Saturday, August 22, 2009
Movie Reviews: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
“Inglourious Basterds” begins in German-occupied France where Shosanna Dreyfus(Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as “The Basterds,” Raine’s squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, B.J. Novak, Melanie Laurent, Samm Levine
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Opened August 21, 2009
Rated R for strong graphic violence, brief sexuality and language
Genres: War Adventure, War
If you go into Quentin Tarantino’s last film expecting a serious WW2 film filled with historical accuracy then you are guaranteed to walk out disappointed. “Once upon a time in Nazi Occupied France” begins Tarantino’s latest revenge fantasy borrowing from Sergio Leone in his opening and other war films throughout, only loosely on the 70’s film of the same name, he once again shows his talent of borrowing elements from cinema history and blending them into something incredibly fascinating and utterly watchable. Paced like a slow moving train going up hill, those expecting a spatterfest in the vein of Kill Bill Vol. 1 with a WW2 will be let down by the lack of action. That’s not to say there isn’t bloody and gore, there is but not in the mass quantities of the aforementioned films. Instead Tarantino relies more on this dialogue and strong episodic pacing to create some wonderfully tension filled sequences. The opening episode and a scene in a bar, with a climax that makes the Reservoir Dogs finale look like a Disney film, are the strongest of the lot. While Tarantino’s talent as a writer is on full display and so is his knack for casting his large ensemble pieces with pitch perfect precision. Sold as a Brad Pitt film by the advertising, he’s hardly the central character. Pitt does seem to be having a ball with Aldo’s Popeye brow and chin and his southern drawl, he’s great fun throughout. Mélanie Laurent gives a well rounded performance as Shosanna as she displays a natural ability to display both toughness and vulnerability in her character. Diane Kruger also delivers a noteworthy performance in limited screen time as Bridget Von Hammersmark. The real standout here though is Christoph Waltz who sizzles with an inquisitively villainous intensity that permeates the screen from the moment he hits the screen. He crafts the performance so well that by the middle of the film any and every mundane movement comes off as sinister. The rest of the ensemble all do well in their roles and fill the caricatures adequately even if they lack any semblance of depth. Some may see this as a major drawback but considering this film is more a tall tale than anything else, it’s easily forgivable. There are a few more glaring issues which depending on which side of the Tarantino divide you’re on maybe nothing or something. His inability to quell his overindulgences do prop up from time to time with some scenes going on for a seemingly endless amount of time. The pacing isn’t going to be for everyone just like his decision to use multiple languages throughout, something I consider a stroke of genius, and relying on subtitles for extended amounts of time. Personally I’ve always enjoyed his excesses and appreciated them that doesn’t change with Inglourious Basterds.