Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

In a nod to Johnny Dangerously, I shall henceforth refer to Inglorious Basterds as Inglourious Bastages. It opened in August but I didn't see it the first time until September 7 due to poor cineplectic scheduling and the fear of a 2.5 hour movie. I saw it again on September 30 and I think I've digested it enough to form an opinion.

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Bastages is a Movie with a capital M. The movie-watching center of your brain will be fully engaged for every moment of the two hour and twenty-nine minute run time. Tarantino breaks rules, panders, teases and bodyslams reason to make a comprehensively entertaining movie. Heck, he even threw in the Wilhelm. Twice.

Bastages consists of five chapters that are related but not directly connected. The main characters are: Lt Aldo Rayne (Brad Pitt), leader of a brutal troop of Jewish-American soldiers (the titular "Bastages") operating as a guerrilla unit in occupied France; SS Maj Landa (Christph Waltz), "the Jew Hunter," a charming psychopath who turns up at the most inconvenient times; and Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent. I never heard of her, either), a young French Jew hiding in plain site operating a theater in Paris. There are dozens of other characters, all important, but those are the big three. I would expect all three to get Academy Award nominations next January, as well as a boatload for the movie as a whole.

The thing with a Tarantino Movie in general and Bastages in particular is that the story is told on a higher level than most movies. A conversation isn't just a conversation, it's a power struggle, a domination or a death sentence. A woman leaning against a wall becomes a sensuous mural. In every Tarantino Movie, there has been at least one scene where I found myself thinking that no one else watching the movie would ever understand the scene. Of course, everyone else does understand the scenes but that it would affect my brain in such a personal way when the Movie is images on a screen and noise from a loudspeaker just like every other movie that didn't affect me that way is astounding. If you love movies, no matter what genre is your favorite, you have to see Inglourious Bastages. And twice to get the whole effect.

It sounds like I'm in the Quentin Tarantino fan club but no. I don't care for the guy's bold, brash, egotistical public persona and if I met him in person, I'd probably find him annoying, but the guy makes great movies. Movies with a capital M. Other people make great movies, too, but no one else makes them like Tarantino.

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