Inglorious Basterds: A brief dissent

We went to see Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” last night. It is one of the few films I wanted to see this summer, but I found it disappointing. If you see one movie this summer, I would implore you to see “The Hurt Locker,” with respect to which we elicited Stephen Hunter’s review here. See also the Wall Street Journal’s excellent profile of “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow here.
“Inglorious Basterds” works a variation of “The Dirty Dozen,” portraying a small group of Jewish soldiers fighting behind enemy lines in occupied France during World War II. They are led by the tough-talking, charismatic Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) in the Lee Marvin role.
I thought the film would more aptly have been titled “Stupid Bastards.” The film strikes me as something of a filmmaker’s inside joke about filmmaking. In this case, however, I think the joke is on the audience that pays good money to see it.
In at least one respect, I found the film offensive. At its absurd climax, the film depicts the team of Jewish soldiers as suicide bombers, with an anachronistic reference to terrorism. In a word, sick.
John Podhoretz provides a a tentatively admiring review (subscribers only) that is full of plot spoilers. The spoilers are necessary for Podhoretz to make his case for the film. John may be on to something; the film rates a favorable 87 percent on the usually reliable Tomatometer.
In any event, the spoilers aren’t necessary to my take on the film. In case you are persuaded to see the film, don’t say you weren’t warned.

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