Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chapter 1: What a Basterd


Lots to say about Inglourious Basterds...not sure how to say it, or where to start, or...

So I've decided, in the spirit of QT, to encase my feelings into a few chunks...chapters, if you will.

Chapter 1: What a Basterd
Inglourious Basterds marks Quentin Tarantino's continued progression from a creator of groundbreaking original material to a purveyor of the highest quality kitsch. Not always necessarily a bad thing -- I love Kill Bill and I really love Death Proof -- but somewhat disappointing that we may never get to see what comes next from that astoundingly clear voice we heard in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown. This new movie is, after all, a genre movie that revels in the quirks of its genre. And really, more than a "war picture," Inglourious Basterds revels in the same quirks of grindhouse cinema that Tarantino was chasing after in Kill Bill and Death Proof. It seems that, brilliantly fun as his films are, Tarantino has chosen this period of his career to use kitsch as his weapon of choice...to have "fun" with his movies...rather than dig deep enough to deliver a film on the level of his first three.

With that in mind, it is impossible to deny that even in this "lighter" stage of his career, Tarantino can make great cinema happen with the bat of an eyelash. Awesome filmmaking drips from his fingertips. It is why Kill Bill is awesome fun, why Death Proof is B-movie perfection, and why Inglourious Basterds is, really, quite a great experience. Tarantino cannot help but make great cinema happen, no matter what his material. But Tarantino has attitudes and opinions he has been holstering for more than a decade now. The dialogue is still there, the visual style has actually improved, refining itself immensely with each subsequent film...but the voice is not quite as potent. The guy who basically inspired the next two generations of imitators and wannabes is still churning out some great stuff, but a movie like Inglourious Basterds is not going to inspire anyone to do anything other than have a really good time in the theater. Maybe that's now enough for QT...but I hope someday he wants to reach his highest artistic level again, to speak comepletely from his own voice rather than using his voice sparingly to add spice to zany genre throwbacks.

2 comments:

:bTdill said...

It's not a "war picture"... it's a spaghetti western.

J McKiernan said...

You are right...spaghetti western by way of a war picture. It is both...and sort of neither. It is a very oddball kind of movie...very modern Tarantino (I say "modern" since it is way more reminiscent of post-millennial Tarantino, where he is more interested in immersing himself in the kitsch of a certain genre or subgenre than with defining his own cinematic space).