Friday, 4 September 2009

Film Review: Inglourious Basterds

Spell check enabled.

It took me a while to work up the, I don' know, nerve? to see this film. Nerve isn't really the right word. Spirit, maybe. Mood. Not for lack of want, mind you. I really wanted to see it. I like Tarantino.

Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino's most mature film to date. It follows the stories of Brad Pitt and his platoon of Jewish-American soldiers as they kill and scalp their way across Germany, as well as Shoshanna Dryfuss, a Jewish woman hiding in plain sight in Paris. The two plot lines coincide when the Allies plan to blow up Shoshanna's movie theatre, which Shoshanna herself is planning to set on fire. Her cinema has been chosen for the premier of Germany's latest propaganda film, and the Third Reich's highest a officers, including Hitler himself, will be in attendance.

More conventional than his previous outing, Kill Bill (I am purposefully neglecting Death Proof), Inglourious Basterds is told in linear fashion, beginning with Colonel Hans Landa's search for Jews hiding out in a French farmhouse, and culminating in the destruction of the movie theatre in Paris. Though Basterds isn't nearly as stylized or hyperactive as other Tarantino films, it doesn't lack for violence, as nazis are shot, stabbed, beaten, and scalped.

Ich bin ein Berliner.

Though Brad Pitt is maybe the biggest name attached to the film, Christoph Waltz who plays the SS Colonel Hans Landa is the real star. He is simply brilliant as the "Jew Hunter", a man who is extremely good at his job. I might also mention that, for once, Eli Roth didn't totally piss me off. He does only a minimal amount of scenery-chewing, though I maintain he does his best acting with his mouth shut.

Like with all his films, Tarantino uses Basterds to show off his mad dialogue skills. Following on the unfortunately garrulous Death Proof, the man seems to have finally learned the fine art of story editing. Interestingly, a good part of the film is in French and German, which makes the whole thing seem more exotic than it is. I speak French so the foreignness was kind of lost on me, but I can appreciate the effect. Additionally, not everyone in the film speaks every language, which creates and reinforces alliances between the audience and the characters onscreen.

I highly recommend Inglourious Basterds. Tarantio talked it up as a WWII spaghtti western, which is a complete oxymoron, but even he cannot break all genre boundaries. Basterds plays more as a war/spy/drama than anything else, though it is, at its heart, a movie about killing nazis. And who can't get behind that?

Now would be a good time to find religion.

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