Monday, September 7, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

This 2009 flick and latest addition from writer/director Quentin Tarantino offers a very unique take on the WWII movie genre. Hell, all I really have to tell you is that it's a historical war drama by Tarantino for you to know that. He started out years ago wanting to do a remake of the 1978 flick by Enzo Castellari, but, he says, one day he learned that one of his favorite directors of all time (and mine I must say), Sergio Leone, was working on a WWII movie when he died. Leone's movies are tense, violent and full of bad dudes kicking a fistful of ass. Tarantino says that this sparked an idea in his head like a lightning bolt. What if he made a Leone style, western inspired, WWII movie where the jews clean house the way Clint Eastwood's characters so often did in any given Leone pic? Well, that's just what he's done. Like any good Tarantino movie, this flick is about way more than that. There are subplots and side stories galore and each one feels full and rich and perfectly necessary for the story and the overall tone. He teams up again with production designer David Wasco and cinematographer Robert Richardson, which means every last detail of every single last shot is crisp and telling and totally fantastic. The scenes and the pacing are Tarantino at his best. This movie is simply fantastic. The Leone pic he said he drew the most inspiration from was Once Upon a Time in the West, which just so happens to be my favorite. He even starts the movie with the words Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France. What this means is that Tarantino takes his time and the movie feels like a slow, deliberate boil. But, trust me, when it boils, it boils. The best thing about it all are the performances. Tarantino, as usual, casts based on how they are for the part and not whether or not they're respected actors, or even actors for that matter, there are members of the primary cast who are models, directors, even musicians, but every last person from the projectionist to the lead roles are emotionally gripping, authentic and really great. In fact, there are people in this movie who don't even have speaking roles that I can't get out of my head a day later. There are those who are in one brief scene and yet are memorable and evocative. From this sea of great performances rises three that are remarkable. First, there is the villainous and bizarre Col Hans Landa, played to perfection by Austrian TV actor Christoph Waltz. Every last detail of his presence on screen is captivating and terrifying. I was glued. Then there's his counterpart, Brad Pitt's heroic and cruel Lt Aldo Raine. Raine is an utterly unique character straight out the smoky mountains who, in the first moment you see him, says he's here to do one thing and nothing else, kill Nazi's. They call him Aldo the Apache because he doesn't just kill them, he desecrates their bodied and works real hard to make Germany absolutely terrified of him. And he's doing a damn fine job. Everything Pitt does or says is enjoyable. It all feels natural and I could have watched his performance for days more. Like any good Leone protagonist, he's a country boy everyman who has a fine knack for ass kicking. I mean, the guy has a scar across his neck that can only be the product of being previously hung or cut. But doing some crap like that to Aldo the Apache is only going to get you in more trouble. Long story short, he's a badass. There are two things you need to know before going into this flick. One, it's violent. Very violent. Or, I should say, when it is violent, it comes at you with a stark, disturbing, heavy hand. A second thing you should know is that Tarantino takes alot of liberties. This is not meant to be historically accurate, not even close, and if you know that going in and just accept this this is fantasy, you will surely enjoy it.


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