In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis. The Basterds soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers
Once upon a time, in Nazi occupated France...
The film tracks the separate attempts to kill Hitler by two disparate forces, one being the "Basterds", a motley crew of Jewish American soldiers out for revenge against the Nazis. The Basterds have a debt of sorts to their leader, Lt. Aldo Raine, where each man must hand over one hundred Nazi scalps after each killing (you thought that was just talk? Uh, no.) The Basterds allow one German soldier to survive each incident so as to spread the news of the terror of their attacks. However, the Basterds carve a swastika into the forehead of that German. The other force concerns Shosanna, (Mélanie Laurent), the only Jewish survivor of an attack led by the "Jew Hunter" that had killed her family while they hid underneath the floor boards of a french milk farmer's home. Both she and the Basterds plot the assination of the upper crust Nazi generals during a film premiere.
Can I even express in words how amazing Inglorious Basterds is? That would be a huge, resounding 'no'. But I'll do my best.
First and Foremost--Christoph Waltz, playing the dasturdly "Jew Hunter" Hans Landa, diserves an Oscar. A big one, special, making a little gold thumbs-up and with jirating shoulders. He deserves all the Oscars--best actor, best supporting actor, best actress, best adapted screenplay, EVERYTHING. Mr. Waltz simply IS the movie. His performance is so perfect, so twisted and hilarious and chilling that I was laughing and pissing my pants all at once. His character is both believable, because of Mr. Waltz's outstanding preformance, but also...not. Probably because the thought of a dude like that running around is so horrifying it couldn't possibly be real. Or could it...?
The true protagonist of Inglorious Basterds is really the French actress Mélanie Laurent, playing a Jewish young women who's family was killed by Landa, and who's theatre is set to play host to the premiere of A Nation's Pride (movie within the movie directed by Eli Roth, a homage to the Nazi propaganda films of the fourties.) Ms. Laurent does a lovely job as the vindictive Shosanna, one second playing a frightened young women, the next a Kill Bill-esque Bad Ass who can--and will--kill without mercy. She reminds me of Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose, in that, though she doesn't speak a word of English, American audiences can understand the emotion she puts into her dialogue. Not to say this is an emotional character. It is, after all, Tarentino.
Even Diane Kruger was not nearly as annoying as I expected her to be.
Brad Pitt's Southern Nazi hunter is, undoubtedbly, the highlight of the entire frikken thing. His...erm...Italion accent would make the Marx brothers double over with laughter, and that last scene? Sunuvabitch, I could even see the end credits through the hysterical tears. My gut still hurts, ten hours after the fact.
The only gripes I had was how little time they spent on individual characters; yes, there are many who could be considered 'main' characters, too many to fit into a movie, but I would have liked more elaboration on Aldo Raine and Soshanna. Also...alright, Eli Roth does a fair job as Donny "The Bear Jew", but he was not fantastic. In fact, when I learned Adam Sandler was set to play him before he took his role in Funny People, I thought Eli Roth was just annoying. For a minute. Then I remembered he directed Hostel, and I got over it. But still.
Inglorious Basterds is a defininitve Tarentino; bloody, raucous, unapologetic, bordering on satire but not quite there. And, like all Tarentino films, you either love it or hate. I would hope that anyone reading this is the type to love it, but you never know. All in all, however, I found it to be one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, that everyone should watch, if only to make up their own minds.
Rating: 9 out of 10--an instant classic.
Also: "Our bid'ness is killin' Nazis and, cousin, bid'ness is a'boomin'"