August 23, 2009 in Movie Reviews
One thing I’ve always liked about Quentin Tarantino movies is that they are unpredictable. You may know the basic outline of the story, but rarely do you know where the scene is heading. Anything can happen. Anyone can die. You just go along for the ride and have fun. His latest, Inglourious Basterds, is an entertaining, enjoyable film that contains much of Tarantino’s trademark dialogue, humour, gratuitous violence and wacky characters, but it’s not quite the Tarantino masterpiece I had hoped for.
Inglourious Basterds is set once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France, and tells a two-pronged, history-altering tale through 5 interrelated parts. The less known about the plot the better, or it would spoil some of the neat little surprises (isn’t it always the case?). Let’s just say there are Nazi hunters, Jew hunters, SS officers, movie stars and cinema owners. As Tarantino intended, it feels like a western movie set during World War II (complete with western-style music).
Each of the 5 parts has a lot of build up, filled mostly with engaging dialogue. And that’s the great thing about Tarantino – he can fill a scene with slow, creeping tension just from a couple of guys talking. However, I got the feeling that Tarantino may have fallen in love with the story and the characters of his own movie too much. Some of the conversations were just too long and occasionally felt a little tedious – and this is coming from someone who loves Tarantino’s dialogue. The movie is 2 hours and 29 minutes long, but perhaps could have been about 15-20 minutes shorter to make the overall package a little tighter.
That’s my main complaint. Everything else was pretty darn marvellous. From the meticulous sets to the costume designs to the camera angles, it’s clear Tarantino knows what he’s doing. Like some of Tarantino’s best works, there are several memorable scenes and images that fans will no doubt re-enact themselves with a chuckle. And needless to say, the acting from the ensemble cast was superb. Brad Pitt is hilarious as Aldo Raine, the leader of the Basterds (though entirely replaceable in my opinion), and Eli Roth is both creepy and amusing as the ‘Bear Jew’. Michael Fassenbender also impressed me with his screen presence as Lt Archie Hilcox. Of the two main female cast members, French actress Melanie Laurent outshines Diane Kruger, though both are excellent. The one that absolutely blew me away, however, was Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who deservingly won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his portrayal of the brilliant Colonel Hans Landa. If the Oscars were held now he’d definitely get my vote for Best Actor.
4 out of 5 stars!