Senior Editor
05.20.09 14 Comments

Quentin Tarantino’s glourioussly missppelled WWII epic Inglourious Basterds debuted at Cannes yesterday, and the reaction was… somewhat split. Like your parents.

Hollywood Reporter (careful, the full review has spoilers): “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.

BBC: “Inglourious Basterds clocks in at nearly three hours, and its director could certainly have trimmed more of its flab.  It still can’t touch Pulp Fiction, which won the Palme D’Or in 1994, but the reaction here at Cannes is that Quentin Tarantino has made a glorious, silly, blood-spattered return.”

Guardian (who call it “an armour-plated turkey,” the kind of cutesy, nonsensical shorthand that is the hallmark of a pretentious douche with no real insight):  “Quentin Tarantino’s cod-WW2 shlocker about a Jewish-American revenge squad intent on killing Nazis in German-occupied France is awful. It is achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious. It isn’t funny; it isn’t exciting; it isn’t a realistic war movie, yet neither is it an entertaining genre spoof or a clever counterfactual wartime yarn. It isn’t emotionally involving or deliciously ironic or a brilliant tissue of trash-pop references. Nothing like that. Brad Pitt gives the worst performance of his life, with a permanent smirk as if he’s had the left side of his jaw injected with cement, and which he must uncomfortably maintain for long scenes on camera without dialogue.”

Empire: “…rather brilliant. Every bit as idiosyncratic as the spelling of its title, it’s a wonderfully-acted movie that subverts expectation at every turn. And it may represent the most confident, audacious writing and directing of QT’s career.”

IFC: “The film’s two hours and 40 minutes long, and could be shorn of an hour just by picking up the tempo … But I wouldn’t even call “Inglourious Basterds” minor Tarantino — it’s flat-out tiresome, and from a commercial perspective, incredibly dicey. If this is the pony the Weinstein Company has picked, well, bless ’em, because it’s hard to see this one pulling in crowds once word gets around.”

TotalFilm 1: “…much of Basterds felt flat, with a schizophrenic spaghetti western style that blasts Ennio Morricone at the start and then David Bowie later on. …that the applause at the end was muted at best says a lot.”

TotalFilm 2: “Not only did I love every minute, if the French projectionist wanted to cue it up and roll it again from the start, I would have sat through the whole film again, with the biggest grin on my face.”

Telegraph: “Quentin Tarantino’s new WW2 historical drama will please long-time fans but it’s not a masterpiece. There is far too much yakking, some of it thickly accented and hard to follow, most of it without the rhythmic zing of his best work.”

AICN: “As the noon screening ended, the film was met with rapturous applause after Brad Pitt’s final line “I think this might be my masterpiece.” It’s not Tarantino’s ultimate masterpiece, but it’s a fantastic film and delivers on the promise of a literate (if not historically accurate) and exciting (if not briskly paced) WWII action drama.”

Anyway, I’m not sure if these opinions will affect whether you see the movie, but in case you wondered what the consensus was among the coalition of bearded albino diabetics, now you know.  Dangit, where’d I put my inhaler? All this typing makes me wheeze…

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