Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds review/ Once upon a time their was a film review with plenty of spoilers -you've been warned

Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino's latest film here's the synopsis: "Inglourious Basterds" (sic) begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds" Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own...

It's not QT's spaghetti-western set in WW II, it's more of a action/dramedy
I read the script that was posted on-line, and no surprise the final film had a number of changes. The character that most exemplifies this is "the Bear Jew" Donny Donowitz played by Eli Roth. In the script he's more scary than funny, especially in the scenes (cut from the film) talking to an old woman about his baseball bat. He asks her if she has any relatives in Europe she's worried about to sign their name to his bat. Her great line was "Hand me your sword Gideon. I do believe I will join you on this journey." It gives his character a more serious context and depth than what we got on screen. Instead in the film after bashing in Nazi number one's head will a bat, he goes off on a baseball rant. It was a funny scene, but didn't jibe with the spaghetti-western vibe QT was supposedly going for. When we see Hitler some officers of his discuss 'The Bear Jew', and how some suspect he is a golem created by a vengeful rabbi -which of course Hitler doesn't take well. The thematic difference between a human avenger, who is feared to be supernatural creature of vengeance, and a maniacal baseball fan smashing heads in is considerable. Maybe, QT wanted to show the difference between the Nazi myth and the real man as a twist to the story. I don't believe that though. I think he was too brutal when he cut The bear Jew's back story and ended up with a comedic scene of brain bashing, instead of a disturbingly horrific one. It was the first step in turning a gritty WW II script into a action/comedy on the screen. Tarantino has said he's saving the scene for a prequel, but what about the Vega brothers movie, or the Kill Bill anime cartoons? That prequel will probably never arrive. Another thing that was cut early on is Samuel Jackson as the narrator's explanation of the Nazi who got his head bashed in instead of rat out his fellow Nazi's. The Nazi felt in the other world the 'gods' respect only the ones they test first, and wanted his dignity to be buried with him. The scene the way it was in the script can be seen in the short comic book story here. Mention religion whether Jewish faith, or Nazi occultism gets things damn serious, damn fast. As it was this movie had the whole audience in the theater laughing out loud repeatedly after the first tense moments of Shosanna's story. The serious start didn't hold up because all the Inglourious Basterds are such good comic relief, especially Brad Pitt as the movie went on he had people damn near rolling in the aisles -me included. Aside from the character of 'The bear Jew' the part of the story most affected by being dropped from the script is the ending. Not the revenge of the giant face with the movie theater going up in flames, Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna was scary as hell in her performance. I'm talking about the difference between suicide bombers and planting a bomb. Also, the two threads of this movie Shosanna's revenge/ Inglourious Basterds were never connected in the final film. In the script it was made obvious that 'Bear Jew' and Omar (another Basterd) were going to plant some dynamite and then get the hell out of dodge. In the script Omar gets caught in a tidal wave of people trying to escape the fire and the explosives go off. The Bear Jew (Eli Roth), planted his bomb in the bathroom, then got killed in a shootout with a Nazi who the Basterds had earlier carved a swastika into his head. Not to have some random nazi show up at the end of the movie avoided a little too many coincidences. In the film the two Basterds aren't shown taking off their bombs so you figure their suicide bombers. The real star of the film Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa 'the Jew hunter' had earlier planted a bomb in Hitler's box. With the two Basterds having a amusing little exchange before they rushed the box of the high command and started shooting everyone. The humor lessened the impact of those two blowing themselves up, and since Landa also planted a bomb in there, their is no way to know if either of the Basterds dropped the bomb off somewhere along the way, you just see an explosion that could have been any, or all of the bombs. It just changed the feel of the big finale. In the script Shosanna leads the two Basterds to their seats in the cinema, and has one of those mournful looks with Omar since each knows the other is going to die that night. In the film they never meet, you have the Basterd bombers, and then you have Shosanna and Marcel burning down the theater. The connection being made between the two stories was really missed by me in the film. Even with Shosanna being scary as hell as the face of Jewish vengeance, that was lessened by the comedic end of the movie With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, and their two sidekicks in the film. The Nazi side kick gets shot, and Pitt's character Aldo carves a swastika into Landa's head commenting "I think this just might be my masterpiece." It ended with laughs from the audience I was in, as well as applause.The film would have been better with another twenty minutes of running time. It wasn't bad it was a funny action comedy -I laughed a lot- but I think I would have enjoyed a longer, gritter, serious subtext, film more.

No Shit it didn't happen that way in real life, this ain't Saving Private Ryan

One of the big complaints I see critics make who just don't get it is a 'lack of realism' in the movie. World War II in real life doesn't end with Hitler and the whole high command being shot, blown up, and burned to death at the movies. This isn't the real WW II, this is the way World War II ended in Tarantino's fictional film universe. Before the Vega brothers finally dropped out of school in history class they learned about Hitler being killed in a theater in France by a Jewish commando team. I'm surprised Tarantino doesn't just come out and say one of the characters in this film is the grandfather of one of his other characters in a previous film to put the critics to rest. QT talked about wanting to build the suspense as a rubber band you just keep stretching and stretching until it breaks. The suspense is great in the film, but the laughs drown it out. Instead of the comedy being a cathartic release from all the tension, the suspense scenes served as a break to keep your sides from splitting in laughter. QT's foot fetish again makes it self known, but in this film it is a major element of the plot. Think if Cinderella's foot matches the slipper she gets choked to death instead of hitched. That leads to the death of the Bridget von Hammersmark at the hands of Hans Landa. Christoph Waltz as Landa absolutely stole the film in his portrayal. He's everything you could want a villain to be from the first time you see him on screen, he describes himself as a detective and even has a pipe like Sherlock Holmes. His murder of von Hammersmark showed that he wasn't afraid to get blood on his hands literally, instead of just calling in some Nazi's to do his killing for him. You wondered as you watched the film was Landa just a scheming, plotting, charming brain, or just waiting for the right chance to show he was a Nazi monster of action. After the 'if the shoe fits' scene where he killed with his bare hands viewers had their answer. I don't know if Waltz will get a Oscar for playing Hans Landa, I just know he deserves it. Thinking about Leonardo DiCaprio (who wanted it) in the Landa role should scare anyone shitless. Brad Pitt's fantastic comedic performance especially towards the end when he's playing a redneck Jewish/Native American U.S. solider pretending to be a Italian. Just the way he says grazie over and over again is hilarious. Also his dialogue after a bar fight 'a Mexican stand off is not trust, no trust no deal' is worthy of Steve Zhan at his best. QT give him some of the funniest lines in the film, and Pitt didn't disappoint. Being a Tennessean I know he did a pretty good job on his accent as well. I went in expecting a fairly serious bloodbath broken up by some humor (thanks to the script) instead I got a comedy broken up by some suspense filled moments. I still recommend the film because it made me laugh and had some cool 'showdown' moments. Just remember it's a fantastic action/dramedy, not a spaghetti-western, set in World War II.

No comments:

Post a Comment