Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

Year: 2009
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. I had long since lost faith in Tarantino as a director with feelings I wrote extensively about in our Death Proof post. This movie proved me wrong about him however. Amber and I went to see this movie in the theater and I really went in wanting to hate it. I specifically remember the first shot of the film gripping me right there in the theater. I was immediately drawn in and then the scene that followed was so overwhelmingly powerful that not even I and my fledgling hatred for Tarantino could deny the greatness of this film. Let me say it plainly and straight, while I still feel Kill Bill and Death Proof were horrible films, Tarantino obviously still has a lot to offer as a filmmaker and he deserves our respect.

Tarantino was nothing short of perfect with this film. His writing, choice of music, and attention to detail was incredible. This movie had a long and interesting journey to being made but all the time and effort paid off. I remember it first being listed as in production on IMDB.com in 2003 and I spent six years waiting for its release. Tarantino spent something like seven years working on this film and at different times had roles for Adam Sandler, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth at least. I did not expect much from it after all the different developments over that time. Especially since none of those guys, or the characters they were listed to play ended up appearing in the film. Right before the movie came out I heard it was a remake and all hope was lost for me. I have never seen the original movie but I don’t have to in order to know that this movie hardly qualifies as a remake. Tarantino may have taken some basic plot elements from something else but otherwise this movie was all him and he nailed it.

Despite the many casting changes that went on during the lengthy production the lead role ultimately went to Brad Pitt and I felt his performance gave his career validity again just as much as the movie gave validity back to Tarantino for me. Pitt got his swagger back with this one. He was great as “Aldo the Apache” with an awesome accent and flawless delivery. I had lost faith in Pitt too before this movie following his roles in movies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Ocean trilogy. This movie proved to me he still had it though and I look forward to what he still has to offer as he enters the sunset years of his career. My favorite thing about his character in this movie is the scar he has on his neck. It is never explained and that makes it all the more interesting. Aldo the Apache is a crude and blunt man. With his kind of demeanor it is obvious that at some point someone tried to slit his throat. From the look of the scar they made all efforts to get it right but Aldo survived despite that. That’s part of what makes Aldo such a great character, but there was no shortage to what made him great.

I had never heard of Christoph Waltz before he was cast as the villain in this movie, but like everybody else, I will never forget him afterwards. As Colonel Landa, Waltz was intimidating and brimming with power. He has such a calm and patient persona that you don’t realize, and then nearly forget, what he is actually capable of. He has an extreme ruthlessness masked behind impeccable courtesy and charisma. He is an ambitious man who will sell out anyone and even his cause for his own means.  He gets it in such a satisfying fashion in the end too. He survives the war, but as the viewer we know that he will never escape his crimes.

Eli Roth was great as “The Bear Jew.” He is a large and intimidating man already but brought such a savage violence and tenacity to his character in the movie.  Prior to this movie coming out Tarantino financed the US release of his movie Hostel in 2006. Michael Fassbender has a small but significant part in the movie.  He has burst onto the scene since the release of this movie and I think he has great potential.  He was incredible in Prometheus and I thought he was great as Magento in X-Men First Class.  Also adding this movie to their filmography are Harvey Keitel and Samuel L Jackson who lend their voices to the film.  Jackson has a voice over at one point discussing the Basterds and Keitel is the American officer on the phone who makes a deal with Landa in the end. Mike Myers has an unusual but welcome cameo in the movie too.  About fifteen years ago Myers might have been one of the funniest men in movies but that time passed.  I am still pleased to see him when he is in anything now, and I like what he brought to the film in his short role.

Diane Kruger was great as the German double agent who aids the Basterds in their fight against the Third Reich.  As good as she was in this movie though I think the best female performance undoubtedly goes to the unknown Melanie Laurent. She was cool and cunning as Shosanna, the Jewish girl who gets the last laugh against the Nazis. I still wonder if Colonel Landa in fact knew who she was during the scene in the restaurant.  He is such a sly and villainous character that there is no telling but the fact that he ordered her milk seemed telling.  Her character seems concerned when he places that order but I think in the audience we were all on the edge of our seats because of that too.

I don’t know that there is any place to criticize this movie because it is as perfect as they get.  I happen to like the way Tarantino changed history to suit his own purposes in this movie but it is misleading to the young people who don’t know any better.  I remember once back when I was teaching a kid told me I was wrong during the lesson because the Americans were actually the ones who killed Hitler. That frustrated me but the ignorance of youth will always frustrate. If for whatever reason you are unaware pay close attention: this movie is ENTIRELY fictional and none of the events that transpired are based in any fact.  Of course Hitler probably committed suicide in 1945 as the Russians were breaking down his door and that was what ultimately ended the war in Europe.  I say probably because there are some interesting theories out there suggesting the possibility of Hitler’s body double actually being the one that was found and Hitler having escaped to somewhere in South America.  I do not know well enough to say what might have actually happened but I found the History Channel special on the topic to be very interesting.

When this movie came out I remember my sister telling me she had heard it wasn’t any good from a friend.  That friend told her that when this movie ended people actually stood up and applauded it.  She had never seen such a thing happen and couldn’t figure out what they thought was so great about it.  All I have to say to that is that my sister’s friend was an idiot.  People stood up and applauded because this movie was that damn good.  The movie closes with Brad Pitt saying his most recent swastika was his masterpiece.  I see that as Tarantino telling us that he felt he had just finished his own masterpiece and I concur. Despite the feelings I had developed for the director I had once loved he had proved me wrong and even as a hater I couldn’t deny what he had done.  One of my best friends and I had argued relentlessly over the man for years and when I walked out of the theater I called him on the spot and told him he was right and I was wrong.

This is without doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen and it is more than worth your time to see it.  If you feel differently about it please leave a comment and give us a piece of your mind.  I would be very interested to hear alternative opinions on the movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a damn near perfect movie in my book. I loved it. And I don’t even like Quentin Tarantino that much. So to call one of his films damn near perfect is a huge compliment. I love the actors and the humor and the nasty gritty details of every scene. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out.

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This is the poster, which I really like. I usually HATE, actually loathe his design choices in most of his films. Not all, but most. This poster, however, is one of my absolute favorites of his. It alludes to the brutality in the film without actually showing anything brutal. The logo is nicely designed and became recognizable when the movie was being introduced. Overall, I give this movie and the poster the utmost kudos.

NEXT MOVIE: Innerspace (1987)

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Death Proof

Year: 2007
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

I really liked what Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez did with the Grindhouse Films.  I think it was a great idea.  Two exciting filmmakers collaborating to make something that isn’t seen anymore, the double feature.  Both films are deliberately filmed to mimic 1970s film quality; with a real gritty appearance and occasional jumps in the scenes that indicate the film was built poorly when put together for projection at the theater. Once upon a time I worked a side job in a movie theater, building movies and setting them up on a projector Tyler Durden style.  So I especially like the projection problems inserted into both films. Planet Terror is even missing an entire reel and segment of the film.

I’m afraid this is the lesser of the two films by comparison.  I will discuss Planet Terror when we get to it but I think it is superior in every way to this film. I think this movie feels more like a chick flick than anything else for a long time. I don’t even know what category to place it in and only tentatively place it in horror because that’s what I think it is supposed to be. We have only seen the first thirty minutes of the movie at this point and I am bored out of my mind! These girls have done nothing but talked and drank for a painfully long time now.  The best part so far is Rose McGowan, but only because I am a really big fan of hers.  She has a much better role in Planet Terror, naturally.  Sydney Poitier’s hair is worth mentioning, it’s exceptional. I had really strong feelings about Tarantino around the time this film came out and subsequently began using it as part of my argument that he was washed up and an overrated director. I feel differently now, Inglourious Basterds was such an incredible movie I have had to bite my tongue on the matter and eat some of my words.  40 minutes and still this movie is boring me to death, the Vanessa Ferlito lap dance doesn’t do it for me and that is literally the only thing that has happened so far.

I need to explain my position on Tarantino.  A good friend of mine and I argued over the guy relentlessly and to no end years ago, until the day I had to call him and admit that I was wrong.  Like many young movie fans I was a huge Tarantino fan growing up.  I idolized him because I too wanted to grow up and be a filmmaker.  Like Tarantino did when he was young, I too worked at a video rental store, and I occasionally wrote stories I hoped to one day make into movies.  I think Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of the greatest movies ever and they will be remembered forever.  I also liked Jackie Brown although it was not as well received. I am a big fan of the two movies Tarantino sold in order to make his first film, True Romance and Natural Born Killerseven though they are very similar stories. I considered Tarantino to be an exceptional and creative writer and for years looked forward to his next film. His last movie was in 1997 so I went all through high school and into college waiting for his next movie.  Which of course was Kill Bill: Volume 1 in 2003.  I was disappointed, and to this day can’t figure out what everybody liked so much about it. I wasn’t just disappointed, I hated it. I hated it so much I began to hate and despise Tarantino because of it. I waited six years, and in six years that was the best this creative and brilliant filmmaker could come up with? Kill Bill was just a plot thread from Pulp Fiction. When Vincent Vega (John Travolta) takes out Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) she tells him she once starred in a pilot called Fox Force Five about five women assassins. That is Kill Bill, and maybe I’m alone but I expected more from Tarantino. I held out my final decision on the film until Volume 2 came out but found that one to be even worse and with less action. I started to consider Tarantino the Marilyn Manson of filmmakers, because he just wanted to shock and awe people. What was the point of Uma Thurman’s character being used sexually while in a coma if he isn’t just out to shock and sicken us with depravity. It wasn’t relevant to the plot, it was just inserted in there just for the hell of it. It made me think of Tarantino as the child on the playground turning his eyelids inside out just to gross people out. I am all for depravity in movies when used appropriately and effectively but when it is pointless it doesn’t have the same effect. When Death Proof came out in 2007 it did not do much to change my impression because Rodriguez’s movie was so much better.  I had little hope for Inglourious Basterds, especially when I had found out it was a remake and because he had also taken several years to make this film as well.  I was wrong though, that movie was a masterpiece and I feel I must eventually revisit Kill Bill because of it.

I have tried really hard to look at this movie with a fresh eye and see if it could win me over this time but it hasn’t. I am bored out of my freaking mind! We have watched 82 minutes so far and I’d wager there was 5 minutes of action and about 70 minutes of relentless and pointless girl talk.  Albeit that 5 minutes of action isn’t bad, and Kurt Russell does a fairly decent job playing the creepy and demented Stuntman Mike. 90 minutes and these women still won’t shut up! I can’t in good conscience recommend this to film to anybody because it’s just so boring.  If you want to spend all night hearing a bunch of girls talk about nothing relevant to the plot by all means check this one out but otherwise just watch the trailer. Zoe Bell is really great in the end, I love how aggressively she attacks Kurt Russell with the metal pipe. The end is rather exciting actually, if I were you I would fast forward to the good parts and save yourself an hour and twenty minutes of your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I used to thoroughly enjoy this movie. I say “used to” because after watching it for the blog, I was really bored most of the time. I am about a 50/50 lover of Quentin Tarantino. Sometimes, I am really impressed with him and other times I am honestly disgusted or bored. I loved, loved Inglorious Bastards, but hated, hated all of the Kill Bill movies. Tarantino has such a distinct style. He is obsessed with dialog. He puts extra conversations into his movies wherever there is a possible space and this holds so true for this film. I guess what drives me insane the most about it in this film is that it is mostly between women, and what does Tarantino truly know about the conversations of women? He loves to go off onto tangents into other stories, like “The other night I had a date with this guy..” and then spends about 15 minutes about a story that has absolutely nothing to do with original story line. That drives me crazy. I can take a little bit, but Tarantino likes to pack it in there to the fullest.

My favorite parts of this movie are the Kurt Russell parts.The ending is the best part of the entire movie and if you are going to watch it, I wold recommend watching the end of the movie, nothing else matters.

NEXT MOVIE: Death to Smoochy (2002)