August 20, 2009, - 1:30 pm
I wish my brave, tough Holocaust survivor grandfather, Isaac, was alive to see “Inglourious Basterds.”
He would love it even more than I did. So would my dad. And they would be cheering and laughing along with me.
Because the movie debuts at Midnight screenings tonight, I am posting this review early, and you’ll note that I was entirely wrong in my expectations for this movie when I first wrote about it, back in February. The movie is riveting. It’s fun and serious at the same time. And it’s thrilling.
It’s not usual that I praise a Quentin Tarantino film or a flick starring Brad Pitt. I’m not a big fan of either. But “Inglourious Basterds” is either the exception to the rule or a new beginning (probably the former, at least in the case of Pitt, who is very good here). After two-and-a-half hours of this fantastic movie, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more. So well done, so interesting, exciting, and suspenseful, it flew by. Like “The Departed (read my review),” it’s a well-wrapped treasure, with new delights at each uncovered layer. And a few puzzles, some of which aren’t answered but are designed to make you think.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this movie.
It’s that well done. My only regrets are 1) that it’s not a true story; and 2) that no-one in Hollywood has the guts to do an “Inglorious Basterds” with Americans fighting our current enemy: Muslim invaders who’ve also replaced their friends, the Nazis, as the thugs upon Europe. If only Abu Steven Spielberg had had the guts to do “Munich” (read my review) like this.
“Basterds” is the story of an American commanding officer, Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), from the south and his brigade of Jewish American soldiers sent to France to kill Nazis . . . and, yes, scalp them. (Several of the actors who play them are Jewish in real life.) But it’s also the story of Shoshanna Dreyfus, a French Jewish blonde who plots revenge on the Nazis who murdered her family of dairy farmers as they hid. French actress, Melanie Laurent, who plays her is the real star of this movie, as is the frighteningly creepy Austrian actor, Christoph Waltz, as Nazi Col. Hans Landa. (Diane Kruger is not bad as a German movie star and double agent.)
Those two stories intertwine to an exciting and fitting conclusion that is almost as satisfying as the famous “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene, in which Nazis melt after countenancing the spirit of G-d emerging from the Ark of the Covenant. And it’s very similar.
Yes, this movie is somewhat bloody and graphic (a couple of Nazi scalpings are shown as is a scene of “The Bear Jew” (Eli Roth) wailing on a Nazi’s head with a baseball bat–though that’s only briefly shown). But the violence is for a reason: it’s good against evil. And it’s thoroughly satisfying. I wish they showed even more. I don’t apologize for cheering on the killing of Nazis. They were inhuman. And the treatment they got in this movie is the same way we should treat all of our enemies, but simply don’t have the guts to do so. It’s fun to see the SS and Gestapo members get well-merited permanent reminders of their days wearing the swastika.
Yes, parts of the movie are implausible and the Hitler actor, Martin Wuttke, doesn’t look as much like Hitler as in more dramatic films. But this is a Quentin Tarantino film. It’s gotta be somewhat comedic and funny (though the presence of Mike Myers as a British officer was a little much for me), and this had plenty of those moments (watch for Col. Landa’s pipe).
But it also had many moments of nail-biting suspense. Will the Americans be found out by the Nazis? Does Col. Landa recognize the Jew who escaped him years earlier?
It’s all done masterfully and has you rapt at attention. Every scene was so well done, so interesting and exciting.
And even though the story isn’t true, some of it is based on truth, and I recommend you see the fabulous documentary, “The Ritchie Boys (will try to post a review of that on this site, soon),” to learn more about real-life Jewish-American immigrants from Europe who returned as undercover U.S. Army sabotage and intelligence specialists. ( One of them, Guy Stern, is a friend of my family, and one of the producers is my lifelong friend, David Karp.)
I don’t want to say much more about “Inglourious Basterds,” because to do so would give away the movie. But if you are an American who is proud of your country, or a WWII buff, or a Jew or other hater of Nazis who wants to see revenge wrapped in a very well-told story, this is your movie.
It was like reading a great novel on the beach in summer. The clothes, the sets, the lines, the characters–every attention to detail is so well captured in this attempt at encapsulating German film at the time and many World War II movies that have been done since.
Go see this movie (but don’t take your kids–it’s rated “R” for a reason). And tell every one else to see it, too.
For me, “Inglourious Basterds” is the movie of the year. I doubt anything I see between now and New Years Day will top it.
Vengeance is under-rated. As this movie shows in spades, it’s a thrill.
Tags: Abu Spielberg, Adolf Hitler, Aldo Raine, Austrian, Bear Jew, Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Col. Hans Landa, David Karp, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Four Reagans, France, Germans, Gestapo, Grandpa Isaac, Guy Stern, Hans, Hans Landa, Hitler, Holocaust, Holocaust survivor, Holocaust survivors, Inglorious Bastards, Inglorious Basterds, Inglourious Bastards, Inglourious Basterds, Jew Bear, Jewish Bear, Lt. Aldo Raine, Martin Wuttke, Melanie Laurent, Mike Myers, Movie Reviews, Movies I love, Munich, Nazi, Nazi SS, Nazis, Quentin Tarantino, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ritchie Boys, Shosana, Shosanna, Shoshanna, Shoshanna Dreyfus, SS, Steven Spielberg, swastika, swastikas, The Departed, The Jewish Bear, The Ritchie Boys