Saturday, September 12, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds
By: Judson Rusk

I am a Tarantino fan to the bloody bitter end. I defended the Grindhouse until I was blue in the face and it will be a disgusting shame if Reservoir Dogs doesn’t go down as one of the greatest films of it’s generation. I was even a fan of Kill Bill (yes, I’m that devoted). Inglourious Basterds was Tarantino’s triumphant return to the big screen since Kill Bill (not counting Death Proof of course, which most people try to forget), but I couldn’t really say that I was super excited.

1994’s Pulp Fiction is often considered to be Tarantino’s masterpiece. He perfected his unique directing style of making films that are 98% talk with 2% of “hyper-violence.” But the talk is gripping and the story is engrossing and very enjoyable, if you ask me. But the reason that I wasn’t excited for this movie as much as I would have been back in high school was because of his last attempt, Death Proof. Although I like the movie, it definitely started to show that Tarantino’s perfect balance of talk and violence was starting to shift to an uncomfortable new location. Too much of boring talk, not enough action to keep the audience waiting for more. And Inglouious Basterds took that slight shift, and made it a dramatic, in-your-face, exposé of boredom and over-anticipation.

I disliked this movie and don’t think it deserves a quarter of the praise and box office that it is getting. Some may argue the “Stephen Colbert” train of thought and say that it obviously can’t be that bad because the marketplace is saying otherwise. It is true that Basterds is looking more and more like it’s going to take over Pulp Fiction as Tarantino’s highest grossing movie. But I think that the view that the general public has on Tarantino at this point is “it’s much better than the last couple films he’s made.” And that justifies it in people’s minds to think that this movie is incredible. But really it is that opinion right there that is the real problem. If we keep thinking like that, we will lose sight of what a Tarantino movie can be, and should be. I dare you to watch Reservoir Dogs and Basterds back to back and still be able to look someone in the eye and tell them that those two films are on the same level. I dare you.

My co-worker said it best. This movie was not made to be a single movie and drove a good story. But rather it was a vehicle for a specific purpose. The problem was that they couldn’t figure out what the purpose was. It was a vehicle to plaster Eli Roth’s name and face around and try to give him a “bad-ass” aura because apparently after Tarantino put his name in front of Hostel, Roth has to return the favor by killing Hitler and making a spectacle about it…for cinematic sake, of course. This movie was also just a vehicle for Diane Kruger to do a roll in German. Oh yeah! By the way…I don’t mind movies in subtitles. Not at all. As long as that movie has a good reason to be in subtitles. Das Boot is one of the single greatest films ever made, but the English dubbed version blows hard. You have to watch it in subtitles to even appreciate it. But this movie…dear god. The subtitles were SO unnecessary. We know that it takes place in Germany/France. If the whole movie was in English with no subtitles, we could safely assume that it was probably REALLY happening in French or German. And don’t even dare tell me that it wouldn’t work because I’ve seen Valkyrie. So screw you if you say otherwise. This movie BLATENTLY swings from German to French to English just because they can.

“We’ve been speaking in French this whole time, but would you like to change to German?”

“Sure! But why?”

“Because we can!”

“Great! Please notice how good of an actor I am! I can speak not one, but TWO languages!”

“Two?! Really?! How about English now?”

“Great idea boy wonder!”

“Now listen to me speak English with this wonderful accent because…….” Screw it. I’m done writing this.

But aside from that, it was a vehicle to fulfill Brad Pitt’s urge to work with every director on Earth. That apparently took precedence over keeping the characters believable in context. They wrote Pitt’s character to fit Pitt, which created the problem that the character himself stuck out like Obama at a clan rally. This is the exact same thing that can be said for Roth’s character, “The Bear Jew.” Which, by the way, that nickname is never explained nor does it make any sort of sense whatsoever.

The Bear Jew deserves his own paragraph. What a retarded character. I know that most of my friends who have seen this movie rave about how awesome he was. That is not correct. He wasn’t a deep character. He wasn’t even an interesting character. It was a build up that took about 7 times longer than the actual scene it was building up to, which was a letdown of an abusive and personally destructive manner. It was very much the same feeling that you would receive if you were pretty sure that you were going to get a new iPhone for your birthday. And when you open up the iPhone size box, it’s actually just empty, and then some guy in a gorilla mask and clown costume comes out of the closet and kicks you in the balls as hard as any hybrid clown-gorilla man can. And then your girlfriend leaves you for said clown-gorilla man. Actually, on second thought, that sounds pretty awesome. If that is what had happened instead of what I actually had to watch, I would be writing a very different review right now. Because what did happen was Eli Roth took his SWEET ASS TIME coming out of apparently the longest tunnel in France in order to say two lines to finally lead us to about 6 seconds of him hitting a Nazi with a bat. Aaaaaaaaannnnd……scene! Well that was sweet. Is there gum stuck to my shoe? Did I leave my keys in my car? I wonder if there is any ice cream at home. Is that dude down there wearing a gorilla mask? Oh shit! I forgot I’m watching a movie…

This movie would have been insanely better if it was about 40 minutes shorter. And for all the hype, the “Basterds” really weren’t the focus of the movie. In fact, they were secondary at best. Now, I do have to say that this wasn’t the worse film I’ve seen all summer. Not even close. That honor would have to fall to either Transformers 2 or G.I. Joe (with the exception of S. Darko which is the worst film ever made). In the end, I was mostly just bored rather than disappointed or angry so there isn’t too much of a rant built up inside of me. It did have some redeeming qualities and some good twists. The ending would have been brilliant if it hadn’t been for the “Basterds,” and the character of the Jew Hunter was actually pretty cool. The opening scene of this film is gripping, fairly emotional, and very very well done. Unfortunately is pretty much downhill from there.

In conclusion, this movie wasn’t a travesty of a film like G.I. Joe and it wasn’t as bad of a letdown as Terminator, but it still wasn’t good. It was a mediocre movie that was made for wrong reasons. I hope Tarantino will come back someday with something as awesome and Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, even Jackie Brown for the matter. But for right now, I will just kindly try to forget that I’ve actually seen this movie.

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