One of my favorite scenes in movie history is when Vince and Jules kill those dudes in their own apartment, only after drinking all their Sprite, smoking cigarettes in their kitchen, and quoting scripture. What movie am I talking about? Pulp Fiction. OF COURSE. If you didn’t know that, you might as well stop reading, because the following review of Inglourious Basterds just ain’t gonna reach you.
I was one of the dorks who bought tickets for the opening night of Inglourious Basterds two days early, just to be sure I had a seat. I ran to the theater Friday night, and I was so pumped, I was curled into fetal position and grinning like a goose in my seat. I couldn’t wait for some vintage Quentin Tarantino extended dialogue. Expertly portrayed Nazi-killing violence sequences. Witty banter amidst clouds of cigar smoke and bat-wielding Jewish dudes. You get the idea. So what happened? Boo. Sara Dobie. Not happy.
Tarantino, I get it. You’re sooooo clever, and you love stretching dialogue to the point of irrelevance. However, you usually bring this irrelevance back, and there’s an Ah-ha moment for the viewer. There was no Ah-ha moment in Inglourious Basterds. The movie starts in French farm country. The “Jew Hunter” is out to find a Jewish family that’s gone missing. Spoiler: of course, he does. And they die. All but one—this Shosanna chick. So begins the theme of revenge, which follows us the rest of the flick.
Then, obviously, there are the “Basterds”—a group of Jewish American soldiers who, under the watchful eyes of Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), are gonna kill ‘em some Nazis. Now, I liked these guys. They were funny. Yeah, Brad Pitt was a little over the top, but it’s a Tarantino movie, so I got over it. My ultimate favorite character was Donny Donowitz, played by the beefed-up, baseball-bat-wielding Eli Roth. I loved loved loved Eli Roth. Imagine my disappointment when I only got to see him split one Nazi head with his baseball bat. Imagine my utter disappointment when I realized the “Basterds” are barely in the movie. “Basterds,” seemingly, was just a cool movie title, because these boys were mere background to all the other drawn-out, boring dialogue and lack of character development.
Did I mention LACK OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT? There was no one to care about in this movie. In Pulp Fiction, you don’t really want Vince Vega to die in a shower. In Reservoir Dogs, you hope Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth will one day walk down the street like father and son. I mean, even in Deathproof, I wanted those chicks to kick the crap out of Kurt Russell. But I didn’t care about Shosanna’s dead family. I didn’t care about the flakey movie actress who gets shot in a bar basement. The “Basterds” were funny, but I didn’t feel for them. I mean, sure, we all wish Hitler had gone down at the hands of a bunch of crazy Jewish soldiers. But the movie was so dang shallow, why care? Why get involved with characters deep as a baby pool?
One more thing. Tarantino. Where was the soundtrack? Since when do we not have amazing music in your films? Since when are we lacking in the random, wide-angle, slow-motion shot, backed by Al Green or, perhaps, Marvin Gaye? Since when have you given up on MUSIC and FILM-MAKING, in exchange for a massive media blitz and press propaganda?
Okay. I’ll admit, maybe I’m biased. Quentin Tarantino’s films have been important to me over the years, so maybe I was expecting a lot. Point of fact: my companion for the viewing of Inglourious Basterds liked the movie. He said it was good and that maybe I was being a little harsh on dear old Quentin. Well. Maybe. HOWEVER, why should I not be harsh on Quentin? The man has made some amazing flicks. Yes, I would hate to be trapped in an elevator with him, but his talent as a director cannot be denied. So I think I deserve to be annoyed. I deserve to be harsh, because Inglourious Basterds makes me think Tarantino is getting soft in his old age. This film makes me think he’s losing his touch, and oh, the terror! Will there never be another Pulp Fiction? Or is it because of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs that I was so let down by Basterds? Did Tarantino set the bar so high with his early films that their height will never be reached again? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Guess we’ll have to find out if Tarantino will someday man up again and give me some real gore and dialogue I can quote over beers with my buddies.
“Garcon means boy.”
Well. Seemingly, Quentin Tarantino no longer means “bad ass.” Quentin Tarantino now means, “My ego has gotten so big, I can’t write quality dialogue.”