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Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Bastid!

Who's with stupid?

Just to give you a 'heads up', if I may use such a disgustingly modern phrase, there will be SPOILERS in this review for Inglorious Basterds so if you're looking for a summation in one paragraph then head off to the last paragraph for my stars out of ten. There's SPOILERS not because I want to ruin Quentin Tarantino's latest offering but because it's impossible to talk about Basterds without mentioning who dies and that fascinating, fiery inferno of a finale. So, toddle~off to the end whilst I discuss the merits of the alien involvement in the Nazi party... Ooops!

No Lily, coke goes up the nose, not your eyes!

Of course there's no aliens! There's lots of human races though and tonnes of subtitles to boot. As a side~note, I should state that the screening I attended (Saturday night in the sprawling metropolis) was full yet nobody walked out due to the various languages being used. I guess I misunderestimated my fellow Scots. It's a beautiful thing to hear the varying tones and sounds and, indeed, it's the Yanks and the Brits who come across in a more two~dimensional fashion. And this is where Tarantino 'discusses' some very interesting cinematic tropes.

Is that a microphone you're holding or are you just pleased to feel my gob~spit?

Brad Pitt & Co. are stereotypical to the 'max' ("witness" Pitt's Southern drawl and his compadres' New York twang) and this is further compounded when they indulge in their own stereotypical Italian accents in the final chapter. Likewise the 'Brits' - played by an hilarious Mike Myers (Canadian), Rod "The Time Machine" Taylor (an Aussie) and Michael Fassbender (born in Germany, raised in Ireland) - are all David Niven~esque and ultra~English. We are presented with the accents of the Thirties/Forties for the 'good guys' thus distancing them from the audience and contrasting with the direction.

Poker face? Well, I tried to...

The cast are terrific. In particular I would highlight Christoph Waltz who plays a deliciously camp but supremely unnerving German SS Colonel who manages to end the war in one night (with a little help from his enemies). He's a cracking character and his scenes really do steal the show, notably the opening chapter where he visits a French family hiding some Jewish friends. He's equal parts warm and cold and utterly horrifying - an amazing combination. Mirror this with his exclamation of "Bingo" and his 'defection' at the end and you've got yourself a unique addition to the world of cinema. Countering this is a tragic performance from Mélanie Laurent as a Jewish girl, now passing herself as French, who we see in this opening scene escape, miraculously, from the clutches of the aforementioned evil/hilarious German 'Jew Hunter'.

Sly Stallone [before]

In typical Tarantino style, Shosanna reeks feminine revenge even more outrageously than her screen cousin, The Bride from Kill Bill. Her death is utterly heart-breaking but her revenge works (more of that later). Similarly, the offing of the Brit Archie Hicox is a "uh, not him! He was a good guy" moment. The deaths of the characters are incredibly upsetting; mainly because they happen so abruptly and without fanfare or mourning. People die, life moves on.

Sly Stallone [after]

Basterds is full of 'Tarantino', from the Samuel L Jackson voice~overs to the pop~culture takes on the Nazi Party but the director is certainly becoming more, dare I say, "talkie" and this is no bad thing. QT seems fascinated with conversations and the inter~personal relationships that exist therein building a number of intensely nervy scenes waiting to, literally, explode. Speaking of explosions, the denouement is spectacular and I doff my cap (or undo my fly) to Quentin for such a bold resolution. The various plans (well, two) to destroy Hitler and his chums succeed and the cinema where Adolf & Co. are seated erupts in flames whilst being hauntingly taunted through the smoke by the recently deceased Shosanna. Truly an amazing moment, a visual treat worthy of Mr Kipling himself. But, to top that, QT goes one further. Throughout one wonders, "How is Hitler gonna get out of this?" and we get an extraordinary answer. He doesn't. The Basterds ensure the blighter cops it at their hands and disintegrates in front of them in a rally of ammunition. For sheer Gaul* I applaud Mr Tarantino.

Johnny Depp gets papped with the world's worst waxwork of himself.

So, you've skipped the waffle and come to the end for a neat recap and is it any good? At over two and half hours one would think, "Urrr, it's a bit long" but nothing could be further from the truth. Basterds nips along and even at the end there's no sense of the film outstaying its welcome. The only moment that did drag was the opening credits, a retread of his earlier titles a la Pulp Fiction. Unnecessary. But that's the one downside to Inglorious Basterds and I look forward to seeing this one a second time. QT, yet again, delivers another slice of genius; another world to drink in and savour; another chunk of film at its very best.

Insert Shoots His Load gag here...

'Til the next time,

* This is a 'gag'; as is the use of the '*'

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 1:57 pm -
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