Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Directed by: Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Mike Myers, Til Schweiger
Inglorious Basterds could not have been released by Tarantino at a better time. We all know that the self confessed (and proud of it) movie dweeb can make good films, but when was the last time he made a cracker? My answer would be Pulp Fiction – his masterpiece. Yes, Jackie Brown was solid if not exceptional, Kill Bill was great fun and Grindhouse was ingenious concept (but decimated by the distributors), passable content. I was starting to get bored with his work. Tarantino at his worst is full of his own self importance and can’t help a ‘wink’ and an ‘eye’ to cultural references or key moments in past movies, events etc, and IB is no exception.
The movie’s opening chapter and alternatively, the big shootout (which lasts less than a minute) but has 10-15 mins of relentless tension buildup, is reminiscent (at least to me) to the meeting table shootout in Where Eagles Dare -perhaps one of the best ‘ripping yarn’ war movies out there. Yet the Tarantino magic is back.
I generally have a few boxes that need to be ticked for a film to be more than good. Somewhere in the running time there has to be something original or not done before, there has to be emotional content (tension, heartache, shocks etc) and it has to give me the ‘shiver down the back’ effect. An example of the latter could be Chigurr’s sweetie paper unravelling closeup in NCFOM, Pumpkin slamming (overloud) a pistol on the table in Pulp Fiction etc, I’ll get to the point, all these criterio are ticked in this film.
Sure, Pitt hams up his role (but in a hilarious way – like in Snatch, True Romance), chapter 3 is fairly weak, and there is very little background on the basterds themselves, ie who they are?, inner conflict etc, but this movie is very good, perhaps my favourite flick of this year. The fact the story plays like an overlong episode in a basterd’s TV series, where the main characters are not the main focus, does work for me. Finally there are numerous ‘shiver down the back’ moments. One shot in the cinema hall at the climax is worth the ticket price alone. Yep, its movie events like these that make having the curse of the movie bug all worth while. Exceptional fair from the original ‘movie dweeb’.