Friday, August 21, 2009


Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds After more than a decade in the making, Oscar winning writer/director Quentin Tarantino presents his highly anticipated World War II epic "Inglourious Basterds" (USA/Germany/France 2009 | 153 min.), a glorious masterpiece with an Oscar worthy performance by Christoph Waltz as a Nazi officer.

The film is divided into five chapters to tell a multithreaded interleaving story, but the plot is never confusing. Each chapter is jammed with witty and humorous dialogues, colorful characters, terrific performance, gore violence, and explosive climaxes. In the end, they come together gracefully.

In Chapter One, "Once Upon A Time in Nazi Occupied France," a charming yet terrifying Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), nicknamed "The Jew Hunter," comes to a farm searching for Jews in hiding. One of the girl in hiding is Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), who later runs a movie theater in Paris in Chapter Three "German Night in Paris." Shosanna survives Hans's hunt and encounters Nazi Gefreiter Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl). Fredrick is a German hero for killing hundreds of enemies by himself in a battle. Fredrick shows interest in Shosanna and wants to premiere a propaganda film based on his own story and played by himself. Shosanna once again needs to escape from Hans, "The Jew Hunter," because Hans is in charge of the security of the movie's premiere.

The British intelligent also learns about the movie's premiere event, which appears to be a perfect target because the movie theater will be packed by the Nazis' higher ranking officers. Therefore, in Chapter Four, "Operation Kino," the British intelligent sends in Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), to blow up the Nazis with the help from the "Basterds." These "Basterds" are the protagonists introduced in Chapter Two, "Inglourious Basterds." Led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), whose name pays tribute to Aldo Ray, a group of American Jews infiltrate into France to kill the Nazis. They don't just kill the Nazis, they also take Nazis' scalps, as their signature (among other things) to terrify the Nazis.

Director Quentin Tarantino seamlessly brings all these characters together and proceeds to the grand finale: Chapter Five, "Revenge of the Giant Face." He tells his gripping story with great precision and ample almost flawless details, just like how Hans ("The Jew Hunter") opens his pen and paper pad, gets ink for the pen, and writes on a piece of paper at the beginning of the film.

Tarantino is not shy of showing his cinephile personality in this film. He uses soundtracks from 22 other films, and he plans to use cinema to end the World War II in his version of history. And, of course, only Tarantino can write those classic ingenious dialogues. When Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) wants to attend the movie premiere as a German, German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) asks: "Can you American speak any other language other than English?" Ouch! To prove she is wrong, Tarantino lets Aldo speak hilarious broken Italian, with a southern drawl.

Christoph Waltz stars as Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, photo from The Weinstein Company

On the other hand, both Christoph Waltz and his character Hans ("The Jew Hunter") are linguist geniuses who speaks at least four languages (German, French, Italian, and English) frequently. Christoph Waltz's exceptional performance already takes the Best Actor Award at 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It is very likely that he will win the upcoming Oscar as well.

As Aldo Raine's last word in the film, it is not an over statement to say this film is a masterpiece from Tarantino. However, it should not surprise anyone if this brilliant director brings even a greater film to the cinema in the future.

"Inglourious Basterds" opens on Friday, August 21, 2009 at Bay Area theaters.

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