Posted by: ckckred | February 11, 2014

Inglourious Basterds

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For Quentin Tarantino, the world of film is a boiling pot full of mixed ingredients.  Tarantino’s style is unlike any other despite that his movies are comprised of homages, references, and winks.  Many have tried to make Tarantinoish films, but no one manages to rival Tarantino when it comes to pop-culture referencing.  Even if you consider Tarantino a derivative artist, there’s no denying his ingenuity on screen, the main reason why I’ve always been a big fan of his work.  Inglourious Basterds may not be the funniest of Tarantino’s filmography but it’s a great declaration to his filmmaking skills and one of his best efforts.

Unlike any of Tarantino’s movies before, Basterds is based on reality… sort of.  Set in Nazi-occupied France, Tarantino plays his version of World War II where a guerilla group of American-Jews take revenge upon the Germans, deeming themselves the “Inglourious Basterds.”  Their leader Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), a Tennessee man with a thick Southern accent, commands the Basterds with brashness and orders them to bring him 100 Nazi scalps.  Together, the team successfully attacks German forces and causes distress to even Hitler himself.

The main central plot of Inglourious Basterds though focuses on other characters as well.  In the opening scene, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a Nazi commander known as the “Jew hunter,” enters a dairy farm where he pushes the farmer (Denis Menochet) into confessing that he is hiding a Jewish family.  Only Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) escapes the massacre.  Four years later, she quietly owns a movie theater in Paris under a new alias but after a Nazi war hero (Daniel Bruhl) falls in love with her, the Third Reich commissions a propaganda movie helmed by Joseph Goebbels to premiere at her cinema, attended by top German officials and with security under none other than Hans Landa.  Terrified that her identity may be uncovered, Shosanna plans to burn her theater down to kill the Nazi theatergoers.  Inadvertently, the Basterds plan to also take down the Germans while working with English Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) and agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger).

For the recipe of Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino mixes countless war films, numerous B-movies, and even a bit of Western, as Hans’ big introduction rings comparisons to The Searchers, while using the structure of Pulp Fiction with its nonlinear course.  Inglourious Basterds is a riff at the John Wayne style combat picture (with Brad Pitt in the Wayne role) but also operates at something more. Much like Full Metal Jacket, Inglourious Basterds reveals the irony of the war style picture.  It’s not about the Holocaust or World War II, it’s about the thrill of violence, the unsustainable pleasure we get from see Nazis meeting their doom from getting smashed by a baseball bat to shot down. Ben Walters of Film Quarterly summed up Basterds well when he said Tarantino “explicitly invites us to take a break from historical reality.”   Inglourious Basterds isn’t trying to be a history lecture, it’s meant to be a great piece of entertainment, one that’s both thrilling and thought-provoking.

And where Basterds succeeds, like with every Tarantino movie, is the impeccable acting.  Pitt has rarely been better in his role as Raine, playing the character with humor and grace.  Fassbender is also phenomenal as Hicox; though he appears only briefly, Fassbender marks one of the picture’s finest moments.  The best acting though comes Waltz, whose deranged Nazi is a bizarre and despicable yet drawing character, the most memorable in Tarantino’s catalog since Jules in Pulp Fiction.  Waltz carves through the character with such power and punch that he radiates in every scene he’s in.

It may not be for all tastes, but Inglourious Basterds is delectable entertainment that’s among the sharpest and quickest of Tarantino’s filmography, a sublime ode to the director’s talent.

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Responses

  1. Excellent review, I love the “That’s a bingo” line has me in stitches every time I see it.

    • Thanks! It’s a very quotable film.

  2. Love the review. As with most of QT’s work, I really love some parts of this film and I could have done without others. But it’s interesting how much I’ve warmed up to the film over time. I’m still not 100% sure about Pitt’s performance but Waltz is simply phenomenal. I’m also a big fan of French actress Melanie Laurent and she is excellent here as well. She’s good in anything.

    • Rhanks! I forgot to give more credit to Melanie in my review, she was great.

  3. Nice review. One of my favorite QT films. Christoph Waltz blew me away. The ladies are the epitome of beauty and strength. Brad and his crew were funny. The burning of the film and the blow up of the theater very clever and believable. I loved it. 🙂

    • Thanks! That ending was really something. When I first saw the movie it came as pretty unexpected for me.

  4. Nice review of a great film! Basterds is always a ton of fun. I really love the rewriting aspect of it and I’m glad Tarantino continued it into Django Unchained. I agree with basically everything you say, but I’m with Keith about Pitt’s performance. He’s good but I think most of the rest of the cast overshadows him. Though it’s a pretty small part, I love Fassbender here and of course Waltz is great as well.

    • Thanks! Fassebender’s really good and I think he shines brightly in a small role. Waltz does steal the show and as I said is Tarantino’s best character since Jules.

  5. I think it’s a great film. QT has never done much wrong in my eyes to be honest.

    • Can’t go wrong with Tarantino, I love his work.

  6. What glorious fun 😀

    • It sure is! One of Tarantino’s best.

  7. One of Tarantino’s more ambitious projects as of late, and it’s nearly-perfect for that reason. So many scenes seem like they were only five or ten minutes, but went on for what felt like an hour, which is a good thing if you’re in a Tarantino flick. His dialogue always keeps you excited, riveted and wondering just what he’s going to pull out of his dirty bag of tricks next. Good review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, Tarantino can really stylize dialogue and he’s razor sharp with his script.

  8. That opening scene is seminal stuff. Thanks for the revisit buddy 🙂

    • The opening scene really is incredible and the intensity of Waltz’s performance showcases Tarantino’s ability to bring out the best in actors.

  9. This movie was excellent, well acted, solidly directed and presented and so worth the watch! Absolutely excellent review!

    • Thanks! It’s great on all levels.

  10. Nicely done mate. This is one of my favourite Tarantino films, I just love everything about it.

    • Thanks! I’d say it really showcases his directorial ability.

  11. Nice review. This one’s still probably my favorite from Tarantino so far. B)

    • Thanks! Pulp Fiction’s my favorite but this is great as well.

  12. Though this film was too violent and intense for me, I’m glad I gave it a shot as I ended up loving it! I had to take some breaks in between during the most intense scenes but overall it’s brilliant, perhaps my fave from Tarantino.

    • I’d say my favorite’s Pulp Fiction followed by Reservoir Dogs, but I think I’d put this up with Tarantino’s best. Excellent movie for sure.

  13. My three favorite sequences are the opening with the dairy farmer, the luncheon with Landa and Shosanna in the dining room with Gobbels, and the basement bar shootout and aftermath. In my opinion, this is Tarantino’s greatest work. A really nice job on the review.

    • Thanks! I would say Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s best followed by Reservoir Dogs but this is great as well. Tarantino really knows how to stylize dialogue.

  14. My favourite Tarantino film! It’s entertaining, fun, and has so many great characters. I’m still a little gutted Melanie Laurent didn’t get a nomination for this, she was excellent. Have you seen Beginners? She’s brilliant in that too.
    Great review!

    • Thanks! Laurent was certainly deserving of an Oscar nomination, quite a strong performance. I’ve haven’t seen Beginners but I’ve been recommended it a few times.


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