cleverness. It’s annoying.
Another annoyance is the film is far too referential. It seems to me that half the shots are specifically designed to reference an obscure film, photo or painting (none of which I got). This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that these shots draw so much attention to themselves that they distract and take you out of the movie. And the building tension of the opening scene is ruined because Tarantino reveals an important piece of information far too early. Leave the reveal until later, or even not at all, and the scene would rank up there with his very best. I did like the joke that QT has made an American propaganda film that centres around the Nazi propaganda “film within a film”.
The performances are as we have come to expect from a QT film, heightened and bordering on caricature. Everyone’s fine apart from Christoph Waltz and Torture Porn filmmaker Eli Roth, for very different reasons. Waltz’s performance is great. Every scene he’s in you kind of perk up a bit. It’s a weird, oddball performance and it’s great fun. Roth’s performance, as the ‘Bear Jew’, is awful. He spends the entire film with a wide perma-mist eyed expression which I believe is meant to convey a constant inner rage, but just comes across as if he’s struggling with a bad case of Delhi Belly. I’d tell Roth to stick to directing, but it’s lose/lose either way. Brad Pitt, as Aldo Raine is entertaining, but one note. This is not the fault of Pitt himself, it’s how QT has written it.
Problems aside, Inglorious Basterds is worth seeing, but unlike other QT flicks, especially Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, this one won’t get any better the second time around.