Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

If you asked me my opinion about Inglourious Basterds a year ago, I would have told you that I had very little interest in it. In fact, I might have told you that I was against the movie before it even came out. This was a time when I resented Tarantino for his "knock off" directorial decisions, still had the bitter taste of Death Proof in my mouth (which I still despise, by the way), and was doubtful this project would ever see the inside of a movie theater, let alone make his one-year delivery date promised at Cannes '08.

After seeing Jackie Brown, I had a massive shift in opinion about Quentin Tarantino, but was still unmoved by this particular project. I had heard rumors that the film consisted of long "talky" scenes, and obviously after Death Proof this was not a cinematic road I was particularly excited to retravel. Let me be clear - these rumors were absolutely true. My apathy, however, quickly turned to total immersion the second I pressed play. This movie was fantastic.

Inglourious Basterds
Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent

From the opening scene until the final minute, this film had me sucked me in and held me captivated. (I find it interesting I said this about both Basterds and Before Sunrise, a film also heralded for its massive amounts of dialogue. I suppose I really enjoy films with good dialogue.) Something I want to stress: the main difference between the long spans of dialogue here and the long talking periods in Death Proof is that in Basterds, the words serve an almost palpable purpose - they hover over situations as tensions rise, heightening the scene subtly and effectively until the inevitable burst of violence that finishes the session. Death Proof's "girl talk" seemed wildly unnecessary to advancing the storyline; it was as if the characters just took a break from the movie and were sitting around talking. If that was the intent, then congrats to QT - I didn't "get it" until just now. And no, I don't plan on revisiting that film (ever) to see if I'm right or wrong.

Inglorious Basterds was incredibly well-received in the critical community, but one of the most rampant complaints involved Brad Pitt's accent. I had no problem whatsoever with it - in fact, I thought it was one of the best parts of the movie. Sure, it's ridiculous. But late in the film when his character says he can speak Italian, and then does so without attempting to hide his Southern accent, I was cracking up. If that scene alone was the sole reason for Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt's character) to speak like that throughout the whole film, then the whole thing was worth it because that scene worked perfectly. This was one of Pitt's most memorable roles, and one I think we'll be talking about for a long time.

The film's final line - "I think this just might be my masterpiece" - is a heck of a ballsy statement to end on, but considering the auteur behind the camera, it's one that makes perfect sense. Oh yeah - and I forgot to mention that it's absolutely true. This is unlike any other Tarantino film, a reserved work of art that, for me, transcended a normal movie-watching experience. I must see this movie again before I can attempt to talk about it with any authority. There are so many aspects of this film I want to discuss: the meaning of identity, QT's thoughts on the cinema and what exactly that translates into in the final product, connectivity between characters who have never even met, the implications of violence, and much more.

I'll keep this little discussion short (and admittedly lacking in overall quality, so I'm not even going to refer to it as a full review), but Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, his self-proclaimed WWII spaghetti western (evident with little touches like the homage to The Searchers in the opening scene) is probably his most intellectual film, and one that demands to be seen multiple times. I intend on accepting that demand, and hopefully reporting back to you afterwards. Until next time...


Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Ben Pearson said...

Sure, go for it. My twitter account is @benpears.