‘Inglourious Basterds’ a Breath of Fresh Air, Exciting and Hilarious

Whenever the words "World War II" are uttered when a movie is involved I generally groan. (Clint Eastwood is the exception to these opinions.) Frankly, I just don't care for war movies anymore. Valkyrie, Defiance, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I'm sick of it; I don't care what Hitler looked like in the eyes of some godforsaken first-time director. And with an adaptation of The Book Thief coming in 2010 I'm just about ready to lose it. So here comes Inglourious Basterds, yet another war movie. It stars Brad Pitt; it should bring in an audience. That audience will not, however, include me. Until I saw the guy behind what seems like the millionth Nazi-era movie made: Quentin Tarantino. The directing god Tarantino? He's doing a war movie? This should be worth seeing.

The trailer doesn't show a lot. Hitler is banging on a desk with his fist yelling "Nein, nein, nein!" and Pitt is talking in a southern accent. So while the trailer isn't the best, I loved that it was about a group of Nazi killers. Not some flamboyant concentration camp escapees, resistance or prisoners. (God knows that's been done to death.) Tarantino was going to put a comic spin to this; nice! As I started to look forward to Basterds, I began to wonder whether this would be an action movie like Tarantino was known for or more of a comedy. I wanted it to be a comedy since that would be kind of fun. Although Tarantino has the knack of being unpredictable when it comes to his movies, Kill Bill being a perfect example. Bill pretty much came out of nowhere, with a crazy story of a woman who wakes up from a coma and wants to kill her husband for putting her in one. Jackie Brown and who could forget the insane Pulp Fiction? His movies are always so full of sex and violence that I was surprised the MPAA approved them to only be rated R. But that's why I love him.

Inglourious Basterds follows a team of Nazi killers called the "Basterds". ("that's Quentin Tarantino spelling", he said on David Letterman recently.) "Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France," The Basterds have been chosen to wreak havoc on Nazis residing in the Third Reich. A French-Jewish teenage girl who owns a movie theater discovers that, without her approval, the Nazis are going to have a movie premiere at her cinema since the star has a crush on her. Word is that Hitler will even be in attendance. So being a Jew, she devises a plan to lock the doors when everyone is inside and burn down the movie theater. However the Basterds soon discover of this get-together as well. They come up with their own plan, hiring a French actress to help them fool the Nazis.

Quentin Tarantino as you may already know, (but if you don't, this will section will be a major spoiler alert, so I'd skip to the next paragraph) changed the outcome of World War II. In traditional war movies that tell of Adolf Hitler's reign, Hitler lives in the end, since the famed "Valkyrie" plan failed. Most movies that try to be historically accurate end up trying to be entertaining and true at the same time, yet both still fail. (Public Enemies is a great example.) While I do appreciate historical accuracy and truth in films, when I go to the movies I expect to be entertained; I don't pay my $10 to take a nap in the broken seats. Tarantino goes all out in Basterds and basically just says "Fuck it! I know my audience; I've known my audience since Reservoir Dogs. And my audience likes to be thrilled when they see my movies!" Inglorious indeed, Basterds is a perfect summer treat.

I never really enjoyed Brad Pitt in his recent movies. Ocean's Thirteen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Mr. and Mrs. Smith were all epic disappointments. I found myself asking where his Twelve Monkeys and Fight Club days were. He's an A-list star who somewhere along the line sold out. In Inglourious, I forgot about all of that. This is the Pitt that America fell in love with; who'd a thunk in a movie title with both words misspelled? I can't decide whether it's his spoof-of-an accent or his amazing acting that bowled me over, but nonetheless he's extraordinary. Another phenomenal actor in Inglourious Basterds is Christoph Waltz. Waltz plays Hans Landa, a Nazi colonel. Early buzz on Basterds from when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May was mostly glowing reviews of how hilarious that Waltz was. They're right, you know. Waltz is a major part of the movie, and he plays off of Tarantino's script like a pro, even though he's been only in mostly German films before Basterds. Diane Kruger is also a winner in QT's latest creation. I wasn't expecting much of her (I was mostly expecting from Pitt); however she delivered more than I could've ever wanted! Without Kruger, Basterds wouldn't be one of the best movies we've had so far this year. I'm not familiar with Kruger's work (besides the fact that her last name sounds curiously like a certain movie monster), though for Inglourious she holds up the minimal female cast of Basterds perfectly. I wouldn't be surprised if any of these three gifted actors and actresses' names were called come Oscar season.

The only problem that I had with Inglourious Basterds was B.J Novak. If you're like me and love NBC's The Office, then you'll notice his tremendous work producing, starring and sometimes even writing for the groundbreaking comedy. When I heard that he would be an addition to the Basterds cast, I was thrilled. I had been expecting that, like John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, fellow Office alums, he would have either a lead role or a major supporting one. He had neither! More of a cameo, really. Novak has maybe ten lines in all throughout the entire two hour thirty-two minute movie. I would have loved to see his talent on the big screen in a real role, and I don't believe that he won't have another chance. Still, the lines that he did spit out were hilarious. The icing on the cake of Basterds.

From the cameo by Mike Myers to every sentence that Brad Pitt utters, Inglourious Basterds simply pops. Unlike other Tarantino movies, there isn't a lot of sex. One imaginative one for a few seconds (no visible nudity, however), but overall not a lot. Those of you who bag on Tarantino for this and don't see his genius movies solely because of that factor, check out Basterds for probably the only one he doesn't include any in. As for the violence? There's plenty of that. Add comedy and action together and you get the brilliant and gut-busting Inglourious Basterds. A breath of fresh air in the dreadful August month of movies. (Shorts and Post Grad think that they can compete with this? Please!) Quentin Tarantino's latest is a joy ride in World War II through a very dark and twisted man's eyes. Again, that's why I love him.

4 ½ out of five stars.

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