Review: Inglourious Basterds

Time to come clean; I hate Pulp Fiction. As an exercise in cinematic ingenuity, it's brilliant, defying every expectation; however, as a viewing experience, it is nothing short of unpleasant.

Later, Tarantino perfected his style by adding actual entertainment value and characters you liked under Uma Thurman's influence with Kill Bill. Now he's back with his first real project since his modern samurai masterpiece, and fortunately he hasn't forgotten those lessons.

Inglourious Basterds comes across more like a Coen brothers film than classic Tarantino - even down to the presence of Brad Pitt - aping their slow-moving comedy that eeks laughs from far-out situations rather than one-liners or slapstick. The usual tics and trademarks, from captioning to banal conversations and extreme gore, are present and accounted for, but this is a much more grown-up affair; the World War II background gives the film far greater pathos than Tarantino has been able to include before. Still, whilst the Coens always end with a deliberate whimper, Tarantino builds to a bang that is guaranteed to offend, despite having its heart in the right place.

Indeed, the artificial ramping up of the role of the Jewish resistance, pinnacling with a history-altering shock ending, along with enhancing the American part in winning the war and channelling Chaplin in a lampooning portrayal of the Nazis, serves to inspire cheers, though uneasy ones as you feel the historical inaccuracy does a disservice to the real heroes of the war. Us Brits in particular are singled out for substantially-unfair treatment, and none of the English characters are played by domestic actors. Nonetheless, you can't oppose Tarantino too heavily as his choices come from a naive sense of justice rather than malice.

Elsewhere, the cast of up-and-coming stars who play both the hard-ass Jewish resistance fighters and their less-than-dignified Nazi prey impress, whilst Pitt excels himself as ever. The only weak link is Tarantino's bizarre choice of casting Hostel director Eli Roth rather than a professional actor, and Roth's amateur status shows through any time he's on screen.

Overall, Inglourious Basterds is a surreal experience, but a worthwhile one. Tarantino has been granted more freedom than ever and the entire film wreaks of quality, just be prepared to come out scratching your head a little over the content.

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