Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds"

Formidable character, formidable actor: Christoph Waltz as the disturbingly alluring Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's masterful "Inglourious Basterds"
Perhaps the movie critics who are losing their jobs right and left these days are no great loss. Harsh? Perhaps. But has there ever been a time when reviewers seemed so hopelessly hamhanded?

A case in point: The seemingly willful clueless response to Quentin Tarantino's vigorously accomplished "Inglourious Basterds." For some bizarre reason, Tarantino's film has been put under a miscroscope (as no other recent film has) by a handful of critics, so busy nitpicking about trivia that they've literally missed the larger picture. A good picture.

The carping has reached such a ridiculous pitch the usually even-keeled Dave Kehr felt compelled to challenge one of the Tarantino-bashers on his popular movie site: "I don’t think Tarantino puts any of his critical faculties aside when he’s assembling one of his elegantly convoluted narratives. He’s a master orchestrator of audience expectations — of knowing when to fulfill them and when to frustrate them."

Elegant is certainly the operative word for "Basterds" which opens with a stunning sequence in which the director takes his time and lets his actors involve us in a long, contentious conversation and the feeling of dread that it naturally reflects. His sumptuous use of music, Robert Richardson's handsome cinematography and an ensemble cast which produces no missteps hardly prepare us for Tarantino's one inarugable triumph here - the crucial casting of a commanding actor named Christoph Waltz whose Nazi character mesmerizes as much as he taunts and frightens.

This is a real movie. Those few critics don't know what they're missing.

Their loss.


David W. said...

You know, I tend to underrated Tarantino myself but then I go ot his latest film and always end up loving it. I guess I'm a fan and don't know it.

joe baltake said...

I know exactly what you're saying. Whenever I discuss favorite filmmakers, his name never comes up. But I've both enjoyed and admired each of his movies. "Death Proof" is just jaw-droppingly wonderful, particularly in its longer version. Tarantino tends to bring out resentment in critics, the same way Bogdanovich did 25-30 years ago. These are guys who started out as buffs - Bogdanovich a critic; Tarantino a video clerk - and you'd think that the men (it's mostly men)who review movies would relate to and support them. Envy, I guess.

John said...

You have your "Gypsy" memorabilia, I want "Inglourious Basterds" memorabilia. Namely, Donnie's bat, Landa's calabash, Shosanna's hats from the cafe scene and the ending, and most of all, Bridget Von Hammersmark's missing right shoe.

John Kaiser said...

Face it, Tarantino has the best track record of any director working. No miss-steps. Even when doing schlock like "Grindhouse" he presents us with the most violent chick flick ever, and Zoe Bell on the hood of the car for the best car chase in years. Not even Spielberg or Scorsese have this kind of track record for quality.

Something I realized while watching Basterds the second of three times ( so far ) is that the dialogue sequences are the action in the film. Case in point being the opening and the La Lousiane face-off.
Those sequences may end in a burst of violence, but the pacing, and tension of the dialogue before it, make it move.

Landa calls every subordinate Herrman without knowing or caring what their real name is.

The only place where the words "Inglourious Basterds" appear in the movie is etched in the stock of Aldo's rifle. When considering that Aldo is a hillbilly shine runner and a functional illiterate, it explains the purposeful misspelling of the title better than Tarantino wanting to separate his movie from the original "Inglorious Bastards".

I think I'll go see it again today.

jbryant said...

Really hope to see this this weekend. Agree with you about Death Proof.

Oh, and if Ralph Richardson were still alive, he'd be in front of the camera. You mean Robert. :)

joe baltake said...

Yipes! You're right. What would I do without you, Jay? Thanks, as always for catching yet another hastily typed word. With apologies to Ralph, I pass the honor to Robert.

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