By Jack Rico
Rated: R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.
Release Date: 2009-08-21
Starring: Quentin Tarantino
Official Website: http://weinsteinco.com/#/film/inglourious/
‘Inglorious Basterds’ is a collection of brilliantly crafted scenes that are routinely interrupted by Quentin Tarantino‘s ego. Worried that we might forget who is directing, he reminds us that this isn’t any old World War II movie. The film could have been one of the great works of movie cinema this decade if it wasn’t for his compulsion for attention rather than concentrating in the craft at hand and the audience viewing it.
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as “The Basterds” (Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Til Schweiger) are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis. The Basterds soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl (Mélanie Laurent) who now runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers.
Don’t expect to see Kill Bill. This is the new evolution of Tarantino, a director who is absolutely grown in every way, except as a storyteller. The film is putatively about Nazi killers in the Second World War, but it is really about the love of cinema, Tarantino’s love of cinema. ‘Can it be?’, you might ask. That’s what I said when the movie ended. The constant reiteration of dialogue in homage to the French and German classics is unavoidable, and regrettably, it fractures the pace of the film in order to illustrate it. So as the audience, we get taken for a switch and bait. The crazy thing is that it is a delightful switch and bait. Expect to see a beautiful and meticulous visual cinematic experience with one Oscar award winning performance from Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa and perhaps Ms. Laurent’s.
The opening scene is riveting and one of the more memorable sequences Tarantino has ever put on celluloid, rivaling that of Pulp Fiction. It’s elegant and sophisticated, tense and engrossing, but at times, the film slips and doesn’t find its way such as some of its miscasting efforts and its bathetic ending. We are witnesses to a movie and a director trying to find themselves as it unfolds. Not very admirable, but interesting nonetheless.
What you’ll like about ‘Inglorious Basterds’ is its story concept, artistic cinematography, Tarantino’s directorial tone and mood and Waltz’s mesmerizing and petrifying performance. What you won’t like is that you paid to see a movie that isn’t about Brad Pitt killing scores of Nazis, but more about the romanticism of world film and Tarantino’s place in it. Go figure.