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on 20 June 2012
This is the kind of movie only Quentin Tarantino seems able to get away with. A typically irreverent, cunning and scatological piece of flotsam that does everything against the accepted movie-making conventions but mostly works nonetheless.

Watching it, I kept thinking about all those `how to write a screenplay' courses and instruction books and reflecting on how the writing for `Inglorious Basterds' would probably fail all the standard academic criteria for success. Here is a 153 minute long movie that largely consists of lengthy conversations between two or more characters, usually sitting statically at tables and ranging around all sorts of commonplace chit-chat before getting to the point. The point, when eventually reached, then usually climaxes in a short, brutal moment of extreme violence. The film also pays scant attention to its titular characters, who are mostly just there to supply the key moments of violence. Tarantino prefers to turn conventions around and promote nominal supporting roles into the predominant leads. Finally, there's the intriguing awareness that this screenplay could probably be adapted as a theatre play with minimal change and a pretty modest budget. In fact, if somebody told you the whole thing was a filmed stage play you'd probably believe it.

Tarantino's usual indulgences are as much to the fore as ever - pastiche, self-awareness, smugness, overlength and endless movie references. The whole thing starts with a lengthy tribute to the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West and another long scene, involving the French heroine played by Melanie Laurent, looks like something lifted straight from a late-50s New Wave classic by Goddard or Truffaut. The trouble, as is always the case in Tarantino films, is that its hard to get sucked into the plot or care about the characters as he simply isn't interested in creating realistic worlds. You finish watching his movies feeling pleased that your film knowledge is strong enough to survive all the references and tributes thrown at you and then you end up feeling irritated that you have allowed yourself to get drawn into some kind of self-inflicted movie geek film quiz rather than simply going along to watch the picture.

Such is the power of the Auteur!

And yet, and yet....... Inglorious Basterds is fascinating, engaging, funny, clever, well-made and simply miles better than most mainstream movies you're likely to see in any given year. Yes, the scenes are all too long - yet they never bore and they often create superb tension. Yes, the characters often appear stereotypes - until a piece of dialogue reveals something new and unexpected. Yes, the film appears little more than a series of individual set pieces - until something important comes up that relates directly to an earlier scene.

My one problem with the picture is with the climax, which, though it tie's up all the loose ends and leads to a literally explosive resolution, nevertheless overdoes the alternative history lesson. Up until this point the film largely plays within the facts of WWII history, but the finale's rampant fiction somehow makes what has gone before a little meaningless and irrelevant. It also somewhat compromises a couple of key characters, whose actions contradict - and not in a believable way - much that has been carefully established about them in the preceding two hours.

And the acting? Well in an ensemble cast Brad Pitt enjoys himself immensely as the leader of the Basterds and Diane Kruger, as a Dietrich-like movie star and double agent, is much less stilted and more engaging than in any previous film. However pride of place goes to largely unknown Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, playing a relentless SS Jew hunter whose viciousness is hidden by an outwardly charming manner. A pity that it is his character who is most compromised by the finale.

All in all, well done Quentin - you've managed to pull it off yet again. I suspect I'll always have my reservations about you, but the fact remains that nobody does it quite the way you do.
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on 14 February 2017
Great movie,intertaining for those who love a bit of history.Thos is a group of Jews hitting back at their torturous after the war.They went in search of Bad Germany Nazis and killed them off one by one.One of them turned cost and killed his fellow Nazis by burning down the cinema while they were watching a movie.Thisvarsonist was rewarded by being granted asylum to the U.S. by the U.S. President. What a twist !
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on 8 February 2010
Where do you start with this peculiar film?
It is a mess but it includes some magnificent moments of sheer virtuousity. The acting is generally highly accomplished with the exception of Brad Pitt who appears painfully constipated throughout. His part requires minimal effort and it seems that that was all Pitt was prepared to make. Having said that it may be Tarantino's directing to blame for Pitt's wooden approach.
On the other hand Christoph Waltz is simply incredible. His performance is a tour de force with a skilfully delivered balance achieved between palpable menace and grotesque comedy. Waltz is a significant find; a towering talent whose skills in this film deserve recognition with an Oscar. It is worth watching just for his performance alone. The opening scene is deftly done and appears to promise an intelligent adult film that Hollywood did so well in the late sixties and early seventies but the film from there onward fluctuates between farce and magnificence.
There is an excellently choreographed set-piece in a Parisian cellar bar that is reminiscent of the best of Sergio Leone and much of the film is a homage to the classic Spaghetti Westerns of the sixties as well as Sam Pekinpah. Even the musical score brings to mind those great Westerns. However, too much of the film is downright infantile and ridiculous with little sense of direction.

Worth watching once but only once. Borrow.
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on 11 December 2016
Over the years I have come to appreciate this movie more and more. It is excellent and features some of Tarantino's best work, from the opening interrogation to the cinema scene. Watch this if you love good film making in general
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on 26 May 2016
One of the best films i have seen in a while, definately one of Tarantino's better films.
Great performances from everyone involved it is a visceral and hillarious treat.
If only the war ended the way it did in the film.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 January 2013
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, "Inglorious Basterds" is a fictitious, visceral story of WW II in which a small group of American Jewish commandos led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine played by Brad Pitt turn the tables on Hitler and his Nazis. The movie is set in Paris during the German occupation. Besides Pitt, the major character is the Nazi "Jew Hunter" Hans Landa played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz. Landa is suave, intelligent, shrewd, and deadly. Waltz does an extraordinary job of acting in portraying this difficult character.

The movie movies swiftly and held my attention throughout its 150 minutes. The movie is violent and crude with many scenes of beatings, cuttings, and killings. It captures the brutality of the war. In the movie, while not in fact, the Nazis get a deserved and swift comeuppance. It is a movie of vengeance.

I was engaged with this movie but found it valuable to step back and remember that it is a work of fiction. Some intelligent criticism has suggested that in this film that roles of the Nazis and the Jews has, if not been reversed, at least been somewhat equated. As in some other WW II movies, German top leadership is portrayed as consisting of buffoons. Tragically, WW II did not happen like this.

The movie was absorbing, dark, and wrenching but not especially probing. I did not find it nearly as effective or entertaining as Tarantino's more recent movie, "Django Unchained". Christoph Waltz is oustandining in both films.

Robin Friedman
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VINE VOICEon 12 December 2009
The Plot
Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his team of Basterds, a squadron of ruthless Jewish soldiers, are on the hunt for Nazi-scalps. Meanwhile, in a small Parisian cinema, a vengeful Jewish survivor uses a film premiere as the perfect opportunity to exact her own revenge on the German High Command.

The Review
More than ten years in the making, Quentin Tarantino returns to form with his long much anticipated World War Two based spaghetti western, Inglorious Basterds.

The ten years of work though has created a genuinely tense action thriller of epic proportions. There's less action than you'd expect from a Quentin Tarantino film, but the tension is positively simmering, built slowly and surely in key scenes through use of both superb dialogue and subtle direction. When the action arrives though, it does with a bang; quick and bloody is the order of the day. Despite containing numerous set-piece scenes though, the film's two and a half hour running time flies by.

The best roles have been saved for the non-English leads of Christoph Waltz and Melaine Lauranet. As The Jew Hunter, Waltz manages to be both creepy and likeable at the same time, whilst managing to keep the character utterly believable. As Jewish victim Shosanna Dreyfus, Melaine Laurent has the right mix of vulnerability and vengefulness. Laurent has been gifted a rare role in Hollywood these days, a strong, leading female character, and seizes the chance to make her mark.

The film isn't without its weak parts though. The Basterds of the title are essentially superfluous to the story, as they take up a small amount of the screen time. Also, characters such as Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine and Martin Wuttke's Hitler, are played too much for laughs, when more grounded characters could have given the film an even deeper sense of threat and foreboding.

The Verdict
Cinema's ultimate basterd returns to form with one of his best films yet.
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`Inglourious Basterds' is a typical Tarantino film and if you are a fan of his films then this will right up your street. This is set in WW2 and follows a group of American commandos who are behind enemy lines and who terrorize nazi soldiers to lower morale. It also features a Jewish cinema owner who plans to enact her own form of revenge; both stories weave their way separately through the film and join up at the end. This is shot in a series of vignettes (very much in the pulp fiction style) and each little episode provides an extra element to the overall story. Some of the dialogue and behaviour of the Basterds will make you laugh, that is until the retribution begins and then you get the usual Tarantino ultra violence that will make you wince as you watch. The Basterds behaviour is as deplorable as the nazis at times, but their delivery and flair raise a wry smile throughout. There is an excellent cast, with many decent actors playing small roles as well as main characters and whilst the direction is stylised it is easily as good as previous films by Tarantino. The ending is ludicrous but is shot with tongue firmly in cheek and although complete fantasy, it is the ending you would want to make this a satisfying film experience. It's not real, but it is good cinema. This was better than I expected and is worth a watch at some point, just note that it is an 18 certificate for a reason.

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on 26 November 2014
It's not usually a good thing for artists to peak early in their careers. Living up to the high standard achieved at this point is not easy. Quentin Tarantino set a high standard with Resevoir Dogs and nailed it with Pulp Fiction (certainly in my top ten of great films), but since then I believe that his work has steadily become self indulgent and uninteresting. Pulp Fiction was a fine film because it broke the rules regarding dialogue, making mundane conversation interesting. Its structure was taken out of chronological order, its characters were compelling and its nods to popular culture provided a solid framework. Most of all, it was fresh and unpretentious and above all, it worked.

Tarantino's left-field approach has been applied to all of his major films and Inglorious Bastards is the latest to suffer. And boy, does it suffer.. The dialogue is mundane and it remains largely mundane, the structure comprises a series of set pieces which are linked only by the fact that they are broken up into overlong `chapters', its characters are for the most part uninteresting and its frequent nods to other films turn it into a sort of `Spot the Reference'. He wallows in his knowledge of film and for me it's becoming unbelievably tiresome. Here, we are drenched in the context of cinema from all sides and I felt as though I needed to find an island to stop myself from drowning. Write a film quiz book Quent, you might get my attention.

While the opening sequence is compelling, not least because of the Christopher Waltz character, a frightening mix of charm and evil, the rest of the film fails to live up to this. It's not easy to fathom exactly what Tarantino is getting at beyond producing a pastiche, even a parody, of the American war film (the most obvious being The Dirty Dozen of course) and the Spaghetti Western. He's turned the notion of English speaking Germans, so annoying in those films, on its head by having the Germans actually speak German and incorporating sub-titles which, in many cases, are quite difficult to read. There is actually a line which references this. Now, as I understand it, Americans have a bit of a problem with subtitles, so is he having a laugh at the expense of his own countrymen? He leaves the word `merci' in many of these, rather than using the translation. He winks knowingly at stereotypes, Brits especially. Or is he taking the piss? Brad Pitt's (Aldo Raine. Aargh), Italian accent is far from convincing but I was unsure as to whether this was intentional or not. It becomes laughable for (possibly), the wrong reason. What's more Quent contemporises events by using modern music on the soundtrack.

We can look for deeper meanings as well, if we're inclined. The loss of humanity, revenge, guilt, power and so on, but we do have to be allowed access to these sub texts and the nature of this film is such that it is so swamped with Tarantino-esqueness that it kept me at arms length in that respect. Perhaps he simply throws in those subtexts to make us believe that he is some kind of intellectual. It doesn't wash. Now I'm not saying that his style should be toned down to the point of becoming conventional, but it appears that Tarantino can do no wrong (and his fans will no doubt disagree with me on the points which I've raised), but I feel that he really does need to keep himself under control. He's a bankable asset and he knows that and presumably feels that he can do anything he pleases. The set-pieces in Inglorious Bastards demonstrate this and the result is such that it is difficult to decide whether the whole is greater or less than the sum of its parts and the level of fantasy is for me, self defeating.

Tarantino likes to play games with his audience and there's nothing wrong with that at all. With Inglorious Bastards, Tarantino presents the audience with more than enough material for discussion rather than criticism but does it really amount to anything more than `let's get all the Nazis together and have the Jews wipe them out'? The historical lie (and pretty stupid idea, let's face it), depicted in this film is difficult to swallow because of the magnitude of its context but then, is it really any different than considering what would have happened if the Germans had won the war?

Tarantino strikes me as being self congratulatory to the point of unacceptability and the last line in the film indicates a degree of arrogance although it does echo an earlier line uttered in a different context. But the intent is fuzzy. There's more than an element of self-indulgence here and smugness seeps from every frame. No, I don't like the Great Man himself but I try not to let that cloud my judgement of his films - there's no reason why it should after all - but when I see him I do struggle to believe that this was the man responsible for Pulp Fiction.

Tarantino: Geek or Genius? Or both? Discuss.

PS There is an excellent article on the film by Ben Walters in Film Quarterly.
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VINE VOICEon 5 March 2012
THE STORY:
During WWII, the Basterds of the title are a commando group dedicated to bringing death and bloody ruin to the Nazis in Europe. Meanwhile, a Jewish girl who escaped the murder of her family plots her ultimate revenge. Hunting both the Basterds and the girl is Colonel Hans Landa, an SS officer with a keen intellect and a ruthless reputation.

WHAT'S GOOD:
Cristoph Waltz puts in an excellent performance as Landa; managing to pull off the feat of being simultaneously charismatic and chilling. Michael Fassbender's turn as a British special agent attached to the Basterds is also particularly noteworthy. Add to these Tarantino's unique talent for stylishly delivered action sequences and you've got this film's three redeeming features.

WHAT'S BAD:
Tarantino, a master of the witty underworld-based flick, badly overplays his hand by attempting a war film. He is clearly attempting to homage the likes of 'The Dirty Dozen' (even going so far as to include the music used in that film's final set-piece) but fails to capture the wry, downbeat tone of those sort of movies. Similarly this film doesn't work as any other subgenre of war film either. It's too gung-ho and historically ridiculous to work as a serious war film and if it's a morality tale-type war film, then the moral seems to be that everyone, regardless of what their background is or what side their on, is basically a sadistic thug. Throw into the mix an appalling performance by Brad Pitt and a truly bizarre cameo by Mike Myers and you've got a recipe for disaster. Where the likes of 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Reservoir Dogs' benefit greatly from their fractured storylines, here we're just presented with a mess more unpleasant than the head of the German who gets his brains bashed out with a baseball bat.

OVERALL:
Proof that some writer/directors should really just stick with what they already know.
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