I used to love Quentin Tarantino's movies; back when I first saw Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in my freshman year in college I thought he was the greatest thing that could ever happen to stale, old Hollywood. I even liked Jackie Brown when that was released a few years later... But then came along the famed writer/director's half of the Grindhouse double-feature: Death Proof. Instead of having witty and fun dialogue that kept its viewers enticed (no matter the topic) due to the tennis match-like back and forth lyrical banter of the characters, Death Proof was an hour and a half of pure agony. The conversations went nowhere, and only the last 10 minutes of the thing had any kind of magic in them whatsoever (when Stuntman Mike became the chased one). It bored me shitless and felt like it was a seven-hour tour-d'force of Chinese Water Torture on my eyes, ears, and brain. At the end of it all I remember thinking, "Is THIS really the direction that Quentin's going in? Turning his once praised ability to write fascinating dialogue into blackholes of flat annoyance?"
Then came Inglourious Basterds (spelled that way, I figure, in tribute to how Brad Pitt's character in the film would probably spell it). I went into this movie with great trepidation (like getting into a hot tub where you can see somebody is trying to hide under the water, and you're not sure if it's your significant other or a freak who just wants to rub your, erm, legs). I had hoped for something along the lines of Kill Bill, but was so afraid I'd get another Four Rooms. Instead I got something even better than Pulp Fiction. I was blind-sided by this movie so completely... I had no idea where it would go or how it would get there, and when the credits finally rolled I found that I couldn't stop smiling over how brilliant the whole thing was. Inglourious Basterds is one of the greatest World War II movies ever made — not only because of the conversations between such fantastic groups of characters, but also because Quentin really thought about all the other WWII movies that had come before... And then he wondered "why are they all the goddamn same?! Even the fictitious ones try way too hard to be hyperly dramatic and 'real'... Fuck that!" And then he gave the world the brilliant characters of Lt. Raine, Shoshanna Dreyfus, Col. Landa, The Bear Jew, Bridget von Hammersmark, and dur Führer himself in a way we've never seen him before. No, not even Springtime For Hitler will prepare you for his role in this movie. Tarantino... I'm sorry I ever doubted you.
For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet (or those who for some reason are living in a refrigerator box, and only have access to Homeless Joe's Pantomime Theater and my site), the basic plot of the whole thing is this:
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by brutally killing and scalping and baseball batting-in Nazis heads. The Basterds eventually cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers due to a special Nazi event being held there.
That's kind of accurate, and knowing just that much will give you a general (and very, very basic) idea of what to expect within. But now I'm going to spoil the hell out of the movie just because there's so much I want to talk about, and most of my friends are lamers who hated Kill Bill 1 & 2 and refused to give the man who gave us not only the script to True Romance, but the characters of Jules Winnfield, and Michael Madsen's Budd another chance. So I'll just share my thoughts with you all.
Despite being called Inglourious Basterds, this movie doesn't feature the Basterds all that much really. This is a shame (as they're all a bunch of bad-ass gnat-zee killers), but I didn't even notice this little "problem" until the movie was done and I had a chance to think about it. The leader of the Basterds is Lt. Alda Raine (Mr. Pitt), a Southern redneck who knows how to do two things really well: lead his men, earning their undying loyalty; and kill gnat-zees. He's a simple man, but damn is he good at what he loves to do best (that would be "killing gnat-zees." Jesus you're stupid). His small guerilla army (featuring most notably Eli Roth's "The Bear Jew") attacks German camps inside Nazi-occupied France before the Normandy invasion. Each of Raine's men owes him 100 gnat-zee scalps for the honor of serving with him, and by the time we catch up with them it looks like they're each well on their way to a complete collection.
Other than Raine and The Bear Jew (whom the gnat-zees seem to fear by his reputation of swinging a Louisville Slugger into the heads of those who don't "help the Basterds' cause" faster than Raine would like), my favorite Basterd would have to be Hugo Stiglitz. Hugo's a constantly pissed-off ex German soldier who was arrested by the SS and sentenced to death for BRUTALLY killing an ass-ton of his fellow officers in the Nazi ranks, and who is rescued by Raine who then asks if Stiglitz wants to "go pro" in his gnat-zee killing career. In the first half of the film we see that even Hitler and his cabinet fear the Basterds and what their attacks are doing to their soldiers' morale (what with always leaving one soldier to live to tell the tale [after he gives the Basterds classified information on troop movements or artillery placement], but with an eternal reminder of which side he played for so that after he goes home and takes off his uniform the people around him will always know he was a gnat-zee).
The story with the Basterds is played primarily tongue-in-cheek — and to great effect — but Shoshanna's tale (the French-Jew girl who escaped The Jew Hunter after he killed her family, who eventually runs a movie theater in Paris) is pretty dramatic and devastating. The whole film actually begins with Shoshanna's and Colonel Landa (aka "The Jew Hunter")'s stories. Landa is a calculating — but personable when he wants to be — SS officer who's renown within the German army as being a world class detective when it comes to finding Jews in hiding. We start things off with him interrogating a poor French dairy farmer who's obviously hiding some Jews Anne Frank style in his house. Over the course of one of the most intense conversations that I've ever seen (that didn't involve me getting chewed out by that cop for California rolling through a stop sign with 2 1/2 dead hookers in my trunk), Landa breaks the sorry sod and proves that he is a total basterd himself, especially in the way he fucks with the horrified teenaged Shoshanna as she runs for what she hopes is freedom.
A few years pass and the Basterds and Shoshanna's stories start to come together when the star of a brand new Nazi publicity film (a sniper who killed 300 Americans in one campaign in Italy) falls in lust with the Jewess in hiding, and talks Goebbels (Hitler's man in charge of film and propaganda) into premiering the movie based on the German soldier's exploits at the theater that his object of desire owns and runs. All the high German command will be there, and this target becomes way too good to pass up for the Allies. This is when we meet the hottest fictional German turned Allied-spy EVER: Bridget von Hammersmark.
Von Hammersmark (played by the fuckable minx Diane Kruger) has been passing the good guys secret information she's gathered (more than likely from sucking on some high ranking Vienna sausages in the line of duty) for two years, and she sets up a meeting between an undercover British soldier/film critic named Hicox, some of the Basterds, and herself in order to tell them of her plan to sneak into the premiere of the sniper movie and blow it to high holy Hell. Unfortunately for her lack of spy-smarts, Bridget chooses to meet in a basement bar in the middle of the French countryside where a party of Nazis is holding a celebration for one of their own who just became a father that night. Things fall apart rather quickly when another SS officer makes his presence known and joins the Allied party at their table for an intense game of cat and mouse that matches, if not tops, Landa's interview with the dairy farmer at the beginning. Honestly, I did not shit myself in anticipation and fear half this much during my exit interview from that blow-up doll factory I worked at a few years back... I almost blurted out "Don't check my trunk!" on a number of occasions back then. Not that I had any blow-up dolls in my trunk, that was just the day I had those dead hookers in it... But I digress.
These Basterdly scenes are probably the things that will divide viewers the most. These nerve-wracking conversations may be incredibly written and acted, but they are long. Quentin keeps the audience on its toes though because one just doesn't know who has the upper hand from sentence to sentence. I was almost sweating myself the intensity got to be so bad/good so many times during the many fervid dialogues. And the absolute beauty of Inglourious Basterds is that every one of these conversations was pertinent to the plot in the end. This is vastly different from some of Tarantino's other flicks (ESPECIALLY the tedious and crappy Death Proof, which was about 95% inconsequential chit-chat that didn't advance the story, and wasn't fun or entertaining in the least), and made for a hugely satisfying and cohesive narrative that made me simply think about the whole plot for days after first watching it. No, it's not a thinking man's movie in that everything is pretty straight forward in the way the tale is told, but this movie can (and most probably will) be analyzed for years to come on the psychological level. The way certain egos collide and explode in the last chapter was brilliant. The only character death (of the many) that I felt was truly a crime was the poor delicate flower who was too dumb to empty a few more rounds into that dicky Nazi's back before flipping him over. To grow compassion at that late time was just a waste of a life.
Oh, then there's the casting! First I must wave my penis in salute to Diane Kruger. Holy shit! She is so damn hot in this movie. Pitt's Lt. Raine was even better than the previews make him out to be. He's so damn cocky and brazen about everything that you just can't help but like him. I can easily see how he not only got the Basterds to follow him into battle, but got them to literally scalp their kills for him. Seriously, scalping is some pretty heinous shit. And of course there's Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter." Where the hell did Quentin find this guy? I'm so glad that this role was filled by somebody we've never seen before. Waltz has no previous roles for us to attach him to, and thusly IS Colonel Landa. There were times I would have loved to have sat down and had a drink with the guy, and then an instant later I would probably have wanted to jam a Luger up his ass and pull the trigger till it went "click." The man speaks at least 4 languages fluently on film (with perfect accents for all), and really knows how to show both contempt and glee at the exact same time. He may not get nominated for Best Supporting Actor come the next Academy Awards, but if he doesn't get Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards I will personally blow up the next Twilight movie set (which will probably be the cause of Waltz's loss due to glittering vamp-cock-lovers voting for that rat shit series of movies over and over again while dreaming of Edward fucking them in their mouths and asses while they wait for a glittering explosion in their orifice, and pray for a reach-around from their fabulous, gay lover). Fuck you, Twilight.
My only real negative thing to say about Inglourious Basterds is that I just wish we got to hang out with the Basterds themselves a bit more. I would have loved to have seen a movie based solely around their gnat-zee killing sprees. I wanted to see them in their element more — out in the woods, shooting and hacking up Germans — instead of them trying to go undercover and hide who they are. The Basterds were meant to be out in the open, baseball batting-in gnat-zee skulls, and scalping Krauts wherever they go. Still, when my only complaint is that I want more, I figure that ain't half bad.
Nein, nein, nein! Dieses ist nicht die Weise, die es geschah! Keine Juden töteten mich! Hören Sie auf mich! Dieses ist alle Lügen! Amerikanische Imperialistlügen und -propaganda! Ich tötete die Juden, sie tötete mich nicht! Lohnaufmerksamkeit! Ich setzte sie in Gaskammern ein und machte sie zu Staub, und dann aß ich sie mit einer Seite von wienerschnitzel. Sie schossen mich nicht im Gesicht und sprengten dann ein Theater, das den größten deutschen überhaupt gebildeten Film spielt!
Und obwohl ich nur einen Testikel I sure hatte, da Hölle diese Kruger Frau entbeint haben würde, die diesen feinen Schauspielerin spielt! Sie war eine heiße deutsche Wurst in einem Brötchen, wenn Sie verstehen, was ich sage…
I am thouroughly confused now. I know that I've lived through quite a few cosmic chrono-changing events over the course of my life, but is this really how things now happened in 1945? Is this really how the war ended? Was this a documentary? I need to lie down and try to remember some things.... When I was born... My mother's maiden name... Who won the 1,835th World Series... How Hitler died... What my favorite color is...