Posted by: Dr P | August 28, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

When Big G and I were debating which movie to see for this week’s excursion, we batted a couple of possibilities back and forth. However, I was so enamoured with the fact that my phone’s predictive text function included the word “nazis” that we just had to plump for this. Quentin Tarantino’s latest foray into movie mayhem comes with his take on WW2 Allied undercover operations in Nazi-occupied France, in the wonderfully misspelt “Inglourious (sic) Basterds (sic)”.

Due to my shocking shenanigans last night (and I mean literally shocking, in the electrical sense), I declared myself unfit to drive, and so Big G took on the role of chauffeur. This provided almost instant mirth as he overtook a sluggish learner and shouted “eat my citroen”. I suggested that perhaps had we been driving a Lada, such an outburst would have been funnier. And of course this degenerated in the usual fashion until we came up with Nissan’s new vehicle, the Member.

Having just about recovered from the juvenile giggling, we arrived at the cinema, ordered the tickets, and proceeded to the ice cream counter. A rather buoyant female greeted us and we proceeded to order. There’s now a low fat frozen yogurt alternative to the Choc Chip Brownie ice cream, and so while Gareth opted for the full fat version, I plumped for the yogurt, which prompted a most amusing few moments.

Girl: “Are you doing a compare and contrast?”
Me & G: *snort*
Me: “Yeah, we’re twins”
G: “Non-identical”
Girl: “Riiight”
G: “I like vegetables”
Me: “It’s true, he likes veg and I’m the fruity one”
G: *convulsion*
Girl: *laughing* six pounds 20 please …

We then had to hand over our tickets to get in, and did a tremendous “after you”, “no after you”, “no you go first”, “no I insist” exchange … while the girl who’d served us in the ice cream bit looked on with mounting horror. “We’re not gay, you know” I said to her, as we went past her again … “Did you mean twins like Arnie and Danny DeVito?” asked Gareth. “Don’t be daft,” I replied, “You’re nothing like Danny DeVito”.

There followed some truly horrifying trailers to get us in the mood for Tarantino’s bloodbath – there’s a new film along the lines of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” called “Sorority Row”. I looked at G and just said “NO … WAY”, and there was also a trailer for “The Final Destination” which had some very jumpy bits – “Definitely no way”.

Inglourious Basterds is a movie set in five acts, each of which is classic Tarantino. In the first, we are introduced to a couple of central characters – SS Officer Hans Landa, played by a man looking so similar to Welsh comic Rob Brydon that we kept expecting him to start talking about Pwllheli, aka the “Jew Hunter”, and Shosanna, a teenage girl who escapes from his butchery of some Jewish fugitives. This scene is remarkable for Landa’s remarkable comic dialogue and a completely surreal moment where he smokes a pipe that looks like it’s been dredged out of a Sherlock Holmes comic book story – genius. The other thing to note about Landa is that he makes asking for a glass of milk in the politest manner utterly menacing, and it’s a theme that’s repeated throughout.

In act 2, it’s early 1941, and we meet Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his motley crew of soldiers aka the Basterds. Pitt briefs them on their mission to infiltrate Northern France and basically scalp (in the literal sense) 100 Nazis each as a starting point. Fast forward three years and we can see that this group has evoked an enormous amount of terror among the German army, particularly the “Bear Jew”, a mystical figure that reportedly beats Germans to death with a baseball bat … which we see in gruesome detail later.

The remaining acts focus on the revenge sought by Shosanna on the nazis, in conjunction with the Basterds; now set up as a cinema owner, a chance meeting with a smitten young German war hero and actor sets into motion a chain of events that ultimately sees a whole raft of leading Nazis, including Goering, Goebbels and Hitler himself attending a film premiere at her cinema; the Allies are hoping to capitalise on this chance encounter to blow up the German high command.

The key ingredients of all Tarantino movies are present and correct. Very gruesome, stylised violence pervades the movie, the dialogue and script are exceptionally good and well-crafted, and the comic timing is magnificent. Pitt shines in his role, while some of the smaller roles are handled with great aplomb. For me though, Hans Landa steals every scene he is in, a creation of absolute genius. Also excellent is a scene with various high ranking British officers talking in exteemely plummy tones and using words like “chaps” and “pickle”. The fact that Mike Myers is on show is terrific, although I was constantly yearning for him to suggest a masterplan involving “lasers” or to call the Nazis “frickin idiots”.

If you don’t like violence, steer clear. There are some truly savage killings on show here (although many are quite cartoon like), while some of the female characters meet quite nasty ends. That said, the females are particularly strong. Diane Kruger is gorgeous as a German double spy film star, while Shosanna is played superbly by big screen newcomer Melanie Laurent.

We absolutely adored this film; after a couple of weaker movies from Quentin, the maestro has recaptured some magic with this – there are even a couple of voiceovers with Tarantino fave Samuel L Jackson narrating. If you can get past some of the enormous historical liberties this film takes (we’re fairly sure Hitler’s death is not quite as portrayed here), then you’ll get a kick out of this.

Some classic moments:

Lt. Aldo Raine: If you ever wanna eat a Sauerkraut sandwich again take your Wiener Schnitzel lickin’ finger and point out on this map what I wanna know.

Col. Hans Landa: [to a bound and gagged Lt. Aldo] You are now in the hands of the SS.
[raises hands in a dramatic manner]
Col. Hans Landa: My hands, to be exact.

Lt. Aldo Raine: So you’re “The Jew Hunter.”
Col. Hans Landa: [giddy] That’s a bingo!
[Lt. Aldo and PFC. Utivich stare at him in confusion]
Col. Hans Landa: Is that the way you say it: “That’s a bingo?”
Lt. Aldo Raine: You just say “Bingo.”

We came out of the film on a real high, tittering away like naughty schoolboys, and the comedy was not lessened all the way home. Look out in the review group discussion list for some Star Wars related innuendo!

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