Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Inglourious Basterds”

(The Weinstein Company. 2 hours, 32 minutes. Rated R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality. Directed by Quentin Tarantino.) Brad Pitt (Lt. Aldo Raine), Mélanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus), Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa), Eli Roth (Sgt. Donny Donowitz), Michael Fassbender (Lt. Archie Hicox), Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark), B.J. Novak (Pfc. Smithson Utivich), Mike Myers (General Ed Fenech), Rod Taylor (Winston Churchill).

Very good reimagining of the World War II movie. It’s easy to forget that Tarantino’s only directed seven movies in 17 years. The two I like best are his first, Reservoir Dogs, and this. (Pulp Fiction was good but overrated.) QT’s moved away from his usual borrowing of ’70s-genre schtick to tell the story of a group of American Jewish soldiers, led by Southern-drawlin’ Aldo Raine (Pitt). They’re goin’ Nazi-huntin’, and plan to bag 100 scalps each.

Meanwhile a singleminded Col. Landa (Waltz, incredible), known as the “Jew Hunter,” is cutting a swath through occupied France. He’s a monster, no doubt, but also intelligent, elegant, educated, well-spoken, unflappable, and completely ruthless. The movie belongs to Landa, “basterd” above all others. Give QT credit also for including some strong female parts here: Shoshanna, a young woman whose family was slaughtered by Landa’s men, plots her own unique revenge; Bridget is a German actress who proves to be more than just a pretty face. Look fast for veteran actor Rod Taylor as Churchill; he’s been in his share of traditional WWII movies (36 Hours). Those movies depended on an “epic” orchestral score; Basterds sports QT’s usual eclectic mix of songs that mostly works, including David Bowie’s “Putting Out the Fire” from Cat People and Billy Preston’s “Slaughter.” The story, dialogue, direction, and acting (especially by Waltz and Laurent) keep your interest. Well done, QT. Now, how about a comedy?

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