Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

This is what GI Joe should have been!!! Yes it's overly violent with some crude language but this was after all a war flick. A slick, fun romp that takes place behind enemy lines during World War II. I do appreciate the skills of director Quentin Tarantino, but as I walked out of the theatre I was pleasantly surprised that he was the guy behind the camera of this film. It's entirely his fault I have no faith in his film tastes, because as talented as he is, he has an annoying habit of loving shitty B movies. They influence his work like with Grindhouse and Jackie Brown, which I loathed. Even some of the films I enjoyed like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill had traces of this bad taste. Thankfully none of those pieces were evident to me in Inglourious Basterds and it is by far one of his best films because of it.An elite group of American Jewish soldiers, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) infiltrate France in June of '44. They are there for only one reason and that is to hunt, terrorize and scalp Nazis. The film also breaks off to follow a young Jewish woman named Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) who escapes slaughter at the hands of the Jew Hunter, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). She goes into hiding and plots her revenge.The movie reminded me of a meaner and bloodier Great Escape. Steve McQueen could totally have played Aldo Raine. With his machismo and over-confidence, it would have been a gritty classic. Don't get me wrong Brad was great and I really enjoyed his surly backwoods accent. It had a great cadance to it. But Steve would have been equally fun. I do want to prepare you, the trailers were deeply misleading to what was actually on-screen. The Basterds are instrumental to the film but they take a backseat through a large portion of the film so Tarantino can focus on Shosanna and her vengeance. I thought we would get to know the other Basterds like in the Dirty Dozen but we only really get to know three of them. Aldo Raine of course, Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, the Nazi Killer, (Til Schweiger) and the Bear Jew (Eli Roth), whose specialty is to beat Nazi brains in with a Louisville Slugger. This was only a slight disappointment, but the movie stands so well on it's own that after a while I didn't think much of it.When award season finally comes around don't be surprised if you see Christoph Waltz's name bandied about for Oscar consideration. The guy truly holds the breakout performance of the film. His Col. Landa is cruel and manipulative yet somehow pleasant and menacing all at the same time. His introduction scene is one of the best--tense as hell, I knew what was going to happen but I was still on the edge of my seat. I also really enjoyed Michael Fassbender's James Bond esqe Lt. Archie Hicox. He was certainly channeling Connery in his performance as his cold and witty demeanor added to one of my favorite scenes in the basement bar. Melanie Laurent could also find herself nominated for her part as Shosanna, she was certainly the heart of the story. This was the also the first time where I noticed Diane Kruger's acting chops--if Fassbender was channeling Connery, Kruger was certainly vibing Marlene Dietrich. This was at times an absurdist, violent and funny action romp but overall a good time at the theatre. So if you haven't seen this yet go now before it's gone.

Grade: 4 Buckets

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