As one would expect, I saw the hell out of Inglourious Basterds.
I have mixed feelings about the film. To be sure, it was entertaining and brutal and funny and it had sharp, sharp dialogue. Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt are flawless with the roles that they’re given, and the rest of the cast is…severely underused, especially when you consider that this is nearly a three hour movie.
As entertaining as Basterds is, it’s flawed. Deeply flawed. The movie isn’t sure what it wants to be – is it a subversive meditation on the nature of war, a movie about the virality of communication (so much of the dialogue is concerned wtih establishing what other characters have heard about certain other characters that there is a strong argument for this) or another Tarantino ode to how awesome cinema is. I suspect the truth is that it is all three, but as a result the movie never really establishes itself beyond Pitt’s Tennessee accent or Waltz’s delicious evil.
The other problem with the film is its structure. Not because it doesn’t work, but because it’s tired. It’s Tarantino splitting the movie into disconnected segments with pithy chapter titles like “The Revenge of the Giant Face.” QT is more thief than auteur (but an extremely talented thief), it’s true, but now he’s stealing from himself. His pastiche-happy, in-your-face style innovated back when Reservoir Dogs hit, but it’s been a long time (Jackie Brown) since he’s done anything really new in the formalist sense.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I disliked Basterds. What’s there is entertaining, but it could have been better if it weren’t such blatant masturbation.