Glourious Terds

pitt_basterdsI’m struggling with Inglourious Basterds. I have a feeling that it’s a lot smarter and a a lot dumber than I’m willing to admit right now. There are problems with pacing – as many have pointed out. There are caricatures that become uncomfortable in their unevenness. It is certainly sadistic and immoral and all that other stuff Tarantino fans (I count myself among these) thirst for, but it’s also less snarky, less smart-ass, less film-school than any of his other films (with the awful scene involving Mike Myers being an exception). For the most part, I tend to lean towards films that are a little more honest and sincere in their style. (Kill Bill Vol. II was a far better film, in my opinion, than Vol. I for this reason.) But there is also something about the glossy violence of a Tarantino film that gets to me. The sound, for example, in Inglourious Basterds is superb. And you know me: I’m not one to use the term “superb” lightly. But there are so many mistakes in such a careful movie. I just don’t get it, yet.

So this one’s going to take me a while to hash out. Right now all I can do is respond to the polarizing reviews coming out from all the biggest sources. Ebert’s madly in love (he better be after his initial embarrassing rejection of Pulp Fiction, right?) and Armond White, as usual, is upset. The most intelligent review I’ve come across so far is Karina Longworth‘s at Spout. I think she’s generally understated and incredibly smart about movies, but here she admits to something few critics are willing to do: changing her mind. After writing for Film Threat thinking no one read it, then getting feedback on some of my reviews, I wish I could go back and change some things I wrote every once in a while. Luckily we get far fewer hits here and I can say whatever the fuck I want. Hurray!

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In that vein, there is something I would like to point out. For those complaining about Inglourious Basterds being “Jewish revenge porn” I would point you in the direction of the Dirty Harry films, Vigilante, Death Wish, and even The Brave One. We have a lot of Caucasian revenge porn; can’t we even the score a little? It’s crazy to me that the same critics are complaining about the brutality of the film and the boring action-devoid scenes.There’s also the debate of who had the “good” caricatured performances and who had the bad ones. I’ll solve that issue right here: Mike Myers was atrocious, Brad Pitt was funny, and Eli Roth was totally neutral – like all the other barely-seen Basterds. So I hope that eases everyone’s mind a bit. Not that it really matters at all.

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Anyway, this is a little stream of consciousness. More on this one later, I hope.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Glourious Terds

  1. BJT

    I’m going to be reviewing Basterds later this week, but my opinion has already changed since seeing it yesterday.

    I waltzed (hardy har har) out of the cinema with a big wasn’t that a load of fun smile all over my face, but since then on considering deeper I am concerned about the lack of humanity in the film. None of the characters are given any emotional journey or have sides. They all kill (extremely effectively) and seem to have no doubt or hesitation about killing.

    At times it seemed to be a propaganda piece rather than cinema.

    This is not to say that isn’t very well made – I found the pacing and build up of tension worked well, the visual and aural aspects of the production were very good and Shosanna’s face projected onto smoke will stay with me for a long time.

  2. I love it when you say, “I have a feeling that it’s a lot smarter and a lot dumber than I’m willing to admit right now.” Isn’t that part of what makes it so entertaining?

    It seems like this is shaping up to be QT’s most controversial film ever, as the whole Occupied France during WWII setting is still a very sensitive subject for many groups of people (the French, the Germans, and not the least of which, the Jewish Community). Again, I think that also adds a layer of entertainment value to the proceedings…the whole “You have to see it to believe it!” or “What the hell were they thinking!? But I still have to see this!” angle.

    I’m not ashamed to admit (though I take note of many of the problems not just with the execution of the film itself, but also with its subject matter) I was enormously entertained and quite surprised by how the film played out.

    At any rate, here’s my official review, and I also invite anyone to stop by and rate QT’s films and share your thoughts:

    http://davethenovelist.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/you-might-be-a-basterd-if/

  3. i saw this last night and what i liked best was the bill and ted reference. so there in that basement/bar playing that game where you have famous names pasted on your forehead and besides pabst (who is referenced like a dozen times in the movie) you’ve got genghis kahn and beethoven

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