Inglorious Basterds

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Edited by: Sally Menke
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Brad Pitt

To date, this is my favorite Tarantino movie. I fell in love with that opening scene, a scene that at once awes and captures your attention. The scene is beautifully shot and please, please, please if you haven't seen this movie yet do not watch it on your grandmother's old tube TV. This movie deserves the best quality you can afford to view it in. This scene, one of the best opening scenes in a movie, pulls you in and Tarantino makes sure you stay there until the very end. The movie never slows, never leaves you wondering what time it is, or when it's going to end. Like Tarantino's other movies, Basterds is over the top, hilarious, and just a bit uncomfortable for some.

Like most of Tarantino's movies there are several main characters: Aldo Raine (Pitt), Shoshanna (Laurent), and Col. Hans Landa (Waltz).

We are first introduced to Col. Landa as he arrives on a dairy farm to ask the farmer (Denis Menochet) some questions about a Jewish family that had been living in the area. The tension in the air even as Landa drinks a glass of milk, doesn't really register at first but it's there; it's building. You're just watching the movie, wondering what is happening. But then, you feel that something is not quite right. Landa talks with the farmer, asks him questions, even smokes his pipe; nothing at all vicious or suspicious. But then you learn his nickname: "The Jew Hunter" and the wheels start turning, slowly, about what he may be doing there. Waltz's acting is absolutely amazing. This scene alone would have won him the Oscar (in my opinion). He never drops his friendly demeanor but you can hear the pride in his voice about his nickname and how he describes his ability to think like a Jew. His ability to be both charming and silkily malicious is a testament to his acting ability.

Next we meet the Basterds for whom the movie is named. They are a group of mostly Jewish-Americans (with an ex-SS guard) who are not interested in the rules of war but rather the scalps of Nazis. Aldo Raine is the Lieutenant of the group who delivers some pretty funny lines with his Southern twang accent. Their scenes are violent but goes to show that they are not out to take prisoners or offer exchanges; they are trying to cause pain and kill as many Nazis as they can.

Finally, we meet Shoshanna who once had a run in with Landa but is now living in German occupied France where she owns a movie theater. A famous, German hero sees her fixing the marquee and ends up falling for her. He persuades Goebbels and other very important Germans to screen a new movie at her theater to impress her. Though she is disgusted with him, and all German Nazis in general, she decides to let them screen their movie as she makes a plan of her own.

The plots between all three of the characters intersect with many other characters to culminate in a pretty crazy but totally Tarantino-esque fashion.

I know there are people who dislike Tarantino but I think that his movies are just proof that he is a great director and writer. He is able to get the very best from his actors and make use of music, sound, set, and editing extremely well. He understands movies on a level that only a nerd who watches them forever could. I envy his ability to mix genres and still make the movie not only cohesive but interesting without being distracting.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 popcorn.

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