THE INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.
I certainly am not the first person to blog about the Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds, but I doubt somehow I will be the last. Why? Because this is a film that you need to go and see, as contrary to the seemingly deluge of bad reviews surrounding the film, it is in fact brilliant and along with District 9 and the Hurt Locker, one of the films of 2009. The Inglorious Basterds (sic) takes it’s name from, but is not based on the 1978 Italian war movie Inglorious Bastards. However, what it does do is give you very clear clues about what this film looks, feels and acts on the surface. Clearly influenced by the Dirty Dozen, (the opening shot of the Basterds in line is the Dirty Dozen opening in all but name), the Guns Of Navarrone, Where Eagles Dare, Cross Of Iron and A Bridge Too Far this is a caper movie down to it’s core. All of these films (with the exception of A Bridge Too Far) venture into fantasy World War II land, and this is where The Inglorious Basterds sits. It’s got all you would expect from these sort of films, and indeed a Tarantino film, violence, cracking dialogue and obscure film references abound.
As I sat through it, and on reflection after, I was perplexed how some critics had tucked into with such viscous glee, all lamenting the lack of edge, the sloppy pacing and flaccid acting. Surmising that the most hyped Tarantino film since Kill Bill is just another dud. I couldn’t disagree more, this is probably Tarantino’s best since Pulp Fiction. The Inglorious Basterds feels like a culmination of the multitude of styles that Tarantino has toyed with in the past combined to produce something familiar but fresh.
The Inglorious Basterds is as sympathetic a homage to war films as Jackie Brown is to Blaxploitation films. When there is violence, it is raw and viscous, yet comes in such controlled bursts that it becomes much more effective than the cartoonish overkill of Kill Bill, but still revels in the grand set piece action scenes. Perhaps the strongest reason for it’s success is the great balance between pacing and the plotting.
It isn’t exactly short at 21/2 hours, but as opposed to the long rambling conversations that punctured (literally) Deathproof, each scene is acted with such quality that you are trnasfixed, building tension to unbearable levels but doing it in a realistic way that builds empathy (or fear) of the characters involved. It also keeps you guessing right up to the end. Language changes from English to German to French and some (bad) Italian are mightily impressive and add an authenticity to the film throughout. The plot reveals itself as richly as Pulp Fiction ever did. The first hour can feel slighlty disparate, you are wondering where this is going. One of the key surprises is that The Basterds are not really the central focus of the film, it is a true ensemble piece, revealing war from multiple sides, and multiple perspectives, these perspectives add real satisfaction to the final chapter Coming to a bloody, fantastical and sometime comically hilarious climatic battle scene. People were actually clapping at the end. It’s the most bloodthirsty satisfying ending to a film that I’ve seen in a long time. Throw in a great soundtrack littered with the touches of ‘Il Maestro’ Ennio Morricone and you have a film that is a worthy compatriot to Reservior Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Go see.