After viewing the latest film by Quentin Tarantino, I decided to skim through some reviews in which I noticed the phrase 'Tarantino's return to form' more than a few times. This started me to think, when exactly did Tarantino lose it? The obvious answer, I suppose, was with his last film 'Death Proof' (and I'm referring to the extended cut) which divided critics and audiences alike. Most people who didn't like the film apparently felt that it was Quentin Tarantino at his most self-indulgent and forgettable. I found Death Proof to be another diamond upon his crown, proving once again that when it comes to filmmaking, he knows his shit.
But I digress. This isn't a review of Death Proof, this is a review of Inglourious Basterds, QT's 7th feature film (not including Four Rooms, which I've not seen) and what a film it is! Having seen it once already, looking back on it now I have yet to find a single moment I didn't love. He shows that he is a natural born filmmaker (yet again), and that his fethistic fascination of cinema has not diminished one bit.
Unfortunately, moviereviews.com allowed me to pick only one category, which at one point seemed impossible. While I ultimately went with 'Drama', there is so much more to behold and experience. There is over-the-top silliness (Hitler is hilarious, and I never thought I'd ever say that), sequences of unbearable tension, and of course, random outbursts of violence that are so shocking, and yet so gloriously done, that you can do nothing but sit back in awe.
In the hands of any other director, there would be a high risk of a total mess. And while Inglourious Basterds certainly weaves through multiple plot lines, it is not once sloppy or overwhelming. Actually, quite the contrary. IG is, simply put, the best film of the summer. It's also the fastest 2 and a half + hours I've witnessed since maybe Scorcece's Oscar Winning 'The Departed', or P.T.A.'S brilliant Magnolia. This is probably because the entire film is just so damn deliciously entertaining.
However, a film can't be fully great unless the cast and characters are also, and in the acting department there are no disappointments. Brad Pitt has been used in advertising the most, but he is certainly not the star of the show. This is grand cinema, with a huge story, filled with characters, and nearly every actor leaves an impression, whether it big or small.
The true stand out, who rises above everyone else, is Christoph Walts, who is the main antagonist (move over Hitler.) His performance is nothing short of fascinating, frightening, and yet darkly humorous. He brings a presence to every scene he is in that permeates each frame with gut-wrenching terror. I'm talking this guy can make a glass of milk send you into heart palpitations. If he doesn't get an Oscar nom it will be one (ONE) of the biggest stubs of the Academy. His presence in the film recalls that of Heath Ledgers unforgettable performance as The Joker.
Another stand out goes to new comer Melanie Laurent. She probably has the most subtle of all the characters, but she gives forth a performance of quiet calculation and devestation, while also releasing a side of pure savagery. She's a beautiful woman, and I look forward to seeing her in the future. The rest of the supporting cast all do great work as well, with the biggest surprise probably coming from Eli Roth, who is mostly notable for his Hostel films. His character, referred to as 'The Bear Jew', gets satisfaction out of beating Nazi's to death with a baseball bat.
Ultimately, though, this is Tarantino's show, and once again he has yet to let me down. There are few filmmakers who I have consistently loved all their films, but at this point Tarantino takes the top place. Tarantino has mentioned that this may be his masterpiece,and it's hard to disagree. But then again, so was Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. Inglourious Basterds is a breath of fresh air in what was quite a lackluster summer.
Deliciously entertaining, horrific, funny, and wholly engrossing, these 'Basterds' are not to be missed. And did I mention that even Mike Meyers is impressive in his cameo? I didn't? Well go see the movie already, sit back, and bask in the glory that is 'Inglourious Basterds'
Rated R- strong graphic violence, language, drug use, and brief sexuality.