US Release Date: 08-21-2009
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
- Brad Pitt, as
- Lt. Aldo Raine
- Melanie 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
- Daniel Bruhl, as
- Fredrick Zoller
- Til Schweiger, as
- Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz
- Mike Myers, as
- General Ed Fenech
- Rod Taylor, as
- Winston Churchill
- Eva Lobau as
- Miriam Dreyfus
A couple of Basterds.
I have never been a serious Tarantino fan. I always felt he created some great scenes and dialogue but his story lines were a bit scattered. Likewise, I have never cared for Brad Pitt, unless he is playing a comedic role. Inglourious Basterds has some great scenes but it stays true to Tarantino's style. That is to say he lacks a great story arc.
The movie begins with, "Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France..." What follows is a violent, bloody, sometimes funny and often tense riveting film. It is a fantasy, World War II revenge film about a group of American Jewish soldiers killing Nazis. It also tells the story of a jewish girl getting revenge for the massacre of her family.
Pitt plays good ol' boy Aldo Raine, who leads the Jewish slaughtering squad. "I sure as hell, didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky mountains, cross five thousand miles of ocean, jump out of an air-o-plane, fight my way through half of Sicily, to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity! Nazi ain't got no humanity. That's why every soldier we find wearing a Nazi uniform, they're gonna die." Although he plays a tough GI, Pitt has some of the funniest lines, mostly due to his accent. This is best displayed in a scene near the end when he pretends to be Italian.
Christoph Waltz as the evil Colonel Hans Landa is brilliant. He is a cat that enjoys playing with his mice. Even when he knows he is being lied to he still toys with his victim. This has a very unsettling affect on them as well as the audience. You never know how he is going to react, or just exactly what he knows. One of my favorite scenes of his, is when he orders milk for Shosanna. You have to see it to understand, but I think you will agree it carries some weight.
Tarantino's movies have far fewer scenes than most. Some scenes, such as the one in the bar is an individual story in itself. It could have been released as a short film, taking place entirely as he filmed it. It is almost as if he gets lost in these long scenes and forgets he has to fit them into the rest of the movie.
Of course he writes some great lines. One of my favorites is when Aldo cannot get a Nazi to talk, so he calls one of his men with a baseball bat over, "Got us a German here, wants to die for his country. Oblige him." Tarantino is a film buff and it shows in the details. Someone portrays real life German actor, Emil Jannings, and there are references to German actresses Marlene Dietrich and Pola Negri.
Melanie Laurent extracts her revenge in this World War II fantasy.
I was late to the Tarantino bandwagon; the first movie of his that I saw was Kill Bill Vol. II (yes II). I'm probably not his biggest fan, but I usually enjoy his movies, finding them to be smart, funny and incredibly violent. Like you Eric, I've found Pitt to be over rated. He's this huge star and yet he rarely appears in movies that make a lot of money. I think he's talented (just watch 12 Monkeys (or this one) if you think he's not) and he does have a flair for comedy that he puts to good use in this movie.
The one thing I didn't expect from a World War II movie was to be surprised by the ending. I won't give it away, but you weren't kidding when you called this a fantasy Eric. It's enjoyable and entertaining, but at the same time I have to admit it kind of bothered me. I know, that's dumb and it shouldn't; it's just a movie after all, but the fact that it's historically inaccurate annoyed me just the tiniest bit.
I also expected the Basterds to be in it more. Surprisingly they have very little screen time. Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna is given as much, if not more, screen time than Pitt as Aldo. In this case though, I didn't mind at all because her storyline is the most interesting and intriguing. Diane Kruger's German actress character is also quite good and I enjoyed her portion of the film as well. And given that the Basterds are such blunt killing machines perhaps it's best that their presence is doled out sparingly.
Christoph Waltz is brilliant as Landa. He plays a Nazi perfectly. He's silky evil underneath an Aryan exterior. I couldn't agree more about the milk ordering scene, Eric. How many times can someone ordering milk be such a tense moment? Does it mean something or is it a coincidence? It's a great scene from a movie filled with great scenes and Waltz steals every one that he's in.
One of my most common complaint about movies is that they run longer than they need to. Therefore, the fact that this one is over 2 and a half hours long and I never even noticed is probably one of the highest compliments I can give it.
Christoph Waltz as the chillingly evil Colonel Hans Landa.
The cinematography and editing really stood out for me. Tarantino knows how to set up a shot. His camera moves with grace and he doesn’t go overboard with quick edits like too many of today’s directors (see The Hurt Locker for an example). In fact he combines the best of classic Hollywood filmmaking, which includes long takes and crackling dialogue, with modern touches such as the extreme level of violence.
The historical inaccuracies didn’t bother me. Eric, you summed it up perfectly as a “fantasy WWII revenge film”. This is how the war would have ended if it had been scripted. Tarantino surprised me. I have been a fan since Reservoir Dogs and I knew he was great at writing dialogue for wise-guys, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes. I didn’t realize he could write dialogue for the 1940’s and make it sound authentic while retaining his wit and clever sense of timing.
Christoph Waltz steals every scene he is in and has created one of the most memorable villains in recent memory. I agree with the milk scene. It is a small detail but powerfully rendered. I also enjoyed the scene where he tries the shoe on Bridget von Hammersmark. It is a sort of twisted reverse Cinderella moment. I think he has a good shot at the Supporting Actor Oscar.
Inglourious Basterds shows a very talented filmmaker still growing and improving on his art. I can’t wait to see what Quentin Tarantino comes up with next.
Photos © Copyright Weinstein Company, The (2009)