Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: Spelling Nazis Beware, They'll Kill You, Too

inglourious basterds,quentin tarantino,movie poster

Seriously, everyone. Please, please, for the love of crap-in-a-hat, stop spelling Inglourious Basterds "correctly." I don't think it's too much to ask. We shouldn't have to put a sic next to a movie title, right? Regardless, if you haven't heard of it yet, Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino's newest film, based basically on the premise of "Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France..." It's pretty typical of Quentin these days, and is somewhat formulaic in the vein of Kill Bill (due to chapter breaks with amusing little titles). It doesn't really star any of the typical Tarantino cast, though, which is interesting and refreshing.

It also stars several natural German and French actors, speaking their native languages, which is also extremely refreshing. I'm sick and tired of movies portraying different countries as speaking English with vague accents, or worse, random British accents. I'm sorry, but Reichminister Goebbels wouldn't have spoken in English with a German accent, he spoke German. So it's good that they do it that way. And the few transitions they make into English seem a little ham-handed at first, but actually make sense for the scene. It stars Brad Pitt, B.J. Novak, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, and Omar Doom. It's one of the largest casts that I've seen Tarantino use, though I get the vague sense that we don't get to know any one character particularly well, which is ok, I guess, because almost all characters are Nazis or Nazi-killing American Jewish soldiers.

brad pitt,inglourious basterds,b.j. novak

This film is extraordinarily gory and violent. That is extremely awesome. As for plot, it's pretty simple. Do you hate Nazis? Well, the Basterds do. They're a collection of American Jewish soldiers and several German/Austrian soldiers, one an immigrant, and one recruited from a prison (he was imprisoned for killing 13 Nazis, which Brad Pitt's character Aldo Raine considers "amateurish" but with promise). They basically kill lots of Nazis. They scalp them, too. The Nazis give Lt. Raine the nickname "Aldo the Apache," and they give Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Roth) the nickname of "The Bear Jew," because he is huge, fairly hairy, and also kills Nazis with a baseball bat, which everyone knows bears are wont to do. Simultaneously, Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent) is on the run from the Nazis, and especially Col. Hans Landa (Waltz), the "Jew Hunter" responsible for killing her family. She owns a cinema in France, and when a young soldier/actor, Pvt. Fredrick Zoller (Brühl) fancies her, he convinces Reichminister Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) to premier their big movie there. This catches the eye of the British intelligence, as well as the Basterds, and of course Shosanna. They all basically decide they want to blow up the cinema in order to kill a large number of Nazis, including Goebbels and Hitler himself. Oh, and Mike Myers plays a British General working with Churchill.

They kill lots and lots of Nazis in extremely bloody, gory, gratuitous, and amazing ways. I probably laughed at inappropriate places, too, but there's something about Quentin Tarantino's timing, pacing, and dialogue taht entertains and amuses me, even amidst a shower of blood, brains, bullets, etc. Especially amidst all that disgusting human offal and detritus.

inglourious basterds,drunken nazis

Tarantino makes this film simultaneously the most accessible film he's made in a long time, as well as the most shockingly controversial and violent. It stars some really big actors (like Pitt and the crazy little cameo by Myers), features some incredibly talented and prominent German and French actors, but also is entirely based on extreme violence against Nazis. Of course, its a touchy subject for a great number of people, with good reason. It's somewhat unusual in the timing, as well. it has the feel of a reactionary film, and seems like it's in response to the war as if it happened just a few years ago, instead of sixty.

It may be shallow, but on e of my favorite parts of the movie was Pitt's crazy weird American accent. He mispronounced virtually every foreign word that he came across, as well as most of the English ones. It's also immensely long, at two and a half hours. It's worth it, and entertaining every second. I haven't seen Tarantino dialogue done more in French and German than in English, and it translates surprisingly well, and very little is lost in the subtitles and strange pacing of German. Of course, it literally translates well, because, duh. I mean that it's still obviously Tarantino dialogue, despite the different language.

It's also surprisingly historically accurate (for the most part). There are a lot of little nods and notes to the German cinema and its history. You may not know, but the war was a great boon for their film industry, and in many ways, it wouldn't exist in the same state as it does now without the propaganda films that Goebbels produced during the war. It was also a great way to keep the German citizens informed, pacified, and used as a recruiting tool. The meta-film that is created within Inglourious Basterds is basically what would have happened if Tarantino was making movies during World War 2. Even the posters on display in the lobby are modernized, which I found amusing. Film was very much used as a weapon during the war (over there and over here), and it's used as a trap very effectively in the plot of the film. It also serves as a vague propaganda film on its own, though fifty years too late. It glorifies the actions of the British and American military, vilifies the Nazis without victimizing them, and gives very little justification to the actions of either party.

It's a pretty fantastic movie, but it may make you nauseous. The Lady was awfully queasy for a few hours afterwards, but she enjoyed it regardless. I give it four sacks of Nazi scalps out of five, or four extremely angry, bat-wielding ginormous Jews out of five.

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