The studio behind Quentin Tarantino’s brutal, oft-hilarious, and intense Inglourious Basterds will have you believe the film belongs to Brad Pitt, who, yes, does things you’ve never seen him do before in it, but it is my firm belief that QT’s revision of WW II belongs to the little-know Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, my first choice for Best Supporting Actor of the year.
Waltz steals the film with his turn as the smooth, if sadistic SS Col. Hans Landa (a.k.a. “The Jew Hunter”).
Seriously, the man’s mesmerizing, and although his character’s charmingly vile, you can’t help but root for Team Landa while watching the long-yet-riveting film.
It’s funny how sometimes I think the length of a movie is its biggest flaw, but with Tarantino I can never get enough.
The visual language he uses is addictive.
Inglourious Basterds begins early into the German occupation of France. Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at Landa’s hand, narrowly escaping and fleeing to Paris where she builds herself a new life under a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.
Elsewhere in Europe, Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish American soldiers (which includes Eli Roth and B.J. Novak from TV’s The Office) to perform swift, shocking acts of retribution against the Nazis.
A Tennessee hillbilly, Raine has a wild hunger for Nazi scalps, and he wants his band of basterds to deliver 100 each.
In order to succeed, the squad joins Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), a German actress and undercover agent, and a British film critic-turned-spy (Michael Fassbender, distractingly handsome as ever) on a mission to take down the leaders of the Third Reich.
Fates converge under Shosanna’s cinema marquis, where she plans to carry out a revenge plan of her own at the premiere of a Nazi-propaganda film starring a German war hero played by Daniel Brühl who’s crushing on her, and the rest is not history.
Because, after all the thrilling intensity of the film’s 152 minutes, Hitler gets his and…then some.
Tarantino has pulled off the ultimate Hollywood rewrite making the film, delivering what can best be described as a revenge fantasy.
“My characters didn’t exist,” the writer-director has said, “but if my characters had existed, they could have changed the outcome of the war.”
Inglourious Basterds is fiction – and Tarantino – at its ballsiest best.
And I cannot wait to see it again.
If anything, you know, so I catch another glimpse of Sönke Möhring. That, and it’s the best perfect summer-to-fall transition.
My Rating ****
Photo: The Weinstein Company.