Inglorious Basterds

The opening scene. Directing brilliance. A set-piece in performance and dialogue rather than special effects and action. The camera waltzes around Christoph Waltz, who waltzes around the screen with all the camp charm and darkening menace you want from an actor playing a movie-Nazi. And the scene keeps going and going, and it works because of that. Such a long scene at the start of a movie acts as an unexpected palate cleanser. When it’s over, we’re hooked in and ready for its gears to change up. Except they don’t. Soon it becomes clear every single scene in the film is going to be a half-hour conversation with a quarter of content, and always likely to culminate in a bloodbath. The pacing’s lifeless then, which means boredom, but it doesn’t have to mean anything worse. Except the reason every scene is so long is worse than you could possibly imagine. The pace has been killed to make way for Quentin Tarantino to extend his huge filmographic boner. Every other line is an indulgence to his internal monologue, every other shot an indictment of his auteurship.

Not even the plot is spared. Get this. Hitler gets blown up, in a cinema! And the cinema’s going to be burnt down by combustible film. Did you know 1920’s film was combustible? Here’s Samuel L. Jackson to tell you what nitrate film is. The 1920’s. Are you familiar with 1920’s German cinema? By the way this scene’s going to have some blues guitar in it, because even though the movie is set in World War II, it’s also a Western. Did I mention German cinema?

Ejaculating your encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema onto a script of infantile historical-revisionism doesn’t make you a modern day Orson Welles. It makes you Michael Bay—with a film studies degree.


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