Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inglorious Basterds

Last night I finally got around to watching Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds", his WWII epic (though is 2 and a half hours an epic?) which features an alternate universe where SPOILER ALERT Hitler and his top goons get killed in the end. There were some noticeable Tarantino trademarks--circular panning shots, Mexican standoffs, countless references by characters to obscure films--and some were missing for obvious reasons (such as '70s references and shots of womens' bare feet). A few observations:

1) It was hard to take two of the accents in the film--Brad Pitt's overdone Southern accent and Eli Roth's overdone Boston accent--and the accents weren't really necessary for their characters.

2) The main villain--Colonel Landa--was excellent, sort of making you wonder if his character was a reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes or Columbo, with his disarming conversation and ominous terror lurking beneath the surface.

3) Mike Meyers? Really???

4) Interesting also that the theater plot at the end was carried out by two completely uncoordinated plots--the Basterds with their bombs and guns, and Mlle Dreyfus with her plot to burn the theater with the film stock. The intersection of the two plots worked very well.

5) The concept of Nazis in constant fear of Jews was a good one--and sort of reflective of the postwar hunting of Nazis by the Israelis. However, the Basterds in this film, unlike the real life Nazi hunters, used terror and brutality, repaying in kind what the Nazis themselves delivered.

6) It was very hard for me as a fan of "The Office" to take seriously the actor who plays Ryan the Temp as one of the Basterds. Same goes for one of the Geeks on "Freaks and Geeks". Oh, the horrors of typecasting!

7) I do like that Tarantino made a point that the Nazis' criticism of how Americans treated blacks--even as late as the 1940s--was exploitative. Not that the Nazis were kind to blacks, of course, but we weren't exactly saints ourselves.

8) Damn subtitles!

On the whole though, the movie was quite entertaining. It got me thinking though--over 60 years since the fall of Nazism--will we ever have such movie villains to take their place? A vile ideology, ruthlessly efficient and powerful, bent on world domination, snappy dressers--perfect foil in the movies.

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