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Inglourious Basterds

My expectations could not have been lower when I walked into this movie — the premise seemed ridiculous, and the preview is frankly terrible and obnoxious. Yet by the end, I was convinced that it was among Tarantino’s very best, perhaps even his best since Pulp Fiction. Certainly it’s one of his funniest, and it also didn’t fall prey to the pacing issues that made me keep checking how much time was left in Jackie Brown and Death Proof. It’s two and a half hours, but it didn’t feel unusually long at all. I recommend it highly.


August 22, 2009 - Posted by | film


  1. Thanks for this. I’ll actually go see this movie with a review like that. There are probably very few sources of review that could have convinced me.

    Comment by Hill | August 22, 2009

  2. I’m starting to suspect that your sense of aesthetics might be somehow composed of anti-matter.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  3. How did you feel about Eli Roth’s performance? He’s kinda terrible.

    Comment by thejamminjabber | August 22, 2009

  4. Stras, I’m starting to think that you’re boring and self-righteous.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2009

  5. Earlier in the week, Adam was accused of having been far too nice in recent online interactions. His reply was to the effect that he had a plan. We are now seeing his plan come into effect: namely, in his characterization of me as seeking out soul destroying television experiences and his characterization of Stras as boring and self-righteous! This was a silly plan. It has been my experience that you don’t need to be “nice” to some people to be “mean” to others. It isn’t a “zero sum” sort of situation.

    Comment by Craig | August 22, 2009

  6. You may need to get your mind-reading equipment retuned, Craig.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2009

  7. Here’s another one — Ben Wolfson is overly detail-oriented! BOOM SHAKALAKA!!!

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2009

  8. Quite possible.

    Comment by Craig | August 22, 2009

  9. LIES

    Comment by ben | August 22, 2009

  10. Stras, I’m starting to think that you’re boring and self-righteous.

    I’m starting to think that you’re touchy, and need a nap.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  11. I thought you were mistyping the title of this movie in your tweets from last night, but whaddya know, it is spelled “Basterds”.

    Anyway, I hate this movie on the grounds that the fuckers in charge of promoting it paid someone to go around my city spray painting that swastika-eagle logo on sidewalks. Fuck guerrilla marketing; I don’t want to be sold shit shit when I am running up MLK drive past the arboretum.

    Comment by transportinburma | August 22, 2009

  12. You sound boring and self-righteous, transportinburma.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  13. I am boring and self-righteous! Also, a spoilsport and a party pooper! Sometimes, I rain on parades!

    Comment by transportinburma | August 22, 2009

  14. Right, stras, it’s disliking this particular movie that led to me making that statement.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2009

  15. You sound boring and self-righteous, Adam.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  16. I would be interested in know why, in the one case, the movie has been praised, and, in the other, disparaged.

    Comment by ben | August 22, 2009

  17. my guess: stras hasn’t seen the movie & doesn’t plan to.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2009

  18. My first comment was inspired by my feeling that not only was this a bad movie, but it was bad in all the ways Adam’s post insisted it was good: clunkily paced with long stretches that are almost shockingly dull, jokes that either fall flat or are deflated by the script’s self-conscious attempts to draw attention to the fact that it’s telling a joke, and by the time it finished I felt like I’d spent half a day in there.

    I also found the acting to be mediocre to terrible, the plot threads oddly disjointed, and Brad Pitt’s accent to be first distracting, then grating, and finally depressing, filling the viewer with a feeling of despair for the millions of decisions made in his life which lead him up to this moment, sitting here, squirming in this darkened theater, listening to a grown man trying to mimic Yosemite Sam. Yes, the movie is dumb; I have no problem with the fact that it’s dumb. I knew it was dumb going in (for god’s sake, it’s a movie about Quentin Tarantino killing Hitler). My problem is that it’s not entertaining enough or well-made enough to justify all the dumb.

    To complete the bizarro-aesthetic/taste-inversion thing, I’ve thought for a while that Jackie Brown was the last decent movie Tarantino’s made, and that its more languid pacing in particular made for a nice change from a style that was already becoming problematic.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  19. But hey, that’s just me disagreeing with Adam being boring and self-righteous.

    Comment by stras | August 22, 2009

  20. Your reaction is really not changing my mind so far. Maybe if you repeat the phrase “boring and self-righteous” a couple more times it’ll work, though.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 23, 2009

  21. I just returned from seeing it, and thought it was, to return to my southern roots, which I always do when it is after midnight and I’m bordering on sleep, a hoot. Not only did it feel considerably shorter than 2.5 hours, it was beautifully shot and, in parts, exquisitely acted. In short, much like most Tarantino movies, in my judgment. But then again, I, against all that is good and holy according to most people, thought Death Proof was pretty good fun, too. To call it awful, at least in the hyperbolic vein that stras does, betrays the fact that one has seen far too few truly awful films, and that you should probably get out more often and do so. G.I. Joe, for example, is, in all likelihood, still playing at your local cinema.

    While we’re on the subject of good movies, I watched Henri-Clouzot’s Wages of Fear this morning. As long as you’re okay with moments of stock existentialism and misogyny, but are a sucker for action sections that, against your better judgment, moves you ever so close to an embarrassing encounter with the floor, rather than comfortably stationed on the coach, firmly against the seat-back, I can highly recommend.

    Comment by Brad | August 23, 2009

  22. Adam, if I’ve done something to offend you personally somehow, you can let me know. Through email, if you’d prefer.

    Comment by stras | August 23, 2009

  23. You didn’t offend me personally at all. It was just astoundingly predictable that you would feel superior to this movie. I’ll admit that I was surprised you had actually seen it, so I guess that makes you less than 100% boring. I’m not upset that you “disagree with me,” because you mostly don’t — over 97% of the time, I agree with your political opinions. Yet you do lard up every comment you make about politics and about most other things with a strident, righteous tone that is completely out of place given that you are preaching to the choir here.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 23, 2009

  24. I thought the juxtaposition of the Nazis’ excitement at a screening of an absurdly violent propaganda film with the subsequent excitement of the actual film audience at the absurdly violent massacre of those Nazis was alone enough to justify seeing ‘Inglorious Basterds’.

    Also, Melanie Laurent was just excellent.

    Comment by Will | August 23, 2009

  25. I wanted to like it but I didn’t.

    Comment by Ray Davis | August 23, 2009

  26. Adam, how often do I actually talk about politics here? Most of my comments have been about movies and television, about random cultural flotsam, about my various nervous tics and insecurities – in other words, about the same random crap everyone else here writes about.

    I’ll confess that, like every single other human being in the history of writing things on the internet, I’ve sounded self-righteous at times. I really don’t think, though, that I’m that much more strident-and-righteous-sounding than the average Weblog commenter. Or that much more strident-and-righteous-sounding than you, on a day when you’re talking about a subject you care about, for that matter.

    The label irritates me because it’s an all-too-quick way of shutting down a conversation: if the person you use it on backs down, well, then clearly it was well-applied, since they didn’t bother to contest it; if they contest it, it merely demonstrates how terribly self-righteous they are. It’s all very tiresome.

    Incidentally, as far as I can tell, there’s plenty we disagree on, politically speaking – not that’s it’s come up much, since I’ve consciously avoided long political arguments here.

    Comment by stras | August 23, 2009

  27. I saw it earlier this afternoon, and went into the theatre somewhat tentative with low expectations for the same reasons. They overplayed the hell out of the horrible trailer.

    Brad Pitt was actually better than I expected him to be. I generally like his characters, but I had read some reviews that said that the Austrian actor who played the Jewhunter stole the show. While I thought he was good, Pitt also did an admirable job, and I don’t think the movie really lends itself to comparing a good guy and a bad guy, anyways.

    I think the plot was a little thin towards the end, but it’s understandable that a QT movie requires a little suspending of reality (I mean, really, the plot was about QT killing Hitler).

    I thought the jokes were mostly hits, and it had that whole Tarentino feel to it. I wonder if this is starting or going to work against him, though. For example, the use of violence in his films almost feels predictable. I get that that’s part of the point, but even with this movie, my response was just that that’s what I expected,

    The cinematography was the best part for sure. I haven’t seen anything post Pulp Fiction, but it was pretty decent in comparison to that. Not quite the same level, but still good and worth a trip to the theatre. I’m not really a big Tarentino fan but now I’m somewhat interested in seeing what I was missing with Kill Bill.

    Comment by dave | August 23, 2009

  28. I wanted to say something but I had to give up reading the comments by comment #24, so I apologize if I’m repeating something. But I thought Tarantino handled the — oh crap, I gotta go back to work.

    Comment by Adam R | August 24, 2009

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