Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglorious Bastards Movie Review

Inglorious Bastards: ****

I will have to admit, after seeing the trailer this movie looked absolutely unappealing to me. Quentin Tarantino's movies were always hit or miss for me. Pulp Fiction will remain a classic, Jackie Brown is very underrated, Reservoir Dogs will always be a movie with an intriguing idea and style but Tarantino was still too inexperienced at his craft to really pull it together as he could now. I never even cared to see either "Kill Bill" or "Grindhouse" as neither genre appealed to me on any level. After Grindhouse I had all but written off Tarantino as a force in the filmmaking world. That is until I saw the masterful work that is "Inglorious Bastards."

For me what made Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown good movies by Tarantino were how small they felt. These movies were in the prime of Tarantino's ability to write sharp dialogue and paint vivid characters that seem to have a life of their own. However, Bastards is not such a "small" film. While the characters are as vivid as any created by Tarantino this film is not small. While, as a war movie, it doesnt quite have the grand feel of a Saving Private Ryan or something of that type it feels much bigger than most of the Tarantino movies I have enjoyed.

This movie had me from the very beginning. An absolutely masterful scene by the little-known German actor Cristoph Waltz that, even if it was his only scene in the movie, should garner him an acadamy award nomination all its own. Waltz' performance in this movie was so pitch perfect he was absolutely mesmerizing in every scene he was in and stole the show. Not quite as good of a performance as Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" but definitely on the same level. In this first scene Waltz' character Colonel Hans "The Jew Hunter" Landa visits the home of a dairy farmer whom he suspects to be housing a Jewish family he believes to be hiding from the German SS. During this entire scene Col. Landa strings along this poor unwitting farmer until he breaks and gives up the family he is hiding. At no point does the audience feel like Landa is not in complete control, and that he didn't know before he even rode up to the house where the family was hiding. Such is the brilliance of Waltz' character.

However, this is not the end of the brilliant scenes in this movie. the next scene to jump out being the bar scene where the Bastards are to rendezvous with their newest ally a one Brigitte Van Hammersmark, played by the lovely Diane Kruger. The rendezvous goes awry when a small unit of German soldiers is visiting the pub to celebrate the birth of a child by one of men within the unit. As this bar was supposed to be free from these types it prevents quite a problem for the discussion of their plans to take down the higher ups in the Third Reich. The members of the Bastards in the tavern get dressed up as German soldiers for their rendezvous, which of course leads to one of the real German soldiers approaching them. This leads to quite the well written square off that ends in a slightly unexpected manner.

These are just examples of some of the more prominent scenes in the film but there are many more to be sure. Ones in which I will not ruin here by describing. One of the reasons I liked this movie so much was due to its ability to surprise me. Just when I thought I knew where the movie was going in any given scene it would pull a 180 and surprise me to the point where I was slackjaw staring at the screen. Any movie that can pull those kinds of surprises out gets extra points in my book. Although I have talked about Waltz' performance much there are many others worthy of mentioning. The character of Shoshanna played by the relatively unknown Melanie Laurent was played perfectly. Shoshanna is the lone surviving member of the family that was discovered/killed by Col. Landa in the opening scene, and the look of fear in her face when she comes into contact with Col. Landa later in the film is nothing short of genius. Brad Pitts character Lt. Aldo Raine was one that I was torn about through the whole movie. With his thick Tennessee accent and no nonsense attitude his portrayal was bordering on caricature the whole movie and I wasn't sure about it. After reflection I feel it was Tarantino's brilliance that was able to allow Pitt to teeter on the edge of caricature but never quite get there, allowing the performance to become great.

All in all this is a masterstroke of a film that pleasantly surprised me. A film that I did not know Tarantino was capable of making, but I am glad he did. A film that was not quite what I expected even from all I had seen and heard. This is a film with enough originality and brilliance that it will forever be remembered as one of Tarantino's best.

1 comment:

  1. I was looking at the preview too. It seems like a good movie. Check out my blog at