Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lessons to be learned from Inglorious Bastards

When I finally saw Inglorious Bastards, I was more than happy that I hadn't read years worth of interviews, speculation, not to mention anyone of the millions of reviews the internet produces each week before going into the theater (unlike what I did before seeing District 9. (I ruined that movie for myself!). It's no secret Tarantino had this project on the back burner for a very long time and all the more obvious when you've seen the film. What we have here we can call Terrance Malick syndrome. A little history: Malick took more than twenty years of fumbling around with ideas before producing his next (and only third) film. That movie was the deeply layered war epic The Thin Red Line...which had the misfortune of coming out in the wake of $200 million grossing Saving Private Ryan. Obviously not all that goes for Malick goes for Tarantino, whose new film has grossed $95 million as of this posting. However the lesson in general filmmaking preservers. Any English or speech craft teacher will tell you not to over think your thesis, or for the film industry, premise. Here’s an abridged list of glaring errors found in Inglorious Bastards no teacher of my school would condone:

Character development: The few lines (and even fewer actions) most of the cast has to work with barely define any of them as anymore than fragments of a greater script. Case-in-point: who the hell is the only other surviving bastard with Brad Pitt at the end? He is named, but not surprisingly I cannot remember his name. How about one the top billed actors, Eli Roth? I was honestly afraid that he would chew every scene with obnoxious quips, but he’s barley even in the picture! Or the British film expert? Or that crazy mother Stiglitz!? We get a background vignette (the only in fact) and displays of his badassness, so what gives?!

Lip service is not exposition: There’s furthering the plot and there’s grinding it to a halt with self-indulgent dialogue that while regularly entertaining through Tarantino’s smarmy humor never lets up.

Action: This is not an action movie. There are moments of action that are beautifully calculated and choreographed. But action does not solely mean violence. It can mean conducting espionage, traveling from one German city to another, simple transitions by vehicle to showing some degree of arch in the story. No action, no build up. No build up, no tension. No tension, no genre film. No genre film….?

Well, I’ll give Quentin his due: Inglorious Bastards is his most original and ambitious film to date and that’s saying something this far into his career. Hopefully his next work will include an unflinching script editor. Too bad we already have another misfire for movie going on the horizon. I’m looking at you Avatar (Cameron paid people to develop a language for his alien race! Shucks, and I just finished learning Klingon).