Quentin Tarantino, the sorcerer of US independent cinema, has once again brewed up a tempest at Cannes. Since winning the Palme d’Or with Pulp Fiction in 1994, his returns to the festival have usually resulted in battle lines being drawn up between his passionate supporters and his equally staunch critics. The tension was greater this year because even his supporters were finally beginning to accept that you cant just be ‘promising’ for two decades. ‘Inglourious Basterds’ needed to be an earth-shattering, soul-shaking second coming to leave his critics quievering in their hotel rooms and his supporters revelling along the Palais into the early hours. Unfortunately, the general consensus seems to be that Tarantino has failed again. The fact that his supporters came rushing out of the screening desperately claiming that he had rushed the edit to meet the deadline for the festival did not bode well; and, sure enough, even Tarantino-ites like the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw reluctantly reported, “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 film concerns a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission to collect 100 Nazi scalps apiece. They collect allies and enemies along the way: enter Fassbender as a suave British commando; Waltz as a snarling SS Colonel; and Melanie Laurent as a young Jewish woman who has inexplicably purchased a Parisian cinema and is planning on killing an audience full of Nazi’s (including the Fuhrer) at a film premiere to avenge the brutal murder of her family.
The films glittering international cast (Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender, and Chritstopher Waltz to name but a few) fails to pull this sinking leviathan out of the murky depths, and while it is loud and characteristically trashy ‘in-a-knowing-way’, it seems to be a sterling example of an empty vessel making a hell of a lot of noise. Even the BBC’s Emma Jones, who bafflingly managed to enjoy the film, couldn’t help referring to Christopher Waltz star turn as having been performed “with aplomb” (achieving success when faced with a difficult situation.)
I wont tell you if any of the barmy, gory plans actually manage to eliminate Hitler, because I don’t want to ruin the film, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like my sealed lips will be enough to save it either.