August 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

**Warning. This review contains spoilers like how Hitler is actually only a cover for his alter-ego, Super-Hitler, who wears a cape while killing Jews.**

When I first saw the intentionally misspelled advertisements for Inglourious Basterds, I thought to myself: “it’s probably better if I don’t know a lot about the movie before I go in.” I had picked up this reflex at some point between Jackie Brown and Death Proof, because at some point I must have subconsciously realized that if I went into a new QT movie expecting it to be as brilliant as the industry-changing Pulp Fiction, I would only be chasing the dragon. Not that T-rad’s films in the interim have been extremely bad, but rather that none have lived up to the expertise he demonstrated in Reservoir Dogs. And at first look, Basterds looked more like Kill Bill than Pulp Fic, so it was easy to believe that this movie would be nothing more than a purile exercise in re-writing World War Two. S I implore you to trust me, right now, when I say: Inglourious Basterds is, possibly, the best movie Quentin Tarantino has ever made.

But there are several quirks you’ll have to sit through in order to get to the glory. Instead spending the next four hundred and fifty words saluting the brilliance of this filmic tour-de-force, I will focus on those quirks that make this film particularly fucked up, anachronistic, pulpy, and otherwise midnight-worthy. And trust me, this movie is all four of those things.

First, this movie is full of fun facts about history. For example, did you know that World War Two ended abruptly in 1945 with Eli Roth machine-gunning Hitler in the face? Or that SS Officers were each issued a pipe the size of Alsace-Lorraine and a drinking boot upon deployment? I can’t believe I missed that in history class.

There are a few great Tarantino-isms, too: T-rad gets such a good performance out of Brad Pitt as a swaggering southern lieutenant, for example, that it almost makes me forget all about Troy, Ocean’s Thirteen, Mr. and Ms. Smith, and all the other crap he’s been in since the turn of the millennium. Also, Tarantino cast Eli Roth as a crazy American Jew who likes smashing people’s heads in with a baseball bat for entertainment, which, if you know anything about Eli Roth, means that he is essentially playing a toned down version of himself. Harvey Keitel makes an appearance as the American general who is only heard over the phone, and there is a moment where Samuel L. Jackson tells the audience in no uncertain terms how to blow up a theater. Honestly, Mr. Jackson, the only time I ever thought about blowing up a movie theater was after watching Lakeview Terrace.

But there is one guy who steals the show. Christoph Waltz pays a Jew hunting SS officer who might just be the biggest douche ever put to film. This character can find Jews with his sense of smell and intimidate people with milk. He’s brilliant, but not just brilliant, Hannibal-Lecter-crossed-with-Sherlock-Holmes-while-making-love-to-Tony-Stark brilliant. Nazi-Spock-on-Methamphetamine brilliant. He is pitch perfect as a villain, and even plays his own comedic relief. Just like McLovin, I could easily stand to watch a two hour movie just about that guy.

But then there is a cameo by Mike Myers.

It is first worth a note that one of the trailers before this movie is Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.

As soon as Mike Myers appears on the screen, even though he’s caked with more prosthetics than Carla Gugino on the set of Watchmen, you will recognize him. I, for one, will never forget the look of that man’s, bushy, Congo-like eyebrows. I kept expecting him to say that the lead actress was “a man baby, yeah!” His scene is mercifully brief and begrudgingly unnecessary, if surprisingly funny for it's incredible... Britishness.

(Austin Powers 4 is in the works, btw.)

For those of you who are counting Tarantino's tricks, there is NO scene shot from the inside of a car's trunk in this movie, but there is a Mexican Standoff. It seems that T-rad has skipped all the phallic imagery and gone straight to the point on this one, for every gun in this Mexican Standoff is pointed directly at various character's testicles. It's a Texican Standoff. I guess QT is making up for Death Proof, which had lots of trunk shots and only one guy getting his balls blown off, which is well below average. Also, this movie has a soundtrack.

When everything is said and done, Inglorious Basterds is well worth your 10 bucks. It's violent, yeah, but it's not Kill Bill and it plays around with the nature of the cinema just enough to rile my inner Andre Bazin. The references will make a film nerd squeal, and the dialogue is perfect, elliptical, comedic and suspenseful all at the same time. The ending is a little hard to swallow, but otherwise this is how theater is supposed to be made. Highly Recommended.

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