IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH QUENTIN TARANTINO REVIEW: “Inglourious Basterds” stars Brad Pitt (World War Z, Fury), Mélanie Laurent (Now You See Me, Beginners), Christoph Waltz (Epic, Big Eyes), Eli Roth (The House with a Clock in its Walls, Rock of Ages), Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, X-Men: Days of Future Past), Diane Kruger (The Host , National Treasure), Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War, Good Bye Lenin!), Til Schweiger (Rabbit Without Ears, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door), Gedeon Burkhard (Snowflake, Shades of Truth), Jacky Ido (Lockout, The Catch [TV series]), B.J. Novak (The Office [TV series], The Founder), Mike Meyers (Bohemian Rhapsody, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), Omar Doom (Death Proof, Higher Power), August Diehl (Salt, Love in Thoughts), Denis Ménochet (In the House, Hannibal Rising), and Sylvester Groth (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , Stalingrad). It is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Hateful Eight). In Nazi-occupied France, a ragtag group of Jewish U.S. soldiers known as the Inglourious Basterds plot to kill Adolf Hitler, while a Jewish movie theater owner plans the same.
We’ve seen his gangster flick and his westerns, but now Tarantino has a new bone to pick: the war picture. It’s only fitting, considering how violent this director can be when push comes to shove. Toss Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz in the mix, and you’ve got something ingenious. I was excited to dive into “Inglourious Basterds.” This marathon has yet to disappoint, with all of Tarantino’s features entertaining me beyond belief, so I was confident this movie wouldn’t let me down. The concept is interesting, the cast is top-notch, Ennio Morricone helms the score, and with Tarantino taking the reigns as director… well, let me just talk about the darned thing already. As you may or may not know about Tarantino through reading this marathon, you can see that the man likes telling stories unconventionally. He did it masterfully in “Pulp Fiction,” and in subtlety in almost all of his films. “Inglourious Basterds” is pieced together like a novel. It has chapters, and from what I can tell, Tarantino wrote them at different times, leading up to him meshing the story together. While I’ve always faired more to a straightforward approach to tell a story (even in non-linear fashion), Tarantino never ceases to amaze me in how he can invest you in his characters, even when the story is chopped into parts. Sure, the way this is pieced together doesn’t detract from character development, but it certainly takes you down a style-over-substance route. Could the film have worked without naming different chapters? Possibly. Who’s to say? Tarantino has his vision, and it’s always an interesting, unique one. I enjoyed almost all of the elements that make up this picture. The different character arcs and how they intersect at a grand finale make for a great journey. What’s even better is how it’s unlike any war movie I’ve seen. It’s hard to create something new within this genre. Being set in World War II, we know the stakes. We know the bad guys, we know who wins. Really, it’s all about characters, and what they were going through during this time. And man, are we saddled with quite the bunch! Aldo (Pitt) and his Basterds, Shosanna (Laurent) and her theater, and Hans Landa (Waltz) and his Nazis. They all captivate in their performances and make for great entertainment. I will say it took some getting used to with Pitt’s portrayal of Aldo (he can come off rather exaggerated), but once you gain speed towards the third act, his character shines. Everything moves towards a common goal in this story, and consequently the plot gets better the further you move along. I liked the first act of this movie, but I admit that the second half is what gave this film its overall score. Not only are there big names playing the head honchos of this picture, but we also see familiar faces in supporting and cameo roles, including Michael Fassbender and Daniel Brühl, who both are astonishing. It’s hard to go wrong with Fassbender, and it was good to see Bruhl stretch his legs in a more fleshed out role (from what I have seen). If there’s anything you can’t discredit “Basterds” for, it’s the performances. Moving over to the more technical side of things, I loved the cinematography of this, as well as the music. There are quite a bit of memorable shots, with a utilization of birds-eye-view and jib rigs, both of which I haven’t seen too much from Tarantino. I remember even the most simplest of compositions smacking me in the face with how beautiful they were (the shot of Shosanna putting the lace in front of her face in prep for the “Nation’s Pride” premiere). It’s such an elegant piece when taking into consideration the time period. Not only did Tarantino capture the essence of the 40’s, but mainly it’s culture in cinema within Germany/France. It’s a market I’m not that well versed in, but when watching special features on my hard copy of the movie, it was amazing to see how much history lies within single shots. Of course, you should expect nothing less from film fanatic Tarantino, but still… this is a foreign market’s history we’re talking about; that’s spectacular. The more the story unfolded and the world opened up, the more I was floored by the detail. Much like Tarantino’s other work, his time periods are really another character in and of themselves. It goes without saying much else that “Inglourious Basterds” is a great film, though I will say it doesn’t reach the heights of “Pulp Fiction” or “Django” for me. “Basterds” is more for its battle plan than it is for its characters, making the story often opt to play out scenes disjointly and leave no character a center of attention. Shosanna seemed to have the most screen-time, as there are a lot of characters who take up the frame. Would I have liked to see more Aldo and the Basterds? Certainly. Their mission was regulated to only a handful of scenes (and the group is the title of the film). But like I said, this is an unconventional story, so it lies more so in taste than anything. The only other nitpick I can give it are some random stylistic choices that didn’t make much sense. An example is how there were two moments (surprisingly narrated by Samuel L. Jackson) were we were introduced to members of the Basterds through montage and spotlighted moments. I thought that Tarantino would go through the whole bunch in the same manner, but he didn’t, making the two moments very strange. Why he did it, I have no clue. But besides that, “Inglourious Basterds” makes a for a fun night. It’s a solid way to end this marathon, and I enjoyed watching it, as it’s definitely a picture that gets better and better the more it unfolds. FINAL SCORE: 92%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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