Yo, I don’t toss around the ‘G’ word often, but Quentin Tarantino might be a genius. The dude is an awesome filmmaker. When I watch one of his movies I appreciate its undeniable coolness but also its subtle brilliance and attention to detail. Inglourious Basterds was a marvelous showcase of all the little touches that make Tarantino’s films memorable, including the intensive dialogue, unabashed female adoration, and even the inevitable hint of racism.
Set against war-torn Paris during Hitler’s reign, Basterds is the story of a young girl’s survival and ultimate vengeance. It also chronicles the exploits of a guerilla military outfit, the Basterds. Helmed by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), the men plow their way through Nazis like a lawnmower through grass. They hack, peel and bludgeon every Nazi they encounter, and they all pledge one hundred Nazi scalps to the Lieutenant. And yeah, these dudes literally peel the scalps off. *shudder* The parallel storyline involves a young girl named Shoshana and the amoral Nazi Colonel that executed her family. The execution is the movie’s gripping first sequence and it was amazing. I love the way Tarantino controls the pacing and the way his characters interact with one another. There is an extended scene where two characters are simply having a quiet conversation over a glass of milk. Sounds harmless right? No, and that is because an invisible air of dread wafted into the scene and settled like dust. You knew something bad was about to happen, you just didn’t know how it would play out. I was on the edge of my seat, hanging on their every word. That’s because Tarantino can turn the mundane into the mesmerizing. Shoshana’s family was executed before her eyes, and she was the sole survivor. She flees the scene of their carnage, her face a mask of terror. At this moment she and Colonel Lander AKA the “Jew Hunter” become natural adversaries, an animal and its prey. Fast forward four years later and their paths cross again.
There were so many great scenes in this movie, scenes that made my heart stop. You’re lucky if you get one of those in a movie, and Inglourious Basterds was chock full. Tarantino managed to inject humor in the oddest situations and made it work. He made a Nazi movie funny, yet Inglourious Basterds cannot be classified as a comedy. It defies categorization, so don’t even try, just sit back and enjoy it. I can’t recount the plot without getting bogged-down with the intricacy of the storyline, but suffice to say that this is a movie you don’t want to miss unless you are impossibly squeamish. It got a little gory at times, especially when one of the Basterds practices baseball with a Nazi’s head. But if you can get past that you’re in for the best movie of the summer. Brad Pitt was excellent as the merciless Raine, and you can tell he had a ball with this role. It’s like I almost expected him to break the fourth wall at any moment, turn to the camera and say, “is this fucking cool or what?” Yes Brad, yes it is.
From the word go until the closing credits, Inglourious Basterds is riveting. Suspenseful, heart-wrenching, funny, and brilliant, it is right up there with Tarantino’s best and solidifies his place in the pantheon of great American filmmakers. Get up on it.