Writer/Director : Quentin Tarantino
Two and half hours of utterly absorbing entertainment is what you receive for your money from a hugely anticipated film that has been in the works for over 8 years. Tarantino cleverly lifts, borrows and steals from the encyclopaedia of film within his mind, in particular from his two mentors – Sergio Leone (music score, extreme close ups, credits, character naming freeze frames) and Brain DePalma (empathetic characters, distinctive camera pans, sudden humour, character following crane shots).
Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France… The story begins in 1941 and ends in 1944 with the familiar ‘Chapters’ being used from his superior epic Kill Bill, to portray this World War 2 fictional action adventure. The ‘Basterds’ are a ruthless group of Jewish-American soldiers who murder Nazis in barbaric fashion and scalp them afterwards to leave their trademark known to Adolf Hitler (Wattke) and The Third Reich.
Running parallel to this, is the story of a French-Jewish girl (Laurent) who after escaping a massacre from Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (a fantastic showpiece for actor Waltz) and his men in the opening scene – which is arguably the best of the movie – she takes the opportunity for revenge years later as Hitler, Landa and co decide to visit her cinema for a premiere screening of a film which stars soldier turned ‘hero’ Fredrick Zoller (Bruhl).
Tarantino is having real fun with this, just like he did when he wrote and co-starred in From Dusk till Dawn (1996) and opts to use more humour than any of his other films. Pitt, Waltz, Roth, Wattke, Myers and Groth (who is perfect as Hitler’s right hand man Joseph Goebbels) would of had as much fun on set as the cast of a British Carry On film back in its prime.
So where does this rank among his films ? Better than his last effort Death Proof (2007) but it lacks the all round quality of his other movies. Apart from Reservoir Dogs (1992) and his best directorial effort Kill Bill Vol 1(2003), minutes could be cut from his films including this one. Particularly evident is the tendency to let some scenes go that little too long and you feel that perhaps if he used the theory of ‘less is more’ the finished product would be an even more superior film. However this is a minor issue, as Tarantino mesmerises, entertains and leaves you feeling completely refreshed, revitalised and reminiscing you’re favourite moments over and over again – the sign of a genius.
SUPERIOR SCENE : The opening sequence is a great piece of realism as opposed to being surreal. Perfectly shot with intensity, extremely well acted and has you completely engaged to the point that you’re telling yourself not to blink. Brilliant cinema.
QUALITY QUOTE : “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none… And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat.” Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)
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