Lets begin with two pieces of trivia concerning Inglorious Basterds.
1. Tarantino worked on the script for nearly a decade.
2. He couldn't decide on an ending,as a result the project was put on hold to make way for Kill Bill Vol. 1.
I'll start with what I didn't like about the movie,followed with what I did and finally conclude.I should note that I'm a huge fan of his work (well,most of it anyway,I see little value in Jackie Brown) and am prone to analyze anything he does with all the morbid enthusiasm of a crazy fan.
So,what I didn't like.The film's first half takes its time to gain momentum,and I suspect this slow ride uphill is where non-Tarantino fans or his existing haters will find most problematic.It juggles with a couple stories,all running on parallel time-and there is a period of 10-15 minutes where I was questioning where it would go,or wether a direction existed at all.Its here where the film is most self-indulgent,there are flashes of crude and overreaching violence,and also where the 'Basterds' gang first enters and the lame novelty of their interrogation/execution methods take precedence.
The second major problem I had,relates to piece of trivia No. 2.The project was planned and partly scripted for before the Kill Bill duology,and as someone who has seen both parts nearly a dozen times each-I know every spec and second,and am hugely disappointed to see the similarities between Inglorious Basterds and KB.And boy,are there many.A lot of the music is reused-especially from Vol. 1 of KB,where the sparse,minimal acoustic melodies suited perfectly-but here,it clashes with the ambience and lacks that vicious preciseness between visual and audio that Tarantino is usually so apt at capturing.Aside from that,there are parts in Inglorious Basterds that almost mirrors exact parts from KB-when the camera swept across the theatre filled with newly-arrived guests,its entire movement and the set structure feels similar to when the House of Blue Leaves (in KB 1) debuts.Wilhem's negotiation scene at the tavern,to the bride-Karen "I just found out I was pregnant" scene,shady men on pianos and Julie Dreyfus' role in both KB/IB as a smirking side-bitch,Sgt. Hugo to Gogo Yubari-both lead perpertrators of needless,overdramatic violence (in a good way),and in at least two instances lines of dialogue from KB were repeated verbatim.Maybe all of this was meant as a sort of throwback,or if not I guess its no crime to steal from your own work.But I've always thought Tarantino an immensely capable director,with the talent to build each film as a unique,independant piece of cinema (discounting his personal homages)-so to see repeated flashes of Kill Bill,something I thought and still think of as a brilliant achievement,in this film-is to me,a sign of being uninventive,lazy risk-avoidance,filling in spaces with what worked before-so there's this whole 'been there,done that' aura across the first half that hinders its true potential.
Things I loved about it.Christopher Waltz was pure fucking genius-his character plays one of two pivotal roles (the Jewhunter),goes around with this ultra-menacing vibe no ordinary actor could replicate-its no secret Tarantino loves his long dialogues,and in each of his movie there'll be one character who he speaks through-usually with long monologues full of twists and turns,buts and ifs-and normally when this happens I'll think,ok there's Tarantino-not in flesh,but its definitely him doing the talking-it takes someone with enormous talent to elevate this from being a purely mechanical task to something more,like Bill Caradine did in KB 2/Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction-Christopher Waltz owns every word and moment,his entire face and body expresses that transparent fearlessness of his character-I really hope he gets an Oscar nom for this (its already won him Best Actor at Cannes).Popa Pitt plays a functionally simple role and they no doubt reeled him in to be the film's poster-boy,overall the performances in the film are strong-at least strong enough to withold Mike Myers' awkward cameo and BJ Novak's strangely modern and over-American accent (I know that sounds slightly racist,but his accent does sound completely out of place in the film-and damn kid only has like 4 lines).
So far the film's got a healthy rating of 89%,though I've read quite a few disapproving reviews.I echo the problems I mention earlier-the hasty copy paste job,and the film's struggle with finding a ground-it alternates between romance,drama,slasher-and the editing's somewhat subpar (not what I expected from Tarantino's long-time film collaborator Sally Menke),a lot of scenes transitioned choppily-all this sums up to the film's very present but ignorable identity crisis.The truth is,the last time a movie made my heart race this fast-where I was so invested,awaiting the finale with such nervous excitement-was Tarantino's last movie,2007's Death Proof.Of course,at the end of Death Proof I wanted to jump up,cheer and applaud until my hands fell off-whereas at the end of Inglorious Basterds I felt thoroughly satisfied,but not without questioning the unreality of the ending itself.But the journeys,were nonetheless equally and both ridiculously enjoyable.