Thursday, 29 March 2012

25/03/2012: Inglourious Basterds [2009]

Inglourious Basterds is my fourth Quentin Tarantino movie in the last two weeks, so clearly I enjoy his movies and he is one of my favourite filmmakers. However, the first time I watched Inglourious Basterds I was not a fan, but after the second time, I would strongly encourage anyone to give it a second try, this is a movie best enjoyed the second time.

Inglourious Basterds was actually a script that Tarantino had worked on for nearly a decade, choosing to direct Kill Bill first while he finalized the script. How much the movie shares with its namesake the 1978 movie of the correctly spelled name, Inglorious Bastards, is beyond me, as I have never seen it. However I am lead to believe there is little in common. Anyone that watched Inglourious Basterds will clearly see every trademark of Tarantino on it, as he creates a World War Two movie like no other, without a care of what people think or who gets insulted.

The critics had rather mixed feelings about IB, but as most Tarantino movies are: you either love it or hate it. I agree with one critics comment that, IB is a movie best enjoyed the second time, once you've accepted what it is and can really get into it and enjoy it. What IB is about is a group of Jewish American soldiers who are dropped into France with one mission, to kill Nazi's. Scalping their way through the French country side the Basterds quickly become as feared as the the SS were during WWII, which is clearly the point.

The Bear Jew is one hell of an iconic character that everyone has heard of.
Like classic Tarantino moives however, The Basterds are only one small cog in the greater story. Similar to Pulp Fiction, Tarantino likes to keep things non-linear and feature an interwoven number of different storylines and characters. IB is broken up into 5 chapter, with only 5 characters appearing in more than 2 of them. This allows for the main central characters to tell the overarching story whilst allowing numerous great and interesting characters to enter throughout the different stories. IB, like most of Tarantino's films is heavily dialogue and character oriented. It is not an action packed thrill ride, it is all about every line of dialogue, and every character facet revealed.

The beauty of Tarantino's multiple storyline is that he can include so many great characters, and it is a testament  to how great a filmmaker is that, no matter how brief a character may appear on screen, they never feel like just a filler, or an extra. They are always given depth, no matter how short a lifespan they may have. My favourite background character in IB is Dominick Decocco, well that's his fake name, but I can't remember his characters actual name. I love the scene where he runs at the guard with his wrist pistol, time slows down and the epic music plays. He is on the left in the below picture.

 This scene constitutes the 1% of the movie in Italian.
As you can see from above and throughout all the great performances in IB, Tarantino has as always cast an impressive cast. First, who new Eli Roth could act? I certainly didn't, only knowing his name from Hostel, and here he is giving a fun performance as The Bear Jew. I was also surprised to see Brad Pitt sign on for a Tarantino movie, but he had already been in True Romance. Michael Fassbender makes an appearance as well, and I think he is definitely and has gone places and is a rising star.

One of greatest things about IB as well is that it is not even 50% English. Tarantino has no fear at subtitles, allowing the character to interact in their natural languages. 42% of the movie is English, 28% German, and 22% French. This is why he casted  a number of great foreign actors as well. While most of them are no stranger to Hollywood, Mélanie Laurent, does great as the french speaking Shosanna, and Christoph Waltz gave a numerous award winning performance as Col. Hans Landa, The Jew Hunter. Of course any movie involving German, French and English must cast the attractive Diane Kruger, who although a native speaking German, Tarnatino thought she was an English actress due to her prior movies. Also in case your as certain as I was, the narrator is Samuel L. Jackson.

How did he manage to not get a milk mustache?

A trademark of Tarantino is of course, to back his heavily dialogued stories with scene of ultra-violence, which in IB he likes to accompany with music. My favourite of these are the story of Hugo Stiglitz and the death scene of Shosanna. As usual Tarantino has no fear as to what he puts on screen, from gunshots, to scalping everything is as bloody as it need be.

I don't want to ruin the story to much and there is no need to. If you're not a Tarantino fan I don't think this will change your mind. I on the other hand enjoyed all 2 hours and 30 minutes of it, and am disappointed to learn that the original movie was 3 hours and 10 minutes, and Tarantino was forced to cut it. However I am enticed by the rumour of a second Inglourious Basterds movie, knowing that Tarantino had to remove many ideas, such as the backstory of The Bear Jew. As soon as the next IB is announced I will be extremely excited. Already, like all Tarantino fans I await Django Unchained.

Now wouldn't that be an awesome prop to have.
Overall Inglourious Basterds should please any Tarantino fan, featuring all of his trademark elements. One of the unique things about IB is of course it's tri-lingual aspect featuring no fear of subtitles, which don't always translate, and showing Tarantino does not cater to the English speaking Americans. That may be why this film was so popular in the UK. I am currently on the hunt for a nice copy, and to those of you with the collector's limited edition box set, I envy you. For those of you who are not Tarantino fan's I'm not sure how you will like this movie, or whether it is the best movie to be first introduced to Tarantino through. However if you don't like it the first time I implore you to try it again. I didn't like it the first time, but the second time it was great.

Inglourious Basterds IMDB

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