Before I get into a proper review, I should qualify my remarks by saying that I’ve been a huge Quentin Tarantino fan for years. I’ve seen each of his previous films, and thoroughly enjoyed nearly all of them. The only one I would say I don’t outright love is Jackie Brown, which I just watched again recently. I still think it’s a fine film, but the dialogue doesn’t feel quite as strong to me.
All this to say that Inglourious Basterds was easily my most anticipated film of the summer.
My initial reaction after seeing the movie was that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations/hopes. But as I thought about it more and more, I wasn’t sure that anything could have. I held off with writing this review just to give the film time to sink in. I read other reviews, swung by IMDb to get a feel for the general consensus, and played the film’s soundtrack nonstop. In the end I found myself thinking about the movie so much that I actually went back and saw it again in theatres. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure this is a first for me.
Alright, so to come to the point, I liked this movie. A lot. It’s not my favourite QT movie, but it’s certainly a worthy addition to his great resumé. From the fantastic performances and dialogue, to the beautiful cinematography and engaging soundtrack, it’s a great ride.
The film delivered a number of surprises, perhaps the biggest being how there’s relatively little action. When a movie’s trailer features an over-the-top Brad Pitt announcing to his eight-man squad The Basterds that “Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps! And I want my scalps!” it tends to colour you expectations of what you’re about to see. Anyone going in looking for an exploitation gore-fest will be very, very disappointed.
The most common complaint levelled against Basterds is that the dialogue scenes drag. In his review for the LA Times, critic Kenneth Turan noted that, “clocking in at 2 hours and 32 minutes, [Inglourious Basterds] is unforgivably leisurely, almost glacial.” I couldn’t disagree more with this. Tarantino has a skill for dialogue that, to my ears, puts him at the top of the class with guys like David Mamet. I could listen to the characters these two have created talk until the cows come home. For me, each time one of these dialogue scenes came to an end, it was almost a downer.
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