Tuesday, November 27, 2012
(August 2009, U.S.)
Let me ask you something...what's your favorite form of movie escapism? Is it an action-packed superhero sequel? Is it a sci-fi alien invasion of the Earth? Is it high school vampires falling in love (Geez, I hope not!). For my own personal tastes, the best form of movie escapism is dialogue that keeps you on the edge of your seat, coupled with a little extreme violence directed at the bad guys who really deserve it. A good example of the latter would be watching New York City muggers getting their asses blown away by Charles Bronson in DEATH WISH (1974). So, in the Summer of 2009, when I was still unemployed during the recession, I escaped to a work day matinee (at work day matinee prices!) and completely lost myself in the dialogue and violence of what I consider to be director Quentin Tarantino's SECOND best film (after PULP FICTION, of course!). Had you been sitting next to me in the movie theater, you would have seen me with the biggest goddamn smile on my face!
The first (and probably the most important) thing to remember about INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is that it's a fictional alternate history tale of two plots to assassinate the Nazi Germany political leadership; one planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietor (played by Melanie Laurent), and the other by a team of Jewish-American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (played by Brad Pitt). Remember the key word here is FICTIONAL (the film even begins with the title on card of, "Once Upon A Time..."). So the first thing you have to do when watching this film is close your mind to any details of historical accuracy because they no longer function. This is a war film, indeed, but it's probably the most FUN war film you're likely to watch. The fun lies in the pace and rhythm of the dialogue that grabs you from the very opening sequence when Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (played brilliantly by Christoph Waltz), nicknamed the "Jew Hunter", arrives at the home of French dairy farmer Perrier LaPadite (played by Denis Menochet) and interrogates him in order to weed out a Jewish family unaccounted for. The immediate surprise is not so much the fact that the family is hiding under the farmer's floor boards, but rather the intense, step-by-step verbal technique Hans Landa uses to determine that they are, indeed, under the floor. As a Nazi soldier, Hans Landa is pure evil, but the evil seems more sinister because it's delivered with a big smile, good manners and an admittedly irresistible degree of sweet charm. Seriously, if this guy wasn't a Nazi, you couldn't help but love the guy!
As one might expect from a guy like Tarantino, this is a film of true violence that even a viewer like myself finds hard to watch at times. But somehow, as a human being with a streak of inner barbarism, you convince yourself that it's "fun" violence because it's happening to a bunch of Nazis that don't deserve anything less than what they get. Just stare into the fierce eyes of Eli Roth as "The Bear Jew" before he prepares to pound the shit out of a Nazi soldier's hear with a baseball bat (this guy must be from Brooklyn!) and you'll know the oncoming violence is going to be sickening to watch (it is!), but well deserved, nonetheless (it is!).
Tarantino loves movies! His fans know that, and it seems only fitting that much of the story lies in a charming French cinema! At a German premiere of a propaganda film, a plot unravels that will not only take out much of the German Reich, but Adolf Hitler himself. Now anyone who knows ever just a little of their World War II history knows very well that Adolf Hitler did not die in a French cinema. But again, remember, this is a World War II FABLE, so all historical accuracy is off. That being the case, to watch a cinema full of Nazi scum burn to death and to watch Hitler get massacred to death by "The Bear Jew's" machine gun is absolutely nothing short of a violently good time. Yes, my friends, it's lots of fun to watch Nazis get killed in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS! Try it! You'll like it!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Lt. Aldo Raine: "My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I'm putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y'all might've heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we'll be leaving a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we're in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin' guerrilla army, we're gonna be doin' one thing and one thing only...killin' Nazis! Now, I don't know about y'all, but I sure as hell didn't come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin' air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every every son of a bitch we find wearin' a Nazi uniform, they're gonna die. Now, I'm the direct descendant of the mountain man Jim Bridger. That means I got a little Injun in me. And our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance. We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won't not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?
Soldiers: "YES, SIR!"
Aldo: "That's what I like to hear. But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin'!"