Oscarthon: Best Picture- Inglourious Basterds

A ten part series on the Best Picture nominees, structured around four basic questions.

Part 6: Inglourious Basterds

Was It Any Good?

Plenty of fun, easy to forget is the best way to describe it. It's like somebody asked Quentin Tarantino "if you could time travel, what would you do first?" and instead of just saying "I'd kill Hitler" like a normal person he went and made this movie instead.

It's full of some labored pacing, in my opinion- at this point, hasn't QT done enough Mexican standoffs? Enough tension filled conversations in which double agents are desperate not to be discovered?

But that's just his style, I guess.

Would I See It Again?

Just watched it for the second time, and found it just as much fun, I'd say. It helps, in certain situations, to know that Jews are hiding under floorboards the whole time, or to know that the bar scene won't go on forever.

Though there's no way to replicate the first time you see it and (spoilers from here) Hitler and Goebbels are riddled with bullets. It sort of makes you realize that movies aren't beholden to reality, which I suppose should be obvious to begin with, but hey.

Take Valkyrie, based on a real-life failed plot to kill Hitler. Basterds I think relies on the same exact tension until the final fifteen minutes or so, when it just goes "Psych!" and everything explodes brilliantly.

Not sure if I need to own it, though- it's got some annoying Tarantino quirks that I've never really been down for. The title, which he's referred to as both "a Basquiat-esque touch" and the "Tarantino way of spelling it," is just ridiculous to me. If there is an explanation, no doubt it's more pointless than withholding the name of The Bride in the Kill Bill movies. Hans Landa, while I loved Christoph Waltz's portrayal, is a character that can only exist in Tarantino-world, making us listen to him chew things and take forever to get to the point at every opportunity.

What Did It Acheive?

Well, it's the most profitable and lauded Tarantino film to date, and it's definitely a dark horse for Best Picture. It's easy to think it would have a real chance at winning if the camera panned up whenever they were scalping people, or if Samuel L. Jackson didn't randomly narrate flashbacks from time to time.

Will I Remember It Years From Now?

Brad Pitt ends the film as a mouthpiece for Tarantino, claiming "this might just be my masterpiece," but I can't say I agree. It's fun, sure, and I liked it.

But it's just a little on the surface for me. Though it's told chronologically, it's still split into five parts, and each one is either a tense standoff or a melee- things like characterization happen in between all these moments. I could've standed to lose one subplot or another to actually build up the others.

And there's no morality here- it's basically Godwin's law made into a film. Only Waltz is frightening, and he jumps at the chance to betray the rest of the Nazis, who to a man are incompetent, buffoonish, and shrieking cowards. I expected them to start stepping on rakes and falling down stairs. It makes the potshots taken at the Third Reich's propoganda films seem a little hypocritical.

Goebbels in particular is portrayed as a simpering egomaniac that's convinced he's creating the future of cinema- maybe it's just me, but doesn't that stray a little bit into self-parody?

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