Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds,
Contradictory impulses each followed one moment and denied the next. Usually his characters are cardboard figures brought close by his attention to the humanity of often less than skillful acting: that's how he's balanced the contradiction between artifice and representation. This time a few are richly drawn and performed, fully human not as actors documented on film but as compelling fiction, beginning with the farmer, and then Shoshana Dreyfus. Melanie Laurent is wonderful and her character is complex and tragic. Christoph Waltz as Landa is a Tarantino cartoon and a great one, but Tarantino indulges so much in his preadolescent Grand Guignol fart jokes that it undermines the tension. He hasn't figured out how to grow up and still do justice to childishness. It was a very difficult movie to watch. My head is still spinning, now mostly in frustration.

I knew when I first read the full scenario that he made the movie to have his cake and eat it too, and I was hoping he'd pulled it off. He didn't.

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