Monday, March 1, 2010

Inglourious Basterds review

Written on August 21, 2009:

Okay, if you're still reading this after I wrote SPOILERS in big letters, then I do not want to get messages about me ruining the movie for you. If you are idiotic enough to read this after fair warning, then smack yourself in the head Three Stooges style. Several times until you are rendered unconscious.

Enough about that. Whew.

I cannot sleep after seeing this movie. All I can think about is the type of cinematic high I always get when I walk out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Say what you want about the man (and I'll always be there with 700 defenses for any accusation you may throw his way)- but he knows how to make fucking entertaining movies. He understands what makes a film entertaining from beginning to end- and keep the audience enthralled. This movie is no different. In fact, I would dare say, it may be one of his masterpieces- right up there with PULP FICTION, and my personal Quentin film, the vastly underrated, JACKIE BROWN.

I cannot get this film out of my head- I just want to get another ticket so I can enjoy more of the Basterds, Shoshanna, Colonel Landa, Marcel and the entire motley crew of characters Quentin created. I read the script for the movie over a year ago- and I must say, the story is pretty much intact. The only difference is that Quentin just made this movie feel as epic as it deserved to be.

As much as I love the Basterds, I have to say, I feel the characters that stole the movie for me- were Shosanna Dreyfus and Colonel Hans Landa (known as the Jew Hunter). Both characters' lives interacted throughout the film. It started when Landa questions a French dairy farmer in the beginning of the film about harboring a Jewish family in his family. Landa is able to break the farmer down, and Landa orders the execution of the entire family of Jews- except for one girl he allows to flee. That girl is Shosanna Dreyfus.

Before I start discussing Shosanna, I have to discuss Colonel Hans Landa. What a fascinating character. He is completely a cold calculating beast- but he does his work so expertly and charismatically, you actually like the guy a bit. Even if he is a complete opportunist, who will stab anyone in the back in order to get ahead and save his own ass. Christoph Waltz was amazing in the role- he made you sit and take notice every time he was on the screen. The man embodied the character perfectly. You felt dread when he began a line of questioning- you knew that this guy always knew more than every fucking person on screen. He was just that much of a sleuth and that good at what he does.

The begining wa shot beautifully and just as tension filled as I expected it after reading the script.

Shosanna, I can proudly say, like Hans Landa, is one of Quentin's best characters EVER. Not just one of his best female characters, but best characters in general. Melanie Laurent was able to get the character completely. When I originally read the script, I wondered who could portray Shosanna. I knew it had to be an actor of determination and great strength. A woman who would not wither under pressure- because Shosanna is a natural survivor. But, Melanie, not only nailed the role but brought Shosanna truly to life. She survived the mass execution of her family- to run a movie house, that eventually allowed her to get her revenge on the Nazis that ruined her life.

One of the best moments of the film for me, was when Shosanna is prepping for the night where she burns down the theater. She is dressed like a classic film star, and applies her makeup like war paint over the unmistakeable sounds of David Bowie. This is her big moment and she knows she's going to die. There's no two ways about it. But, there is such a look of fierce determination and reward in knowing that she's taking a whole bunch of Nazis down with her.

Speaking of Shosanna, I did enjoy Frederick Zoller's unrequited crush on Shosanna- that culminated in her having to shoot him (with some hesitation) in order to accomplish her goal to show her reel. And, it was even more fitting for him to kill her- but in death, Shosanna got her revenge. Even though it ended in the deaths of her and her lover, Marcel. Speaking of Marcel- I want to know more about this guy. I was just feed a slice and I want the whole damn meal. I want to know when he met Shosanna and how did they become a couple. In fact, I'd love to know more about Shosanna after she fled.

That's the sign of a great film. When you want more after a 2 hour and 32 minute film, that means amazing things.

Okay, now the Basterds.

Brad Pitt was outstanding as Aldo Raines. It's funny, after reading the script, I thought that Brad would be a great choice as Aldo. I didn't expect Quentin to actually cast him, but lo and behold, he actually did. Brad plays him with such likeable Southern hardcoreness, that you were charmed by him. Because no one is as good in the killing Nazi business as Aldo.

Eli Roth was fucking outstanding as Donnie aka the Bear Jew. When it came to fucking up Nazis (with a baseball bat of all things)- Donnie was one of a kind. Eli was a complete bad-ass in this movie. After seeing this, I must say, I think Eli is good if you give him the proper material. And in a Tarantino script, you know the material is going to be killer.

The Basterds were just dynamite every time they appeared on the screen. Naturally, the first thing I could compare this ragtag group of ruthless killers was THE DIRTY DOZEN- but the Basterds are so much more. You love these guys, you love Aldo. Everytime a Nazi is scalped, you cheer.

And Bridgit Von Hammersmark was a nice character (played beautifully by Diane Kruger) that served as the Mata Hari of the piece. She was a tough woman who played both sides against the middle (although, she was serving the British and working with the Basterds). Her demise was pretty intense- with Hans choking the living daylights out of her.

The ending was classic Tarantino with the theater erupting into flames. Shosanna gets her revenge, the Basterds in the theater go down killing every single Nazi and associate in the theater before the explosives went off (watching Hitler be lit up with bullets in this alternate WWII universe was so rewarding).

And Landa? Well, Landa throughout the whole film thought he was so clever. But, in the end, Aldo got the upper hand- and left a nice souvenir to carry Landa throughout the rest of his life. Oh, he may have sold out his fellow Nazi party in order to gain some asylum in the United States- but Aldo refused to let him just take off that uniform and live life as is.

Carving the swastika into Landa's head was a perfect fuck you. And when Aldo says, "I think this may be my masterpiece", I have to concur.

I cannot wait to see this fucking movie again with my girlfriend. And after that, with her again if she wants. Or with friends. Or I'd be content to watch it by myself a million times over.

Do yourself a favor, run to the fucking theater now and see this film. It's an exhilariting piece of filmmaking and when it comes to making kick-ass films, none can compete with Tarantino. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is just another example of why he stands alone.



What made the night incredibly special for me, was getting a chance to meet Quentin before the movie started. He was even cooler than I anticipated. Quentin was very down to Earth and when he saw my Grindhouse shirt, he said:

"Oh man, look at you wearing the Grindhouse shirt!"

I replied, "Well, you know, I gotta represent after all!"

Quentin laughed and I told him that I'm a huge fan of his films and he said that he could tell that I'm a true, die-hard fan. I told him I saw PULP FICTION at least 40 times in a theater alone. He asked me what my favorite scene from PULP FICTION was and I told him, "Damn, you gonna catch someone off guard with this shit!" (a reference to JACKIE BROWN). QT laughed again and I gave him my name when he asked, and while he signed my record, I had an answer. I told him Marvin getting shot in the face is my favorite part- and the entire Bonnie Situation is just stellar in general. I then took a pic with him and asked him about the possibility of an Inglourious Basterds mini-series. He said that there are more stories to tell, so he's trying to get that hammered out now.

I shook his hands twice more and then went my way for the night. I saw him again before the film started as Quentin introduced it. He is such a cool guy that if I ever see him at a fucking bar around the area- I'm buying him as many shots as he wants. The guy is that important to me.

Meeting him was such a pinnacle in my life- because Quentin has inspired me more than anyone else. Without him, I would never have realized that I wanted to write movies (I knew I wanted to write but I had no idea what). And Tarantino made me fall in love with cinema again. For that, I will always idolize the man and admire his work.

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