Let me just say, first and foremost, that I was wrong. I often am! I did not love Inglourious Basterds. I didn’t even really like it very much. But it was not the disastrous, self-indulgent, World War Grindhouse shitshow that I had anticipated. It was decent, actually! There were parts of it that were very good! Personally I found it way too long, and kind of boring, and I have other problems that I will get to in a second, but being too long and boring are not the kind of problems I thought I would have going into it. And I’m sure many people didn’t even think those were problems. I’m sure many people didn’t find it long and boring, but captivating and fun, and to those people I say: that’s a very respectable and understandable opinion! I don’t share it, but sure! I stand by my contention that based on the marketing, Inglourious Basterds looked like one of the worst movies of all time. I still think that’s true. But as it turns out, the movie they marketed was not the movie that Quentin Tarantino made.

Let’s talk about that movie.

If you never watch Inglourious Basterds all the way through, you should at least watch the opening scene. It really is fantastically done. It’s incredibly tense, visually beautiful (although the Searchers reference was a bit much, but whatever), and very well acted. Christoph Waltz as S.S. Colonel Hans Landa is really great in this scene and then throughout the whole movie. I will not be surprised if he is nominated for some acting awards, and I will not be surprised if he goes on to win them. The depiction of Nazis as gloating and smarmy is unsettling, and the film definitely gives you the sense of life at the hands of occupying, capricious, murderous creeps (creeps to say the least).

After the great opening scene, of course, the movie goes on for another two hours and 15 minutes.

Brad Pitt was about as ridiculous and hammy as it seemed like he was going to be in the trailers, but somehow he gets away with it? His accent is stupid, his character is a clown, and he’s basically just recapturing his role from Ocean’s 11. But what else can he even do at this point? Brad Pitt has been too famous for too long to be anything other than Brad Pitt: a self-satisfied, casually aloof dude who makes it all look so easy. He spends the last third of a movie about a renegade group of homicidal American soldiers during World War II dressed in a white tuxedo for heaven’s sake! He’s basically a WASPy Larry David: you either like Larry David or you don’t like Larry David, and your opinion of his latest project will inevitably depend on that first, more fundamental opinion. I liked him. Even though he was so dumb.

In fact, most of the acting was very good (Eli Roth excepted, of course). Brava, Melanie Laurent.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Inglourious Basterds was how un-Quentin Tarantino-y it was. There were no 15-minute-long self-congratulatory monologues about the semiotics of Prince’s oeuvre, or whatever the fuck. And it wasn’t nearly as gory as it had been made out to be. There was very little blood not only for a Quentin Tarantino movie, not only for the exploitation-cinema that Tarantino so often likes to cite and pay tribute to, but there was very little blood even just for a World War II movie. And you have to give Tarantino credit for getting so many Americans to see a movie that is mostly in French and German.

He did jump around stylistically in a way that I always find distracting and overly-flashy. Like, it’s interesting to blend genres and abandon expectations, but at least be consistent. If you’re going to throw in ’70s graphics for the first half of the movie, throw them in for the second half*. If you’re going to bring in a narrator (Samuel L. Jackson), bring him in more than once. Eventually it stops being an interesting pastiche of styles and influences and starts being a sloppy jumble of masturbatory high-fives Quentin Tarantino is giving himself. More than with any other filmmaker, Tarantino’s work drips with his self-satisfaction in a way that I find really unbearable (this one ends with the word “masterpiece” for heaven’s sake). He can’t let something be good (when it is good, let us Never Forget Death Proof), he has to let us know how good he thinks it is.

But my biggest issue with the movie was the fact that, in the end, killing people is terrible, mutilating people is horrifying, and raining bullets down on a crowd of people in a burning movie theater is monstrous. I love action movies. I am completely content to watch violence (sometimes). But by locking your movie into a historical framework, even if it is revisionist history (SPOILER ALERT) and even if you put in a title card at the beginning that says “Once upon a time” so that you buy your way out of any morality with the Fairy Tale defense, you’re still calling upon the emotional weight of what actually happened. And while the Nazis were monsters, they were human monsters. And the breadth and darkness of the nightmare of the Holocaust is something not easily digested. The idea that this movie finally gives us all the catharsis of watching Nazis get their ass kicked is stupid, it is inaccurate, and it is weird. Because we don’t. Because it’s not possible.

Also, film is not a weapon.

At the screening I went to, in the final scene, as Brad Pitt is using his comical hunting knife to carve a swastika into Christoph Waltz’s forehead, a dude near the front yelled out “Haha, YEAH!” and as the credits began to roll he said “THAT WAS AWESOME!” Was it awesome? I thought it was kind of gross. I think it should seem kind of gross. I wasn’t sad for him. He got what he deserved, I suppose. But there are no high fives at the end of World War II. And there shouldn’t be.

*Like in Death Proof when the first half of the film was scratched up and looked like old film, and then all of a sudden he just abandoned that aesthetic entirely and the rest of the movie was pristine and new? What was THAT all about? Wrong again! I still think that Quentin Tarantino’s aesthetic flourishes and cineaste references are needlessly distracting, self-satisfied/congratulatory, and counter-productive to a cohesive and meaningful artistic vision, but perhaps not in this case, as Bhay wisely points out (see below).

Comments (117)
  1. Did anyone else have a SUPER annoying audience that clapped after every preview and cheered every time there was any violence? I’m not talking about just one person here, I’m talking about the whole theater. One guy even pumped his fists up in the air when Brad Pitt first used the snuff tobacco (I think he thought it was coke or something).

    • I am all for segregation between clappers and the rest of us. Let them hold private screenings in community centers and church basements.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Oh okay. As you can see, I’m kind of ignorant when it comes to drugs so thanks for the info. I guess when I think of cocaine I think of pimps with a long coke nail or mafia gangstas, but I may even be wrong there, too.

      • I think it was actually snuff, finely ground tobacco that’s snorted like cocaine. Used to be insanely popular, now not so much.

        Like Beanie Babies.

      • I’m not certain of this, because how can I remember, but I don’t remember it being a white powder. I remember it looking like snuff. Not to mention it would make no sense if Brad Pitt’s character was snorting cocaine. Also, why would you cheer even if it was coke. That makes no sense either.

    • buenosueno  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 0

      ugh. fucking tell me about it man. i wanted to stand up turn around and scream “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?”

      they laughed super extra hard when they switched to english in the first scene and i was thinking i must be more of a moron than i thought because whats so funny. then when landa switched back to french and speaking english was made very unfunny i knew i was in for a long ride with this audience.

    • Cortni.M.A  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 0

      why yes, Yes I did. As am matter of fact the group of morons were sitting right next to me predicting scenes that never happened.

  2. woozefa  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 -6

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  3. All of what you said may be true but, and maybe it is because I am a Jew, this movie showed me just how long I am willing to watch Nazis, simulated and inaccurate or no, mercilessly slaughtered. How long? Eternity.

    • ElJefe  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +6

      Amen Sarah. Personally I kinda adored this movie, I laughed my ass off (esp. in the ambush scene, as well as the end of the tavern scene) and I thought Pitt’s overacting was perfect for that role. I even kinda liked Mike Myers in his weird cameo. The revisionist history employed by Tarantino was great, especially for Jews who since the last shot was fired have longed for a time machine to go back and personally kick some Nazi ass.

      This next statement might seem like hyperbole but as someone who thought this movie looked like it would be retarded as they rolled out the marketing, I think its been the best movie of the year

  4. I thought it was awesome to see Hitler get shot up. I mean, yeah, he’s human, but also? HE’S NOT. So yeah, I’ll high five to a dead hitler, or a disfigured Waltz.
    Also, how could you not mention Shoshanna? She was wonderful!

  5. I enjoyed the movie way more than I expected to, Christoph Waltz was indeed fantastic, and I didn’t even mind Brad Pitt’s stooooopid accent (it’s worth it just for the scene where he tries to speak “Eyetalian”). But I agree that the climactic scene with all the Nazis being burned alive in the theater and plowed down by Eli Roth’s machine gun just made me really uncomfortable. And I think that it had something to do with the fact that Nazis often locked Jews in buildings and set them on fire, especially during the final days of the war. So, even though I’m sure he didn’t intend for it to be any more than a kickass revenge piece, Tarantino essentially turned the Jews into Nazis, and vice-versa. That’s pretty inconsiderate on a huge number of levels.

    • Wow, what a good point you made at the end about the Jew/Nazi swap. I’d never thought of it like that. I mean essentially it is the case that they are brutally torturing German soldiers but the point is they are doing it due to the fact that the Nazis are torturing their race, so perhaps it still is just a revenge movie by route of brutality? I now wish I hadn’t put only a forward dash between Jews and Nazis. . . .

    • Leaving the theater, I told my friend that while the simile between jews locked in ovens by nazis and the converse of jews locking nazis in a theater to burn them is pretty cool, it’s still fucking disturbing to watch a locked crowded theater burn… when you’re sitting in a crowded theater.

      • You know the part when they all sit down in the theatre and all of those swastika banners come down the sides?
        Well, at the drafthouse, they coordinated it so that identical swastika banners came shooting down our theatre at the exact same time.
        It was cool for approximately one second, and then it was really uncomfortable for the next 40 minutes.

      • Should you yell “MOVIE!” in a crowded firehouse?

    • jobey  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +5

      But I think QT was trying to make more than just a revenge piece…I saw it as him essentially giving us the experience of going medieval on the Nazis, as I’m sure many of us have fantasized about at one time or another, and showing us just how icky it feels to brutalize humans, even if they’re evil Nazis. it’s more complicated than simply “turning Jews into Nazis.”

    • I think QT totally made more than a mindless revenge story! I mean, if we’re sitting there laughing at a movie that shows hundreds of people being slaughtered… maybe we’re sort of akin to Hitler, who QT shows sitting in a theater laughing at hundreds of people being slaughtered. Of course, there are some key differences between me and you (benefit of the doubt) and Hitler, but you can’t say QT isn’t aware that he’s put some complicated, uncomfortable stuff up there! We’d all go back and kill Baby Hitler! And maybe that makes us all aspiring baby-killers? But then: Movie! So, go ahead and laugh. Right?

  6. dude  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 0

    He did. Melanie Laurent.

  7. I live IN Tennessee, and while Brad Pitt’s accent is in no more Tennessean than I am (I am 0% Tennessean), every word out of his mouth made the guy behind me (who, coincidentally, looked kind of like Larry David with David Crosby’s hair) say ha HAAAA HA HEH HEH HEH. He swept the voting for “Loudest Audience Member” but I did not stay for his acceptance speech.

  8. Tom  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +11

    I thought the film was excellent, and I agree that the Weinstein’s marketed a different film than the one I saw. What they marketed was a pretty dumb loud action movie, where people come to cheer for the deaths of Nazis. And yes, I believe the audience that would enjoy that type of film likely went this weekend and likely found exactly what they were looking for.

    That said, I think the actual film had much more depth of writing and characters (especially Landa) than I expected, and it was surprising to remember how good of a writer Tarantino is, especially when it comes to dialing up suspense throughout a scene until the last possible second.

  9. buenosueno  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +3

    gabe, i found your criticism thoughtful and well-articulated. your take on the movie may be the closest to my own thoughts and feelings as i’ve come across in a review so far and buenosueno not so good with the words. so for that i thank you, sir.

    • whoa.

    • buenosueno  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 +1

      the next closest review was Cosmo Landesman’s in the sundaytimes.

      “Today, pop culture has been replaced by celebrity culture. The young no longer want to be cool; they want to be famous. For them, knowing what’s cool in popular culture’s past – its pulp fiction and trashy films – is less important than knowing what’s popular.”

      that part is about how Tarantino and his films belong to days gone by.

  10. as my good friend put it, hitler did not deserve to kill himself. and mike myers was perfect kitsch in my opinion.

  11. 1. everything about the the opening scene was incredible, the acting was excellent (though I did not enjoy brad pitt— but then, I just hate him), and I almost didn’t get bored.
    2. the random narration made me laugh uncontrollably because it was the stupidest idea ever, mike myers as churchill’s right hand man?, and I think that tarantino’s thought process for a great deal of the writing was probably lazy and ridiculous. “what enemy can I kill mercilessly and excessively while showing that the killers thoroughly relish the act and making audiences feel great about? nazis! pat on the back! five dollar milkshake!”
    I thought it might work for nazis, but I don’t think that would work for anyone.

  12. Tycho  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 -2

    yeah the marketing was wrong; instead of it ALL being just dumb and offensive it also had incredibly boring parts.

  13. There were far too many “HOO RAH!”s from a few gentlemen in my theater.

  14. Am I the only one who really enjoys the way he films food scenes? I really want a fancy French bear claw with cream now.

  15. Alright, I thought this movie was pretty brilliant (and also super academic) and I want to see if anyone buys my interpretation:

    Basically, it’s not a movie about World War II. It’s entirely about movies and how film affects and distorts the way we look pretty much everything (but violence and justice especially). So the intended effect of the movie is go get the viewer cheering the heroes torture and slaughter Nazis, and then on the way home question whether we should be cheering at really over the top violence. It’s like Funny Games, but less judgmental. And there are all these other situations that explore how characters can’t really distinguish between life and the movies: how the British send a film expert to France as a spy, or how Zoller assumes he can win over Shoshanna by acting like a romantic comedy hero, or how Hitler sees a film premier as this really pivotal moment. So the ultimate effect of the movie is to set up all these fantasies and subvert the shit out of them. And then the movie explores how film acts as social glue (in the bar scene where the spy’s cover is basically his knowledge of film) or as a weapon (really obvious) or a deadening influence (the Nazis don’t hear all the gunshots because the movie they’re watching has a bunch of gunshots). So the message of the movie is “here are your fantasies. how do you feel about them?”

    Now I was talking this over with a friend and he sez based on interviews he’s read that Tarantino seems to believe that extreme retributive violence is morally fine, and so the message I’m seeing isn’t intentional. But even then the movie’s still an interesting study of power fantasies, just an unintentional one.

    Does anyone buy my theory?

    • Absolutely — couldn’t agree more, even if Tarantino created this fascinating commentary somehow by accident.

      • In interviews Tarantino has commented exactly on this. I’m not his biggest fan, but even his detractors would have to admit that it would be hard to accidentally insert such strong statements into a film. We know the man’s completely obsessive, so if his movie comments on the nature of film as a weapon, of course he put it in there on purpose.

        Also, did anyone else notice that QT’s foot fetish once again showed up here? That was my main problem with the film. Enough with the feet. We get it.

    • Very, very, very intriguing. I see all of the parallels. Good job.

    • Spot on, smarty. David “Do I look tasteful in this?” Denby should retire and you should get his job. Then, let’s make a movie about David Denby, where he doesn’t retire — he gets FIRED!

      Also, if QT doesn’t discuss this stuff too much in interviews, I’ll guess it’s because he doesn’t want to sound like a pompous pointy-head who deserves to have a movie made about him where people throw eggs.

  16. Lo Pudd, esq.  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +4

    The parts with Shoshanna were so fantastic, well acted and moving that it made the rest, which was okay and pretty much what I expected, pale. The Shoshanna sections made me wish that that had been the whole movie. No Basterds, just Landa and Shoshanna–great film. Basterds–ehhh.

  17. Lo Pudd, esq.  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 -1

    The parts with Shoshanna were so fantastic, well acted and moving that it made the rest, which was okay and pretty much what I expected, pale. The Shoshanna sections made me wish that that had been the whole movie. No Basterds, just Landa and Shoshanna–great film. Basterds–ehhh.

  18. Lo Pudd, esq.  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 -6

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Landa and Shoshanna made the movie. It was less “Inglorious Basterds” and more “Look at what those Nazi bastards made this nice young girl do.”

  19. Tarantino’s love of feet continues.

    I think this is his best movie since Jackie Brown. It’s not really fair to judge it by the reactions–however awful–of its fans.

  20. A fight broke out in my theater which added to the experience. The audience clapped when the individual that started the fight got escorted out. He flicked us off as he was leaving and said “f**k y’all.” You can’t make that stuff up.

  21. Well Gabe, I was really looking forward to your opinion of this movie, and though I enjoyed it a whole lot more than you apparently did, I’m glad to say we agree on most points. I also had a bad feeling about this flick, mostly caused by the seemingly ridiculous storyline and the stupid one-liners and ugly imagery provided by the preceding marketing campaign – not to mention Tarantino’s two (or three) recent letdowns. Still, I think it turned out to be a great film, and indeed QT’s best since Jackie Brown.

    Anyways, I won’t be a comment hog – you can read my review here, and since I value your opinion – you’ve especially saved me from some horrible experiences via the WMOAT series – I’m glad you kept a clear, unprejudiced head over this one!

  22. Are we not going to discuss B.J. Novak’s non-relevance too 99% of the film till the very end, when it becomes “Ryan the temp versus the Nazi?”

    “They call me Lil Man?” I fully expected him to look in the camera and give a deadpan Ryan-stare.

  23. I think Tarantino made an interesting point with the whole film scene at the end. We see all the Germans laughing and cheering as the Americans are being shot up over and over on screen, and we’re meant to feel disgusted that people would react to on-screen murder (of Americans) in such a way. And then all of these Germans get either shot to death, or burned to death shortly after, and we all enjoy it because they’re Nazis. I felt very disturbed that I enjoyed their on-screen murders, and I loved that a movie was able to make me think deeply about that.

  24. I am not at all a fan of Quentin Tarantino, and I didn’t expect to find much of anything redeeming in this movie. I haven’t been that pleasantly surprised by a film in a long time. Before I say anything, though, I should get it out of the way that I was *not* one of the insane people who have proliferated and ruined not only this but just about every movie-going experience I’ve had in the past 10 years or so who laugh nervously and/or inappropriately throughout an entire film.

    With that said, I thought that Inglourious Basterds was fucking phenomenal, and deserving of the admittedly garish final line. I don’t even know how to really begin covering everything I loved about it — the bizarre but exhilarating juxtaposition of tension-inducing, highly controlled scenes with blasts of horrific violence; the motif of private versus public versus professional identities and where you fall on this spectrum when it comes to making choices to save yourself and your family or to honor your/your group’s morals/duty (not to mention language as a barrier and betrayer); the desire for celebrity and individual recognition versus the desire to obliterate identity to hide (and, relatedly, the fascinating theme of nicknames, their origins, and their applicability); the rich, meta-filmic layering of actors playing characters playing actors (hence, I think, the intentionally distracting use of super-well-knowns such as Pitt and Myers, along the lines of Cruise and Kidman appearing in Eyes Wide Shut); the idea of fate versus chance versus planning; the sheer love of cinema its just so steeped in; the breathtaking Cat People scene; the lush reds of Nazi flags, British drapery, and freshly carved scalps … I could go on and on.

    Since I’m not Jewish, I don’t feel terribly comfortable commenting on the overall morality of turning the tables and taking brutal revenge on the Nazis; however, I personally found that — in spite of the sociopaths laughing and cheering at every opportunity, however frighteningly wrong-headed — the violence and vengeance was not meant to be “fun,” or even if it was, it miraculously didn’t turn out that way. I think that too much time and care was taken to give most of the Nazi characters personality and even charisma for us to simply cheer the gory attacks unleashed upon them. It seems to me that this alternate history is meant to be deplorable, if of course not equally deplorable to what actually occurred. If you’re cheering for violence *that* brutal, then I think the problem’s with you, not Tarantino. Any victories in this movie are Pyrrhic.

    It is by no means the best movie ever. It is, however, one of the most thematically layered and interesting big-budget Hollywood spectacles in probably decades, far exceeding most films in terms of ambition, and I’d also say execution. I can’t wait to see it again.

  25. I saw this movie in Boston, which means the entire audience absolutely adored it (especially Eli Roth’s character). We are pretty easy to please here. Just talk about the Sox a little and we’ll love you forever. Teddy Ballgame! Lansdowne Street! Fenway Park! Fake accent by a kid from the western suburbs! Bonus points for throwing in a mention of Nantucket.

    • I’m not going to lie, I thought Eli Roth’s character was strangely sexy (your downvotes couldn’t shame me any more than I shame MYSELF)
      until he opened his mouth. And then I was like, oh god no

  26. Also a lot of reviewers are trying to make the point that the shaudenfreude joy we’re supposed to take in watching nazis die is morally reprehensible, since most of these people had families, were drafted, blah blah blah.

    And it’s true: But there are several scenes showing German soldiers’ wavering…the woods scene with Eli “Jew Bear” Roth and the soldier that relents, the shootout in the bar with the Mexican stand-off and the “new father,” hell even Zoller came off as sympathetic in a sort of Pete Campbell, teenager-over-his-head sort of way.

    If anything, the Basterds were shown to be brutal, uneducated (everyone else can slip in and out of at least three different languages, and we’re left with the doofy Americans trying to pass as Italian?)

    And by the way, Fassbender was great as the British film critic.

  27. (Please pardon the typos — I blasted this comment out and probably should’ve given it the ol’ once-over before posting.)

  28. I was so disappointed when Wilhelm didn’t Wilhelm Scream, and some random American in the movie did…

  29. The thing about the alternate history and I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck attitude of the movie is that it becomes a blank slate for your own morals.

    If you think “Nazis were monsters, but they were human monsters,” you’re disgusted, and you’re supposed to be. If you think “Nazis were monsters, and I want to see them get fucked up,” you soak it in and love it, and you’re supposed to. If you think “none of this is remotely real, so I can enjoy it on a sick good vs. evil leve” and enjoy it, that’s probably what Tarantino wants. One of the latter, anyway. But I think it’s a brilliant blank slate of morality on which to project your own morals.

  30. Is this MOVIE REALLY that fuckin good? I NEED to know BEFORE I SEE this shit. ALSO District 9 was THE FUCKIN shit. So I DUNNO IF THIS could overtake that TOWERING INFERNO of badassness for BEST ASSKICKER of the SUMMER.

  31. I thought the movie was very OK, like you. And the third to last paragraph, is definitly the main problem i have with Tarantino / his films.
    One thing i would like to add, is that some of the casting was ridiculous. Cristoph Waltz was awesome. But BJ Novak? MIKE MEYERS? They’re just caricatures. They’re so ingrained into their niche that they don’t work in anything outside of it. I was willing to accept Meyer’s role as a british officer, but the majority of the audience wasn’t given how many unearned laughs he recieved.
    Also, i know we all love Tarantino dialogue and what not. But i did not need to see an hour long game of “Who Am I?” in a tavern.

    • I thought BJ Novak was alright actually. Plus he only really had one line. I do think the Mike Myers thing is weird though. Its like Tarantino was like “You know what a WWII movie needs? Austin Powers.”

  32. Also DEATH PROOF fucking BLEW TURD chunks. Yeah I SAID it. What A HORRIBLE FOLLOW UP to Planet Terror’s CRAZY AWESOME.

  33. I equate the swastika carving scene to Boogie Nights. During the entirety of Boogie Nights you keep hearing about Dirk’s giant dick. The whole time you just want to see it, even though its kind of gross. Then at the end, PTA gives it to you and its awesome. Everybody was asking for it. Now my question to you is, who was really asking to see that fucking swastika carving scene. That’s kind of how I feel about the whole movie. Yeah, the Nazi regime was evil, and Hitler definitely deserved to get machine gunned in the face, but who the fuck really wants to watch that.

    • 13 year OLD KIDS who ARE FUCKIN pluggin Nazi’s away WITH BULLETS on their XBOX’s. I mean, SHIT. I have played THIS MOVIE before. It was called GODDAMNED WOLFENSTEIN. Or Bionic COMMANDO. Or every OTHER FUCKIN game ever BECAUSE THEY ALL have Nazis.

  34. I agree with Gabe’s review completely. I wonder if in 50 years we will be watching someone machine gunning Osama’s face off, with a hysterically cheering audience? However beautiful certain parts of this movie were, it still left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Also, pick a font. AMIRITE?

  35. Well Gabe, I’m glad you see that you were mostly wrong about the movie but you sound like you still hate it. I mean I get it. War is bad, killing is awful, and violence is gross. But this is a movie.

  36. Marshall  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +5

    Just some of my random thoughts about the move: Despite the title and Brad Pitt being the “leading man” in the film, the Basterds were only in about 35% of the movie. Even now, I’m not quite sure what their relevancy in the movie was supposed to be… beating the shit out of nazis seems like a pretty cheap way to get a reaction from people.

    The portions of this movie that really stand out are the slower, more dialog-heavy parts of the movie that are ripe with tension. The brilliant opening scene, the undercover operation in the tavern, and even the scenes with the German war hero (can’t remember a name) and Shoshanna were all fantastic scenes. I loved the fact that the characters all spoke in their “native” language when it was called for. Christoph Waltz was the standout performer in this movie and I will be 100% shocked if he doesn’t get nominated. He managed to rise above the stupid stereotypes of the other nazis (hitler and goebbels especially) and craft a character that was both revolting, charming, menacing, and even funny all at once.

  37. BHay  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +14

    Alright, I’ll be that film geek…

    So Gabe, Tarantino didn’t just change the film stocks in Death Proof without any reason. He changes the film stocks at the same time the leading ladies change because we’re switching from the female characters of the 70′s (who were victims) to the modern female characters (who are not). Stuntman Mike is driving into the present day when those film stocks change and, well, modern movie ladies are not gonna be kind to him.

    As for the ending of Basterds, the movie theater massacre is supposed to horrifying. Yeah, I know, loads of audience members cheer at it in the theater. Just like how the Nazi audience in the movie cheered at the film they were watching, where their enemies – the American soldiers – were being brutally massacred. That’s what Tarantino is going for: he’s trying to make the audience realize that if they’re cheering his violence, they’re the same as the Nazi characters cheering the movie-within-a-movie’s violence. And thus, he’s again humanizing the Nazis as he does throughout the movie. On level he’s giving us a revenge flick, but at the same time he’s asking us “Why do you really want a revenge flick? These people are still human.”

    Granted, it might be easy to miss this message under all the “Ha ha, that Nazi burned up good!” hollering from the audience, but I think it’s there.

    • nooneknows  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 -1

      i don’t want to put words in your mouth, but i’m not sure if you are implying that the beginning of death proof took place in the 70′s because those chicks had cell phones.

      • I would assume he means heroines of the 70s (and many heroines in general) who, no matter how bad ass, get it from a dude – so you go from traditional to non-traditional. Plus QT is always mixing eras like a stew – a delicious unnecessary stew.

  38. This movie is near perfect. Probably the best release of the year so far.

  39. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  40. Its about the fact that the nazis are watching their war hero kill people and they’re cheering him on and crying in adoration. And then its about the fact that WE’RE watching a theater full of nazis burn to the ground. We got what we wanted but we probably shouldn’t want that. That’s the kind of thing a nazi would like to see.

  41. BHay  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +2

    I absolutely agree. Well written review, SmartyPants.

  42. if world war two ended this way it would have been AWSOME!!!

  43. I didn’t see this movie – but I imagine I would just be thinking the whole time, “All this shit that’s happening to the Nazis in this movie, really happened to the jews in real life” and then be kind of sad. I guess you just really have to trust in Tarantino’s and the actors’ ability to make you suspend disbelief.

  44. Cherry_Ghost  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +3

    My favorite and least favorite part of the film was the structure. While it was neat to have it essentially be four short films featuring their own set of themes and so on with a concluding section at the end to tie it all together, I still found it a bit jarring. One of my friends complained that we didn’t see enough of the Basterds “in action” so to speak, which lead us to the realization that the title doesn’t just refer to Pitt & Co. I didn’t mind that Tarantino randomly threw in 70s lettering (the part when he does that for the Hulk-ish guy was hilarious) and Samuel L. Jackson. Sure, there wasn’t really a point, but I think it was meant to add to the feeling that as the movie went on, despite being broken into neat little sections with a fairly linear plot, everything began to get more and more unrealistic and fantastic to the point where the entire history of the war is thrown out the window. Compare the opening to the final scenes and you’ll appreciate how far Tarantino takes us throughout the film.

    I agree that the Nazi propaganda film is obviously supposed to provide a contrast to the reaction most viewers will have to seeing a Nazi get his head bashed in with a baseball bat. However, when it comes to the Nazis, you really can’t humanize them to the extent that you think, “Wow, I’m no better than they are!” I mean Tarantino tries to make us feel for that young Nazi war “hero” and he almost succeeds…until he tries to force himself upon Shoshanna. In the end it’s interesting to think about, but I if anyone deserves to have revenge unleashed upon them, it’s the Nazis.

  45. In response to your “it’s not possible” remark, in third grade at hebrew school, they showed us the most powerful footage i’ve ever seen. it was right after the americans liberated a concentration camp, and two blond good-ol’-boy american soldiers are holding up a nazi and letting this emaciated jew beat the fuck out of him. i got the feeling that tarantino might’ve been trying to evoke. now that i’m older though, i realize how sick it makes me feel to not remember whether the american soldiers were laughing at the prisoner or the nazi.

    inb4WAY AFTER seriousgum.com because this is serious.

  46. thirteengrand  |   Posted on Aug 24th, 2009 +4

    What interested me was the excrcuiatingly long scene where Eli Roth takes forfuckingever to come out of the tunnel (c’mon dude seriously) to wail on the nazi with his bat. The music was all swelling up and everyone in my theater was getting pumped to see the nazi get his comeuppance, and the second the bat connects with his head the music stops and it goes to that really grim wide shot of Roth destroying him. The cheering and such ceased almost immediately after the music did.

  47. Before I even saw the film (just got back) I had heard and/or read that WWII history becomes fantasy in the film and I immediately thought “Ok, so they kill Hitler.”

    The aspect of the film I really enjoyed originally registered when I read(?) something about QT saying that this film is really a spaghetti western (amongst many other things, of course).

    Hitler was the big boss of any spaghetti western. The big boss always dies. It made sense to me.

    People on here are also addressing the “We’re watching nazis laugh and cheer at a film where a hero of theirs is killing the evil enemy and now that they’re all burning we are laughing at them” angle that the finale had. Maybe it’s a testament to the level I’ve been desensitized, but when I was watching the German’s watching the film I was thinking “Damn that guy’s killing a lot of people in that movie.” Then when I was watching all the German’s panicking as Eli “Keep Your Mouth Shut” Roth and that other Basterd? were mowing down nazis and their unarmed wives I thought to myself “Damn those guys are killing a lot of people in this movie.” I’m not one for cheering at violence. Sometimes I like the cleverness of certain acts of violence (like that “Punch Gun” Eli Roth used on that soldier guarding the entrance? that I enjoyed). It’s still death, but it’s a frigging film. I actually didn’t want to see anyone die and was always shocked and sad when someone did, as I could have sat and watched them verbally combat each other for an embarrassingly longer amount of time than it seems anyone claiming the film was boring had patience for. I have no excuse. I enjoyed all the conversations in Death Proof. DO I acknowledge they’re long as shit? Of course. But I appreciate the discussions being had.

    I also really like the point Professor Smartypants made about subverting the preconceived notions of conventional film fantasies. That’s a tight-fucking theory!

  48. m  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 +1

    did anyone think that the scene where shoshanna shoots the german soldier and then becomes sort of enamored with his image on the screen is sort of weird? is it supposed to tell us that she did like him after all? if it is then it’s disgusting not to mention misplaced, out of context and sexist (i.e. she’s a girl! she can’t help falling in love when pursued by a handsome, young gentlemanly soldier! even if he ideologically nauseates her!)

  49. The movie is called Inglorious Basterds. Tarantino never claimed that anyone in the film was going to be admirable. He’s an ultra-violent filmmaker. It was pretty excellent.

  50. Sam  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 +1

    I thought the most interesting moments in the movie came during the cinema scene. The Nazis are all sitting in the theater, watching this ridiculous movie where a sniper kills hundreds and hundreds of people from atop his post. While watching, I thought it was a pretty ridiculous thing to crack up at, but then I remembered that I was sitting in a theater where people were laughing at the deaths and scalpings of Nazis. I dunno. I just felt that scene was pretty profound after the realization that our theater (myself included) was doing the same thing that the Nazi theater.

  51. Cherry_Ghost  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 -1

    Never said it wasn’t possible, just that Tarantino doesn’t successfully emulate the type of feeling evoked by the footage you saw at school. He could have just shown the images you saw over and over in a loop, people would have been sickened and the point would have been made, but that doesn’t make for a very good film.

    • Cherry_Ghost  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 0

      Failed reply to Jacob. Typing that out made me think of Lost, which in turn made me realize there are still four or five months until that comes back.

  52. Dr. Smarty Pants is Jacob. He has been here the whole time. Waiting. Watching.

  53. bill zaxby  |   Posted on Aug 26th, 2009 0

    crucial is crucial no matter which way you spin it

  54. bill zaxby  |   Posted on Aug 26th, 2009 -2

    crucial is crucial no matter which way you spin it

  55. bill zaxby  |   Posted on Aug 26th, 2009 -3

    crucial is crucial no matter which way you spin it

  56. bits and parts of the movie were done real nice (the 1st chapter, the tavern chapter) but i didnt derive any pleasure watching nazis being beaten to death. is that okay? was the holocaust okay? no. is this reverse holocaust revenge beating human skulls with a bat okay? no. gabe is right about so many things in his review. this is a lose lose movie. and ultimately, when the (SPOILER?) cinema blew up at the end, i felt like we should all have simultaneously combusted because we are all human and for what ever fucking reason wanting to scalp people is not okay, its not funny, its not revenge HAHA and its not regular HAHA. sure, the nazis were terrible people, but i dont think everybody under Hitler at the time were all equal parts evil. I’m sure some of them killed jews because they hated jews, but some of them killed jews because they were put into a place where there weren’t no alternatives, and maybe its because i just read Everythign Is Illuminated 2 months ago but this movie was really just a whole lot of disgustingness.

  57. This felt like the “basterd” child of the Perry Bible Fellowship’s comic about World War II and Homer Simpson’s ending to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

  58. Needs more Samm Levine.

  59. Being a Britishman (i suspect we all loved the briefing scene’s parody a lot more than you guys simply because we’ve endured a lot of “pip pip cheerio” Brits in films over the years) I’m seeing District 9 after this, and I’m very glad of that, because I want to top off my summer of movies, not peak and then dip.
    On the film itself, I’ve always found that my moral compass is more wayward than Gabe’s and I love reading his reviews because I often see something uncomfortable in a film that I’ve never seen before. With this film, I wasn’t as repulsed by the setting and fairy tale getout clause, and I recognised during the film that I should have been, as the tastefulness setting was firmly jammed at 0. That said, I felt sickened (and still do a little, 3 hours after the film) at the people laughing during the strangling of Diane Kruger’s character and Eli Roth’s killing scenes, the shooting and the bat being the worst offenders. There was funny over-the-top violence in the film, and terrible violence, and it worried me some of the time that there were audience members that didn’t understand the difference. Not that I believe that they’re violent people themselves, just that it saddens me that in film appreciation, there are those that operate on the basest level when it’s really not ok, and this is one film where I had to wonder whether I was one of those people. I don’t know about other people, but when a film makes me think like that, I feel that at least on some level it was a great film, whether or not it’s on the same level as that intended by the film maker.

  60. JD  |   Posted on Aug 26th, 2009 0

    I never thought I’d see the day when a Tarantino movie divided audiences…

  61. eric.  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    I just saw this. It’s weird…I also found the film WAAAAY too long and boring, and normally in a situation like that I would just leave. But I actually found myself compelled by a lot of the performances and the storyline itself (even though I felt like I had to cobble it together on my own in between 5 minute explanations of how old projectors work and in which order one would show the reels of films…Numerical you say? Well now I’ve seen it all…). Waltz gave a terrific performance, but an odd thing happens when you make a movie with a main character whose defining trait is having really long, boring, awkward, tense conversations. I won’t spoil it by telling you what that odd thing is, though. Terentino needs your $12 for another eight-ball. I guess I give this movie *shrug* stars out of *huh?* Two thumbs perpendicular? I need a nap. Honestly I really liked Pitt’s character and I would gladly pay to see a straight up Terentino take on The Dirty Dozen.

  62. blueeyeddevil  |   Posted on Aug 29th, 2009 0

    I’m with Bhay on this, 100%. Also, 100% anti-clapper. They’re the worst, especially at a movie like this (although the absolute worst were the clappers at the first NY screening of Visioneers. Fucking awful).

  63. fInAlLy A fIlM 4 PpL LiKe Me!!!!!!!!

  64. “Before I say anything, though, I should get it out of the way that I was *not* one of the insane people who have proliferated and ruined not only this but just about every movie-going experience I’ve had in the past 10 years or so who laugh nervously and/or inappropriately throughout an entire film.”

    You’re kind of a judgmental d-bag (me too now!). Let people who go to the movies laugh for chrissakes! It’s not a meditation chamber!

  65. I am surprised that I was surprised it ended up being a movie about movies dressed up in nazi killin’ clothing.

  66. I am surprised that I was surprised it ended up being a movie about movies dressed up in nazi killin’ clothing.

  67. I found myself reacting to the scene where the Nazis are cheering and weeping while watching the film about the war “hero” gunning down Allied soldiers from a clocktower. I was disgusted with them. Then, when QT turns the tables by turning the theater into a kind of bizarro Auschwitz, I found myself cheering for Eli Roth (ew it’s come to that) and the roles were suddenly reversed. I was no better than the Nazis cheering for a clocktower (balcony?) sniper. But I still didn’t care, I thought it was fucking awesome.

  68. blondie  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2009 0

    I am normally a great fan of Tarantino’s work. I don’t usually mind the long side dialogues. Because they’re are usually entertaining. However, in this movie, I thought the tavern scene was far too long, not suspenseful enough for the length, and the card on the forehead game was not even remotely entertaining to me. While the first scene was picturesque, the showing of the hiding family came far too late to heighten the suspense. While showing them early may have been cliche, not showing them made me believe something was happening to the farmers’ daughters outside, which was unnecessary distraction from the scene’s action. I thought Mike Myers was an odd choice (again, unnecessarily distracting), and, frankly, that was another boring scene that did not add much. Explaining the film connections of the spy/saboteur could easily have been done quickly otherwise. Some of the acting was quite enjoyable. Soshanna’s story was great and moved along well. I liked Brad Pitt’s over the top acting in this movie. At least he grabbed and held your attention. The Colonel Landa character was well-drawn and performed, but why the weird threat-then-backoff during his dessert with Soshanna?
    Usually, I can watch a Tarantino movie over and over again. This one — well, I actually looked at my watch more than once during the movie — probably not intentionally.

  69. sufdub  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2009 0

    I had the same problems with the film, but then i realized something..

    the film tarantino made, inglourious basterds, was a modern american version of the movie the germans were watching in the theater. it was violent, populist propaganda with the intention of exposing the inhumanity of the audience. those reacting with delight in our theaters are as sick, deluded, and easily-led as the many nazi officers laughing in their theater.

    but what does that mean? well, tarantino pulled off an element of deep social irony. does this make the movie any better? no, not really. does it expand the possibilities of film? probably. and thats pretty cool.

  70. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

  71. I missed this but will check it out on DVD

  72. I was really the cartoonyness of this movie was going to be shown as a way to discredit the nazi’s atrocities and to kind of show how impossible it is to come to terms with how horrible the violence really was. Similar to what Slaughterhouse V was all about. But, as far as I can tell it wasn’t, and like Vonnegut said my parents raised me to hate all massacres and to never take part in a massacre. Regardless of the motivations of this movie and its intellectual and artistic goals, it is exceedingly flippant.

  73. m  |   Posted on Aug 25th, 2009 +3

    exactly! i was thinking about this… there is no re-telling of how wwII ended. in the end americans win by means of extreme violence and destruction. how’s that different from what actually happened?

  74. If by “we” you mean “the British,” because Dresden was primarily an RAF operation.

    I used to love Tarantino. I thought his dialogue sparkled and found his whole attitude to be refreshing. I feel he’s been on a downward trajectory since “Jackie Brown,” which I hated. I’ll give this movie a shot, though, because even in his awfulness, Tarantino is still interesting.

    I saw him do a Q&A session after a screening of “Kill Bill Vol. 1″ and he is super high-energy, frenetic even, and enthusiastic. I think his love of movies is great to see, but I would stop well short of giving his films these great subtexts and hidden meanings, because that is just not very believable. Tarantino loves violence on screen because he loves violence on screen. I’m boring. I’ll stop now.

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