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Kenny was a dirty Nazi all along! Inglorious Basterds review (sort of)

 

Personal Disclaimer: I really want to create a discussion for you guys and gals about this film. I believe if you are a Tarantino nut you will think it as flawless or close to it, and if you hate his stuff, perhaps Basterds won't change your opinion. I was a huge Tarantino fan, and Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are among the list of films that inspired me to pursue a degree and career in film.

However, I think his last couple of efforts, Kill Bill Vol.2 and Death Proof, shows signs of a steady decline. My feelings for Basterds are strongly mixed, more because I appreciate some of Quentin's cinematic themes and form, but I'm far from loving this film and found some patches that I liked here and there. Anyways, I'll avoid adding too many spoilers now, but if I do, my bad.

Well, ramblers, let's get rambling...

Quentin's Inglorious Basterds is his first venture into war films and, in the spirit of The Dirty Dozen, bypasses the deeper psychological effects of war and concentrates on the vindictive, avenging and somewhat appealing reflexes of battle. His Basterds are lead by the half Apache Lt.Aldo Raine(Brad Pitt) into Nazi-occupied France circa 1944. They are an elite, Jewish-American troop with one simple goal, wipe out Nazi swine out of the annuals of history.

The Basterds are the Jews post WWII Nazis woke up pissing their pants in the middle of the night somewhere in the Argentine countryside. The Basterds do show some compassion, if they are not scalping heads from dead Nazis or let their enforcer "The Bear Jew" Donowitz(Eli Roth) beat your brains out with his Louisville slugger bat, they let Nazis that divulge information to them live, at the small price of carving a swastika to their foreheads.

Shosanna, played by the mesmerizing Mélanie Laurent, is a young french woman that shares the same disgust for Nazis like the Basterds do for good reason; Her family was slaughtered by "The Jew Hunter" Col. Hans Landa(Christoph Waltz). Now,concealing her Jewish heritage, she is the proprietor of a cinema that runs Leni Riefenstahl star vehicles.

After Nazi war hero Fredrick Zoller(Daniel Brühl) pursues Shosanna for her affections, he manipulates, with help form his Nazi bulldogs, the disinterested beauty into having the premiere of his first starring role as himself in his sniper killing account named "Nation's Pride". During the luncheon, Shosanna comes face to face with Landa while the insidious colonel cunningly interrogates her while eating strudels. Shosanna, seeing this as the chance to strike, devices a revenge plan that could only be described as incendiary.

This is as far as I'll go into unfolding the plot for this review. Like I said in the disclaimer, I need to leave wiggle room for potential bashing or agreement. OK, here are the things I like about this movie:

1. Tarantino has created a film that is a tribute to the medium as much as it is a war flick. Not only are the references thrown in to simply show Quentin's impressive film acumen, but provide clues to the story.

2. Tarantino plays with the illogical, yet accepted, use of English in stories that that place in other countries. It is concept that shows Quentin's skill at breaking a forth wall with his audience.

3. Whether you love or hate this guy, his vision is unquestionably among the most unique in American Cinema history. In his use of color and imagery is solidified in Basterds.

4. Brad Pitt. He's awesome when you let him have fun.

5. In Melanie Laurent, Tarantino has found a future international star. Her features are a haunting reminder of a young Catherine Deneuve, and has a similar ability to be vulnerable and wicked all at once.

6. Christoph Waltz should get some recognition come award time. Landa is the most twitching your black mustache Nazi since Major Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Now, here are the things that irritated me about Basterds:

1. Where are the Basterds? They go missing for such a long time that it feels that they are secondary characters to their own movie. Which leads to point 2.

2. The Basterds are AWOL thanks to Tarantino's opulent for dialog that as his movies have come on, ends up feeling tiresome due to the little information you get out of it. Characters that serve very little purpose are given too much screen time. I'm pointing out one scene in this film, when perhaps the worst cameo in recent memory, Mike Myers, Fat Bastard's his way as a British official. It is so bad I thought about leaving the movie.Yes,Quentin's movies are predicated by his lingo, but even in Pulp the dialog never hindered the flow of the story. Please see Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Death Proof again and you'll know what I mean.

3. Eli Roth. He is so unlikeable in a role that was meant to be cool that I wished he would have been casted as a Nazi instead. "The Bear Jew" lived up to his feared alias until Roth opens his mouth and shows how obnoxious, irritating he can be. Which leads to point 4.

4. Please Quentin, don't let your protege influence you in ending movies with violent shtick, like Roth did in Cabin Fever and Hostel 2. You did it in Death Proof, and it wasn't very good. Your violence is humorous, but it is absence of it that makes it art. If you have it, great, but it was never about shock value as you use it at the end of this film.

So, 6 points in favor and 4 against it, even if 3 of the positives are about the actors. So you could say I'm on the fence on this one. But this was never the case for me with Tarantino, up to Kill Bill vol.1 I loved his work. I wanted more and his long stretches of not doing movies only made me more eager. Now, with Basterds, I left with mostly respect for Tarantino's talents, but not much love, unfortunately.

Images:





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
John Rojas on Mon, 08/24/2009 - 10:11am

That review made me want to eat an oreo. Are you in cohoots with Nabisco? HeHe.
Anyways, I agree that Basterds is the most refined Tarantino film, at least in this decade. The movie is funny and is well acted.

I disagree with your opinion on Brad Pitt. I think playing weird, comic heroes is his forte(like you mentioned in Burn After Reading, but also in Snatch, Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys, True Romance). As Far as Quentin is concerned, his ego does get in the way, for the better or worse. Like I posted on my short review, his self gratification for his dialog can get in the way, and some scenes did try my patience.

I can't bash this film in it's artistic merit. It is a lucious ode to mercenary 70's filmmaking. However, like I stated earlier, I respect it but didn't love it, some of the freshness from Quentin is wearing out on me.

Anyways, you can post whatever review you want, man! Appreciate the feedback!
John Rojas

Que on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 5:03pm

Watched this movie on Sunday night and wanted to write a review, since I am visiting BB regularly these days. Darn, this John Rojas guy just beat me again!

Anyway, it is probabily a good thing and keep me from writing long articles.
First of all, I need to say, that I am not Tarantino's fan. I watched most of his movies and liked some, such as Pulp Fiction and even recent Death Proof; and I disliked others like Kill Bill(ah, talk about Kill Bill) and even Reservoir Dogs. I know I know that one is almost everyone's pick but it just look like a movie shot with $200 budget with Karaoky microphone for sound recording. there I said it.

Tarantino is definately one of the talents in today's film industry, for he possess unique vision to his own product and he has a set of his own movie language for story building. He has very boyish charm and he is not hesitating of showing it. His movies are not nessesarily excellent but are always worth a discussion.

Tarantino has strengths and weaknesses, just like any other. He is good at using Dialogs-monologs really, which challanges actors to memorise the lines (or pages, rather). The monologs gives opportunities to talented actors to actually rub their own charisma into the character, so also unlikely happen in reallife it makes the movie look vivid and is Tarantino's flavour. He is also good at digging the humaine soft sides on the tough looking bad guys, which is the funny choco chips in his movie cookie. He is also good at using scene setups, concentrated complex happening in a confined set-up, which is the cookie dough holding his choc chips.

With stengths comes his weekness, when things are overdone. The monologs thing can be nerve-wracking, it is like oh my freaking milk he is going to start talking again, for many many times. The funny soft end digging can be over done so the whole movie look like a running around joke to the movie-maker himself, no focus on the development, and the time took for builing up the punchline could be very long and dry and boring for just 1 small choc chip. And since Tarantino is good at using scenes, his scenes start to stretch longer and longer, with no bridge in between. it is like the entire story happened between that a few scenes and the result could be the broken, inconsistant and in-fluent story telling.

Inglorious Bastards is the first time for long time, if ever, that Tarantino step out of his normal material bucket. The movie is very well made, one of the best polished in my opinion. The story offers enough vibe for thrill and development; You can still notice Tarantino's trademark monologs but it is sensitively trimmed down, with just enough choc chips to let you LOL without feeling like watching a scary movie episode. Thrill and arrogance nicely mixed up and when comes to blood and gore, you know Tarantino is never shy. Christoph Waltz gives award winning acting, also Til Schweiger, Michael Fassbender and Martin Wuttke are very solid and funny. Melanie Laurent innocently beautiful and Diane Kruger mesmerizing.

The movie is not perfect though. It is not Tarantino's interest to make a perfect movie. the muscled big long scenes are still all over the place, since Tarantino is no good at descriping the progress he is stucked with the static set-up. And the Basterds, They did have the title but not the plot. I am annoied that I can't tell which is which and what name they have, there are far too little development on each of them exept Bradd Pitt. Probabily it is because all the screen time are used for the dialog scenes? Mike Mayer look like drunk, Pot-smoked Brittish official, I thought it was meant that way; and Brad Pitt is overcast. Sure he tried and built confidence acting like stiffnecked-idiot in 'Burn after reading', and is trying again that over the top thing in this one. I was honestly not impressed and think he is over-shined by almost every single other actors in the movie, and I can think of many others that can do better job than him. but what the hell, this man sells tichets and look like he was having fun for sure. And what was that scene cutting Narration? sure the same content could be spread better? it just looked lazy.

I sat through the movie, well laughed, well entertained and when walking out, felt had just enough and not Thriving for more. The movie felt long and slow at times but stopped just about right. Tarantino is not on the top 5 movie maker on my list but if his work stays on this bar, I will keep watching him all the way.

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