I have a quandary to work through and just under three months to do so. Well, truthfully, I have more time than that, but the jist is this: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds comes out on August 21, and I have to decide if I want to go see it or not.
I’m a little surprised that I find myself in this predicament; I’ve seen every one of Tarantino’s films (with the recent exception of Death Proof) and I’ve enjoyed all of them. Even Jackie Brown. I’m in awe of his ear for dialogue, the performances he’s able to get out of his actors and his ability to synthesize wildly disparate elements from his wide range of influences into something uniquely his own. Reservoir Dogs? Excellent. Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2? Loved ‘em both. Pulp Fiction? Brilliant.
But all of the early marketing I’ve seen for Inglourious Basterds, in which a small troop of Jewish-American soliders in World War II try to strike fear into the Germans brutally killing Nazis, implies a very high level of violence — even high by Tarantino’s standards. The posters, while graphically very striking, are also more than a bit disturbing: various implements of brutality shown in heavily desaturated colors…except for the dark red of the blood splattered on everything. The trailer certainly plays up the ultra-violence angle as well.
I should note that I don’t have the tolerance for extraordinary violence in movies that I used to. I’ll usually be fine with a certain level of stylized violence in my movies, as long as the bloodletting isn’t the entire point: I could handle the almost cartoony level of limb-chopping and blood-spurting in Kill Bill, for instance, but I have absolutely zero desire to ever sit through any of the recent “torture porn”-style horror flicks. One of my best friends when I was a teenager was a diehard devoteé of Fangoria magazine and made me sit through countless gore-filled horror flicks, and I just never was able to gain any real kind of appreciation for them. And I seem to be becoming even less appreciative of excessive amounts of blood in movies as I approach forty.
Now, though, I’ve started reading early reviews of Inglourious Basterds after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival that indicate that it’s…well, that it’s far more talky than reviewers had expected. Early buzz is that it’s dialogue- and actor-driven with a fairly limited amount of action. Dialogue- and actor-drive Tarantino? That I very much can get behind — but I’m still not sure about the amount and kinds of brutality implied by the film’s marketing. I realize that hyping the violence angle is far, far more likely to draw in viewers than hyping the quality of the dialogue — especially of the demographic most likely to want to see a Tarantino movie. But as someone who feels like I should have this movie marketed to me, I’m more than a little turned off by all of the blood. And isn’t misrepresenting the movie, if it is indeed as talky and less action-y as it now sounds, an awfully dangerous (if time-honored) marketing strategy?
Do any of you have any thoughts here? Anyone have any sort of early opinion one way or the other?