Quentin Tarantino can't have been the first person to wish that the Third Reich had ended not in a bunker below the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, with no outsiders watching, but in a public area made for mass entertainment: a Paris movie theater. And that the Jews, Hitler's special victims, might have had a crucial hand in his defeat — indeed, that a French Jewess could have ignited her own holocaust of the Führer and his top aides with the words: "My name is Shoshanna Dreyfus. And this is the face of Jewish vengeance." Anyway, he's the first director we know of to spin this sweet fantasy out into a 2½-hr., four-language epic. Receiving its world premiere on May 20 at the Cannes Film Festival, Inglourious Basterds — first word as in "glower," second as in "turds" — is an alternative history of World War II from the writer-director of Pulp Fiction, the Palme d'Or winner 15 years ago. As with all of his recent work — the two Kill Bill movies and Death Proof — Basterds draws portraits of strong women facing down evil men; and in Shoshanna (Mélanie Laurent) and Third Reich screen star Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) he's created two of his fullest female portraits. But Basterds is long and, for the hypercharged auteur, surprisingly wan. It has to be declared a misfire.