Featured Posts

Sep 17, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Inglourious Basterds

Perhaps I should just be scolded for my lack of faith.

As I can only hope that many others did, I underestimated Quentin Tarantino. I watched the trailers, I saw the posters, I read about the film in which it was (loosely, we were told) inspired by. I couldn't help but notice Hostel director Eli Roth prominently featured in both. Combine all that with the experience that was Grindhouse, and I assumed a lot about Inglourious Basterds. My preconceived notions were summed up in that week's TGITDNMAR as such:

"...Eli Roth is annoying. Diane Kruger can't act her way out of a plastic bag. There's pretty much no one else of note involved [Brad Pitt notwithstanding]. The plot...let's just say I'm finding it a bit thin. And I'm no fan of torture porn, even when the torture is being performed on Nazis. So basically, what we're left with is a case of STYLE vs. substance. Like 300, only without the CGI effects and homoeroticism."
So basically (again - yeah, I overuse that phrase), what I did was take the resume of Tarantino - only the most influential director of the past 15 years - and completely wiped my mind of it. The reason I might have found the plot "a bit thin?" Because I apparently knew nothing about it.

God, I'm an idiot.

What the experience did, though, was illustrate to me what might be Tarantino's best quality as a filmmaker - the thing that makes him one of the top directors we have today, along with guys like Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher, and the Coens - unpredictability. The ability to keep their audiences guessing, not only in terms of the types of projects that they will tackle, but the way they handle the narratives themselves. Whether it's Aronofsky setting a third of his Fountain inside a giant bubble or the now famous premier scene of Basterds, a scene that should be oh-so-familiar but somehow feels fresher than anything put onscreen this year, or Anderson's employment of only industrial, orchestral sounds in an otherwise silent opening of There Will Be Blood, these men have proven time and again that they are more original than Werther's, have a better plan than Marshall, and execute that plan better than, well, an executioner.

Tarantino's tale is not the 150-minute torture porn excursion I expected but rather a paean to revenge, and not solely of the Charles Bronson variety. Sure, the Basterds themselves are the ids of the film, travelling somewhat gleefully across Europe on the hunt for Nazi scalps, but Shosanna's tale is the glue that holds the film together, her pain stronger and more focused than all of the Basterds combined. Tarantino's passionate handling of her story, mixed in with pulpy (and Pulp-y) dialogue and mexican standoffs and goofy accents and rewritten history and characters so colorful they're practically bleeding off the screen make for, as the Grindhouse experience was in 2007, the most raucous, least forgettable film of the year, despite whatever flaws you might find it.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"It's in the hole!"
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs


7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Inglourious Basterds"

blake said...

I was weary too. Not even casting Michael Fassbender could counterbalance a role for Mike Meyers. But I was thrilled with the result.

Hokahey said...

Fletch - Glad you liked. I too was surprised because I had always been underwhelmed by Tarantino. But swept me off my feet and I've seen this movie three times. It's a pleasure to watch his set piece scenes over and over again.

This is well said -

"Sure, the Basterds themselves are the ids of the film, travelling somewhat gleefully across Europe on the hunt for Nazi scalps, but Shosanna's tale is the glue that holds the film together, her pain stronger and more focused than all of the Basterds combined."

Film Gurl said...

Nice review! I've also been debating this one, though the reviews coming in are mostly positive. Thanks for sharing! :)

Big Mike Mendez said...

Glad you finally saw it, now we have something to podcast about?

33mm Reviews said...

Excellent review!

I got the same initial perception, and I'm glad I took the chance to watch this movie.

Tarantino nailed it again with this production.

Zach said...

I'm glad this film greatly surpassed your expectations (even though it looks like you had very low expectations). I am guilty of the same thing, except it happened with District 9.

Make sure you check out my reviews here: http://unfetteredtastes.blogspot.com/

Fletch said...

blake: agreed. I even loved Myers' cameo. Felt a bit out of place, but I think he pulled it off. Either way, I liked it a lot more than the Sam Jackson voice-overs, which took me WAY out of the movie.

Hokahey - thanks. I should have known better, since I'm not usually underwhelmed. I pretty much love 'em all.