Monday, August 24, 2009
There aren't many directors with as polarizing an affect on audiences and critics like Quentin Tarantino. This time, though, I think the opinion will be generally the same across the board: Inglourious Basterds is a thrill ride made of razor-sharp dialogue, spot-on acting, and a nod to moviegoers' obsession with over-the-top violence.
Friday night I went out to the Hickory Hill-oops, I mean Paradiso- theater. $10 ticket- I felt like I should have gotten a massage or something. Jeez. I was a little less worried about the $10 after the movie though-boy was it worth it.
In typical Tarantino fashion, Inglourious Basterds is divided into chapters, each presented with a chapter number, and a title. (My favorite title by far was "Revenge of the Giant Face".) After the classic western sounding credits roll, the movie opens with a gorgeous French countryside, and leads into the first scene with the star of this film.
Now, you may say, "Drew, wait, isn't Brad Pitt in this movie?". Yes he is, you idiot. But the true star is Cristoph Waltz, who absolutely dazzles in his role as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. We learn in this first scene (hilariously titled "Once upon a time...in Nazi-occupied France) that Col. Landa has been charged by his Fuhrer to hunt down all the Jews in France. His actions, to this point, have earned him the nickname "The Jew Hunter". (Not quite as catchy as one of the Basterd's monikers, "The Bear Jew".) And boy does he earn that nickname in this first scene.
I won't spoil anything in the movie, (I HATE when reviews do that) but the way Tarantino brings us into scenes much like the first, and then just when we're wondering what is going on, QT brings the freaking hammer down and the music builds and the audience is literally holding their breath until the scene lets us loose of its grip for the movie to move on. The calmness with which Waltz portrays his brutal character is incredible-he his polite, smart, witty, and also cold and calculating.
Moving on, as I have rambled on Waltz's performance (deservedly so) for a while now, the main plot of the movie doesn't show up until the third chapter. After getting an extremely entertaining introduction to tough backwoods Lt. Aldo Raine and his Nazi-killing Basterds in the second act, which I guarantee you will love, we follow a young Jewish girl. A young Jewish girl, Shoshanna, who happens to have changed her identity to a French cinema owner, and has a connection to Col. Hans Landa. (again, no spoilers!)
And for all you QT fans, or people who've never seen a Tarantino movie, beware. His trademark take of 'ain't no thang' to brutal, bloody, and heartless violence is still there. Tarantino loves him some blood and guts, and knows that America does too. He goes juuuust far enough to satiate our bloodlust, and then a little more to clearly poke fun at the inane violence of some of these big studio movies we see nowadays.
I won't divulge much more of the plot, to keep from spoiling, but also to encourage you to see the movie. I will say that one of the neatest scenes I've seen in a while was when Shoshanna ends up sitting at a dinner table with Joseph Goebbels (Seriously, who'd have thought we'd see Hitler and Goebbels portrayed so nonchalantly?). While that scene was funny and a little weird, my favorite scene comes much later. I won't spoil it, but I must admit that Inglourious Basterds was the first movie to make me actually cheer at the screen in a long time. While Brad Pitt was solid, obviously having fun with his role, and Cristoph Waltz stunned us, Quentin Tarantino gets the credit for a wonderful movie. Definitely his best since Pulp Fiction. (maybe BETTER. Yeah I said it.)
Well done QT, well done.
4/4 Generic Movie Rating increments in my book.
I bet this is the only time you see two 4/4 movie reviews from me back to back, EVER.