Headline: An Inglourious movie
Layercake: Director Tarantino‘s latest release lacks consistency, fun
By LAURA KROEGER
Aggie Arts Writer
Quentin Tarantino, director darling of critics and fan boys alike, created a real mess of a movie. Inglourious Basterds is his seventh film in 22 years, and after spending more than a decade working on the script, he‘s been publicly touting this one as his masterpiece. Unfortunately, his lengthy involvement in the project caused him to lose touch with what audiences find cohesive or entertaining.
Austrian actor Christoph Waltz plagues the film‘s protagonists as the charismatic (and often strangely likable) Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. Nicknamed “The Jew Hunter,“ he and his men are known for seeking out and killing Jews in World War II‘s Nazi-occupied France, including the family of young Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent).
Years after her escape from Landa, Shosanna lives under a new name and runs a small cinema. A young and influential German soldier (Daniel Brühl) takes a liking to Shosanna, and in a misguided attempt to woo her, arranges for a Nazi propaganda film to premiere at her theater. Shosanna plots to take down the prominent Nazi guests in a fire, but unbeknownst to her the Basterds and the British army are hatching a similar plan.
The film that the previews portray as an action-revenge film in the vein of Tarantino‘s epic Kill Bill is actually saturated with useless, redundant dialogue. If you‘ve seen the trailers, you‘ve likely seen the most exciting parts of the film.
Though the film is named after the Basterds, their screen time is small, their influence arguable and their presence unassertive. They have as much depth as the guns they carry. In fact, viewers meet the less celebrated characters long before encountering the Basterds.
Inglourious Basterds is devoid of the energy that typically makes his films entertaining. Tarantino tends to either leap into violence with unyielding vigor, à la Kill Bill, or builds tension in the scene until the room seems ready to crack, like in Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction.
Here the film neither delights nor shocks with its violence. It instead shows only gunfire and some gross-out scalpings that take up little time and leave little impact. Most of the scenes in Inglourious Basterds are so long and overdrawn that by the time there‘s a violent payoff (if there is one at all), the results are disappointing and expected.
Quirky Tarantino trademarks are inserted so impulsively that they become a sloppy patchwork for the film‘s shortcomings. Instead of a consistent visual style, Tarantino includes one instance of Shaft-style superimposed text, a montage set to David Bowie‘s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),“ an all too brief scene of violence with a baseball bat and a voice-over by Samuel Jackson that condescends audience‘s intelligence.
However, the film has its moments. The camera found a way to truly inhabit the setting – depth, angles, framing and movement create memorable places you can mentally wander around in long after viewing the film. Actress Laurent is clearly talented and brings a great air of mystery to Shosanna. The eel-like Waltz easily steals the show.
Tarantino‘s exceptional knowledge of film allows him to innovate, but just because a film is unique doesn‘t guarantee quality. He took what should have been two or three decent movies and shoved them together into two and a half hours of unrecognizable mediocrity.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX