This review is dedicated to those readers of a certain vintage who grew up under the influence of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. If you happened to spend your formative years with Tarantino movie posters on your bedroom wall and Jungle Boogie ringing out your speakers, then I have three words which you’ll be overjoyed to hear… Tarantino is back.
Yes, Tarantino has been active since Pulp Fiction, and with momentary highlights such as Jackie Brown, but I think we’ve all been waiting for him to pull something special together. Something really special. He’s managed to do just that with the fabulous war movie Inglorious Basterds.
To quickly summarise the plot, a young Jewish girl sees her family murdered by the infamous Nazi “Jew hunter” Col. Hans Landa – played in a wonderfully subtle camp (but terrifying) manner by Christoph Waltz. Said girl flees to Paris and assumes a new identity. Fate dictates that an entire Nazi dream team spend an evening in her place of work, thus dealing her a chance to exact revenge.
That’s enough about the plot, the fun parts of the movie are – I’m delighted to report – wonderfully executed violence, and rip-roaring fast-paced dialogue. In recent Tarantino outings such as DeathProof, his particular style of bullet-fast dialogue had wisegolfers become grating – he returns to form in Basterds relying more on humour and execution of dialogue rather than speed of delivery.
Brad Pitt is excellent as Aldo Raine, the leader of a gang of head scalping “basterds” on a special mission – “killin’ Nazis”. His southern drawl and wonderful lines are a joy, and look out for his effort at going undercover as an Italian stuntman!
As with all good Tarantino movies, there are standout scenes. One such scene in Basterds involves a wonderfully uncomfortable drinking session in the cellar of a French bar with a group of pissed up Nazi soldiers, an undercover British agent, two Basterds and a German actress in cahoots with the alliance. Predictably, a bloodbath unfolds, but not before the viewer has been taken on a very Tarantino ride…
Although a solid cast is in place, they are always playing foil to the standout characters of Pitt’s Lt Raine, and Waltz’s Hans Landa – and rightly so. With these two characters Tarantino has created two thoroughly memorable movie legends. You spend the movie waiting for these two characters to cross swords, and swords do indeed make a cross – in the final frame of the movie.
Tough to categorise this movie in a genre, but I’d opt for black comedy. Black comedy in the manner that only an on-form Tarantino can deliver. Welcome back Quentin, we’ve missed you!