I don’t want to give the impression that Inglourious Basterds is getting killed by the critics, but in an effort to tamp down my own absurd expectations here is a sampling of some of the more negative reviews of the Quentin Tarantino WWII adventure which premiered in competition at Cannes at 8:30 this morning local time.

There are several reviews that are more positive (including Variety’s Todd McCarthy), but so far no raves.

Peter Bradshaw, Guardian UK

We ignored the rumourmongers, the alarmists and defeatists, and insisted that the Master would at the last moment fire a devastating V1 rocket of a movie which would lay waste to his, and our, detractors. But today the full catastrophe of his new film arrived like some colossal armour-plated turkey from hell. The city of our hopes is in flames.

The Hollywood Reporter, (Kirk Honeycutt?)

History will not repeat itself for Quentin Tarantino. While his Pulp Fiction arrived late at the Festival de Cannes and swept away the Palme d’Or in 1994, his World War II action movie Inglourious Basterds merely continues the string of disappointments in this year’s Competition.

The film is by no means terrible — its running time of two hours and 32 minutes races by — but those things we think of as being Tarantino-esque, the long stretches of wickedly funny dialogue, the humor in the violence and outsized characters strutting across the screen, are largely missing.

Xan Brooks, Guardian UK

Inglourious Basterds remains a mess: an obese, pampered adolescent of a film that somehow manages to be both indolent and overexcited at the same time. Oh sure, this adolescent is talented and has ambition and moxy to burn. But he’s so bumptious, brattish and full of himself that it becomes a little wearing. And what was with all those movie references? Michael Fassbender plays a heroic film critic, while Tarantino’s script pays extended, obsequious tribute to French cinema and the auteur theory. It all struck me as special pleading; the smarm-tactics of a schoolboy who has rushed through his homework and decides that his best hope is to butter up the teacher.

Dave Calhoun, Time Out

You get the feeling with Inglourious Basterds that Quentin Tarantino desperately wants to put away childish things. Nor is he hiding the fact…Inglourious Basterds is, a lot of the time, a little more restrained, a little quieter than we’ve come to expect from films like Death Proof and Kill Bill. I say ‘a little’ because much of it is not quiet at all: when the music comes, albeit less frequently than usual, it’s loud; when the deaths occur, they’re gruesome, even sadistic; when the plot kicks in, it’s pure fantasy. That’s all fine, and Tarantino is mostly smart enough to let his usual, entertaining extravagances serve the story rather than the other way around.

8 Responses to “Inglourious Basterds: 3 clips and 4 pans”

  1. I only read Anne Thompson’s review, which wasn’t negative but again not a rave. However she did say that it may need a second viewing and that she can’t wait to watch it again.

    Anyway fuck the critics. I still want to see this movie.

  2. I normally have a fuck the critics attitude as well Alison, but the critics have been pretty god damn good to Tarantino, and Cannes is his ideal atmosphere, the place that basically launched him. I’m a little worried myself (though I’ll still be there opening day).

  3. I hate to say it, but this is exactly the sort of response I’ve been dreading since the early teaser and publicity stills started leaking out. However, I wonder if film critics at Cannes were the right audience for this in the first place? I don’t think this is really a film critics are going to be able to easily review because it isn’t made as high-brow art or even mainstream cinema. It’s an exploitation fantasy, probably far more grindhouse than Tarantino’s actual grindhouse entry, Death Proof.

    It sounds as though, to some extent, Tarantino has delivered exactly what he set out to. I think it will appeal to a certain type of fan, but maybe not to all his fans.

  4. Todd McCarthy’s review which just popped up a bit ago is much much more positive: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940323.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&nid=2577

    I posted only negative reviews because I’m kind of trying to tamp down my own expectations.

    Every film of his since Jackie Brown has sounded like a total wank to me, but both Kill Bill and Death Proof turned out to have more on their minds than their giddy surfaces automatically suggested.

    IB sounded like his biggest wank yet, and the critics above seem to subscribe to that idea, but I wonder if maybe it won’t prove to have more depth like the other films.

    On the other hand, if it IS a complete wank I’ll still be completely happy with it as long as it’s not boring. Let’s see. This summer would I rather see Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots or GI Joe or Quentin Tarantino wanking in his cinematic sandbox?

    That’s a rhetorical question.

  5. Yeah, again, sending this off to critics at Cannes seems like a huge miscalculation to me. I respect Chuck’s comment that they’ve been kind to him in the past and obviously, Tarantino loves Cannes, but this film just doesn’t belong there (in respect to what I’ve seen so far).

    But whatever, the damage is done. I’m sure the range of critical opinion will be broad, as the McCarthy review implies.

  6. I’m with y’all.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are critics with great talent that I love and completely respect.

    But the only person that can effectively tell me what I think and feel about a motion picture is ME.

    I’m digging those clips.

    Todd McCarthy wrote at length about IB. It’s one of the longest reviews I’ve ever seen. I think he wanted to give it a rave. But, as much as he enjoyed it and found it worthy, the flaws were just too apparent to him.

    He did mention that Quentin may tighten it up or rework some of it before it makes it to these shores in August.

    No big deal. I’m still highly anticipating this.

    The universe will unfold as it should….

  7. Oh, yeah. One more quick thing…

    I’m still dying to find out how Quentin’s going to use DAVID BOWIE’S PUTTING OUT FIRE (the theme from CAT PEOPLE) in IB.

    Gotta love Quentin.

    It’s just like he read my mind…

  8. Yeah, this one is pretty much review proof for me. I’ll make up my own mind.

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