Saturday, January 16, 2010

Quentin Tarantino's newest film, "Inglorious Basterds" is a film for those who love to read. Much of the film is either in French or German with English subtitles. We were introduced to Tarantino in 1992 with "Reservoir Dogs", and then followed that film's success with an Academy Award win in 1994 with the extraordinary "Pulp Fiction". Different directors are known for their different styles of filmmaking. Tarantino often applies the use of chapters, which breaks the film into its different scenes and stories. Some people may argue that this style robs the film of any flow or continuity, but I think that it does the opposite. This way, the person watching the film doesn't get too settled on one story of a multiple story film, much like reading a multi-layered mystery novel. In the end, the filmmaker (or author) can take those multiple story lines and tie them up neatly into one. Sometimes, this is not done as effectively as the director intends. This is not the case with this film, as Tarantino has proven several times, he is a master filmmaker with a unique vision.

In the film, Brad Pitt stars as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, an American soldier who leads a special team through World War two era France, known as "The Basterds". They all have one task; striking fear into the hearts of Hitler's Third Reich by systematically killing and brutally scalping Nazis. The film progresses through France and Germany with Tarantino's signature use of brutal, sometimes cartoon-ish violence. However, much of the violence in this film is inferred. We'll hear a gunshot in the background, but the camera will be focused on a large crowd or a closed door. Many films can be derailed by their lack of intelligent dialogue. One thing that can be said for Tarantino's films is, while they may contain violence and lascivious language, they also contain intelligent dialogue. Some people may find these films dull, as most of Tarantino's films are dominated by dialogue, with only splashes of action. This often leads to an action filled climax. But more importantly, the excellent dialogue is paramount to these films' success.

Much of the time, a film is made successful by, not only employing a stellar main cast, but also choosing an excellent supporting cast. Any of Tarantino's films, but especially this one, is certainly no exception. The first supporting player is played by Diane Kruger. She plays Bridget von Hammersmark, a German born actress who has been recruited by the Americans has a spy. Her fame as an actress makes her transition between drinking buddy of the Third Reich and American spy seemless. She's gorgeous, but at the same time, she's just one of the guys that could easily drink anyone under the table. Secondly, in the beginning of the film, we are introduced to our other two supporting characters. The first, played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, is a colnel in Hitler's Third Reich. He is responsible for traveling around the country, interviewing the men of the households, and ultimately, making sure that they are not housing Jewish refugees from capture and almost certain death. There has been a lot of buzz around Waltz's performance as Col. Hans Landa. Many people are predicting an Academy Award for supporting actor. If I could vote, I would certainly give him my vote. His portrayal was eerie, diabolical and hilarious all at once. Finally, we are introduced to one of our Jewish refugees, a young French girl, Shosanna, who narrowly escapes death when, during one of Col. Landa's visits, she and her family are discovered. Her entire family is killed. Years later, Shosanna, played by French actress Melanie Laurent, is running a movie theater in Paris which has recently been passed down to her by a recently deceased Aunt. Upon being discovered again by Col. Landa, she hatches a plot with her assistant to lure Hitler himself and his top men into the theater, only to lock them in and set the theater ablaze, no doubt to get revenge for the brutal slaying of her family years earlier. Laurent could be a contender for the Academy Award as well. Her performance was excellent.

While moving slow at times, this film over all was vintage Tarantino. Excellent writing and character development were highlights. I did not expect so many subtitles in the film, but that was easily ignored, and I was able to enjoy this film. It's certainly worthy to add to any collection.

Inglourious Basterds (2-Disc Special Edition with Soundtrack CD)

No comments:

Post a Comment