Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Inglourious Basterds is not a glorious return to form, but it showcases some of Tarantino's talents, and has at least two spectacular scenes.
My biggest complaint about Tarantino is that he's a great dialogue writer. His early films showcase this so well, that he now has freedom to make his entire films long discussions, devoid of character development, story progression, or real meaning.
He avoids the smug referentiality that made Death Proof nearly unwatchable, but Inglourious Basterds still falls prey to some of Tarantino's writing hubris - namely- it's a good hour too long. He's proficient - Keith Phipps of the AV Club put it best: "Tarantino remains a master of creating tension from characters engaging in what only looks like polite conversation..." - but not self censoring enough these days.
I saw Tarantino speak after an advance screening of Kill Bill V.1 many years ago and he talked about the incredible relationship he had with his editor, Sally Menke. But it seems they have traded concise storytelling for long-winded homage.
There are some outright successes to Inglourious Basterds. The final sequence is amazing and succeeds as an alternate history wet dream. Christoph Waltz, an actor I'd never heard of, who has 89 credits on IMDB, is easily the best actor in the film. Brad Pitt's alright. Even Eli Roth was surprisingly palatable.
I'll recommend this film with a few caveats. Make sure you have the time. And bring plenty of wine.