film review: Inglourious Basterds (2009)


There’s only really two directors that I would say I’m a big fan of, Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson, in case you were wondering… but I do admire the films of Quentin Tarantino. They’re always so stylish, so cool. I met him briefly once at a signing in HMV Dublin and he was just as cool as I expected, security were keeping us all moving but I’m sure if he could he would have had a chat with all of us.

inglorious bastards posterBut like I said, I wouldn’t describe myself as a big fan. I haven’t exactly enjoyed all of this films. They’re all classy and they’re all… cool but I didn’t really like Reservoir Dogs or Kill Bill: Vol. 2 that much and to be honest… and I know this is some kind of blasphemy to some, but I wasn’t that pushed on Pulp Fiction either. Parts of it were good… I should point out that I only saw it a few years ago, so long after I’d heard a lot of hype about it, and I thought the same thing as I did after I saw Taxi Driver; is that what all the fuss was about?

Anyway, this isn’t a review of QT, it’s a review of Inglourious Basterds, so I should really get on with it.

I knew going into Inglourious Basterds that it’s a long enough film, this theatrical release is 153 minutes long. I know it’s a thing that might put people off and I think that’s important to know from the outset. Personally I don’t mind relatively long run times, as long as I know in advance. In fact I check how long all films are before I watch them. It saves me the annoyance of thinking a film is over when it isn’t; in the past this had spoiled my enjoyment of a film… not any more. I recommend this tactic. So now you know how long it is, don’t complain if your bum gets sore or you have to go to the toilet. Drink less and go to a comfortable cinema. Actually, these days 153 mins isn’t even that long… so perhaps I didn’t even need to mention. But now you know.

None of this tells you about the film though and to be honest I think you’re better off not know much about it. It’s a lot more interesting plotwise than I thought it would be. I guess I’d forgotten that behind all the talking and all the style, QT always holds his films up with a strong plot. (I haven’t seen Death Proof though, despite having a signed book of the script, so don’t go moaning at me if it doesn’t have a plot). QT keeps the action in bitesized chunks and it makes the length easier to… digest as it were.

So finally, what did I think of this one? I thought it was a good romp, great fun and it futher reinforced my belief that Brad Pitt absolutely deserves an Oscar. I’ve thought that since 1996 though… but he is just so funny in this, if I hadn’t seen 12 Monkeys or Fight Club I would have said he should just do comedies. Not that Inglourious Basterds is a comedy. Nor is it a war movie. It’s kind of a thriller, action, drama with some funny parts. QT has done a great job of melding together the different genres and balancing them so it holds your interest. It’s worth mentioning Christoph Waltz too, well cast.

It’s not really like any other movie I’ve seen recently so I don’t know how to recommend it really. Obviously if you’re a Tarantino fan you should see but if you’re not… then I guess it really depends on the kind of films you like. I wouldn’t say that it’s a big crowd pleaser. I thought it was brilliant but I just don’t know how other people will experience it. Course it could be one of those films that captures the imagination and everybody loves. Certainly I didn’t hear anyone complaining as I was leaving the cinema and I always listen around on the way out. On balance I think I should recommend it to everyone… but just don’t go in with any particular expectations.

The thing about QT is that I don’t really think his films have a definite signature. I mean ok, some people say his storytelling is his signature, or his reference to pop culture, or his use of music… but the fact is, you can’t have three signatures, certainly not if you don’t use all of them in all your films… He’s not like Wes Anderson or Michel Gondry, who both have a definite visual style. It’s not a bad thing that he doesn’t but it just makes it hard for me to be sure about him. That’s why, even though I really loved Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and a number of other films he was involved in – (though not Hostel, let me make that clear… not Hostel) – I’m just not sure if I love QT. This film’s taken him one step closer though. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a masterpiece but it’s definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year, it’s a film that I’d be happy to watch again.

Oh, also, it’s not particularly gruesome or violent but if you are squeamish you might need to look away once or twice. It really mainly plot and dialogue driven.


An afterthought: I had a look at a couple of negative reviews and I must say, I just don’t see why some people are criticising it because it doesn’t accurately portray WWII or the different sides of the war. I really don’t get it. It’s a film, a work of fiction. Ok, it takes one idea from reality, but that doesn’t mean it then has some obligation to be a documentary. It’s not even particularly about the war, it’s just set during the war. You could have made this films about an epic struggle between cats and dogs if you wanted to. Actually….


  1. comment-avatar
    JackAugust 19, 2009 - 11:16 pm

    Hostel was presented by QT – which means he just recommended it. And to be fair, alongside Saw, it did pretty much kick-start the next generation of horror movies with their super-graphic close-up body destroying action. Not that it was any good, mind you.

  2. comment-avatar
    nicola-tAugust 19, 2009 - 11:28 pm

    Ah yes, but he was still involved in it in that sense and I just wanted to be absolutely clear… not Hostel. I did not like Hostel.

    I really liked Saw and I was looking forward to Saw VI this October; until I heard they want to make a few more of them after it. I mean I'm still looking forward to it but I really think if they want to keep it up then after this they have to move away from Jigsaw entirely. Even if it's just a cheap, someone in another city who's inspired by him, thing. They really are dragging it out a bit now…

  3. comment-avatar
    JAMESAugust 19, 2009 - 11:34 pm

    Love QT, his love of film comes out in his filmss , which these days is a rare gift. With that some stinkers are to be expected but he has not had any real stinkers (although i was not a fan of the kill bill movies). Looking forward to this though, thanks for the review Nicola and i agree on Pitt, i like him despite his Hello style of life, great actor and even Snatch and the ocean films were good

  4. comment-avatar
    Cian ÓAugust 19, 2009 - 11:51 pm

    First QT film involved film I've been looking forward to for a good long time. Won't be a patch on Machete though, which he's a producer on. The casting is interesting so far on it too:

  5. comment-avatar
    HenryDecember 19, 2009 - 12:07 pm

    I realize I saw this film ("movie" as they would say in North America) too!

    My simple thoughts: too much extreme violence, odd (bad) acting by Brad Pitt.

    One interesting take away was the casting of Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus who in real life is Jewish.

  6. comment-avatar
    Paragraph FilmsJanuary 7, 2010 - 10:19 am

    Spot on review there!!! I watched it the other day and will chuck up my review once I’ve got through my backlog but figured out the exact same score!

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