What movie was that...?

06 November 2009

Inglourious Basterds

durekted by Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino loves movies. It's no mystery. From the infamous ear slicing scene (Django, anyone?) of Resevoir Dogs to the stylized violence of Kill Bill (see the Lone Wolf and Cub film series and Lady Snowblood for fine examples), Tarantino makes no bones about where he draws inspiration. Hell, he even samples his music from such places as the Burt Reynolds classic White Lightning in more than one film (did anyone heed my review and immediately rent one of the best movies about moonshine liquor ever made?). Nowhere, however, is Tarantino's love of film more apparent than than in his latest opus, Inglourious Basterds (If any of you out there can get an actual answer from Mr. T about the spelling, please let me know), in which he turns film into a weapon used by both the Axis and Allies. And leave it to Tarantino to turn WWII into pulp history by centering his story around successful plots (yes, plural) to whack Hitler himself. How does one achieve this end? By rewriting history, of course! Enter the Basterds, a group of Jewish soldiers sent to scalp some Nazis and instill a little good old-fashioned fear into those anti-Semitic sonsabitches. Helmed by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt in a role better suited for George Clooney. Come on, Mr. T, even you have to admit that), the Basterds align with British operative Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender with a million pound smile) who has aligned with German actress turned double agent Bridget von Hammersmark. Meanwhile, Emmanuelle Mimieux, aka Shoshanna Dreyfus, plots to torch the entire Reich herself when they attend the debut screening of Joseph Goebbel's newest piece of propoganda disguised as a biopic, Nation's Pride (cheesily filmed by Eli Roth), at her theater. Standing in the way of all this like a great blond Nazi brick wall is "Jew Hunter" Hans Landa, played to perfection by Christoph Waltz. Academy, you'd better perk up, because Mr. Waltz just showed you how it's done (let's hope he doesn't suffer the same fate as one Michael Shannon). Some malign the film for its sprawling dialogue and indulgently cinematic setups, which is as absurd an argument as watching a hockey game and saying there was too much skating. It's a Tarantino film! What did you expect? The real topic for discussion should be the sinister satisfaction we feel as an audience when a bulked up Eli Roth pumps Hitler with enough lead to sink an ocean liner. Such perverse catharsis should raise questions, but like his twisted little Danish peer Lars Von Trier, Tarantino like to turn the tables on his audience. Peep the end of this film for exhibit A: A group of people sharing a common idealogy are gathered into a large room where they are exterminated with lots of fire and lots more bullets. Wait for it... That's a bingo! I can hear all those little wheels turning in those heads right now, so I will leave you to mull that one over.
Note: I have to pose my own theories of the erroneously spelled title. One, that Tarantino didn't want his film being confused with the 1978 film that shares the same English title (though spelled correctly), the film that stars a kick ass Fred Williamson (the Vietnam vet from the Tarantino/Rodriguez gem From Dusk til Dawn). Two, as the title manifests itself on Lt. Raine's rifle in the film, and since Lt. Raine cannot even correctly pronounce simple words like Italian ("eye-talian") or English ("ainglish"), then surely he could not be bothered to apply the old spell check to his handiwork. Three, the mispellings are deliberate as they further undermind the Nazi regime. If the race of races can be ambushed, killed and terrorized by a group of idiots, then what does that say about the Nazi party? Interesting. Please tell us, Mr. T, please!

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