Note: this review is a translation of my original review of the movie I've seen in 2009. Since it was one of my first long reviews I've decided to translate it for everyone's benefit. I will do series of re-edits for the films that actually were reviewed in French in the first moments of this blog.
Plus: It is my contribution to the LAMB Movie of the Month.
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
The latest film directed by Quentin Tarantino that matured a long way in his scripts and in his mind clearly can be defined as a true Tarantino. You will find everything he is known for: long monologues, violence, quirky directing, an incredible use of music, and many references to his precedent films. With a mitigated reception at Cannes, Tarantino delivered a Historically questionable Second World War picture that is a whole lot of fun and cinematic giddiness.
The fan base of the American auteur was probably conquered already, just like the writer of this review, however the naysayers of Tarantino’s films have been conquered or levelled by its overall and a more cohesive narrative. The critics towards his films listed the too many references and borrowings to other films he admire. On that subject, a certain Brian De Palma has build a career on recycling Alfred Hitchcock’s tricks and Martin Scorsese deliberately uses the narratives of his influences to enrich and reinterpret the lessons he learned from its great predecessors. Why? Because if we don’t look at what has been done before we always forget the evolutions of the Art and the techniques that made an impression. Cinema like painting, always cite sometimes more obviously in some cases the genres and styles that preceded them. This is one of the reasons why Quentin Tarantino is such a talented filmmaker. He blends his stories and his trademark within the references of his masters. With Inglourious Basterds, he once again cites Sergio Leone with the superb opening scene that reminds of Once Upon A Time In the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and John Ford’s The Searchers. The climatic tension of the dialogue between M. Lapadite and Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) might be one of the most interesting scene of American contemporary Cinema. Then the form of the story centered on Shoshannah’s (Mélanie Laurent) Cinema and the diversion in the face of the Nazis obviously reminds of the Ernst Lubitsch farce/satire of To Be or Not to Be. Knowing that an Italian exploitation film has been made before with the same title but spelled like this Inglorious Bastards and with about the same story is a sure shot as one of the direct references here. A last one that should be mentioned is Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen starring Lee Marvin. Aldrich’s films are made for men and Tarantino is a man of men films so are his. It is easy to discard someone who uses bits and parts of other oeuvres but you should discard almost every director out there since Griffith, Eisenstein, and Murnau. Walt Disney was one of the first to copy-paste films like Murnau’s Faust for his Fantasia. Disney even copy-paste his own films.
The setup of Inglourious Basterds is very Tarantinesque: a multi layered story that culminate in one superb batshitcrazy ending. It might be the most movie centered film of Tarantino’s oeuvre. The constant references to movies of Germany, G.W. Pabst, the 1930’s, the Cinema of the time, and setting the ending of his film into a Film theatre isn’t subtle at all. Well, who doesn’t want Tarantino to be bold and arrogant? After the first scene we know Shoshannah, her enemy Hans Landa. Then we move to the Basterds commanded by Aldo Raines (Brad Pitt) and twelve other mercenaries chose to kill and take no prisoners amongst the Nazi troops. Along the way we meet Michael Fassbender, Mike Myers, Diane Krueger, and many other characters that are linked together.
It is indeed a very enjoyable moment that goes along all the picture and the cohesion of the narrative, a more linear approach for Tarantino here serves well his director. It helps to create the final climax that only him could have thought and achieve. Of all QT’s oeuvre this one might be my favourite replacing Pulp Fiction.