INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS ****
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a movie lover’s dream.
But with QUENTIN TARANTINO (the bad boy of American cinema) at the helm, what else could you possibly expect or hope for? It’s a cinematic high wire act that you miss at your own peril.
Since plot details will only serve to undermine your enjoyment of this intimate epic, they will be kept to a minimum. At this point in time, you can find them anywhere you click.
But in this case, the element of surprise works decidedly in your favour.
Discretion is the better part of valour, after all…
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS takes place in a parallel universe during the Second World War. It’s a sumptuous, brazen, magnificent version of the 1940s.
SHOSANNA DREYFUS (MELANIE LAURENT) is a French Jew whose encounter with the Nazis changed her life irrevocably. She can never forgive or forget.
Her destiny is fervently entwined with the INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, a group of Jewish American soldiers who have vowed to hunt down and destroy as many Nazis as they possibly can. Their leader is the brash, taciturn, ruthless LIEUTENANT ALDO RAINE (BRAD PITT). Blessed with remarkable motivation and a clanging Tennessee twang, Aldo has a grand plan that he is determined to carry out. No matter what it costs.
Failure is definitely not an option.
Over time, you are also introduced to COLONEL HANS LANDA (CHRISTOPH WALTZ), a charming, manipulative, blackhearted Nazi with an eye for the ladies. There’s German movie goddess BRIDGET VON HAMMERSMARK (DIANE KRUGER) who is actually working for the Allies.
PRIVATE FREDRICK ZOLLER (DANIEL BRUHL) is a young German who is smitten with Shosanna. He is the principal actor in a Nazi propaganda film where he plays himself. He’s supposedly his country’s answer to VAN JOHNSON. He’s actually more reminiscent of TYRONE POWER.
There are also a number of wonderful actors in notable cameos.
MIKE MYERS plays English GENERAL ED FENECH. JULIE DREYFUS (SOPHIE in KILL BILL VOLUME I) is FRANCESCA MONDINO, Joseph Goebbels’ fashionable French interpreter/mistress and ROD TAYLOR (one of the most gorgeous and compelling film personalities of the 50s and 60s) is completely unrecognizable as WINSTON CHURCHILL.
You can not fault any of these performances. Everyone is right at the top of their respective game. BRAD PITT has charisma to burn. You can’t take your eyes off of him. DIANE KRUGER is fantastic. She’s an astonishingly glamorous femme fatale that’s as hard as diamonds.
This motion picture marks the English language debuts of MELANIE LAURENT and CHRISTOPH WALTZ. Both of them make such an incredible impact that they have guaranteed futures in American film.
Ms. Laurent has star quality in abundance. She has a face that the camera adores. You feel tremendous sympathy towards Shosanna throughout and that has entirely to do with Melanie’s supreme talent. She fascinates even in her quiet moments. The picture revolves around her character…and rightly so.
The cinematography by ROBERT RICHARDSON (who also shot CASINO and both KILL BILLS) is crisp and luminous. Editor SALLY MENKE (a Tarantino regular) makes this a smooth ride. Sequences come together easily in a mesmerizing manner.
ANNA B. SHEPPARD’S costumes are spectacular and luxurious. Everyone should have looked that good back in the day.
QUENTIN’S direction is superb. His dialogue is absolutely amazing. But then nobody working in the cinema currently writes like that. There are many tension filled scenes that are deliriously awesome. The effortlessly flowing evocative words make you strain to hear every last syllable.
The fact that much of the dialogue is subtitled (in French and German) takes nothing away from its spellbinding rapture.
QUENTIN loves film. When you see one of his movies, you’re effectively immersed in that cinematic adoration. There’s a shot through an open doorway in the first few minutes that’s obviously an homage to THE SEARCHERS.
He even has the audaciousness to reference his own films in a playful way.
During a scene where one of the Nazis is about to be beaten by THE BASTERDS for nondisclosure of information, you can hear ENNIO MORRICONE’S L’ARENA in the background. That’s the instrumental piece from KILL BILL VOLUME II that was used when Beatrix busted out of that coffin.
A few people have been playing devil’s advocate regarding the movie’s historical inaccuracies. We all know that the events did not transpire in this fashion.
But it really should have gone down that way…
GET OVER IT.
This is a groundbreaking work of great stature. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is an art film that has purpose and something to say. From the opening shot, it grips and enthralls. It’s savage, brash, witty, masterfully inventive and made with intelligence and great flair.
The image of the striking MELANIE LAURENT in a brilliantly rich vibrant red dress – getting ready for the battle of her life with PUTTING OUT FIRE by DAVID BOWIE soaring in the background – will be burned into your memory for eternity.
The last line of dialogue is: “I think this just might be my masterpiece.”
QUENTIN, the possibilities are endless…