Monday, January 04, 2010

Do Let The Basterds Get You Up

Don't judge a film by its trailer? Do judge a film by its director? These inglorious propositions sprang forth from my family's holiday rental of the highly engaging and entertaining 'Inglorious Basterds,' dropped by Quentin Tarantino last summer to polarized but mostly good reviews and international commercial success.

I had been turned off by the trailer, in which Brad Pitt, in drill sergeant mode, blathers on in an ersatz Southern accent behind enemy lines about scalping Nazi basterds.

This scene doesn't begin to convey the wit and breakneck pacing of the storytelling, nor the comic book bravado of the dialogue and characters.

In short, Quentin Tarantino hit a new high by transporting his pulp fetish and chatper-rific structure to Nazi-occupied Europe and transposing his cinematic signposts into that period's iconography.

I did miss one sure tip-off to the film's quality bon fides last May at Cannes, namely the best actor nod to veteran German actor Christoph Waltz (above) as a Nazi 'Jew Hunter' who channels Inspector Javert with only the slightest echo of Samuel Jackson's avenging pulp angel. He takes wicked delight in his delivery, and stays just shy of veering into The Surreal and the Preposterous. And he's not the only foreign luminary to leave an indelible imprint on this film - Diane Kruger's stylish German actress/Allied spy (far left) and Mélanie Laurent's French Jewish avenging angel (near left) are standouts, and all three performances are Oscar candidates. Brad Pitt, while not brilliant here, is certainly great fun.

When I rented this film at a Blockbuster near my sister's Mesa, Arizona home, the cashier warned me, with alarm, that there were subtitles in this here movie, and indeed there were - about 3/4 of the film's dialogue is rendered in German and French. But you won't let that scare you away, now will you?

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