Inglourious Basterds

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(2009)

Film4: Wednesday 9 September, 9pm

Brad Pitt as lieutenant Aldo Raine (sounds like Aldo Ray, you know, the guy who was in The Naked and the Dead), leading a scruffy squad of anonymous Jewish-American soldiers sticking it to the Nazis in Occupied France. Overacting horribly in a role more suited to Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken (or Aldo Ray, come to that), Pitt pitches his guttersnipe speech-bubble dialogue at the back rows. Beamingly proud of his nickname the Jew Hunter, it’s SS colonel Christoph Waltz who grabs the best lines, whistling the devil’s tunes and waltzing off with an Oscar and a Bafta for his efforts.

As for the Hitler and Churchill bits, they’re just embarrassing, and laughably designed to boot. And, believe me, this is an unruly, haplessly unbalanced film that gets more ridiculous by the chapter (for no good reason, it’s laid out in five chapters). So by the time the climax comes anything goes. The latest magnum opus from junior magpie film-maker Quentin Tarantino isn’t really about WWII at all. It’s a movie about other WWII movies. Especially bad WWII movies.

And specifically the trashy, badly acted, poorly dubbed Italian war movies of the late-70s and early-80s, the heyday of cheap and nasty exploitation cinema. Mind you, none of them went on for 2½ hours. Time drags, like it did in Death Proof. No matter, the Grindhouse merchant has already labelled his own film a masterpiece, so presumably any other observations are pointless. Could we just mention the music, though? Once again, Tarantino has chosen intrusively melodramatic stuff more suited to spaghetti westerns and salsa videos. And then there’s that David Bowie song from Cat People.

Tempting to award two stars simply for Christoph Waltz, who’s at least putting in a proper performance. But, frankly, everything else about it is simply too stupid. Only Tarantino would think it cool to put a Mexican standoff in a war movie – and then have the characters arguing the toss about Mexican standoffs. Don’t be deceived by the effectively lowkey cat-and-mouse prologue. We soon enough get into the playground stuff as Tarantino puts everything he’s learned about WWII from Sergeant Rock comics and lousy Italian action movies.

It is notionally inspired by a 1970s B-movie called Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato, otherwise The Damned Armoured Train, renamed Inglorious Bastards for its American release: a war picture in the Dirty Dozen style by hack Italian director Enzo Castellari. Asked why the title is spelled the way it is, Tarantino told Cannes reporters: “I’m never going to explain that. You know, when you do an artistic flourish like that, to describe it, to explain it, is to take the piss out of it and invalidate the whole stroke in the first place.” Tarantino describes it as “my Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing.” Ever the innovator. By the way, he also said he wants it to sit alongside Pulp Fiction in people’s dvd collections. That settles it, I’m sticking with The Dirty Dozen.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 153min

IMDB – Inglourious Basterds

TMDB – Inglourious Basterds

Rotten Tomatoes – Inglourious Basterds

Other Showings Time & Date
Film4 Tuesday, 15 September at 11:05PM