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Posts Tagged ‘Diane Kruger’

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Quentin Tarantino’s filmography is like a shoebox of personal belongings. In it are homages to classics, sequences of unrelenting violence, plentiful conversations poked by sharp wit, colorful characters, and nonlinear storylines. Some might say he is a geeky manchild, hoarding every testosterone driven fantasy there is (samurai, gangsters, Nazi killers) into this little shoebox. Yet, without his passion and audacity, we may never have had the opportunity to peek into his personal and meaningful collection of films.

Tarantino’s most recent work, Inglourious Basterds, is his most subdued film I’ve seen (I haven’t seen Jackie Brown or Death Proof). Of course, it has its share of ultraviolence, but drawn out illustrations of tense dialogue are what comprise most of this smart World War II spaghetti-western.

The film follows three specific arcs over the course of five chapters. We follow the titular Basterds, a group of Jewsih-American soldiers dropped behind enemy lines to kill Nazis. They are led by the cartoonish Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), a vengeful native of Tenessee. With his troops, he strikes fear into the Germans with the cruel disassembly of several Nazi servicemen. We also follow Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a Jewish French girl on the run after escaping the massacre of her family. As she recreates her life as the owner of a movie theater, she coincidentally comes closer to the Nazis and is given the opportunity to destroy those in the highest ranks. Finally, we follow Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), the calm and cunning “Jew Hunter” who gets in the way of both the Basterds and Shoshanna.

I wouldn’t be surprised if viewers were bored or irritated with Inglourious Basterds.¬† The film is very talkative. Some say it’s too talkative. The well known fact that Tarantino loves himself and his dialogue is quite apparent, but I enjoyed every goddamn minute of it. His precise editing and seamless conversations strangle you with utter suspense. Each line, be it in English, German or French, has its own purpose, and as draining as it might feel when reading subtitles for a long time, the pacing is chopped up due to the episodic nature of the film.

Unfortunately, this uneven momentum does makes the film a bit aimless at times. The two plus hour movie is illustrated in vignette form, and while these few individual scenes are brilliant, the overall narrative is not as powerful as any particular sequence. However, this isn’t really a distraction because each scene carries its own weight to add satisfaction to the climax at the very end.

Tarantino manages to sprinkle bits of self indulgence, and they do feel out of place. While these moments are designed to let the viewer breathe and nervously chuckle, they are a bit tawdry; but I guess it wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the the B movie milieu.

The beauty of Inglourious Basterds lies within the characters. Hans Landa is perhaps Tarantino’s best written character. Perfectly played by Christoph Waltz, Landa’s chameleonic nature makes him the quintessential villain. Underneath his innocent smile lies a black heart, and this makes him the most difficult character to read. With charm and precision, Landa¬† hangs all of his victims by a thread of suspense, and we are simply at unease.

It is ostensible that Hans Landa is the antagonist, but what’s most surprising is that the rest of the cast is dishonrable as he. Almost every single character in this film is a bastard, and this is a testament to the excellence of Tarantino’s playful construction of “good” vs. “evil”. While we expect to have some catharsis when we see Nazis die, we’re just disturbed. The Basterds’ brutality mirrors that of the Nazis, and we eventually have no one to support. The eventual massacre of Nazis at the end of the film might bring some to delight, but this is the question that Tarantino leaves us with. Is killing always wrong? Or does it warrant cheer when done against evildoers?

The abundance of immorality challenges the viewer in a startling and unique way. There is a reason for this violence, and it tests our beliefs in humanity and the distasteful history we have. Inglourious Basterds is a work of art, and it’s bound to procure a huge following. I walked out of the theater with no immediate qualms, and that hasn’t happened in a while.

9.5 out of 10

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