Monday, 17 August 2009

The Basterds Are Here!

The film Tarantino has been working on for over a decade, Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender)

First things first, this is a war film like no other. Set in an alternate history of the Second World War, Tarantino has stated Basterds is a "spaghetti western but with World War Two iconography". Sound interesting? Of course it does! The last time Tarantino tried something like this we were given Pulp Fiction, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The Tarantino style is still used to it's full effect, with a rock n roll soundtrack that somehow fits perfectly, the chapterised way of storytelling and what he is most famous for, the flawless dialogue, which I will first go into.

"Once Upon A Time, In A Nazi-Occupied France" is the title of the first chapter, and we are introduced to a farmer and his family in the early years of the war. Before we know it, Colonel Hans Landa (brilliantly played by Christoph Waltz), is on the scene, and we are given a full blown twenty minutes of brilliant, tense dialogue, in which Landa is interrogating the farmer about a family of missing Jews. As the scene goes on, it gets tenser and tenser, switching from French language to English and back again, with witty lines and superb acting, even from the cameo role of the farmer. Throughout the rest of the film, there is plenty of dialogue, which is mostly well written, but it does stretch the film out, and I can see a lot of people getting bored of this, while the action is pushed to the side. I myself enjoyed the dialogue, and if you love how it was used in previous Tarantino flicks like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs then you'll love this.

Basterds has an extensive cast list, boasting Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Christoph Waltz (who has already won a Cannes Best Actor award for this), Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and even a cameo British-character role from Mike Myers. There isn't a single actor in this flick who lets a scene down, despite the ridiculousness of Brad Pitt's Tennessee accent. Eli Roth shines as Donny Donowitz who is a major part of the story, and Michael Fassbender uses his on-screen time well. Christoph Waltz though is a clear best of the great bunch, played Colonel Hans Lander, AKA "The Jew Hunter", while also managing to speak fluently and perfectly in English, French, German and even Italian. (Watch for the Italian speaking scene, it's hilarious). Tarantino always seems to get the best out of his actors and he's done it again here, while also making room for some great cameos that you may miss.

The storyline is intense, seeing a group of Jewish Americans (The Basterds) travelling through France getting revenge on the Nazi's, while also scalping them for their leader, Aldo Raine (Pitt). Meanwhile, a Jewish survivor, Shosanna (Laurent), is also planning an attack on Hitler in her local cinema, and the two sides remain unaware of the others plans throughout, leading to the big climax. The story is brilliantly sliced into it's Tarantino chapters, and there is plenty of exciting action and Mexican standoffs to keep you on the edge of your seat.

It's been a decade in the making, and Tarantino stated that he "became too precious about the page" and he's been working on it, expanding and developing it ever since. Through that decade, it's been hit and miss for Quentin with the success of Kill Bill brought down by the disappointment of Death Proof, but he is back on top, top form with Inglourious Basterds. While some may not like it for it's dialogue (and subtitle) heavy premise, you have to like it for it's brave attitude, wonderful acting and humourous take on the Second World War. I have a feeling the last line in the film may have been what Tarantino said himself once he had finished the script.

"This might just be my masterpiece"

Rating: 8/10

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