03
Sep
09

Movie Review: Inglourious Basterds

I B Teaser 1-Sht.

 

Tarantino rewriting history for fun

Stars Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Melanie Laurent, Mike Myers, Diane Kruger. Directed by Quentin Tarantino.

More World War II movies need spaghetti Western music. I might be getting ahead of myself here.

Let me get this out of the way: Brad Pitt and Company (Eli Roth, etc.) “aren’t much into the taking prisoners business. We in the killin’ Nazis business.” Pitt plays Lt. Aldo Raine, a Tennessean good ole boy who keeps a company of eight men inside German-occupied France and who charges each man with delivering “100 Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps,” taking a cue from the Apache Indians. Each man is Jewish and mostly American (a few are German). Among the group is Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) who made the German papers tracking down and personally killing 13 high ranking Nazi SS. Their personal dream is to take down the entire Third Reich by any and all means possible.

But the movie isn’t just about them.

Shosanna (Laurent) is a French Jew living in Paris under the name Emmanuelle. Years earlier her family hid under the home of a farmer known for his daughters and milk production. Shosanna narrowly escaped with her life from the execution brought by “Jew Hunter” Colonel Hans Landa. Landa is a keen hunter/detective for the Third Reich with fluency in several languages and the ability to detect B.S. a mile away. In short: he’s the ultimate antagonist overshadowing the other high-ranking officers.
Back to Shoshanna: she’s now living in Paris and owns a cinema supposedly given to her by her dead aunt and uncle. Her projectionist is a black man named Marcel (Jacky Ido), whom she also loves. Along comes Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), the “star of the moment” for defending a seized city and killing over 300 combatants in a period of three days. This led to a movie being made about him directed by Joseph Goebbels called “Nation’s Pride” where he plays himself. He falls for Shosanna/Emmanuelle and has her meet the high-ranking officials of the SS and persuades them to use her theatre for the premiere of the movie. She hatches a plan whereby she’ll ignite the 350 highly flammable nitrate films (a segment narrated by Samuel L. Jackson) and get vengeance on the Germans for killing her family.

And the third story:

A British film critic-turned-soldier (Gedeon Burkhard) is inducted to be part of Operation Kino by General Ed Fenech (Mike Myers). He is to go to Paris and escort double-agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to the premiere of “Nation’s Pride” which Hitler is supposedly going to attend.

How do the Basterds weave through these stories? How is Landa involved within them? For that, you’ll have to watch the movie.

Tarantino throws in everything but the kitchen sink into this one: he borrows the book chapter titling from the “Kill Bill” movies to kick start the separate stories. Samuel L. Jackson (as noted above) narrates a section explaining nitrate film. Julie Dreyfus (interpreter in “Kill Bill”) shows up in this too as in interpreter: French-to-German, vice versa. Harvey Keitel lends some voiceover work from a telephone connection toward the end of the film. Spaghetti Western music surrounds the torture sequences of the Basterds; even a David Bowie songs makes an appearance in the movie in a very apropos segment. Camera crane shots following a character seem to mimic those from “Kill Bill Volume One.” And lest ye forget: over-the-top characters.

Ultimately this is a film geek’s movie as well as a Tarantino fan’s movie (which if you’re one you might as well be the other). From Tarantino’s style culled from his previous fare (“Kill Bill,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Jackie Brown”) to homages to his favorite films (I think there was a reference to “The Searchers” somewhere in there) it has its moments of fun. What better way to give credit to those who watch and love his movies than centering the events of a movie around film itself?

Brad Pitt is great as the Southern Lt. Aldo Raine. Eli Roth (not a favorite) works as Sgt. Donny Donowitz, “The Bear Jew,” a guy who kills Nazis with a baseball bat. Christoph Waltz is the perfect Nazi bad guy. Laurent is great as the woman swearing vengeance on the party and who ends up in a doomed relationship. One thing Tarantino has above other directors is the ability to either perfectly cast someone, or make the person work for the role they’re given.

Why should you see this film? You’re a Tarantino fan. You’re a film geek/nerd. Or maybe you just wanna see some Nazi scalping. Speaking of which watch for Tarantino in the beginning of the film as a Nazi being scalped.

Not to dismay the fun, but the film does lag at a certain point. It’s not so much the dialog as it is the story weighing down the fun of the movie. Don’t get me wrong: the beginning and ending acts are GREAT, but somewhere before the finale things tend to drag. Blame it on the pacing. Also, I wanted to see more of The Basterds in action. I was hoping the movie would be more about the group than the other stories it divided time between. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it overall but… I wanted something more. Not so much more explanations of the characters but more scenes of their adventures.

My grade: B+

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