Inglourious Basterds

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goes to show it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Or at least, all about what people yap about during the journey, yapping a lot.

is one of the most fascinating flicks I’ve seen all year, if for nothing else a badass soundtrack, and because it carries its panoply of characters through a moderately-complex plot in so few scenes (the film is divided into 5 chapters and hardly more scenes). Perhaps to prevent confusion, Basterds’s storytelling is more linear than I’ve seen in Tarantino’s previous efforts and the dialogue runs through periods of heavy repetition and exposition. While this could be negative criticism 98% of the time, in this case, it isn’t. Tarantino is one of the few writers who can float a “tell don’t show” policy without losing momentum or freshness in a nearly three-hour movie. I watched Basterds three times in theaters and was baffled by how little tension got lost in multiple viewings. Tarantino is perhaps unmatched at keeping an audience engrossed through long periods of talk. Not to mention unmatched at name-calling (see Brad Pitt telling Richard Sammel that if he ever wants to eat a sauerkraut sandwich ever again he’ll take his Wiener Schnitzel-lickin’ finger and point out the German position).

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Christoph Waltz stars as Hans Landa (AKA the Jew Hunter), a detective whose prowess has landed him as a head officer in the Third Reich. Landa is essentially what would happen if you took Bill Pullman in Zero Effect, cross-pollinated him with Tim Curry in Clue, and then dressed him up with Nazi oak leaves on his collar. Little emotionally detached. Eccentric as a MF. Simultaneously despicable and oddly noble. Waltz playing Landa is in the top acting performances I’ve seen this year.

Some people may find the violence of Basterds troubling. There are a handful of empathetic portrayals of German soldiers, but in general Tarantino makes the terrorizing and killing of Nazis extraordinarily gratifying. On some level an audience member (at least an American viewer) would want to be like, but they’re just Nazis, so if a theater full of them die in a fire/dynamite explosion, isn’t that totally justified/awesome? But I felt a little dirty after finding so much pleasure in watching Nazis (and their wives) get mowed down by machineguns. I guess I’m saying that while watching a Jewish terrorist group torture and slaughter Nazis seems like good, clean fun, it might not actually be constructive therapy when treading upon the obscene tragedies of WWII. For constructive therapy, see Life is Beautiful. Basterds’s obsession with style overshadows its ethical reasoning.

Though I do see Basterds as a visionary and well-executed film, I don’t think it will be worth everyone’s $10 admission. But if you can make it for the matinee price . . . $9

If you heart Inglourious Basterds:

Recommendations from Yolkie:
Munich
Lady Vengeance
Kill Bill – Volume One

Recommendations from Sneak da Keek:
Unforgiven
Tampopo
Cecil B. Demented

Recommendations from …
Reservoir Dogs
Watchmen
Battle Royale

Trailer: Inglourious Basterds

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Special

Special

Michael Rapaport is on-point as Les, a naive and tragic hero as an ex-meter maid.  Special successfully executes the difficult task of packing many genres into one movie.  Special is suspenseful, darkly humorous, and dramatic all at the same time.  There are many moments to laugh out-loud, and then step into a scene that makes your heart drops to your heels.   Much of the dark humor relies on the bizarre delusions of Les who appears to be in the throes of a severe manic episode.  However, the delight in watching, as the story unravels, comes from the well-crafted story that makes you wonder: maybe he does have super powers? Well-selected cast and fitting score.  This is a sadly under-appreciated movie that definitely deserves a viewing . . . $10

If you heart Special:

Recommendations from Yolkie:
Science of Sleep
The Wrestler
Stranger Than Fiction

Recommendations from Sneak da Keek:
American Splendor
Me and You and Everyone We Know
A Scanner Darkly

Trailer: Special

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