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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino 2009

I give credit where credit is due and there is something good here. But this is far from Tarantino’s masterpiece and I believe who ever coined that phrase was only creating misleading hype. In fact this movie was marketed on the back of a lot of misleading hype but that doesn't take away from some great scenes, unique and memorable characters and a killer soundtrack.

Ill begin with my first gripe. Inglourious Basterds is probably one of the worst marketed films I've ever seen. Not to sound shallow I appreciate what the film is about but this isn't a film about the Inglorious Basterds, the American soldiers behind enemy lines killing Nazis, that take up every bit of add space I've seen for the last few months. I haven't seen any bit of media that indicated Mélanie Laurent is a central character. I've been reminded constantly that this is an action film, every trailer is fast paced and energetic, blood, gunshots and insanity. No brains all actions, which this film definitely is not. Like I said not too sound shallow but I feel I was truthfully mislead. I'm not stupid I know that a lot of trailers are misleading but I felt they completely ignored what the film is actually about. Had I ignored all the media hype and trailers or if they had accurately advertised the film I would have enjoyed Inglourious Basterds much more.

I got bored. Even after my second viewing, to insure I wasn't biased the first time round, I still wasn't that impressed. I noticed there were moments the actors even seemed to be looking awkward, intended or not I shared that awkward silence. Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise is more or less only dialogue, Glen Garry Glen Ross the same. Even Pulp Fiction has many scenes that rely solely on conversations. But I don't usually lose interest and I did during both viewings. Don't get me wrong there are fair few cleaver scenes, some great scenes but they are separated by so much unnecessary speech. Especially the indulgent 'movie history' conversation, I didn't understand much of it and I doubt many people did.

Apart from being bored I just don't think Inglourious Basterds is half as good as people have either told me or I've read about it. The long, sometimes pointless dialogue but mainly the story itself wasn't very satisfying, I'm not saying there aren't some great scenes but again they were just spread out and oddly placed. So out of place that I didn't feel like I was along for the ride. Not comfortable enough for you to get to know any of the characters or get connected to the story. I couldn't help but compare Inglourious Basterds to Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's most recognized work. In my eyes they just don't compare, how I felt after walking out of Pulp Fiction compared to this time around just doesn't come close. Pulp had both substance and style while Basterds tends to be more of the latter.

Finally what I did enjoy. There are some truly clever scenes and characters. Lets start with the Basterds themselves. Brad Pitt, Lieutenant Aldo Raine, aka "Aldo the Apache", this isn't one of his best performances but it is one of his funnist, just about every accented word got a laugh. Towards the end when he speaks Italian, classic. Eli Roth, Til Schweiger and the rest of the Basterds do well enough but they get so little time on screen that you don't really know. I only wish the Basterds had more time on screen. Obviously the best performance is Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa "The Jew Hunter" who is so disturbing with his charming demeanor and big grin you can't help but enjoy just about every minute hes on screen. I was surprised to see Mélanie Laurent among the cast list, let alone that shes actually one the central characters. I'd just seen her in Paris last year. She was unsurprisingly enjoyable. The cameos were a bit of fun but just felt like last minute additions.

Where Tarantino shines is his scene delivery, building tension and making simple situations complicated. Every scene in which "The Jew Hunter" is interrogating creates this tension. You can't help but appreciate it. Just about every scene of Waltz's is magic. I enjoyed most scenes but they didn't feel complete, they lacked the punch of Pulp. Stillfunny and very clever but just not enough to astonish me. Most of them felt like he was trying too hard. Its like when you know someone is cable of better, it is still great material, better then a lot that is out there but you just can't help but feel it could have been better.

What I enjoyed most was the sound track. At every significant or action scene the music was a highlight, always coming in at the right moment and adding to the scene. Especially Cat People (Putting Out Fire) by David Bowie, really a great scene.

Inglourious Basterds could have been a great movie, could have been his masterpiece, it had all the right ingredients but it just wasn't put together right.