The new Tarantino is as exhilarating and infuriating as everything he’s done before. All of his previous strengths continue to grow as he moves from merely being confident that he’s a good director into knowing being cocky enough to know he is, but unfortunately so do his idiosyncrasies – a word of warning, do not go to see this film if you are in any way precious about how history is presented.
The best thing about this film is that it isn’t the film you’re expecting. Trailers have presented it as a Dirty Dozen style caper film but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Indeed, the Basterds (and by extension Pitt) are barely on screen for much of it’s running time, the focus shifting instead to a young, Jewish cinema owner and a member of the SS – as well as bizarre interludes into the best British stereotype seen for a long time and mountain climbing actresses. Everyone gets masses of juicy dialogue to wrap their tongues around (much of it subtitled – of which a killer of a joke / denouncement is made at the start) that propel the action far quicker than any amount of action.
What actions scenes there are however are breathtaking, far better than all of the wire-work scenes in Kill Bill for there commitment to being as gloriously over the top (and sometimes graphically unpleasant) as possible. This has the curious effect of removing you from the situation – they’re more akin to jolts on a rollercoaster. One death scene is played out for all of its sickening glory, but most of the time this feels like a splatter version of WWII.
It’s highly recommended providing you can turn off your knowledge of history and just go along with it – this isn’t a history of the war but rather how Hollywood wishes it had won it. Along the way it moves through spaghetti western, film noir and spy thriller. Tarantino is now more than ever less interested in commenting on how film portrays life as how film portrays film.