Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds got its long-awaited first screening this morning at the Cannes Film festival, with critics giving it a round of applause at its conclusion, but opinions gathered so far have been mixed.

The film follows a titular group of Allied soliders renowned for their skill, their ability to move within enemy lines and their astonishing brutality. They’re the stuff of nightmares amongst the ranks of their victims and they like nothing more than scalping Nazis and bringing justice to occupied France. Loosely based on Enzo Castellari‘s 1978 exploitation classic, The Inglorious Bastards, it’s a deliciously revisionist twist on World War II cinema.

Empire’s Chris Hewitt is certainly a Tarantino fan, calling it “rather brilliant” and stating that it’s “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.”

Cannes 2009
Tarantino on the set of Basterds

The BBC’s Emma Jones was also a fan of the film, calling it, “a glorious, silly, blood-splattered return.” She did however, have some misgivings about the film’s lengthy runtime, saying “At nearly three hours, its director could certainly have trimmed more of its flab.”

Elsewhere, the critical reaction has been slightly less positive, with The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International and the Daily Telegraph all having problems with the lack of action and over-reliance on dialogue. They also echoed the BBC’s problem with the film’s length.

“There’s not enough roaring or headhunting,” writes The Telegraph’s Sukhdev Sandhu. “Tarantino, one of the most exceptional choreographers of blood-ballet working today, should have wielded a cleaver to whole sections of this 154-minute non-epic. 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.”

Screen International’s Mike Goodridge repeats this sentiment. “The Cannes world premiere ran to a shorter-than-expected 154 minutes but it still offers considerable challenges to the attention span of mainstream audiences. Even though there is some action and a fair smattering of Tarantino’s customary blood-spilling, the film-maker devotes much of the running time to dialogue.”

Cannes 2009
Brad Pitt stars as Lt. Aldo Raine.

And The Hollywood Reporter simply states, “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, Inglourious Basterds merely continues the string of disappointments in this year’s Competition.”

But harshest criticism comes from Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian, who claims, “There are some nice-ish performances but everything is just so boring. He should perhaps go back to making cheerfully inventive outrageous films like Kill Bill. Because Kill Adolf hasn’t worked out.”

So all-in-all it seems that Tarantino’s long-gestating drama is far from a return to form for the auteur. Whatever the case, Inglourious Basterds gets the red carpet treatment in Cannes this evening, while it will hit screens worldwide on August 21. Check out more from the Cannes Film Festival via our hub, and join us soon as, tomorrow, Michael Haneke returns to Cannes with The White Ribbon.

This week in DVD news, Francis Ford Coppola brings you the Godfather trilogy (again), Quentin Tarantino is super excited about the original Inglorious Bastards, and Hancock may soon stream directly into your TV set. Plus, we’ve got Vantage Point, Drillbit Taylor, a new X-Files DVD and more new releases!


Leave the cannoli. Take the DVDs.

On September 23, Paramount Home Entertainment is making you an offer that you can’t refuse: The Godfather Collection: The Coppola Restoration, on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Francis Ford Coppola himself spent a year overseeing the frame-by-frame restoration, a painstaking process which is documented in one of four new featurettes; the complete set includes the entire Godfather trilogy (for those of you who count Godfather III), extras from the previous box set, and more new material. Shell out $72.99 for the DVD set, $119.99 for Blu-Ray.

Tarantino To Geek Out on O.G. Inglorious Bastards DVD

If you’re a Quentin Tarantino nut, then you know he recently completed his script for the long-gestating war movie, Inglorious Bastards. But have you seen the original The Inglorious Bastards upon which QT’s flick is rumored to be based? You’ll get your chance when Enzo G. Castellari‘s 1978 cult film hits; the WWII tale of a band of military criminals on a suicide mission in Nazi territory stars ’70s action icons Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson, and will be released in a 3-disc Special Edition on July 29. Best of all, Tarantino will appear in the DVD extras, hosting a night of Castellari’s films and talking all things Inglorious with the veteran filmmaker.

Watch Hancock At Home Before DVD Hits

Forget Netflix and iTunes; Sony’s jumping into the digital delivery game with the release of Will Smith‘s Hancock, which will be made available for web-equipped owners of Sony’s Bravia TV sets before the film hits DVD. However, it still comes with a hefty price: $300 for the Bravia Internet link and $7.50 — nearly the price of admission these days — to stream, but not download, the movie. Another thing: you can’t Bravia Hancock, out in theaters this week, until November.

Click for this week’s new releases!

Vantage Point

Tomatometer: 36%

Patriot Games meets Rashomon in this trying thriller about an assassination attempt, as seen from more points of view than you can shake a stick at. Okay, so you can’t shake a stick at a point of view, but neither can you inundate critics with the same twenty minutes over and over again for two hours without being accused of silliness and incoherence. Go see Rashomon instead.

Bonus Features:

There are plenty of extras here to enjoy, assuming you want to relive the making of a story that you’ve just seen play out eight times over (director commentary, cast and crew interviews, featurettes, and outtakes).

Drillbit Taylor

Tomatometer: 27%

The Judd Apatow touch failed to boost Drillbit Taylor to the ranks of Superbad and Knocked Up (and in fact is the producer’s worst-reviewed film to date); even comic wunderkind Seth Rogen, who co-wrote the script, couldn’t keep it afloat. Even worse? The idea about a homeless scam artist (Owen Wilson) hired as bodyguard to a bunch of bullied kids came from none other than John Hughes.

Bonus Features:

If you must watch Drillbit Taylor, then pick up the unrated Extended Survival Edition — how else could an Apatow film be seen, but with more swear words and tomfoolery? Check out additional features about co-star Danny McBride (The Foot Fist Way) and the on-set rap battle to enrich your experience.

Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns

Tomatometer: 29%

Tyler Perry is back, which means that you already know if Meet the Browns is for you. (If you know who his Madea character is — and it doesn’t make you groan inwardly — then you’re in his demographic.) This time, Angela Bassett wades her way through soap opera-esque melodrama and borderline stereotypical jokes in a heartwarming tale about family.

Bonus Features:

A two-disc DVD gives you four featurettes and a digital copy; otherwise, check out the single disc release for the movie alone.

My Blueberry Nights

Tomatometer: 47%

Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, 2046) makes his Hollywood debut in this tale of a woman (songstress Norah Jones) nursing heartbreak on a cross-country road trip, a vibrant ode to iconic modern Americana made with the reverent eye of an outsider. Laden with metaphors and partly shot in his gorgeous, Wong Kar-Wai style, My Blueberry Nights was nevertheless deemed a mixed bag of tricks.

Bonus Features:

If film-as-art and the creative process interest you, then check out the handful of extras here: a making-of featurette and lengthy Q&A with Wong Kar-Wai, plus on-set and scouting photo galleries.

X-Files: Revelations

Tomatometer: N/A

With the long-awaited (and highly secretive) sequel X-Files: I Want to Believe hitting theaters soon, you may need a refresher on the previous adventures of Mulder and Scully. Creators Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter handpick and provide commentary for eight of their favorite series episodes, and throw in a few sequel-related extras just to tease you.

Bonus Features:

Brief introductions to each episode provide some insight into each selection, but much like the big DVD extra — the X-Files 2 panel at WonderCon — you won’t find any new info about the sequel here.

‘Til next week, happy viewing!

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