“Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

September 29, 2009

The above title is not a typo. However, it is the name that you should remember the next time you go to the movies. With the end of the wave of summer action flicks, Inglourious Basterds  is a great way to cap the season. Especially since there wasn’t too many great hits this time around.

It is actually a bit difficult to summarize the plot of Inglourious Basterds, because well, there is just so much of it. One of the unusual qualities about this movie is that there is so much going on. It revolves around a band of characters known as “Raines’ Basterds”, a small but elite American squad of Jewish-descended soldiers with one sole purpose: “Killin’ Nazis”. Their leader, Aldo Raines (sound familiar?), is a former moonshiner from Tennessee who has an oddly humorous, carefree disposition to murder. Because he is part Native American, he decides the team will go “Apache”, meaning he wants his victims scalped. Beyond chaos and discord, the team has no definite objective. They are simply dropped in the middle of Nazi-occupied France for the purpose of terrorizing the enemy.

While they run around happily giving Germans extra short haircuts, another story unfolds in Paris. A young French woman is working a cinema, still coming to terms with her family’s slaughter at the hands of Nazis. Then, one day, a young Nazi soldier falls for her and starts courting her. Despite her rebukes, he keeps coming on to her. Then she learns he is very well connected with the Nazi leaders. With this in mind, she concludes that the only option she and her lover really have is to exploit the situation to get some major revenge against the Nazis.

Around this time the Basterds start coming up with similar plans to take out the Nazi hierarchy. The two groups proceed to plot and conspire, all the while resorting to all kinds of subterfuge and scheming under the watchful eye of colonel Has Landa (Christoph Waltz), an infamous and eerie Nazi officer equivalent of Columbo. 

Speaking of which, the ironic twist on Brad Pitt being billed as the star is that he is sometimes showed up by his European counterparts-all of which are wonderful actors. I thought they were American unknowns playing Euro’s, but no, Tarantino got around the language problem by recruiting top knotch actors from Germany and France. I truly hope that Cristoph Waltz decides to broaden his horizons and do more gigs across the Atlantic. The man rocked the house.

What is Tarintino’s recent film? A suspense movie? An action movie? Kind of, but not the type you are probably thinking of. See, from what I gather, this film was actually based in part on spaghetti westerns and old World War II flicks, and boy does it show. The opening scene is an obvious homage to Sergio Leone’s cowboy flicks. You might recognize these as Clint Eastwood “man with no name” westerns. In fact, this movie opens just like one of them. It sounds cheesy, but Tarintino makes this work pretty well.

However, like Sergio Leone’s Italian made movies, there is a lot of tension in between action scenes. Likewise, there is a lot of great suspense in Inglourious Basterds. Perhaps more than neccessary, too. One of the unique aspects of this film is that Violence is also brief…but when the shooting starts, it is brutal and abrupt. While this isn’t 300, its still a Tarintino flick. You may not get any epic war scenes or Rambo style action scenes, but rest assured you’ll get your share of scalpings and other wonderful graphic moments. If you haven’t seen a Tarintino film (shame on you), this is a good thing. Tarintino always knows how to make bodily harm fun.

Of course, if you haven’t seen any of the films this one references to, or remember them very well, alot of this film isn’t going to make sense to you. That it does not conform to any one genre means that it only really appeals to one crowd: the Tarintino crowd. I suppose it could be considered a war film, but its a very different type from those we are used to these days. It’s more like the Dirty Dozen than Saving Private Ryan. Of course, this isn’t really meant to be that kind of film anyway. Its an homage to early films. If you prefer a faster paced action flick, this isn’t going to be your thing. Nowadays though, that kind of movie is hard to come by unless you like horror. This film won’t be in theaters much longer though, so you should see it on a big screen if you still can. It is one of those films that are just that much better on a big screen.

9.0 out of 10.

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