Saturday, February 27, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Oh Quentin...what a quaint little film you have made! What fun! True to Tarantino's style, broken up into Chapters, we get the recounting of a ruthless yet highly entertaining bunch of military "Basterds" who are sent forth from the US, Apache style, to kill and scalp Nazis in 1940s France. What this film brilliantly accomplishes three times over is in setting up cinematic scenarios of insurmountable high octane suspense that could easily rival Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense himself. My God! Over and over we find ourselves in scenes rife with undertones of secrecy and mistrust glossed over by the unsettling facade of Nazi pleasantries, like a ticking time bomb, which have you riveted to the screen with anxious anticipation. Deadly performances from Melanie Laurent as Jewish Cinema owner Shosanna, as well as from Diane Kruger in her part as the glamorously elite but double crossing German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark. Both women played with daggers in their eyes, like a high stakes poker game where you never reveal your hand. This would have to be so in a cast with Christoph Waltz opposing in the role of lead villain Nazi Col. Hans,
always cool yet dangerously unpredictable, who's mere appearance on screen would suffice to put you on edge.

Highly cinematic in his directorial style, Tarantino delivers the first chapter as a portrayal of the despicable yet commonplace acts for Nazi soldiers in France at that time. This seems to justify and give the audience full permission and carte blanche to sit back, relax and enjoy for the remainder of the film the retaliation of the Basterds, though often equally grotesque in their acts of scalping and maiming the Nazis. But hold no restraint! There can be no mistaking the carefully constructed fun-spirited tone which comes shining through the non-chalance and wickedly entertaining performance from the lead commander of the Basterds, Lt. Aldo (Brad Pitt) meant to give you full on Nazi killin satisfaction! With Pitt at the helm, this film has wit, charm and suspense all weaved into one, quite deliberately striking that particular note of tragic comedy that only Tarantino could pull off. The film ranges from the thoroughly enjoyable rantings of Aldo, with so many great one-liner quips I couldn't keep track, to the genuinely heart shattering dilemma of farmer Perrier LaPadite, played by Denis Menochet
with such a deep well of tragic emotion that I regret to have not seen more of this actor before. I find myself not wanting to comment too thoroughly on the specifics here of certain scenes as well because they really do speak for themselves and are carefully constructed in the reveal of information, much credit due to the editing. A must-see for any fun-loving movie-goer. And easily becoming one of my favorites from this director. But Quentin? Could we ease up on the graphics a bit? Some grotesque violence is graphically displayed, but in fairness I can see how it seems to have been pulled back in parts, and really is only shown in it's full glory at opportune moments, to create a kind of clincher effect. Hey, if he's gotta do it, he's gotta do it. One thing is certainly clear from the get-go, this is a very mindfully crafted piece of cinema from a director who knows what he wants.

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