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I’m going to the glorious punchline first, I think Inglorious Basterds is the best movie of the year. Finally, a movie that surprisingly delivers on all fronts and then some. I am an average Quinton Tarentino fan. I love some of his films like Kill Bill and others I can do without. However, I have always considered him a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller which is confidently proven in Inglorious.
From the very beginning, Inglorious captivates you into the life and death tension of the story. The movie plays out in chapters like a book, building upon each other until the crescendo of the film. Each note is carefully placed and each stanza is meticulously crafted. I describe it as a musical piece because I think this is arguably Tarentino’s masterpiece. Certainly his best since Reservoir Dogs. My personal favorite of his is Kill Bill, but I can still recognize the brilliance of this film. It’s bold, full of flavor, and rich with memorable moments. I wont go into detail since my esteemed Babbleonians have already covered some of the scenes in their reviews. I will touch on a couple of points that really make this film stand victorious over a war torn battlefield of summer movies.
The opening sequence is a simple conversation between Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and a common dairy farmer. Yes, there is cunning dialogue and tense moments, but what struck me was that the scene lasted for 25 minutes! Just talking! As a director, you have to have serious confidence in a conversation to carry a single scene for half and hour. It’s so unconventional, it’s so unpredictable, it’s so…Tarentino. He repeats this same pacing throughout the movie. He makes the viewer marinate in the tension, almost to the point when you can’t stand it. Then, when you think it’s over, the conversation cranks up another notch. Sometimes the scenes would end well for the protagonist or sometimes in tragedy, there is no way to know. However, each scene rewards the viewer’s investment regardless of the outcome. Christoph Waltz as the main antagonist, steals he show. Brad Pitt puts out a great performance. There is even an odd but likable cameo by Mike Meyers. The whole cast did phenomenal.
Tarentino also brilliantly worked in the unexpected. The story took several twists and turns, reinforcing the fact that there are no ‘rules’ when in comes to film-making. Tarentino plays off of our knowledge of world war II history to play against us. He takes liberties and rewrites a little history which creates a little guilty pleasure experience for an Allied viewer. There is nothing formulaic about how the story unfolds. There is a mish-mash of characters that that barely overlap but who’s destiny is intricately interwoven. In a summer of very conventional movies, this unconventional approach to telling stories was bold, remarkable, and worth remembering.
Was this the perfect film, no. Was it my favorite film, no. Star Trek is still my favorite film for 2009. It was however, the best film of the year and I don’t see any other movie turning the tides of the battle anytime soon.
This is a VERY graphic film. Don’t let the trailers fool you. While very light hearted at times, some scenes will make your stomach turn.
Go see it while it’s in theaters!
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