Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Is ‘Inglourious Basterds’ the best movie of 2009 so far? Well, to quote a character from the film, “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”
Is it an entertaining ‘farce’? Oui.
Probably Brad Pitt’s most memorable performance on film; clearly a break out for Christoph Waltz & a surprisingly excellent performance by Diane Kruger (Who knew she could act?)
So why did it leave me with such a distasteful load of hokum in my mouth?
The ending just flat out sucks. You base a film on actual historic events & then you change history just to be ‘whimsical’, you’re a cheater in my book. Anyone who gave Tom Cruise crap for speaking ‘American’ in “Valkyrie” better not dare say anything positive about this film – At least the story of Valkyrie stuck to the truth!
The very final scene could have been left intact & I would have loved “Inglourious Basterds”, but what happens just prior to it is so absurd, it makes a farce of the farce and 'basterdizes' the whole movie. Now I know why QT misspelled the words in the title – Nothing about this story is ‘right’. Despite the fact that they start off by telling you events that everyone ‘should’ know to be true (Be you old enough to remember the actual events or spent any inkling of time studying a history book) Tarantino ‘invents’ this band of Jewish/Americans that call themselves the Basterds. You’ve probably seen clips of Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine ‘addressing’ his troops and demanding that each of them deliver 100 Nazi scalps, as well as The ‘Bear Jew’ that brings a baseball bat to ‘interrogations’ & the aforementioned ‘Hitler’ quote, “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”
My first warning to you is that there are subtitles galore; French, German, Italian & English are switched back & forth within the same scenes. There is a continuity problem so obvious in the opening scene that the director HAD to have done it on purpose (I refer to the movement of the glass of milk on the table) I’m sure he did it to let you know there’s nothing in this film that should be taken seriously. I guess you have to give QT originality points for presenting a ‘real life’ historical situation & re-writing history to please the huddled masses... perhaps the Basterds traveled back in time to correct that which had once gone wrong? THAT would have been more plausible to me because I wouldn’t have felt hoodwinked by the director for enjoying his film up until he went totally batsh*t with the ending!
The acting here is very impressive; the lone disappointment to me was the inclusion of Mike Myers playing a cheeky monkey of a British officer – it gave the film the feel of a SNL skit. That was yet another warning to not take anything that happens in this film seriously; Austin Powers playing a General?
But I don’t like being played for a fool & having the wool pulled over my eyes; if there had been a warning at the beginning of the film saying ‘The following events are based on conjecture of what ‘might’ have happened had there been an actual group of ‘Basterds’ on the loose in France during WWII’ I would have been able to sit back & enjoy the film more & gone along with the goofy ending.
As it was, I DID enjoy ‘IB’ despite the over-the-top violence (Which I expected, but doesn’t mean I liked seeing it) because it presented some interesting characters & situations.
Told in Chapters; the opening introduces the most fascinating character in the film – the scene stealing Christoph Waltz plays Nazi Colonel Hans Landa; nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ by his countrymen because of his uncanny ability to ‘sniff out’ Jews in hiding.
As Landa interrogates a French dairy farmer in his home, the tension builds – similar to the coin flipping scene in ‘No Country For Old Men’ with Javier Bardem’s assassin, Anton & the old man at the gas station.
Chapter 2 introduces the ‘Basterds'.
Chapter 3 is the interrogation scene; both brutally violent & laugh out loud funny I’d have to call it the best scene in the film.
The following chapters tell the story of Joseph Goebbels’ plans to premiere his film about a Nazi sharpshooter that killed hundreds of Allied men from a turret. Goebbels, played by Sylvester Groth, comes across as being a bit fruity & so I didn’t buy him as the monster he was in real life (Another ‘wink, wink, this isn’t a true story’ clue from QT?)
Martin Wuttke plays Hitler as a hotheaded paranoid nimrod, which I believed for a brief while, but not as he sat chortling and clapping like a mentally challenged individual watching Goebbels’ film, “Nation’s Pride”.
Kruger plays actress Bridget von Hammersmark & almost steals the film from Pitt & Waltz with her amazing performance. I call it amazing because she has been nothing but eye candy in every movie I’ve seen her in.
The only major character I haven’t mentioned is Melanie Laurent’s; I omitted writing about her because to do so would give too much of the plot away. Although I had no problem with Laurent’s performance, I will let you know if you need to take a bathroom break during this 2 ½ hour film, do it while David Bowie’s “Cat People” is inexplicably playing under a scene where Laurent is applying make-up. Just don’t dawdle in the head; you won’t want to miss Lt. Raine’s first face to face meeting with Landa while pretending to be an Italian film director (because Aldo is the most affluent member of his squad at speaking Italian) But you will want to have an empty bladder prior to viewing the scene as it may cause you to wet yourself with laughter.
Yes, a very good film, & I’m sure when I view it again, I’ll be able to appreciate it more because I’ll know going in that it has absolutely nothing to do with HISTORY as we know it...


dbm said...

Right now District 9 and IB are in a neck and neck tie of my favorite movie so far of 2009. I always consider comedies their own animal, so I liked The Hangover a lot too.

I don't care about the ending. In fact, I kind of wish it would have went down that way for everyone not just the Jewish people, because Hilter took the easy way ( wussy ) out. I do agree with Terry that maybe the people who were perplexed by the ending, that QT could have said this movie is a revenge fantasy piece and we are taking liberties to how WW II ended.

But I thought it was so well made and the dialogue so well written, I can forgive.

blue stater said...

I loved this movie ! From beginning to end. I actually thought the end was a pretty cool spin on things. I would have rather had Hitler die that way than real life. It let's you live out your revenge you wish the guy probably truly seen. Your dislike for the ending warrants a good gripe. But I just got so caught up with the movie and by the end I was long sold. That's some of the greatest written words on a script person to person that's been written in a very long time. I don't get any of the people complaining it was too talkie. All the speaking parts are what weaves the tale. Brad Pitt was a great but like you say the guy that plays Landa is one of the most memorable characters in cinema's last 20 years or so. Thouroughly enjoyed this movie ! I can't wait for the DVD because Tatantino puts a lot of effort in his special edition sections.

movie luva said...

I was a bit stand offish because I'm not a big fan of World War 2 films. It's just a preference. I think the best one is Saving Private Ryan but after that...

I must say that I was thouroghly impressed and entertained with Inglourious. The ending didn't bother because I heard as far back as Cannes, that the ending is one where liberties to reality were taken. I have been familiar with Tarantino since he wrote True Romance, that I know that his stuff is always going to be out there compared to reality.

Nobody has really mentioned it, I know the word is out on Waltz's superb performance, but I actually though Brad Pitt was very good. This is one of his best roles. And Michael Fassbender was decent too. Do you think Diane Kruger should get a supporting actress nomination ?

All in all, a rip roaring time at the cineplex ! It has to be somewhat impressive because I'm not even a big fan of the genre ( though I do like Tarantino )

eddie said...

Nice to see you are doing your reviews still. I was computerless for a few months !

All I can say about this movie is that I loved it.

And if we are talking Oscar's, I would say Waltz is a shoe in, cinematography has a chance, and a Tarantino script is always in discussion when it comes to screenplay.

I could actually see this again.

Terry R said...

Looks like I'm alone in my distaste for the ending - & the more I think about how it could have been altered & been a much better movie, the more the one negative about the film stands out.
I totally disagree with dbm's statement that this wasn't 'just' a revenge for Jewish people fantasy - It's actually a slap in the face to the American soldiers who lost their lives & the survivors who put their lives on the line because this story has WWII ending before America really gets involved - & the entire war is 'won' by a handful of Jewish Americans. 'Defiance' was a great story of Jewish people showing extreme courage & bravery during the war & it didn't stoop to going off on a fantasy tangent that everyone knew was just 'made up' to please the masses. But there is no denying that up until the idiotic ending this was an excellent film - a nice comeback for Tarantino either way.
Movie luva brings up 'Saving Private Ryan' - a great WWII 'story'; so what if, while in the course of carrying out their mission Tom Hanks & his men came upon Hitler's bunker & blasted the living sh*t out of everyone?
Makes the movie better or worse?
What if, to please the masses, 'Valkyrie' ended with Tom Cruise & his co-horts succeeding in assassinating Hitler & bringing down the Third Reich - would the public then have overlooked the fact that Cruise was the only character that didn't have a British accent? & would that have made that film better or worse?
Clearly the answer to both is 'worse' - So how does the history altering ending to 'Basterds' not cheapen the movie? Answer - It doesn't.
Acting-wise; yes, I think Diane Kruger deserves a supporting actress nod (As mindboggling as it feels to write that line) Who else is on the list right now? I remember Emily Blunt shining in 'Sunshine Cleaning' & that's about it!
Christoph Waltz will be a favorite in the supporting actor category & Brad Pitt may only be held back from a Best Actor nod because he isn't in it enough to warrant a nomination.

movie luva said...

Don't you think you are taking IB a little too literally TDR ?

The one no-no going into ANY Tarantino piece is to NOT get serious with the source material. I have read numerous interviews with the actors and saw Quentin on Charlie Rose. He brings up the fact that you are stepping into an altered reality. That's it. Don't think about it, just go there. That's the thing with Quentin. This is kind of like Being John Malkovich. Nobody could ever really get into the mind of John Malkovich, but Charlie Kaufman made a fantasy piece that you could. People just went with it.

Anyway... I actually kind of got a kick out of seeing the monster go out the way he did in the movie. I would have rather see him go out that way than committing suicide in a bunker like a coward.

TDR said...

I love ya, movie luva, but I can't back down on my stance - even though I liked 'IB' (I'm debating whether to place it #4 or #5 on my 'best of' list) I felt the ending ruined what was an otherwise entertaining film.
If we accept QT's alternate reality concept, then what's next? A film about Abe Lincoln where he turns around in the nick of time & bludgeons John Wilkes Boothe to death with his theatre binoculars?
& we accept that ending because that's what most people would like to see happen? That's ludicrous.
Would it make me feel better if someone made a film where my idol John Lennon slaps that repulsive punk Chapman upside the head, takes his gun away & empties 6 bullets into his worthless body?
Are you serious? I'd be shaking my head in disgust because Lennon was brutally murdered & 'making up' an alternate ending where he wasn't would be an insult to his memory.
Ray Davies wrote "When Oswald shot Kennedy he was insane; still we watched the reruns again & again." in his song "Give The People What They Want" but Ray didn't alter reality - he reflected it.
In "The Last King Of Scotland"
they took a real-life character & built a fictional story around him & it was an incredible film which I enjoyed immensely. But the screenplay writer didn't go overboard in stretching the truth -Idi Amin still came to the same ultimate end as he did in real life. 'IB' would have been a better film if Hitler & the well-known Nazis had been left out of it. Keep Col. Landa, of course & have him come to the same fate as he did in the film - by the way another semi-ridiculous plot twist; that character should NOT have turned against his countrymen at the drop of a hat - he was proud of being called the Jew Hunter - but still, I loved the final scene. Have the Basterds collect their 100 Nazi scalps & wreak havoc & dread among every German soldier stationed in France, but leave the 'actual' characters out of the story & it's a great film. Just the phrase 'taking liberties with the truth' should make every person who has any respect for 'history' wince. I'm upset with Tarantino because he had an excellent story on his hands & he cheapened it by kowtowing to the masses & what I can only guess was an attempt to impress his Jewish friends. I wish more people had my outlook to be perfectly honest, because altering history shouldn't be so easily accepted - it's actually kind of blasphemous when you think about it. Am I taking this too seriously? I suppose you could toss it off with, 'it was just a movie, dude, lighten up!' But a hundred years down the line & how many people are actually going to think a group of Jewish Basterds killed Hitler & saved all of Europe because their Grandpa showed them this documentary about it when they were kids? Don't laugh - Look at all the relgious fables that people accept as being the truth just because somebody wrote it in a book - these future morons will have visual proof!
Again, we ARE talking about 5 minutes of nonsense out of a film that was highly entertaining for the other 115 minutes so I do find it odd that I keep on knocking a movie that had several memorable moments & quotes.

dbm said...

Caught it again Thursday night. I felt I missed a bunch of stuff the first time with some bathroom breaks and I actually did. It was better the second time. It's like going on the roller coaster when you were a kid after riding the first time. You know what you are in for but you want to experience it again.
I must say now that I have seen it twice ( to another packed theater )I am of true belief that I think Watlz performances is just not one of the best supporting roles in the last several years, one of the best acted entirely.
And the opening scene is executed so well, that is one of the best openings to a film as well. The whole pipe thing as Landa is just toying with the farmer then pulls out the Sherlock Holmes pipe as if to say " my pipe is bigger than yours " And then to speak so many different dialecs ( 4 ? ) fluently is impressive. Such a subtle yet powerful and engrossing performace. He has to be the heavy favorite for the supporting category.

blue stater said...

I saw it again too. dbm is on target about catching things you miss the first time around. It's mostly the lines, but I also noticed stuff in the background too that I didn't remember.
Even though I knew the opening scene, it still had me on the edge of my seat. Waltz plays Landa so smooth, yet evil through and through. Even slasher director Eli Roth made a decent turn as Donnie. I thought pretty much everybody was good. Melanie Laurent may come up in conversation for supporting actress. And I thought this was Pitt's third best role of his career. But in the end it's the Landa character that is the one that lingers in your mind.

movie luva said...

When it makes it's way into the 2 dollar theater, I will see it again too.

Alan Smithee said...

I cannot comment on the ending. My plane was landing so I could not skip forward to the ending before the crew killed the video.

That said, I found the movie amusing but self-indulgent. If Tarantino were submitting it for a degree in film-making, I expect he'd graduate. Well might Tarantino divide the movie into chapters. It is a series of vignettes with some relationship to one another.

I cannot decide whether the Basterds themselves are an homage to, a send-up of, or a poor knock-off concerning "The Dirty Dozen." I guess it does not matter.

I doubt that I shall bother to investigate the ending even when it is free on my cable.

I give this comedy only two "Nyuks."

Terry R said...

Alan Smithee, you inglorious 'stooge'!
Who in the hell shows a film on a plane where you land before the end of the movie?
That said, I'm surprised you didn't enjoy it more because I thought it was great up until QT decided to massacre reality...