September 10th, 2009


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Inglourious Basterds

Someone once said that war is long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror, and if so then Quentin Tarantino's new movie is the epitome of a war movie.

People's memories are strange.  They remember the moments of near-poetic violence in Tarantino's movies, but somehow forget the long stretches of dialogue that actually make up most of their running time.  I remember when Kill Bill came out, and people complained that there were all these scenes where people talked, distracting them from the scarlet bloodshed - and you had to wonder whether they had actually seen Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, or just watched the "highlights" on YouTube*.  These same people seem to be everywhere again now, complaining that QT has made a war movie and forgotten to put in any War.  They seemed to expect Saving Private Ryan, or something similarly epic, rather than something Tarantino-esque.  Like I said, strange.

What we do get is an ensemble piece; multiple interlinked stories, of characters under pressure, dealing with it as long (and as well) as they can, until either they are forced to action or action is forced upon them.  We get some fantastic acting - particularly Christoph Waltz as a Jew-hunting SS colonel, but there isn't a bad performance amongst them.  We get some great dialogue for them to chew on.  And we get Nazis.  Lots of Nazis.  Lots of brutal things happening to Nazis.  If you're the kind of person who finds gore difficult to deal with then you'll be spending half the movie with your hands over your eyes.

And if you're the kind of person who can see where a scene is going, then you're going to be spending a lot of time squeezing your girlfriend's hand very hard at the stress, waiting for the violent punctuation mark.  I may have had to apologise afterwards...

It's not a masterpiece - I doubt it will gather the cult viewing that some of his movies have.  But it is very, very good.

*Actually, Kill Bill came out in 2004 and YouTube appeared in 2005**.  Thank goodness for fact-checking! 

**Bloody Hell - YouTube has gone from nowhere to an integral part of the internet in four years!