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Movie Review: Inglourious Basterds

Alternate Title: If Only

Story: Writer and director Quentin Tarantino is back in fine form. This is definitely his best film since Pulp Fiction. You can say all you want about Tarantino, but he sure knows how to make a movie. This film has style, wit, beauty, fine dialogue (might be a bit talky for some), revenge that includes lots of violence, suspense, great music and above all - is vastly entertaining.

The movie opens in 1941 Nazi-occupied France. The Jew Hunter, Hans Landa methodically is tracking down Jews that are being hidden by French sympathizers. Without giving much away, Shoshanna, a young Jew escapes his grasp. Fast forward to 1944 and we meet American G.I., Aldo Raine and his gang of eight Jewish Nazi killers who have been dropped behind enemy lines and are ambushing, killing and scalping any Nazis they meet.

The story follows two plot lines (the escaped Jewess, now operating a movie theater in Paris and the gang of eight) that will, of course, meet head on for a very satisfying conclusion. In between we get long passages of dialogue that test our patience. Wait it out and these passages do not disappoint.

Tarantino's film is an homage, as he often employs, to movies of yore. We see flashes of spaghetti westerns, old war movies and more.

Go for the style and buzz and leave the theater with a smile on your face thinking as I did - if only it were true.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOMKloOEKcU

Acting: Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine has all of the best lines. His character almost crosses the line into caricature - but he pulls it off. Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa is pefection. Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus was wonderful to watch and I am sure we will be seeing her in more Hollywood films soon. Michael Fassbender as Britsh Lt. Archie Hicox was Uber- strong. Diane Kruger as spy, Bridget von Hammersmark hit her mark. The entire ensemble cast was terrific including: Daniel Brühl, Eli Roth, Denis Menochet, Sylvester Groth, Mike Myers and Rod Taylor.

Trivia: This film, like all Tarantino films is loaded with trivia. About thirty years ago, Enzo G. Castellari directed Quel maledetto treno blindato. The English translation is The Inglorious Bastards. From Entertainment Weekly comes this trivia jackpot post. (http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/08/19/inglourious-basterds-playing-spot-the-tarantino-reference/): *Brad Pitt’s Nazi-hunting lieutenant character is named Aldo Raine — a combination of one of Tarantino’s favorite actors Aldo Ray (The Green Berets) and Maj. Charles Rain, the name of the character William Devane plays in the brutal 1977 Vietnam-vet revenge movie Rolling Thunder. *As usual, Tarantino’s film is divided into chapters. The first is titled “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-occupied France.” Of course, this is an homage to Italian directing god Sergio Leone’s epic westerns, most obviously 1968’s Once Upon a Time in the West. And if it wasn’t clear enough, Tarantino borrows several music cues from Leone’s go-to composer Ennio Morricone for the Basterds sountrack. *As we noted earlier with the name Jackie Brown, Tarantino likes to have fun with his characters’ names. And in Basterds, he’s up to his usual tricks. For example, the actor Til Schweiger plays a German sergeant who defects over to Pitt’s team of Nazi-hunting Jewish GIs. His name is Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, which is also the name of a Mexican action and exploitation star from the ’70s (Tintorera). And then there is Mike Myers’ smallish role as a British general named Ed Fenech, which is a nice little riff on the name of ’70s Italian movie starlet/sex symbol Edwige Fenech, who starred in some of the best giallo thrillers of the era.

Predilection: I like Quentin Tarantino and I like revenge films.

Critters: A French poodle and some cows.

Food: Strudel and whipped cream.

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: Tarantino's skill also includes using out of period music to highlight his point of view. David Bowie’s goth-rock ballad, ‘Cat People (Putting out Fire)’ ignites the final scenes. The soundtrack contains the following tracks:
1. The Green Leaves of Summer by Nick Perito.
2. The Verdict by Ennio Morricone.
3. White Lightning (Main Title) by Charles Bernstein.
4. Slaughter by Billy Preston.
5. The Surrender by Ennio Morricone.
6. One Silver Dollar by The Film Studio Orchestra.
7. Davon Geht Die Welt Nicht Unter – Zarah Leander
8. The Man With The Big Sombrero by Samantha Shelton and The Michael Andrew Orchestra
9. Ich Wollt Ich Waer Ein Huhn by Lilian Harvey and Willy Fritsch
10. Main Theme from Dark Of The Sun by Jacques Loussier
11. Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) by David Bowie
12. Tiger Tank by Lalo Schifrin
13. Un Amico by Ennio Morricone
14. Rabbia E Tarantella by Ennio Morricon

Opening Titles: Most people might not notice but the opening titles have more than six different fonts. The five chapters in the films also have different fonts. I imagine that this is also one of Tarantino's salutes to his favorite movie fonts.

Visual Art: Tarantino's attention to period detail was wonderful.

Theater Audience: About 50 other patrons.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Some might squirm at the violence but I did not.

Drift Factor: I did look at my watch a few times during the more talky passages.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: Clocks in at a hefty two and a half hours.