Damn those Nazi’s were a bunch of dicks. Seriously, what was up with that? Simply hateful. You want to talk ‘haters’… then you need to talk about Nazi’s because those cats hated everybody. As such history has not been kind to the Nazi, who are STILL being hunted down by Simon Wiesenthal and them some sixty years after the fall of The Third Reich. History, as it were, didn’t particularly need maverick director Quentin Tarantino’s help because the Nazi certainly got theirs in reality and repeatedly in cinema… but they didn’t get it quite like this in Mr. Tarantino’s indulgent, verbose, violent, lengthy and highly entertaining World War Two fairy tale ‘Inglorious Basterds’. Note that I think this is like the tenth Nazi based movie I’ve seen this year.
Simply from watching the trailers to this movie we would think that it is mainly about Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his eight Jewish recruits who are hanging out in German occupied France killing Nazi’s and taking their scalps. And Lt. Raine wants his scalps. We know he wants his scalps because he said so in the trailer which apparently certain people have watched over and over again because when Brad Pitt said it in this movie, about twenty people in the audience said it right along with him. Folks, you are NOT at home and this isn’t ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. But truthfully the Basterds killing up Nazi’s is a relatively small part of this movie. Like most war flicks, this one is about ‘The Mission’, that mission being the mythical Operation Kino. Now I’m not going to tell you exactly what Operation Kino is but you know it’s got to involve killing Nazi’s, and in a big way.
Before we get to the big mission there are some colorful characters and interesting situations that we have to deal with for two and a half hours. In addition to the caricature that is Brad Pitt’s Lt. Raine there’s the gloriously played SS Colonel Hans Lander (Christoph Waltz) who hunts Jews, not because he particularly dislikes them, say like the Fuhrer (Martin Wuttke), but because he happens to be really good at it and as such has developed a real passion for it. When Colonel Lander leaves the room
the smartest man in the room has just left the room. There is also the fair maiden Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) a French Jew who Colonel Lander, for whatever reason, allowed to escape the slaughter of her family and who years later will assume a new identity and operate a cinema that shows German propaganda films in between the occasional French art film.
We also have the German double agent (Diane Kruger), the British Spy (Michael Fassbender), the reluctant German Hero (Daniel Bruhl) and the ubiquitous Minister of Propaganda (Sylvester Groth) amidst a cast of virtually hundreds, all of whom will factor in someway into our big mission. I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s looking like Eva Braun might be waiting a while Adolf to make it to that bunker.
Even though I liked ‘Inglorious Basterds’ an awful lot, the title of the movie did lead me to believe that I was getting a movie similar to the Enzo Castellari film, ‘The Inglorious Bastards’ from thirty years ago. A movie that was so incredibly over the top, silly and fun, that watching it is almost required movie viewing. While this movie was over-the-top, sometimes silly and sporadically fun, a more accurate title probably would’ve been ‘People sitting around talking an awful lot amidst sudden burst of violence’. Yes, that is tough to fit on a movie marquis but it is accurate.
Even by Quentin Tarantino standards ‘Inglorious Basterds’ was verbose. Take into consideration that my favorite Tarantino movie, one of my favorite movies of all-time is ‘Reservoir Dogs’, a movie that pretty much consists almost completely of a bunch of dudes in a single location talking, so that’s saying something. The good thing, with no one needing me to tell anyone this, is that the man does know how to write dialog and most of this dialog works in effectively building tension into a movie that is about as uniformly tense as any movie ever. From the first scene with Col. Landa grilling that pathetic French dairy farmer, to the final scene, there was rarely a moment when one didn’t get the feeling that something really bad was a trigger finger away from occurring. Sometimes these bad things happened, sometimes they didn’t. Still, I wouldn’t have minded seeing The Basterds doing more basterdly stuff, but that’s just me.
As one would expect from a Tarantino movie, there are scenes in this movie that will bring a tear to your eye they are so well executed. There was this one scene in particular which featured Mike Myers playing a smarmy British General giving instructions to his spy played by Michael Fassbender, with Winston Churchill sitting off the distance, that had me in stitches. The dialog, the vocal impedance used by the actors, the way the scene was framed was all pitch perfect. It was embarrassing that I was the only person in the theater who thought this scene was funny… this audience saved their laughter for the Nazi getting his dome caved in with a baseball bat. That they thought was funny. At least me and this audience could all agree on Brad Pitt speaking his characters version of the Italian language was universally amusing.
Everything else one expect from a movie from this director was pretty much on par with a wonderful attention to detail, a deep rich cinematic look to the film, impeccable sets, Tarantino getting the most from his actors and great costumes. Sure the Nazi’s were total dicks but they did sport the sweetest floor length leathers in the history of fascist fashion. And while this is a movie that does run a little long, featuring a scene or two that looked like it could’ve used a bit of truncating, I sure am glad the Weinstein’s didn’t ‘Kill Bill’ this movie and break it up into two ‘kinda okay’ flicks, keeping it the one really good movie that it was meant to be.
There are other things in this movie in the form homage and innuendo that the more cinematically skilled amongst us will probably enjoy as well. Considering I’ve seen all four ‘Anaconda’ movies, just as an example of a few of the incredibly suspect movies I watch on a daily basis, that kind of thing usually goes over my head so it’s going to be completely lost on me. But what I do know is Quentin Tarantino makes movies about as often as there is a solar eclipse so when this eclipse occurs, as somebody who watches movies, you really don’t have much of a choice but to watch it no matter how it turns out. Good thing for us then that ‘Inglorious Basterds’ turned out quite well.