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Inglourious Basterds Review


RATING:
(4 STARS)

You know something, Quentin Tarantino. I think this just might be your masterpiece. Inglourious Basterds is a truly audacious film from one of my all-time favorite directors. Not many filmmakers can rewrite history, but Tarantino does and succeeds with flying colors. The film, a fusion of war films and spaghetti westerns, has it all: comedy, excitement, tension, originality. It also features fine acting, an incredible screenplay, and top-notch technical features. Most would likely cite Pulp Fiction as his best work; I believe it is this.

The film follows two disparate plot threads that dovetail together in perfect Tarantino fashion. In one, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) leads a troupe of Jewish-American “basterds” as they collect Nazi scalps. The mission is simply to cause havoc, but when a German-born actress/British spy (Diane Kruger) comes to them with a plan to end the war, they devote all their energy to this plan: Operation Kino. Meanwhile, a French Jew named Shoshana Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) escapes the massacre of her family at the hands of SS Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), also known as The Jew Hunter. Years later, she runs a movie theater in Paris and attracts the attention of a German war hero (Daniel Bruhl). He arranges for a new German propaganda film, which he stars in, to premiere at Shoshana’s (now Emmanuelle’s) cinema. In attendance, will be all of the German high command, including Landa. Shoshana sees her chance for revenge. Little does she know, but the mission of some American basterds will bring them to her theater for the very same premiere.

The film has the flavor of every Tarantino film. From the interesting ways the camera moves to the crackling dialogue, the chapter structure to the brilliant use of music, Inglourious Basterds feels like a Tarantino film in every single aspect. But he’s toned his work in such a way that he can now venture beyond the crime/gangster genre. Despite the similarities to the director’s previous work, I’ve never seen a film like Inglourious Basterds, and I doubt I ever will again.

The acting in Inglourious Basterds is exceptional. The standout is Christoph Waltz, who was awarded with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work. Landa is one of the most memorable characters to emerge from this past decade. He’s sophisticated, cultured, and smart. He’s also a monster, and Waltz allows us to see every aspect of his personality in his limited screen time. Brad Pitt is the closest thing the film has to a lead, and he’s very amusing. Melanie Laurent could also be considered a lead. Shoshana is a very interesting character, and the young actress captures your attention, despite playing against more famous co-stars.

The screenplay for Inglourious Basterds is one of the best of the last few years. Tarantino has a way with words unlike any filmmaker I’ve come across. He creates more tension and excitement with a lengthy speech than most filmmakers can with a big-budget action scene. And although his other films have their funny moments, Inglourious Basterds is hilarious. The “Bon Giorno” scene with Pitt and Waltz makes me crack up whenever I see it, and the ending is so deliciously over-the-top that you’ll be in stitches as Tarantino changes history.

For me, this was as good as cinema got in 2009. It was also one of the best of the past decade. It was also Tarantino’s most financially successful movie and his first to be nominated for Best Picture since Pulp Fiction. It’s something I can revisit over and over again and still thoroughly enjoy, for it does so many different things so well. From the sensational acting, writing, and directing to the sheer balls it took to make a film like this, Inglourious Basterds is something I’ll always remember and can’t recommend highly enough.

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