Sunday, August 23, 2009
NOT HIS BEST.
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (B)
After a summer of waiting, Quentin Tarantino-faithful finally get a look at the unique directors fictional vision of a group of soldiers and spies looking to take down the tyrannical regime that was the Nazi Party. While I myself quite like the director and am also smitten with the WWII time period, you can guess that this film was right up my alley. I will also throw some love out to the lovely star in Inglorious Basterds, Diane Kruger. It was intoxicating listening to her speak her native tongue which of course is German.
Inglorious Basterds is about a special American unit of Jewish soldiers being dropped behind enemy lines into German held territory to wreak havoc on anyone in a Nazi uniform. By havoc I mean capture, torture, and murder any Nazi-loving person in Europe. Oh yea, did I forget to mention they remove the scalps of the murdered Nazi dogs??
Another basterd working a plot to kill Nazis is Shosanna, a young Jewish girl (though she is pretending to be a non-Jew, the Nazis kind of hated Jews) living in France operating her own cinema. She seeks retribution against the Nazi party since they killed her family. Shosanna was my second favorite character in this film and was played by the gorgeous and talented Mélanie Laurent.
This film also spotlights Colonel Hans Landa, or as he is known, "The Jew Hunter." The character Hans is absolutely destroyed by Christoph Waltz, and "The Jew Hunter" was not only my favorite character but the best by far in the entire picture. It seems the people at the French Film Festival Cannes agree with me as Mr. Waltz took this film's only award there for Best Actor. Colonel Landa was a Hannibal Lector type character; intelligent, deceptive, conversational...and then when you least expect he pounces unleashing all his rage and malevolence. I also have to give Waltz mad props for fluently speaking four different languages.
The overall production of this film was executed like the actual effort to dethrone the Nazis in WWII (that's pretty good). The landscapes and settings were breathtaking as Inglorious Basterds was filmed in Germany and France giving it an authentic feel. The costume design bolstered the film's already excellent depiction of the time period, especially all the official looking Nazi uniforms.
All though much of the dialogue in the movie was in another language besides English, I think it makes the movie true to its roots as a film about the Second World War. I personally like subtitled movies because I enjoy hearing all the different languages rolling off foreigners tongues. But I understand why most people do not like them. If you can't handle reading subtitles, that will be a definite turn off for you watching Inglorious Basterds.
You could see and feel Tarantino's hands all over this entire project (he did write/direct). Inglorious Basterds featured his classic and unique storytelling style, the use of sometimes grotesque images (the Nazi symbol carved into a forehead was hardcore), and an elaborate slow moving plot with lots and lots of dialogue.
I must also point out that watching someone choked to death is no pretty sight. Tarantino makes that as raw and disgusting as scenes come.
I felt a lot of the dialogue from the script just did not build up the characters like some of Tarantino's best work. Some felt out of place and some felt unnecessary. It sometimes came off as...filler? The only time the dialogue was absolutely captivating were the scenes featuring "The Jew Hunter." I will give credit to Quentin for the witty humor in the film...Bonjourno!
The movie had countless scenes that dragged on for longer than my interest span. Inglorious Basterds was a plot that should have lasted a little more than an hour but was stretched by Tarantino into a 2 hour and 33 minute picture. The opening scene is a preview of what the entire film is like... drawn out dialogue. While the intensity builds and climaxes beautifully, it took far too long to get there.
I was also disappointed by the lack of action this movie contained. While the previews deceived most of us into thinking there would be plenty of it, after the film was over I was wondering where it all was. This film featured no cool tactical operations or kills in battle. Just a lot of capturing and torturing or massacring. I believe Inglorious Basterds needed more action surrounding the basterds themselves in some firefights or ninja missions.
Another thing Tarantino failed to grasp was showing the audience how evil all these Nazi criminals really were. Of course we know about Hitler's evil deeds, and the film spotlighted Goebbels use of propaganda for deception. But I can guarantee 90% of the people seeing this film don't know the devastation caused by the other Nazi officers displayed but not declared by the filmmakers to the audience.
I thought it would have given the film depth to show a profile of some of the most nefarious criminals in world history, a profiling similar to that of Hugo Stiglitz seen early in this film. Telling the audience what some of these men did would have made the audience crave for these revolting human beings to be equalized.
Heinrich Himmler coordinated in the killing of 6 million Jews.
Hermann Göring wrote, "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."
See, that was easy and now all of you know how bad these men really were. If you get a chance click their names to read of all the atrocities they committed.
Another thing that surprised me about this picture was how little Brad Pitt was actually in it. He was plastered all over (now obvious to sell lots of tickets) every piece of marketing the distributors released. It's not that he wasn't a main character, but I almost felt like Inglorious Basterds was filled with supporting characters surrounding Colonel Hans.
Lastly, I did like the ultimate climax at the conclusion of this movie but I felt the process of building up to that point was not well established making the ending that much better. By the time the ending was upon me I was more relieved it was finally here as opposed to waiting on the edge of my seat with anticipation. The two separate stories of these basterds came together at the same location but I did not feel like the two were intertwined. It just didn't all seem to come together, lots of bizarre events in the closing act of this picture... but hey, it's Tarantino.
Overall, Inglorious Basterds was a fine executed project on almost all fronts. The acting was crisp, the direction was meaningful, the production was flawless, and the story was intriguing. But this is definitely too long of a film and movie goers without a real appetite for dialogue may think Inglorious Basterds is a miss. I do recommend that anyone who enjoys movies to check it out, but be ready for a long and sometimes mundane plot to carry out for 2 and a half hours. WWII or Tarantino fans must see this film.
That actual bastard Goring truly believed this...socialist pig.
Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
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