Wednesday, August 26, 2009

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino



Where & When: Arclight Cinema, Hollywood, CA August 24, 2009 8:00PM


I had said in a previous post that I couldn't wait to see "Inglourious Basterds". Well, the wait is over -- and I'm actually not disappointed. The Quentin Tarantino that I have loved since "Pulp Fiction" is back and in great form. His last film"Death Proof" in his half of the film, "Grind House" was just mediocre in my book. It was just too much talk about nothing and repetitive.

Tarantino's latest is a solid redemption with breath taking visuals and brilliant dialogue which is Mr. Tarantino's claim to fame. Now, I had a few problems with the film which I will go in to later but overall, I really enjoyed "Inglourious Basterds".

The film is broken down in to five chapters and we begin in Nazi occupied France where we first are introduced to Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) who is also known as "The Jew Hunter". He goes to a farm to further investigate the possibility of jews being hidden there. Col. Landa calmly and coolly questions the farmer until he finally gets the answer he is after. It is a great scene and we are off to a great start.

The next chapter we are introduced to Lt. Aldo Raine played by Brad Pitt. He heads a small group of Jewish-American soldiers who call themselves "the Basterds". Their mission is to wipe out as many Nazis as possible and to collect 100 scalps each in the process. We get to witness the scalping in graphically bloody detail. Another member of the team is Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Director Eli Roth) or "The Bear Jew" who is very handy with a baseball bat.

Next we meet Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) who was the only one of her family who managed to escape from Col. Landa at the farm years ago. She now goes by the name "Emmanuelle Mimieux" and runs a movie theater in Paris. A sniper now turned actor, Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) is attracted to the lovely Shosanna and he is in town for the premiere of his new film, "A Nation's Pride" which is nothing more than Nazi propaganda. These circumstances causes the movie premiere to be held at Shosanna's theater and for her to once again cross the path of Col. Landa. This sets in to motion Shosanna's plan for revenge.

The British have found out that Hitler and his top aides will be attending the movie premiere. They are working with "The Basterds" in coming up a plan to take them down at there. The British send Lt. Hicox (Michael Fassbender) and a couple of Lt. Raine's men to meet with German actress, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) who is a secret spy for the British to provide them with more information. They are disguised as Nazi officers and meet Ms von Hammersmark at an out of the way French tavern. Unfortunately, a group of real Nazi soldiers are having a drunken celebration at the same time. A SS Officer is also at the tavern and notices something odd about these other "officers" and starts to question them. A small detail gives them away and sets off a deadly gun fight leaving the actress wounded but alive.

Finally we come to the movie premiere. Ms von Hammersmark has gotten Lt. Raine, Sgt. Donowitz and a couple of their men into the screening. Because of clues left behind at the tavern, Col. Landa is now aware of the deception of the actress. Col. Landa takes care of her and takes away Lt. Raine and an another solider to a secret location. Col. Landa is willing to make a deal with Lt. Raine to allow them to kill Hitler in exchange for money, a new identity and protection. Lt. Raine calls the powers that be and they approve of the plan.

Nobody realizes that Shosanna's has her own plan to finish off the Nazis. Unbeknown to Sgt. Donowitz, who managed to stay at the screening, he assists Shosanna with making sure the film premiere has an explosive, destructive, and history altering ending. As for Col. Landa, Lt. Raine gives him a visual reminder so that the world will always be aware of his involvement with the Nazi party.

Now the history altering ending is one area I have a problem with. On one hand, I think it is clever idea and pure Tarantino but another part of me feels that it was just a cheat. Mr. Tarantino is just being lazy and created a convenient ending instead of using actual facts to come to a creative conclusion.

Like many of his films, I also found the film to be a little excessive in regards to the blood and the very graphic violence. I shouldn't have been surprised. . . I nearly walked out of "Reservoir Dogs" during the ear cutting sequence and you don't even really see it. It was more of the idea and the sadistic nature that was too much for me. I guess there is never too much of anything for Mr. Tarantino.

Despite these minor asides, I think Mr. Tarantino is a brilliant artist who makes interesting and challenging films by taking familiar genres and twisting and mixing them all up to create something that is purely and uniquely "Tarantino". I predict Oscar nominations for Mr. Tarantino's screenplay, Mr. Waltz's performance and even a long shot possibility for Best Picture.