Monday, August 24, 2009

A Movie Review: Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Director - Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 153 min; R

Lt. Aldo Raine - Brad Pitt
Shosanna Dreyfuss - Mélanie Laurent
Col. Hans Landa - Christoph Waltz

As the credits rolled for the new Quentin Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds, my initial gut-reaction was to give it 4 stars out of 5. I mean, it was very entertaining on a simple measurement of ‘was it good?’ and there was a fantastic performance by Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa (The Jew hunter) that just obviously deserves an Oscar nod, and then there was the compelling story line of an alternate WWII ending set among some wonderfully shot scenes of countryside and an old, romantic cinema-house.

After taking some time to review the film in my mind, I’m more inclined to give this one more notch on the rating scale. This film falls just short of a 5 but is definitely above a 4, especially when you mix in the drollness of Waltz and the scenes of dialogue that command your attention. I recently gave The Hurt Locker a 5 star rating and, though I am not opposed to giving out multiple high ratings, I just don’t see this film quite fitting into a full-blown 5.

I’m not going to delve into the plot details (they are readily found if you want to search, and yes, quintessential Tarantino gore is to be found) but needless to say the entire movie is an interesting premise that is in many ways two separate films fused by a common enemy (The Basterds and the story of Shosanna are independently film-worthy.)

Though it is Waltz who steals the movie, I am more than happy to admit this film gives us a decent performance by Pitt who, though his character calls for an over-acted part, doesn’t over-do it, and instead finds a nice balance of caricature. The women in the film are well cast as are the secondary characters.

Is this QT’s finest film? I don’t know. I think a strong case can be made for a few of his other works (works which we all know) and I find it difficult to vault this film into the stratosphere so quickly (I look forward to a second viewing of this film.) Tarantino does have a special way with creating scenes you will never forget, doesn’t he? (Baseball bats and swastikas will not be soon forgotten.)

**** and a ½ out of 5

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