Inglorious Basterds might be the least “Tarantino” Tarantino movie yet. The soundtrack is devoid of forgotten funk and rock 45’s from the 60’s and 70’s. Michael Madsen is ghost. No one is drinking a tasty beverage.
As my buddy Greg said, Tarantino somehow managed to make a sprawling World War II movie where 70% of the film is in French and German and Brad Pitt is on screen for about 20 minutes strictly as comic relief. Though the previews promote a non-stop festival of bullets and Nazi scalping in German occupied France, Basterds is built on a great eye for subtelty. From the opening sequence in a gorgeous farm house in the French country side, to the pristine movie theater decorated in Nazi garb that makes up the climax, Basterds could’ve passed for A Thin Red Line visually. But unlike that boring-ass “war movie”, Basterds delivers the goods.
It’s clear to see why Chris Staltz won Best Actor at Cannes earlier this year as Lt. Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter”: every scene featuring the character had my stomach in knots, just waiting for him to unleash hell on someone after accomodating and flattering them with his charm and debonair bouyant smile. Hans Landa is one of the most terrifying characters I’ve seen since Anton Chigurh–they both know what you know, and how they get what they want is mortifying in a precise, clinical, and ghastly fashion.
Brad Pitt excels when he is asked to go over the top with his characters. From True Romance to 12 Monkeys to Fight Club to Snatch, Pitt shines when he’s given an extreme personality to work with. As Basterd chief Aldo Raine, Pitt plays a stereotypical southern drill sargent but through a Tarantino prism–he’s smart, curt, and full of clever verbiage whether he’s squeezing a Nazi for information or seemingly nabbed by the enemy. You keep waiting for him to show up on screen.
Detractors will knock the running time (2 and a half hours). History buffs will be miffed. Tarantino haters will call it indulgent and grandiose. And I agree with alot of the criticism. But Basterds is Tarantino mastering suspense. The movie could stand to lose a good 20 minutes, but the payoffs are so shaking and vicious, I’m fine with sitting in my seat that much longer to get there.
4/4 Stallone Claps
1 Stallone Clap = Get Carter
2 Stallone Claps = Demolition Man
3 Stallone Claps = Cop Land
4 Stallone Claps = Rocky