in which I finally see Inglourious Basterds

Of all the films I didn’t get around to watching last year, none was so glaring and inexcusable as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. How this happened I’ll never know. I am a devout Tarantino fan, even preferring Death Proof to Rodriguez’s Planet Terror in Grindhouse. I’ve loved every Tarantino film since first watching Reservoir Dogs at 14 years old. And I wanted to see Basterds, I really did. But it still took me 8 months to get around to it. Man, I’m lazy.

And you know what? I loved it! Big surprise, right? Still, I just want to quickly talk about what was so great about this and all of QT’s films.

To begin with, Tarantino’s dialogue is as good as anything that has come before. And the characters he creates to speak it are a uniquely menacing and vibrant batch of… well, bastards I suppose.

Ever since QT put together Clarence and Alabama when he wrote True Romance he’s brought us some of the greatest anti-heroes of our time. Rarely set in a black and white/ good versus evil world, QT instead creates shaded and bloody planes of unreality set within the larger Hollywood frame, and none so much as Inglourious Basterds.

He’s given us characters who jump off the screen, such a the dreaded Col. Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz, who just won the Oscar incidentally) and the vengeful Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent).

In fact, her story was all the more engaging and intriguing than anything the titular Basterds had going on. I felt like Shosanna’s plot and development was itself enough to warrant the film. But of course, the layering of the American forces and the British officer made it all the richer.

This movie is grand, epic in scale. It’s very classic in many ways, but Tarantino has written a revisionist theory to this historical drama. All the plots threading together only heightened the tension and suspense throughout the film. Needless to say, 160 minutes has never gone by so fast.

I loved several things about this movie, and here they are:

I love the names in this movie. Like Mr. Pink or the Bride before them, the major players in this movie are all the more memorable for the sake of their monikers.

I love the use of the cinema in this movie. Many scenes played out like a tribute to the powers of films, and the things they can inspire. When the young German thinks of Shosanna as a fellow cinema lover rather than as an occupied foreigner or what not, you can feel the appreciation and high standing that QT holds for films.

I love the scene in the basement with the card game. With the British Lt. and some of the basterds undercover as Nazi’s trying to keep cool in the face of another German officer, that scene is dynamite! It encompasses everything I love about QT’s style. It’s sharp, it’s funny, it’s almost unbearably intense, and it references a classic Hollywood film. All at the same time, literally simultaneous. And just when you think it’s ok, just when there’s a hint of relief, shit goes down and you get the violent conclusion that has been the standard for tragedy since the Greeks. And if there is one thing that Tarantino knows, it’s how to shoot violence.

On a final note, I know I loved this movie because people like Brad Pitt and Eli Roth didn’t completely ruin it for me. I fully expected to hate Pitt’s performance from the look of the trailers, but I never got too frustrated or annoyed. Good job guys, way to not blow it.

All in all, Inglourious Basterds is a one of a kind. Even if you hated it, you had to admit that you had never seen it done like that. In a lot of ways it’s rewritten the rules of film as much as it did the actual history of the war. Imagine a whole genre of re-imagined historical epics, where instead of going to the movie knowing how it ends, the Titanic sinks and Dillinger gets shot, you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time. Just don’t put it in 3-D and I’m there.

-Charlie

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