**** (out of 5)
August 21, 2009
Brad Pitt as LT. ALDO RAINE
Mélanie Laurent as SHOSANNA DREYFUS
Christoph Waltz as COL. HANS LANDA
Eli Roth as SGT. DONNY DONOWITZ
Michael Fassbender as LT. ARCHIE HICOX
Diane Kruger as BRIDGET VON HAMMERSMARK
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
BY KEVIN CARR
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To fully appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s latest film “Inglourious Basterds,” you’re going to need to be prepared. First, you need to have a sense of the spaghetti western. Forget your World War II history. After all, the only things you really need to know about “Inglorious Basterds” is that there were Nazis occupying France, they hated the Jews and they were all-around right-bastards.
But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” before seeing this film, especially considering the opening scene of “Inglourious Basterds” is a direct homage to the opening scene of Sergio Leone’s ultimate western tale.
You should also have an appreciation for Quentin Tarantino’s films, particularly his signature style of referencing disparate genres (like revenge movies, kung fu movies, blaxploitation flicks and the aforementioned spaghetti western in this movie alone). Tarantino does not set out to make a war film like any one you have seen before. Instead, he’s going for a genre mish-mash to deliver a unique film in and of itself.
But the biggest thing that you should be prepared for is the fact that the movie is probably nothing like you think it will be, based on the advanced trailers. If you watch these trailers, you might be tempted to believe that you’ll get nothing more than two and a half hours of American Jewish soldiers “killing Nah-zies.” And while there are a few decent “Nah-zie” killing scenes, that is hardly the bulk of the film.
“Inglourious Basterds” is, at its heart, a suspense thriller, but not in the old-fashioned Alfred Hitchcock sort of way. It’s a suspense movie the way Taratino works. Rather than having the characters sneak around a creepy house or go on some tenuous mission during which the audience waits nervously for them to be discovered, “Inglorious Basterds” relies on Tarantino’s signature dialogue.
Much of the movie sets various characters against each other, with at least one of the parties guarding a secret of some sort. Tarantino lets the scenes play out with a deliberately slow pace, leaving the audience to wonder when a secret will be revealed and when all hell is going to break loose.
Trust me, all hell breaks loose several times in this film, but not always as you might expect it to. For Tarantino fans who love to bathe in the writer/director’s screenwriting brilliance, you’re going to have a religious experience with this film. The only catch is that for at least half the time, you’re going to have to read subtitles, considering much of the dialogue is in French and German as well as English.
“Inglourious Basterds” tells several stories that come together in a bizarre way by the final act. On one hand, you have the dastardly Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, a master detective who is famous for hunting fleeing Jews and uncovering plots against the Third Reich. Then you have the story of Shosanna Dreyfus, a pretty young French woman who escaped Landa years ago only to come face-to-face with him when the Nazis plan on a propaganda movie premiere at her local theater. Finally, there’s the story of the Basterds, a group of Jewish-American soldiers who sneak around behind enemy lines, killing Nazis and seeking revenge for the Holocaust.
Like Tarantino’s last film “Death Proof,” “Inglourious Basterds” is several different films. The most enjoyable parts involve the Basterds in their few scenes of “killing Nah-zies.” The stories of Colonel Landa and Shosanna Dreyfus are more of a slow build, offering dialogue driven suspense.
Even if you’re bogged down in the admittedly talky film, it’s worth sticking with the movie to reach the epic climax, which surprised the hell out of me but was decadently fun. It may not be a historically accurate movie, but it is cathartic.