No, I am not going to give Tarantino the satisfaction of quoting his full, childishly immature, mis-spelt title. It’s bad enough I sat through his childishly immature World War II comic-book pantomime.
Here’s a talented director, as proven by Reservoir Dogs and the under-valued masterpiece Jackie Brown. So why can’t he keep a script or his direction on the rails? As for this attempt to re-invent the WWII movie as a pulp comic-book, I just despair.
Nobody else writes tense, gripping, sinister dialogue for page after page, building to an explosive scene-ending climax like him; but then nobody follows it with the kind of puffy anti-climactic drivel that would embarrass a twelve year-old, either.
Mr Tarantino was never the enfant terrible of Western cinema – just frequently infantile and terrible, as Inglorious shows in this ‘greatest hits’ collection of his limited repertoire.
The long opening scene of dialog between Christoph Waltz’s SS officer and a French peasant is a great Hitchcock suspense scene, a conversation across a table, ending with Tarantino’s brutal trademark violence. Table conversations are Tarantion’s strongest suit. Waltz terrifies French Jewess Shosanna Dreyfus (find of the film, Melanie Laurent) in a Paris restaurant over strudel with cream. In one other scene, Allied operatives, led by our favourite Michael Fassbender, meet in a basement bar with a German double agent. The intervention of another SS officer, in which the dialog echoes Tarantino’s restaurant dialog in that other movie, ends with yet another bloodbath.
These are the highlights. Now for the bad news. In tribute, I shall write it as disjointed, fictitious and disregarding of the content of the movie as Tarantino does of movies and WWII.
We have fallen through a hole in Tarantino’s brain, into an alternate history of WWII in which events and historical figures look nothing like the those on record. You only guess it’s Churchill from the cigar. Hitler is an hysterical clown delivering a continuous Nuremburg rally. The musical score is cod-Morricone straight out of the Boy’s Own Book of Spaghetti Westerns. Except when it drops into Bowie’s 1985 hit Cat People. Where does audacious, bravura film making tip over into loopy self-humiliation?
There are talented actors driven off cliffs by a director who knows nothing about acting and writes cardboard characters. So sinister in the beginning, Christoph Waltz over-eggs it, reduced to cackling clown by the end. Fassbender plays a ludicrously stiff-upper lipped British officer. But the worst is heaped on Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine, leader of this new Dirty Dozen, a red-neck buffoon from Tennessee, channelling John Wayne, Lee Marvin and long forgotten Aldo Ray, B-movie actor from the 70’s. Part red-Indian, Raine actually scalps his German kills. In graphic detail. You can hear Tarantino’s stuttering torrent of florid description in the production meetings as he explained it to make-up. So how do they produce violence that is shocking, distasteful and strangely comedic?
I don’t think Tarantino sets out to make deliberately alienating movies that draw attention to their artifice. I think he imagines a line drawn by the film makers before him and sets out to long-jump over it, oblivious to the fact that certain rules are there for a reason. I think he wants to make proper dramas but just can’t help undercutting it with comedy, intentional or not. Sam Peckinpah combined with Ed Wood. Or Sergio Leone crossed with Mel Brooks. Precisely why is Mike Myers playing an ‘Allo ‘Allo comedy British General?
The imagined ending of WWII is spectacular, bloody and comes from whatever fetid schoolboy imagination races in Tarantino’s geeky head. The plot is as ludicrous and irrelevant as everything else in this abject waste of time and talent. It fails as war time adventure, spoof, comedy, Jewish revenge fantasy; movie.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Running time: 2hr. 33 min.
Genre: Action & Adventure, War, Comedy, Spoof, who knows? Who cares?
Cast: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Til Schweiger, Diane Krueger, Michael Fassbender, Til Schweiger, Christian Berkel, Cloris Leachman, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Maggie Cheung, Melanie Laurent, Mike Myers, Samuel L Jackson