The problem I think with a Quentin Tarantino movie is that it defies categorization. He’s not exactly his own filmmaking genre, not really, but it’s a close thing. And it’s not even that Inglourious Basterds is a multi-genre hodgepodge like Kill Bill was; it’s on the whole a straightforward World War II action movie. All the same, it’s tricky to explain. But here goes: a band of Nazi-killing Jews led by Appalachian Brad Pitt, a Jew-hunting SS officer, and a young Jewish theater owner cross paths in 1944 occupied Paris over an Allied plot to take out the Nazi high command in one fell swoop. …yeah, that looks right.
There’s plenty of stylized violence, over-the-top yet finely-drawn characters, and episodic storytelling; all straight out of the Tarantino playbook. I guess he maybe does have his own genre. But it’s a good genre! Aside from my appreciation for the tropes and for this particular plot and character combination, the most interesting aspect of the film was, for me, dissecting its trajectory. More bluntly: a plan to kill Goebbels and Hitler and etc. is pretty much doomed to failure in mid-1944. I have pretty explicit historical knowledge backing me up on that point. So there I sat, watching and wondering, is this a comedy of errors? A tragedy? An ironic masterpiece in which any of several plans might have succeeded without the interference of competing plans toward the same end? What movie is Tarantino actually making? Obviously I can’t tell you what he made, because, well, that’s the whole movie. But I can say that lens really worked for me.