Inglourious Basterds - Theater
AndyO review: * * * 1/2
Metacritic: 69/100 (Generally favorable reviews)
I've always admired the gusto that Quentin Tarantino brings to his films. The latest, Inglourious Basterds, is a mashup of 70s cinema, Westerns, and WWII movies -- told only the way Tarantino could tell it. Don't go into Basterds expecting historical accuracy.
As the trailers have shown, Brad Pitt is in charge of the "Inglourious Basterds" as Aldo Raine. In this case, the Basterds are Jewish American psychopaths who want to torture and scalp Nazis as revenge, sport, or both. But the Basterds make up only one part of the story.
The next part concerns Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a "Jew Hunter" (he was named by his fans and enemies) who seems to have an almost telepathic ability to stalk his prey. We see him in the first scene, speaking to a French dairy farmer in French. His words at first are friendly and disarming, but after they continue to talk (and switch to English) they become like knives. (Watch the subtitles closely during this scene, as they offer a bit of comic relief during an otherwise tense situation.)
The last threads of the story concern two women. The first, Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), owns a cinema in France. She also happened to escape from Landa in the first scene, with the French farmer. She, like the Basterds, is also looking for revenge.
The other woman, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) is a famous German actress who's also a spy. She's going to help the Basterds get into a movie premiere, which will be attended by most of the German High Command (including Hitler himself).
Inglourious Basterds, like most of Tarantino's work, is the kind of film that takes time to understand and appreciate. It wasn't until a few days later that I was thinking about the style of the film. Scenes often border on comedy, which, like Landa's words to the farmer, are meant to disarm the audience. One moment you're watching a kind of cartoonish introduction of one of the Basterds (Stiglitz!), the next someone is getting executed or scalped.
Tarantino, like so many great filmmakers, creates a world that is unique and interesting. Roger Ebert summed it up best in his review when he wrote that the characters in this film "are seen with that Tarantino knack of taking a character and making it a Character, definitive, larger than life, approaching satire in its intensity but not -- quite -- going that far. Let's say they feel bigger than most of the people we meet in movies."