Saturday, May 1, 2010

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Universal Blu-ray

I have a hard time watching Tarantino films and I blame it all on him, of course. I was a teenager when Reservoir Dogs came out and frankly I loved it. Then I read an article in Film Threat Magazine comparing the film to Ringo Lam's City on Fire. I still enjoyed the movie but I was hooked. It was the first issue of Film Threat that I purchased, because of the Reservoir Dogs story, and it opened a whole new world for me. City on Fire was screened at midnight in Dallas (where I'm from) not long after I read the article by a guy who would bring in a new Hong Kong film every weekend. I started looking for more foreign action films, which led to action and exploitation films through out the ages. It also introduced me to new friends that I would have for over a decade now. The other film from that period in my life that would play an important role in my cinematic development would be Hal Hartley's Trust which led me down similar paths. As Tarantino made more films, I was becoming more educated. Now I only see his films as a series of references to things that we both enjoy. I am constantly being taken out of his movies by the use of sound cues from other films or character names borrowed from directors and actors that we both admire. Inglourious Basterds is certainly no exception as the title itself refers to a film that I have seen several times (the first being under it's alternate title G.I Bro!). The other problem is that I'm constantly wondering if there are references I'm not getting, and should I? All that aside, I also have just found most of his films lacking in some of the very basic things that make a good film. There lack of narrative cohesion make every film feel like a greatest hits of remakes. However, With Inglourious Basterds, QT seems to be trying to overcome his decencies making for what I believe to be his most successful film to date. Now don't take that as a glowing endorsement, the movie still has it's problems with pop culture references, but we're getting close to something here. The story takes place in WWII and is not exactly about a group of Jewish-American soldiers that hunt down Nazis and violently kill them. In fact that story is hardly explored at all and takes a back seat to the story of a young Jewish woman (Melanie Laurent) who is hiding her true identity and is now running a cinema in Paris. A young German soldier is taken with her and insists and screening a propaganda film that he stars in at her cinema. All the highest ranking Nazis will be there prompting a plot for revenge and a way to end the war. This story is the most intriguing and could have sustained a great 90 minute film, unfortunately we needed another hour added on and a movie star so Brad Pitt leads the Basterds as they (really violently) terrorize Germans along the French Country side. The Basterds themselves have very little dialog and relatively minimal screen time. The biggest and most talked about parts go to Cristoph Waltz (his openeing scene is fantastic) as a Nazi "Jew hunter" and Diane Kruger as a German actress working as a double agent. Also look for a rather ridiculous cameo by Austin Powers. The movie could have been much better than it was had it had more focus on one particular story and it's geeky ending undermines anything the film could have been.


Buy this instead.

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