Inglourious Basterds

Being a logical (and much improved) successor to his segment in the Grindhouse double feature, Quentin Tarantino brings his trademark exploitation schtick to the WWII genre in a movie that is apparently two and a half hours long but feels like 90mins. The result stands proudly amongst the best in his filmography in terms of dialogue, visual style, music, homage and the ever-present threat of blinding violence. And it's nice to see another picture where the art of projection features so prominently (is Cinema Paradiso the only other one?)

Christoph Waltz is fantastically insidious as über villain, Col. Hans ‘The Jew Hunter’ Landa, nicely offsetting Brad Pitt's deliciously hammy Lt. Aldo ‘The Apache’ Raine. In many ways, the two characters are very much alike in the way they toy with their prisoners and in their propensity for a letting a victim go so that they might spread the fear for their captors. The only thing that makes Raine less evil than Waltz is the fact that he's on our side! That and Pitt's performance is plainly hilarious. Raine, in the guise of an Italian stunt man, blurting out Eye-talian interjections ("bon jorno", "grattzy", "a river dertchy" etc) in his thick southern hillbilly accent represents one of the more uproarious moments in the movie. Great stuff!

Diane Kruger continues to impress as the charming, pseudo-Dietrich double agent, Bridget von Hammersmark. Like Pitt, her acting talents trump her not insignificant good looks. Not so Eli Roth, however, whose dark handsomeness easily outshines his limited acting abilities; a point not lost on Tarantino who wisely keeps his lines to a minimum. Not that it matters, Roth's dodgy thespian skills further add to the films exploitation cred. Similarly, German cinematic favourite, Til Schweiger, clearly does not speak much English. Given very few lines by QT, Schweiger makes the most of his limited part but he is, frankly, a little wasted in the role of Gestapo killer, Hugo Stiglitz. Mélanie Laurent conspicuously stands out as the only major player delivering a subtle, beguiling performance and represents the heart of the film as displaced Jewish orphan, Shosanna Dreyfus.

Inglourious Basterds probably won't be the best film of the year but it is solid Tarantino and that's enough.
Stuart Jamieson

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