Yes, I have seen it.
, 24 Jul 2009
(No spoilers - don't worry.)
By some fortunate twist of fate, I won two tickets to the London Premiere of Inglorious Basterds. Here's what it was like:
Sitting snugly in my seat in London's Leicester Square Odeon, a buzz fills the room as people are ushered into their seats and away from the Red Carpet and Paparazzi outside. Popcorn and Doritos are sold at nearly six dollars a bag but nobody is counting the pennies as they eagerly await Quentin Tarantino's new offering to the world of cinema. In stylishly late fashion he takes to the stage, confidently wielding the microphone like any good stand up comic.
'Are you ready to see some Basterds!' He yells. And in true panto tradition, the audience scream 'Yeah!'
'ARE YOU READY TO SEE SOME BASTERDS!' He yells again.
'Say what!?' Quentin calls out.
'YEAH!!!' We cheer.
'HELL YEAH!' He calls back.
'HELL YEAH!' We reply.
'THEN LET'S GET THIS MOTHER ****** STARTED!!' He screams. The audience erupt in cheers, and with everybody psyched up and ready, Quentin throws the mike to the floor with a bang, the lights go down and he exits stage as the curtains part and the movie begins.
So, my review:
Lawrence Bender (Tarantino's Producer since Reservoir Dogs) in an interview about Inglorious Basterds said that it had the layers of Pulp Fiction but with more maturity, because, in fairness, Quentin's had 15 years to grow, learn and develop, although his last two outings of Death Proof and Kill Bill showed little sign of the writer/Director maturing, merely stamping his mark on genres that weren't in the spotlight, and in some ways, recreating them.
So, did Inglorious Basterds live up to this claim of the new and matured Quentin Tarantino? Well, yes and no. Tarantino's staple dialogue, when not pushing a story, is often crude. That, for once, is not the case with Inglorious Basterds, so perhaps that can be taken as a sign of maturity. The dialogue is excellent, as expected, but at times without the poetic rhythm that his first three pictures had in abundance. The only drawback of this is that on rare occasions you'll find that you've zoned out for a moment, but, with a Tarantino film, you can be pretty damn sure that you'll be seeing it a few times anyway and you'll be able to catch up on missed dialogue. It is dialogue heavy, which today's audience seem to shy away from, but for me personally, I love to see a film driven by its script rather than its special effects.
The story is layered in true Tarantino fashion. I do feel that the Basterds themselves could have been developed more, since there are many and we get to know so few, however this isn't a small film like Reservoir Dogs, revolving around a group of Basterds as the trailer makes out, and there are plenty of wonderful characters to compensate for it.
Also, as we've come to expect, the film is violent, which I didn't think would bother me, but it's the only thing that left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. I'm pretty desensitized to violence on screen and have been for many years, but I expected the violence of Inglourious Basterds to be understandable under the topic of War. I also expected a few points to emphasize the cruelty and senseless of war, but I found that in many ways this was a glorification of war and Quentin has used it as a playing field for his imagination without considering the consequences. As Uncle Ben taught us in Spiderman, 'With great power comes great responsibility', and when I was going into Inglourious Basterds, I felt that the uneducated audience who love Tarantino might leave this film having learned a few things. Sadly, I don't feel that is the case, and for me that is its only downfall. It's becoming more and more obvious that Quentin Tarantino makes the films that Quentin Tarantino wants to see, and while that is precisely why they're so good, I do find that if he was a little less self indulgent he could make something just as hip, funky, violent and entertaining, but with more depth.
However, as a crafted piece of work, in script, style and care, it fires on all cylinders. I do not believe that a Tarantino film will ever not live up to the standards we've come to expect and I honestly feel that he is the most reliable director in the world today, but I can't help feeling that while people are calling this a more mature piece of work, the reality is that his first two ventures on the big screen were in fact more mature and with less glorified violence than what he is making now.
Be that as it may, he is one of the few Director's who I feel is really worthy of the title 'Artist', and if somebody is an Artist then they should be free to make what they want. Tarantino is fortunate enough to be able to make what he wants without being hampered by producers, and I suppose in the end, I wouldn't want it any other way.
So check it out when you can and see what you think.
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