Inglourious Basterds * * * * *
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino / 2009
Rewriting History, Taking Names and Inventing New Ones…
WWII-KAWOW!! My mouth is still fixated in a wide devilish grin ala Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable Joker in Tim Burton’s “Batman.” It has been this way since the last hour of the best picture of 2009, so far. In fact, I’ve been grinning since an hour and half before that, when the spaghetti western sights and sounds of Quentin Tarantino’s flashy-fresh joy ride take on WWII kick-started his “Inglourious Basterds.” They never backed down right into one of the greatest, and already iconic, most satisfying film endings ever. Not to mention a new ending for World War II and the fall of the Nazi regime, again. Tarantino never intended to alter history, but his characters sure lead and he followed with all his guns amped-up to sophistication. He has officially raised his own game.
Not for everyone and he has his naysayers, Tarantino for me has always been able to wallop genres out of the park, turning film on its side and robbing from the greats yet turning it into his own gold. But, it’s not fool’s gold, more like cool’s gold. The best art borrows and Tarantino does it better and with his own thumb prints left behind on the prize. And I find self-indulgence is best when shared with an audience. He is the coolest and freshest pop-culture churner we have today. Money aside, I assume all directors love movies or they wouldn’t be in the business. But, Tarantino loves-LOVES movies and he makes me love movies even more after I see him wave his wand each time. For those that don’t “get” him and/or knock him, then I kind of feel bad for you as you’re really missing out. But, more for me!
So, what is so great about Tarantino’s take on WWII?! EVERYTHING and it is worn with the high-stepping confidence of the Nazi high command. Like a great novel its chapters slice up to show enough yet leaving just enough to the imagination, pulling together a creation of richer-than-rich characters and plots that live and breathe beyond what’s in front of you. You’ll have a love-hate affair with the notorious “Jew Hunter”, Nazi Col. Hans Landa (in a soon-to-be Oscar nominated role from Christoph Waltz), whose cunning charm and manipulation is just as big and intimidating as his smoking pipe. He loves milk and pie as well so how could you not like the man? Another big item is the Nazi scalping knife of Lt. Aldo Raine, which finds Brad Pitt wielding and talking like President George W. Bush, not to mention sporting the best Italian accent ever on screen. Is it just me, or has Brad Pitt really been churning out the satisfying characters of late, even more than ever!? The movie’s promotion makes it seem that the Lt. Raine’s band of Nazi destroying Basterds is what the movie is all about, but it’s only a fraction to the story. Much of the story is owed to a Jewish gal named Shosanna Dreyfus who escaped from Col. Landa and is now disguised as a French theater owner. As the lights go out to show a film of Nazi hero Fredrick Zoller sniping from his bird’s nest, Shosanna (& Basterd Co.) does some bird nesting as well and in a blaze of gory-glory. Trust me, you’ll never find carnage so much fun.
2 and a half hours doesn’t do the basterd justice and it could have easily been another Tarantino two-parter, maybe even three. But, I left QT-quenched, almost like leaving Quik Trip with a conveniently tasty beverage and hot dog (chips and candy on the side, of course). Yes, I’m relating the work of Quentin Tarantino to junk food, but this is high-caliber junk food folks, with all the condiments and fix-ins like chipotle sauce and vanilla flavoring that we love. I can’t get enough and have been ready for seconds since the last of the credit logos left the screen. “Inglourious Basterds” is a daringly ambitious, wickedly entertaining, remarkable and satisfying work of original art that I cannot praise enough. I will be dining again in the theater as Hitler and Co. all fall down the way we always wanted them to…and then we will all bow down to the film art of Quentin Tarantino. Thank you. -djg