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