Inglorious Bastards (2009)
“We’re in the na’azi killn bizness” – Aldo “The Apache” Raine
With his jaw jutting, eyes squinting, Aldo makes it clear to his Nazi captives the purpose of his mission in France near the end of WWII. Stunned, they watch as his dedicated Jewish legion begin to scalp the dead Nazi’s strewn about the hill side while another emerges from a tunnel carrying a baseball bat, known notoriously as the Bear Jew.
And so we are introduced to Quentin Tarantino’s inglorious bastards led by the incomparable Brad Pitt. The film is a labor of love for the unconventional director, having worked on the screenplay for five years, shelfing it to finish the Kill Bill series and finally completing it this year. Unlike most films involving Nazi’s and Hitler, which are typically grim and stoic; Tarantino takes these conventions and throws them into the bin. He blows down the doors that have been sealed tight with generic holocaust films and bends history to his will, creating something that will either leave you breathless or appalled, both agreeable outcomes.
The opening of the film seems to be a homage for Sergio Leone. Tarantino has never hid his love for Leone’s style, speaking fondly of his use of close ups, wide shot landscapes and wonderful scores. The similarities can be seen with the opening scenes of his film and Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West,” when we are first introduced to the heroine’s future family. The sparse background, the haunting score and the coming doom hint to Leone’s past masterwork, lending a hand to Tarantino’s.
The film is dialogue heavy but much of it is enjoyable, recalling past beauties such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Jackie Brown” and “Reservoir Dogs.” These scenes tend to build to a climax of bullets and explosions, a fulfilling conclusion after the scene is carefully crafted, our patience rewarded. Scene stealer Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) impresses, using charm and charisma to mask his deep rooted evil and scheming, playing a high ranking official in the Nazi regime. Casting overall is brilliant, with several accomplished performances from somewhat unknown European actors and actresses, revolving around Brad Pitt’s shining star. Pitt seems to relish his role as the hick from Tennessee, with his deep, crackly southern accent spitting out one liners, his brow furrowed in thought and action and a wretched scar rimmed around his neck.
At times, the film does seem to drag by including unnecessary information or having the dialogue run too long, along with slow pacing. A typical flaw in a Tarantino film and probably expected by now. This is overcome, though, with bits of surprising humor.
Running parallel with Aldo’s mission of Nazi destruction, Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus (French actress Melanie Laurent) is the lone survivor of her family’s slaughter at German hands. Years later, running a movie theater, she’s given the opportunity for revenge when high ranking Nazi’s plan to attend a film premiere at her theater. Aldo’s rouges catch wind of the arrangement and plot their own scheme, hatching a master plan of decimation. It’s a whirlwind climax, absolutely stunning in its finality and brutality, Tarantino’s juvenile joy in full glory.
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Tags: Aldo "The Apache" Raine, Bear Jew, Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Bastards, Jackie Brown, Melanie Laurent, Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs, Sergio Leone