Film review: Inglourious Basterds

Title: Inglourious Basterds
Released: 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz

Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino’s 6th film as auteur (writer/ director). Its moniker is a nod to the 1978 Italian The Inglorious Bastards, named as perhaps an ode to old-skool baddie/goodie, spagetti western-esque tales, but not a re-make or re-boot. I caught it on opening night in New York, and I noticed in the pre-release buzz that Tarantino is one of the only mainstream directors that movie lovers will never miss in the cinema. Ok, ok, you can say what you like about his maniac-with-crazy-car-meets-girls-for-motor-action Grindhouse homage Death Proof, but that car chase was bleedin’ amazing. Nuff said. It was Tarantino, perhaps not at his best, but revelling in fun and frolicks. And Inglourious Basterds continues along this vein. It is rip rollicking fun, with laughs sniggered through a tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

But, of course, being Tarantino there’s substance there too; brilliant acting (notably Melanie Laurent and Christoph Waltz but even Pitt works really well – his is a hammy role in a hammed-up film); social commentary (there is a particularly suspenseful scene which portraying the terror imparted by the Third Reich); a well-rounded plot (good decision on Tarantino’s part to retard his ego and abridge the screenplay- which took him a decade to complete- from a multiple-part potential TV series, to a two-part feature, to an almost 3 hr film), sharp dialogue (it’s smart and nicely realised by the characters, from Waltz’ evil parlance to Pitt’s silly drawl). And it’s very consciously a film. Something which is great about Tarantino. He makes no attempt at gritty reality, no apologies for using the medium to its maximum effect. Now, I’m not sure that he’ll ever quite repeat the masterful stroke of Reservoir Dogs; its balance of earnestly thrilling violence and sensitively characterised relationships, and of course bags of cool. But Basterds is great craic and works. People will be hard on him because they expect a lot, but for this film just sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ll have a great time.

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