Monday, September 7, 2009

My Lait Reavyoo Ov Ingaloorius Basstreds, a Philm Bye Kwenten Tarrenteenoe

Whenever someone discusses a Quentin Tarantino film, it seems necessary to first explain what your general take on the world’s most successful video store clerk is. Some hurl bolts of expletives at the sharp chinned auteur, labeling him a copycat just surfing his way to the top of Hollywood on waves of 70s Asian cinema influence. Others declare him to be the second coming of Orson Welles, a true genius with a handle of actors, camerawork, and dialogue unlike any filmmaker of the last fifty years.

I’ll take the middle road on the big QT question. I acknowledge that he did indeed influence--if not completely redirect--the status of film in the late 90s. I get a huge kick out of Kill Bill Volume 1 and an even deeper, more thoughtful enjoyment of Volume 2, but while there’s a lot in Pulp Fiction that makes me smile, there are also stretches of dialogue that feel far too indulgent for my tastes. Ultimately, I’ll always respect and usually enjoy a QT film, but I have my issues with him.

I wasn’t too sure how to approach his latest film, particularly since I’d heard such heaps of praise that would make Eli Roth blush blood red. So with an armful of heart attack happy popcorn, I made my way into the theater two weeks after the successful opening of Inglareouse Bastirdz.

Quick Plot: World War II is upon us, and who knew it was so much fun? Well, at least for one secretive band of American banshees, the titular Basterds who prowl through Europe with one goal and one goal only: kill Nahzees, whether by baseball bat, gun shot, or shame. Meanwhile, a smart young French Jew (Melanie Laurent as Shosanna/Emmanuelle) who survived a terrifying Nazi raid on her family plots a grand attack on the high command of the SS, who have made plans to attend the premiere of a German war film being held in her cinema. Their stories interact (indirectly) when Diane Kruger enters the picture as a double agent actress helping the Allies. Weaved through everyone’s tale is the incredible Christoph Waltz (best actor at Cannes), aka Hans “The Jew Hunter” Landa who earned his nickname with his unique brand of intelligence, charm, and pure soullessness.

Ingelawreos Bastrds is a blast. Not a perfect one by any means, but certainly QT’s most disciplined film that still manages to entertain in as-big-as-you-can get style. Some scenes--such as the hold-your-breath opening and Landa’s strudel sharing with Shosanna--offer incredibly tense moments of suspense, while others--including the Basterds attempts to speak Eye-talian--are funnier than most comedies released on screen in recent years. The storyline itself is quite well-presented, with a nice balance between the slower moments of Shosanna’s plotting with the insane hijinks of the Basterds bashing in a few skulls. It’s an excellent script with near perfect execution.

High Points
There’s not a bad performance in the bunch, which is quite a feat when nearly every main actor takes big risks with their work. Brad Pitt’s lieutenant amuses with every curl of his lip, Melanie Laurent’s understated take on vengeance adds much needed heart, and Christoph Waltz’s SS officer has terrifying charisma that would make Hannibal Lector choke on fava beans

I have a pet peeve with films that take place in other countries, are recorded for English speaking audiences, yet insist on using regional accents. It makes no sense. Inglorious Basterds, with its quatralingual dialogue, gets it right by simply letting its characters speak the language they would be speaking, thereby respecting the audience enough to give us the right presentation

I listened to one review that claimed Engloereaouse Baztirds had a misogynist undertone in how it ultimately treated its females. I would completely disagree; while neither Bridget or Shoshana have fairy tale endings, they both are portrayed as strong, determined, and intelligent women whose fates are not unrealistic to the choices they make. It's actually quite refreshing

Maybe you've noticed, but the brutal abuse of titular spelling has allowed me great joy at finding new ways to write the words "Imbloreous Bazztrds"

Low Points
Samuel L. Jackson’s narration gave the audience a nice little wink, but considering its obvious placement, it felt a little too much like QT trying to insert his signature right smack in the middle of the film

I know that Tarantino’s soundtracks tend to receive loads of sales and snobbish music experts’ haughty approval, but too many of his choices--opening on Beethoven’s most commercially used sonata, for example--felt too recognizable and pulled me out of the story

Lessons Learned
Old film reels are highly flammable

When eating strudel, wait for the cream

French people respect directors

Germans signal the number 3 in a different manner than Brits and Americans

If male and drinking in a European tavern, always assume there is a gun pointed at your testicles

See/Skip/Sneak In
You owe it to yourself to see this film, as it’s most likely to remain the most discussed theatrical release of the summer. Plus, you’s fun. And genuinely a great movie. Yes, it’s a tad long and sure, it takes more liberties with history than Philip Roth or Hard Rock Zombies could ever dream, but you will leave the theater with a hearty dose of impressive filmmaking, fascinating acting, and an extremely involving story more than deserving of your $12.


  1. Wait for the cream may be one of the most perfectly executed lines of dialogue ever! Well, that and the third time Pitt says "gorlomi" I suppose.

    Took ya long enough, but I'm glad to hear you finally went out and saw the film and enjoyed it too. I'm even more glad to see how well it's done in theaters...I thought IB was going to be a massive box office bomb. Thankfully I was wrong in that assumption!

    Great review of Inngloryis Bassturds!

  2. It definitely had bomb potential: long running time, tricky marketing, and lotsa non Inglish speak. I too am glad to see it doing well. I'd love to see it get some Oscar love, at least for Christoph Waltz. This is probably the first film of the year that made me say, I can't wait to see it again on DVD.