MOVIE RATING: 4 stars (B+)
(Updated February 19, 2012)
One of the most surprising movies I’ve seen lately is Inglourious Basterds (2009), written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Having seen the trailers a gazillion times last year when it was heavily advertised on TV, I was not at all wanting to see this film. It looked very campy and cheesy. And it is to some degree…but not as much I thought. I just finally saw Tarantino’s widely acclaimed masterpiece Pulp Fiction (1994) a few years ago, and I didn’t find it to live up to all the hype that I’ve heard about it. I think part of the problem is that I watched Pulp Fiction about a dozen years after it came out. And because it was very influential on movie making, I saw pieces of it reflected in other movies that I’ve seen. So seeing the original inspiration doesn’t seem so inspirational and cutting edge after you’ve seen it in other movies over and over. Some movies are just very much of their time. And I think Pulp Fiction is one of those movies…and I missed out on its time. Having watched some older movies from the 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. in Cinema History class, I didn’t really appreciate them either. They just didn’t feel as complete as modern movies. But then we are all a product of our time, aren’t we?!
Inglourious Basterds is gorgeously filmed. This is the kind of movie you show to someone to showcase what’s possible with film. And when I say film, I mean real 35mm celluloid film stock. Not digital video. I do think digital video will look just like film someday…but that day is still a ways off. There’s a subtlety and range of light expression on film that still isn’t fully realized on digital cameras like the Red camera. Beyond the incredible cinematography, Tarantino has crafted an incredible showcase of acting talent. The performances, while sometimes over the top a bit, are a testament to Tarantino’s directing skill. He’s able to get such finely nuanced acting out of his cast. The movie starts pretty slow and drawn out, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that I even knew I liked the film. And then all during the second half I was appreciating the first half. The writing is very engaging and well executed by the cast. All in all, this a film that any movie lover should watch. Tarantino’s work is unique and original and he is making his mark on the world of cinema. So far, I think this is his best mark.
I love this cool graphic “burn” transition from the name to the release date in theaters. Sweet stuff!