@ the Movies...Inglourious Basterds

Dirty deeds are done dirt cheap, but notoriety comes at a hefty price

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

"It was a ridiculous movie," blasted Brad Pitt when German magazine Stern recently asked his opinion of Tom Cruise's Hitler-era feature Valkyrie. "The Second World War could still deliver more stories and films, but I believe that Quentin put a cover on that pot," Pitt continued, this time referencing Tarantino's latest cinematic asskick Inglourious Basterds. Such blatent animosity for last year's Valkyrie may put a damper on the friendship of the Hollywood kings, but I can only assume Pitt would prefer Quentin "Aestheticizator of Violence" Tarantino in his corner than Tom "Couch Jumper" Cruise.

Enough with that Hollywood gossip shit now, let's chat about an insanely entertaining--at times--war epic as told (made-up) from the warped mindset of one of the most adventurous filmmakers of the last 20 years, Quentin Jerome Tarantino. He's the same man who resurrected tinstletown dropouts like John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) and David Carradine (Kill Bill); the same guy who dismembered Sydney Poitier et al as "Hold Tight!" by Dave Dee et al played on (Death Proof); and the same genius who transformed Michael Madsen into an ear-cutting, flesh-roasting madman (Reservoir Dogs). And now, the man tackles one of the most infamous eras of mankind, and comes out on the other side with Nazi blood on his hands.

Just when you thought we had seen every angle of WWII, Tarantino flings us back into Nazi-occupied France, though he insists that his fictionalized film is a "spaghetti western but with World War II iconography" more than anything else. Whatever category Basterds may fit squarely into, the 153-minute feature is a slick, turbulent and classy--and I use that term loosely--step back into a time when Adolph Hitler decided that he was appointed the ruler of the world and the extinguisher of all Jews.

In this alternate history of a movie Brad Pitt tries on a soldier's uniform and a Tennessee accent as the ringleader of an "arse-kicking," Nazi-killing Jewish-American squadron known as the "Basterds." They take it upon themselves to seek and destroy the swastika-branded troops of Germany's National Socialism party, using methods of mayhem that requires each warrior to bring commanding officer Aldo Raine (Pitt) 100 Nazi scalps, borrowing from the carnal procedures of the Apache Indians.

Intrigued yet?!

Meanwhile, Mèlanie Laurent is Shosanna, a Holocaust survivor who escapes Colonel Hans "Jew Hunter" Landa (Christoph Waltz) (pictured below) during a lethal interrogation of a French dairy farm. A few years have passed since she witnessed the bloodshed of her family at the hands of the strong-armed "Jew Hunter," and she's taken up refuge in the bustle of metro France, where she changed her name and now runs the very cinema that will host the premiere of the upcoming Nazi propaganda film Stolz der Nation (A Nation's Pride).

Therein lies the backbone of this sometimes-savage, sometimes-elongated, most times-encompassing peek into a theatrical substitute for the truth of the demise of Hitler. Shosanna's small, but refined movie house is the one opportunity in which Hitler and his gang of senior officers will all be together under the same roof ("all our rotten eggs in one basket"), a chance for the Basterds to end the war for good, and a chance for Shosanna to retrieve the ultimate revenge for the butchery of her loved ones. But if you must know what goes down from here on in, you're gonna have to shell out the $13 and head out to your local theatre for yourself.

If you don't go check it out, your loss I guess, but don't say I didn't warn ya. Now don't get me wrong, Basterds was far from perfect. It may have stretched out longer than I had anticipated, as a couple of scenes easily could've been levelled, but I'm not complaining! Pitt's '40s-hick accentè took some getting used to at first, but was like music to my ears by the second hour. And being a big fan of TV's The Office, B.J. Novak (as "The Little Man") seemed far out of place, but I couldn't blame such a thing on anything but my obsession for Michael Scott & co. Other than those minor indiscrepancies, Basterds flowed like warm Nazi blood down the cold blade of a vigilante sunuvabitch, unless of course you're "The Bear Jew" (Eli Roth) (pictured above right), who prefers his trusty Louisville slugger to anything made of metal. Good stuff indeed.

"Basterds flowed like warm Nazi blood down the cold blade of a vigilante sunuvabitch"

The art of war prevails in moments of Inglourious Basterds, whether they be moments of uber intimidation (Waltz is flawless as the pipe-smoking, milk-drinking linguistics Nazi), momentous retribution (the white man samples the scalping rituals of Native-American warfare), or insidious betrayal (Diane Kruger (pictured below) is ravishing as a German movie starlet who answers to the French instead). All such moments are aspersed throughout the Samuel L. Jackson-narrated feature, which borrowed inspiration from Enzo Castellari's Italian war film The Inglorious Bastards (1978), though this current spin is no remake.

Then there's the music. Tarantino has become famous for his throwback to "classics" and obscure ditties that never made the rounds of the radio airwaves, and he doesn't refrain here either, as the two and a half hours of Fascist slaughtery are delivered as so to the sounds of David Bowie, Billy Preston and Oscar-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone, none of whom were active during the Second World War. In fact, Bowie and Preston weren't even born yet. This allowed for that progressive feel that Basterds was drenched in, not to mention extended cameos by the likes of Novak and Mike Myers (as General Ed Fenech).

So there you have it, my thoughts on Tarantino and his motley crew of Nazi assassins...a bold tale of what never was, but what a glorious afterthought, eh?! Tarantino has a way of making moviegoers crave what they would never wish upon their worst enemies, and he gives it a spin that tests aged and current formulas of filmmaking until they interweave into an audacious cloak of cult-status bliss. "With Basterds, everything that can be said to this genre has been said," Pitt revealed in that aforementioned interview with Stern. "The film destroys every symbol. The work is done, end of story." Yeah, what he said.

4 outta 5 stars

Inglourious Basterds Trailer


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