Sunday, August 30, 2009

You know somethin', Utivich? I think this might just be my masterpiece

Quentin Tarantino-Hi Im the movie encyclopedia and if no one will watch it, I will. Think about this name. It's probably one of the most renowned (or hated) names in cinema. We have all heard of him (unless we lived under a rock) and his name is synonomous with film greatness. When I think about my top directors of all time I always think, Scorsese, Speilberg, Lynch (David Lynch of Eraserhead fame), Fincher (Se7en), Tarantino and Eastwood. But i will try to keep my fanboyism down a notch in this review.

Tarantino has had a pretty long list of great movies-Pulp Fiction

Resevoir Dogs

and many other great films but these are my two favorite Tarantino movies with Pulp Fiction being my favorite...until today. Because Tarantino finally released his Magnum Opus, his film he has been writing for a decade, his world war 2 epic: Inglourious Basterds. You were probably wondering when I was going to get to the actual review. But we needed some backround, I am a huge Tarantino fan and have been for a while. A lot of people think he's self indulgent and is always playing off other people's movies and doesnt think of anything original. I am not one of those people. So if you DO hate Tarantino than take what I say with a grain of salt.
Inglourious Basterds is loosely based on the Dirty Dozen but more based on "Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato" which translates to the cursed armored train. What does an italian train movie have to do with anything? It was released in America under the title Inglorious Bastards. But its not a remake of the original movie but more of an homage. Its broken up into five chapters each with their own unique storyline and setpiece. So thats why its so hard to analyze the film as a whole because while it shares similar actors and a plot that arcs across the 131 minute movie, it has extremly different elements. So Ill tackle it chapter by chapter and give an overall at the end. Because this movie is so hard to explain as a whole.
WARNING *SPOILERS* No major spoilers like deaths or plot points but i will be brushing across the general idea of each chapter but i respect the viewers so i wont give away ANY MAJOR details. Kay?
Chapter 1- Once Upon a Nazi-Occupied France
This is the wonderfully colorful opening to Inglourious Basterds. Set in the French countryside it deals with the usual perils of Nazi Occupied areas-them hunting for Jews and you having Jews means your screwed. But after a very classic opening (retro Universal sign, very old school credits) we are introduced to the main antagonist of the story C0l. Hans Landa aka the Jew Hunter. He is played by Christoph Waltz who is phenominal in this movie. Seriously I would be surprised if he did not get an oscar nod. He is an Austrian actor who can speak French, German, English and Italian fluently. And we see it in this movie. He transfers effortlessly between languages and never shows a hint of a REALLY STRONG accent. He is deliciously evil, which means he is on the same levels as a Bond villain or Liev Schreiber (in any movie) He is the antagonist you love to hate. He makes you cringe, laugh and cower. And he is a mean SOB. But definetly, even if you are not a Tarantino fan, he alone is worth seeing the movie.
I will warn you ahead of time that the movie is extremly foreign. Which could be a good or a bad thing for some. Most of the movie is spoken in French or German but there is plenty of English. Its good in terms of authenticity but could distract some people who dont like foreign films or subtitles. It reminds me of Slumdog Millionaire in the way that it blends different languages but never feels boring.
Back to Chapter 1: Basically the chapter revolves around a conversation between Hans and Perrier LaPadite, a homeowner of a small dairy farm in France. This is where we are also introduced to Tarantino's new style that he debut's in this film. Gone is the sporatic story telling from Pulp Fiction or others where we bounce around from past to present, instead we see a direct chapter presentation. But Tarantino's twist is that he delivers 20-25 minute dialogue pieces and it all cultivates to a giant ultraviolent scene or a big plot twist/device or Hans comes in. He usually seems to be at the forefront of the whole thing.
After Chapter 1 is Chapter 2-Inglourious Basterds. This is where we are introduced to the title characters of the basterds. And I'll let Brad Pitt aka Aldo Raine describe this chapter:
"My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I'm putting me together a special team and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now y'all might-a heard the Armada happening soon, well we'll be leaving a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. Once we're in enemy territory, as a bush-whacking guerrilla army, we're gonna be doing one thing and one thing only... killing Nazis. Now I don't know 'bout ch'all but I sure as hell didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five-thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily, and jump out of a fucking aeroplane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi aint got no humanity! They're the foot soldiers of a Jew hating, mass murdering maniac, and they need to be destroyed. That's why any and every son-bitch we find wearing the Nazi uniform, they gonna die. Now I'm the direct descendant of the "Mountain Man", Jim Bridger, that means I got a little Ingen in me, and our mission will be that of the Apache Resistance. We will be cruel to the German and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, disfigured bodies their brothers we leave behind us and the Germans will not be able to help themselves from imagining the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, at our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the Germans will be sicken by us, the Germans will talk about us and the Germans will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by they're subconscious for the evil they have done, they will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?"
The Basterds: Yes, Sir!
"That's what I like to hear. But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors, you join my command and you take on a debit, a debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one-hundred Nazi scalps... and I want my scalps! And all y'all will get me one-hundred Nazi scalps taken from the heads of one-hundred dead Nazis... or you will die trying."
And that is exactly who they are. I could have spent paragraphs going over every single person and who they are and where they are from but Brad Pitt described it all in one speech. They are an undercover guerrilla army hell bent on killing and scalping Nazis. They show no mercy, unless you cooperate, then they just carve a swastika into your head, and they leave no trace.
They are lead by Aldo Raine, a loud, foul-mouthed man with a brilliant strategic mind.
His second in command is Donny Donowitz who is even less keen on Nazis and swings around a baseball bat. He is known as the Bear Jew by many and he is played by Eli Roth.

The third in command is Hugo Stiglitz who is played by German superstar Til Schwieger and he is pretty much the "HUGO ANGRY, HUGO KILL" Incredible Hulk of the group who is renowned for killing 13 Gustappos in one night.
But this chapter sets up our main protaginists as well as moves the plot along quite nicely in terms of character development.
The third chapter is called German Night in Paris. this chapter introduces us to the other main storyline in the film. While there are many subplots and other things going on the main two plots of the film revolve around the Basterds and Madame Mimieux. Emmanuelle Mimieux is an owner of a small theatre in France. Its elegant, it only shows one movie (or a marathon) and it only has two employees, the other being a black man named Marcel, who runs the projection. This entire chapter is spoken entirely in French, this being the only chapter that does such, because the rest of the chapters switch or start off in English. Emmanuelle is being courted by a young Nazi soldier named Fredrick Zoller, who has become famous for killing hundreds of Nazi soldiers. He shares a passion for cinema and a crush for Emmanuelle. Melanie Laurent and Daniel Bruhl star as Emmanuelle and Fredrick respectively. Melanie has such a great stage prescence and plays her character SO well. And Daniel is actually, besides Cristoph as Hans, what I think to be the best performance in the movie. He showcases what a lot of Nazi soldiers were-wide eyed patriots who want to protect their country and do the right thing. Yes to everyone else in the world and now what he was doing is bad but he showcases the mentality of ignorance that kind of makes him a bit of a tragic hero. He is a Nazi and Nazis are bad. But he is a really nice guy. But he is still thought of as bad BECAUSE HE IS A NAZI. He does great though.
Chapter 4 is called Operation Kino. Chapter 4 and 5 are much longer than 1-3 and beef up the storyline. No longer are we introducing set pieces and characters (although we are introduced to the British, whose leader is played by Mike Myers...yes THE Mike Myers) but more on action and finishing this plot. Chapter 4 is probably the second longest and it mostly focuses around Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark a famous actress who works as a double agent. Bridget waits in a bar and talks with a two basterds (not the vulgar term but of the BASTERDS) and a british film critic and soldier named Archie Hicox as they talk about strategy. Michael Fassbender (Archie Hicox) and Diane Kruger do a great job with their small roles. They add depth and Michael especially adds that suave-ness that you see in British spies and he is quite witty while Kruger is VERY good at being the femme fatale type.
Chapter 5 is called Revenge of the Giant Face. In this all the plots, sub-plots and everything come together in one big giant climax that is both awesome, suspenseful, funny and the best Tarantino film scene he has ever done. And thats saying a lot considering his other movies. But here is where I'll stop the spoilers and just say the film ends RIGHT.
*SPOILERS OVER...if you skipped*
This is definetly Tarantino's Magnum Opus. Its his best film! The acting is great, the action is great, the dialogue is great, witty, well written, and (thankfully) a lot more toned down on cussing (compared to others). I would highly reccomend this to ANYONE and I'd like to see a better movie (besides MAYBE DISTRICT 9) come out this year. Im buying this film and it will go on my collection as my #5 favorite film of all time.


  1. Wow, two top 10's in one month!
    I haven't seen Basterds yet, but am looking forward to. I agree that Tarantino is in the upper eschelon of directors. My favs of his so far have been Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill vol. I. Standing alone I felt Kill Bill vol. II dragged. I know that the two volumes were envisioned as one film and cut in two for time considerations and seeing them both as one film would probably make me re-evaluate the material in vol. II. They should release them both as one film on dvd. Or have they already. Tarantino's one misstep, in my opinion, and a disappointment was Death Proof. To me it was all about style and hipness without any substance, Tarantino being too self-indulgent. Perhaps you can change my mind...
    But looking forward to seeing I.B.

  2. I know. Usually Im not that generous with reviews. But District 9 and IB were just surprisingly good. I love RD and PF as you can see. Kill Bill 1 to me was really good and i agree KB2 was a mistake but someday (maybe on blu-ray) he'll release them as one continuous film. Death Proof surprised a bad way. I liked Grindhouse as a whole. The style, the setting. And in fact I loved Robert Rodruigez's Planet Terror (campy cheese awesomeness) and i was like Tarantino is up next. He will top Planet Terror definetly...=0

    That was my look during that movie. Shock. Shock at how horrible it was. It wasnt the story. It was an okay story. It just wasnt fleshed out and the whole thing felt forced, unfunny or clever, like Tarantino was forced to write something in 10 minutes. But IB DEFINETLY REDEEMED HIMSELF