Saturday, September 5, 2009
Top Ten reasons Inglourious Basterds isn't the masterpiece Tarantino thinks it is
1. THE PLOTHOLES: Almost as many as District 9: 1) Landa falling into that trap at the end—letting himself get cuffed then carved up—when in every other scene he’s the smartest character in the movie 2) Landa killing the German actress for plotting to blow up the theater, even though he’s doing the exact same thing 3) Shosanna’s story being included in the first place—if she hadn’t plotted to blow up the theater, then Landa and the Basterds would’ve done it for her.
2. THE TITLE: It’s like calling Pee Wee’s Big Adventure instead Amazing Larry. The Basterds are secondary characters, a subplot to Shosanna’s story when it should be the other way around. (Not to mention, they’re introduced first as a band of lawless killers, but the potential of that concept isn’t explored at all. It’s completely dropped when they’re brought back to be recruits for a special mission. It makes their introduction as lawless killers a waste of time).
3. THE STYLE: You can’t take Leone’s framing, pacing, and music wholesale and then put your name all over it like you reinvented cinema.
4. THE THEME: Tell me what this movie is about. His other movies bothered to have a theme, even if it was as simple as exploring middle age or the paradoxes of vengeance. I swear Babel had more of a defined theme than this movie.
5. THE SUBTEXT: Using nitrate film as a weapon is kind of an awesome idea, and since the movie suggests that "film" itself is in a very legitimate way owned by the Jews (by bringing up the Jewish producers & studio heads in the British officer’s orientation scene) then Tarantino's choice to slaughter the Nazis with film is maybe the most clever thing in the movie, it’s like having them be slaughtered by bagels or I don’t know, diamonds. It’s kind of amazing that it works, but he does nothing else with it and it’s not developed any further (like say how propagandaistic film can do more to end a war than actual firepower, a variation on the pen is mightier than the sword, etc). It just seems like this whole movie’s construction was some scribbled notes about what would make “The Ultimate WWII movie , OKAAY?”, without any sort of sense of how it would logically come together.
6. THE TENSION: What makes the opening of Once Upon a Time in The West so great is that Leone doesn’t spend the next 2 1/2 hours repeating himself. Some scenes are shorter, some are funny, some aren’t fraught with tension. So when a scene comes along that is overwhelmingly intense, then it’s that much more powerful because there's a variety of tone. But almost every scene in Basterds builds the same exact way with the same prolonged tension, and pretty much makes the movie monotonous by definition.
7. THE BEAR JEW: Kevin Costner in 13 Days does a better Boston accent than Eli Roth’s faux-Affleck squawk. Not to mention the character doesn’t make any sense—why all the ominous buildup spent on him? Getting taken out by a baseball bat blow to the head is kind of mercy killing, at least compared to getting scalped.
8. THE EDITING: The scene with Landa and Shosanna in the restaurant is a tension build for nothing, it’s a cheat. That and the first half of the basement bar scene could be completely lost and it would be the same movie.
9. THE FONT: When did he get so font happy. It's distracting and just underscores how inconsistent this movie is.
10. THE LAST LINE: Tarantino’s lack of humility would be tolerable if he were still making something purely his own like Pulp Fiction, but I can’t think of an instance where a director was so megalomaniacal so to have his character practically be a stand-in for him, and address the audience, so to tell us that we just watched what he “thinks is a masterpiece,” only to be followed by the “written & directed by” signature. What this guy needs is a movie with a story credit by Roger Avery again. Actually, anyone even. Tarantino is probably surrounded by more Yes Men than George Lucas at this point.
Then again, Christoph Waltz is amazing in this, and the 1st scene is a perfect example of what Tarantino can do best, and I admit that I wasn’t clawing at the seats like I was during that Jungle Julia bullshit. I just wish he had figured out how to make the movie about badass Nazi killers that I bought my ticket to see.