Friday, August 28, 2009

"Inglourious Basterds" (sic) is glorious Tarantino


Quentin Tarantino has given us a peculiar masterpiece with his “Inglourious Basterds” (sic). From The Weinstein Company, the movie continues the “spirit” of the “Grindhouse” of a couple years ago, and this film is a bit of a grindhouse or “Kill Bill 3” itself.

The narrative style is to divide the script into “Chapters”, even of which is almost like an independent play, each of which counterpoints the characters with the awful politics of Nazi-occupied France. But the film builds up to a symphonic and overwhelming climax, in a movie theater, that reminds us of several of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, plus added gratuitous violence. “Sabotage” (reviewed yesterday) comes to mind, as does “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Most viewers know that the film is “about” a group of “Nazi-hunters” led by Aldo Raines, played by a leathered and Fort-Bragg-sounding Brad Pitt, completely with ugly ligature scar across his neck. Normally a director, Eli Roth, looking the manliest of men, plays sidekick Sgt. Donny Donowitz. Others call this film a “spaghetti western” in a WWII setting, a kind of satire based on the Dollars movies from the 1960s.

Of course, it takes liberty with history, and supposes what might have been: maybe the War would have ended sooner if a plot like this really had been pulled off.

The music is riveting. The film has lots of odd close-ups, of food (cream puffs) and eating with bad table manners, of faces and body image. In the opening sequence, an inkwell, with its Prussian blue, is made captivating to the eye. The story makes a lot of arcane points, such as how nitrate film is flammable, a key element of the plot. There is a place where a movie patron wants his money back because of "bad actors" (or was that in Hitchcock's "Sabotage" -- the idea works in both movies.) The concluding sequence has an embedded Nazi war film, “Nation’s Pride”, and makes a lot of meta comments about the German film industry at the time.
The film was made with Universal, although it fits very much the spirit of large scale indie film from companies like Summit.

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