on January 21, 2010
This is just a review of the Blu-Ray "2 Disc Special Edition" since there are plenty of reviews of the movie itself by reviewers far more qualified than I.
The video and sound quality is excellent and I have no complaints about that. But I have to give this 4 stars instead of 5, because, I just don't get some of the "marketing lingo" on this package:
* This version does NOT include a running commentary. None at all (not director, not actors, not cinematographer, nothing). To me this is really odd -- it seems that almost all DVDs released in the last 10 years have had some sort of commentary track. Especially with a Tarantino movie, this seems like something you really WANT to have.
* I think this is the only Blu-ray version available right now. It includes the "digital copy" but that is just a lower-res copy of a movie with DRM, nothing wrong with getting that with it, but that is one of the TWO discs in the "Special Edition"
* If this is the only one available, and it doesn't include stuff like a commentary, what makes the Marketing people put the "Special Edition" tag on it? I guess because it comes with the low-res copy, see previous item...
* Other info on the package is misleading too. It says under "Additional Features:" "The original Inglorious Bastards." This might lead one to conclude that it includes the original movie (and there would be plenty of room for an SD copy of a movie on a Blu-ray disk. This feature is just a 10-minute summary of the movie and discusses it's relation to the new movie. A nice feature worth watching, but I think the way it is named as a feature is misleading.
* Minor thing: They put a sticker about "Includes Digital Copy" on the metallic-printed cardboard sleeve. When you take off the sticker, it removes part of the metallic printing. I know these sleeves are only meant to make the product look nice and flashy and get your attention when it's on a store shelf. But for those of us that like to keep these, it was annoying the way it was stickered. If they put the sticker on the outer plastic shrink-wrap this wouldn't be a problem.
Still a great movie and I'm glad I got the disc. Giving it 4 of 5 because of the questionable "Special-ness" of the Edition.
One of the great pleasures of Quentin Tarantino movies is the wonderfully inventive casting that he employs. In PULP FICTION, he revived the career of John Travolta, made Samuel Jackson a star, pushed Bruce Willis into another echelon and even helped get Ving Rhames off to a good start. In JACKIE BROWN, he burnished Pam Grier & Robert Forster's careers. In KILL BILL, he reinvented Uma Thurman and reinvigorated David Carradine. Even in DEATH PROOF, he introduced the world to the amazing stuntwoman Zoe Bell and gave Kurt Russell the kind of part he's missed out on for too long.
And now, wonderfully, in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, he's introduced the American viewer to some stellar European actors, namely Melanie Laurent and particularly Christoph Waltz, now an easy favorite for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Tarantino also frequently tries the patience of his viewers with his rococo dialogue and insistence on constantly reminding us that we're watching a movie. In PULP FICTION, all his "habits" were fresh and new to most viewers (because, really, how many of us had seen RESERVOIR DOGS before we saw FICTION?), but over time, we learned that Tarantino was often just a little too pleased with his own screenwriting and often too pleased with his own directing. In a completely off-the-wall piece like the priceless KILL BILL films, everything worked to form a crazy-quilt whole. In INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, he's too clever for his own good at times.
BASTERDS tells the completely untrue story of how World War II might have ended had a group of bloodthirsty, highly trained American Jews been allowed to infiltrate Nazi occupied France with no mission other than to take Nazi scalps. Oh, and how that mission needed to collide with one fateful night when all the top leadership of Germany attended the gala opening of a new propaganda film held at a movie theatre owned by a beautiful French girl who was actually a Jew who had escaped a massacre that had taken her entire family and now she's bent on revenge at any cost. And of how her goal coincides with that of an undercover British agent who just happens to be a German film scholar and a German double agent who happens to be a movie star.
I know that sounds a little confusing. To Tarantino's credit, the plot as laid out in this 150 minute film is actually easy to follow. In fact, he's put everything into easy-to-digest chapters. It does ask us to believe that every important member of the German government & military would all assemble in a fairly public place at one time...but if you can get past that hurdle, there is much vicarious pleasure to be had in watching WWII reinvented by Tarantino.
By far, the best part of the film is Chapter 1. It features Waltz as SS officer Col. Hans Landa in what is easily the most chilling portrayal of a Nazi since Ralph Fiennes donned the uniform in SCHINDLER'S LIST. Fiennes role (and that entire brilliant movie) were for altogether different purposes. Landa comes off more like a Nazi Hannibal Lecter (without the strange dining preferences)...he's a bit of a lone wolf in his own party. He's feared by all, because he has a wonderful BS detector that helps him root out deception at every turn. In the opening scene, which plays out like a delicate one-act play, Landa comes to a humble French farmhouse and speaks with the owner. We know the owner is hiding Jews beneath his floorboard, and we're pretty sure Landa knows it too. Just how he gets that information, through one of the most tense interrogation scenes you'll ever see, is a joy to behold. You literally find yourself not breathing. I leaned forward in my seat. And yet there is never a raised voice, nor a threatening gesture. The screws are applied through intensity of manner. Waltz instantly makes his character a classic. Tarantino the writer has crafted brilliant dialogue, and Tarantino the director films it all with rare taste and simplicity, and Waltz knocks it out of the park.
The rest of the film is more uneven. While Brad Pitt is a goofy delight as Aldo Raine, leader of the Basterds...it's a performance that is more campy than believable. His Basterds, including folks like director Eli Roth and B.J. Novak from TV's "The Office" are fairly interchangeable. And strangely, we look forward to them conducting KILL BILL PT. ONE type mayhem, yet they actually use relatively little screentime showing them in action. There is one short, effective scene of their own brand of interrogation...but mostly we have to take the word of other characters (like Hitler himself) that these guys are wreaking havoc on the Nazis.
And during one jarring moment, we are introduced to one of the basterds with a blast of `70s era Blaxploitation music and a `70s era title card. Why? Yes, it was funny...but it took everyone totally out of the spell the movie was weaving. Just as having Michael Myers, in thick but unconvincing makeup, play a British officer hatching a scheme to blow up a movie theater, was very distracting. Myers accent is impeccable, and he plays the part straight...but he's still unmistakably Myers and many audience members snickered when they recognized him. Very distracting.
It's as though Tarantino doesn't quite believe that he can make a straightforward film and have it be riveting. Too bad...because when he gets out of his own way (as he mostly does in the climactic sequences of the film), INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a cinematic treat. The gorgeous settings and lovely costumes even gave Tarantino a chance to show off and have it fit the tone of the film...but he still insists on going off the rails. "Hey, this is a Tarantino movie!" he seems to want to shout at us. And this causes him to get in the way of the stunning Melanie Laurant, who plays the vengeful theater owner. I've never seen her before, and she is an entrancing presence, whether in casual slacks or a gorgeous formal red dress. She dominates the final portions of the film.
I had a great time at this film, and I recommend it fairly highly. But with 10 minutes less of the sometimes too clever dialogue and 5 minutes less of Tarantino's showboating, and we might have had a true classic of suspense. See it, though, because the two performances I mentioned are worth the price of admission...heck, the opening scene is worth it.
on December 21, 2009
This movie is really pretty outstanding. The opening scene is intense, frightening, shocking, and appauling all at once, and it sets up the entire film perfectly. I really had no expectations for this movie because I had read so many mixed reviews and none of them really said anything, so I actually thought this was a really good movie although a bit drawn out. The film is artfully done beautifully shot and extremely well acted.
Now here's why you may not like this quite as much as I did and why my wife absolutely HATED it.
What most expected from this movie:
1- Gore, action, and more gore and more action
2- A story that follows the Basterds as they wreak havoc on Hitler's army
3- Maybe a few subtitles as the film does take place in France after all
4- Classic Quentin Tarantino comedic dialogue
What the film actually is:
1- A character driven story HEAVY on dialogue and other than the last 20 minutes extremely light on action with a couple pretty graphic gory bits tossed in. The last 20 minutes is extremely graphic and violent.
2- The story largely follows the young Jewish girl/woman who escapes the opening scene. The Basterds are just kind of there as an afterthought because they are planning to blow up the same theater.
3- This film is conservatively speaking about 80% subtitled and spoken either in German or French.
4- The only part that is really funny (and it is hilarious) is Brad Pitt "speaking" Italian so poorly that Helen Keller could have picked him out as the American in the crowd.
I've read negative reviews about how this film is "war porn" and diminishes U.S. veterans in some way, but this couldn't be further from the truth. First of all this film is pure fiction that just happens to take place during WWII in France. Nothing depicted in this film is based in any way on fact. It is a complete fantasy of what could have possibly happened if Hitler and all the Nazi upper echelon had all decided to go to a jewish owned movie theater to watch a propaganda film.
Overall it is an extremely well made film that does just about everything well. It is a little bit drawn out at over 2.5 hours but like I said it is very well done and the acting is superb. 4.5 stars. I'd recommend it but be sure to have an open mind.
My wife wants to watch it again. She thinks that maybe due to the fact that we started this at about 2:00 am might have had an effect on her opinion. We'll see. For me personally after a second viewing I like it even more.
The legend of "Inglorious Basterds," QT's long-germinating WWII epic, is as entertaining as the movie itself. That's not a criticism. Newspaper and Internet stories have dangled tantalizing tales of Tarantino nurturing this script along - it will be a four-hour epic, it will be a miniseries a la "Band of Brothers," it will be a tribute to "The Dirty Dozen," it will be Tarantino's greatest film, etc.
*** Beware mild spoilers ensue *** (in case you've been under a rock and don't know how the movie ends)
Perhaps no film could have lived up to the hype of "Basterds," but amazingingly, the opening scene does just that. Using QT's hallowed practice of dividing the movie into chapters, the movie opens with "Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France." A riveting scene of pure dialogue ensues - a masterpiece of tension as the "Jew Hunter," Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (a fantastic Christoph Waltz, destined for a best-supporting actor Oscar) interrogates a French dairy farmer suspected of harboring Jews. Using a diabolical combination of charm, sincerity, and honesty, Landa establishes himself as one of the great film villains of the new century. A lone survivor of his raid, Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) flees to Paris to open a film theater (natch).
We then meet the Basterds, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). Raine is one of those redneck war gods you see so often in the movies. Maybe it's because so many films get made by non-Southerners, but it's a cliche of WWII films that if you have a soldier from the South, he's going to be a crack marksman and natural-born soldier (see Barry Pepper's character in "Saving Private Ryan"). Raine is equally motivated by sadism, as he and the Basterds are going to parachute into Europe and kill Nazis with such barbarism that the Nazis "will be sickened by us, and they will fear us."
QT thereby sets an exquisite table, but then shockingly refuses to serve the meal. For long stretches of the movie, you wonder, "where are the Basterds?" In "The Dirty Dozen," one of QT's all-time favorite movies, you fall in love with the scruffy band of murderers and cut-throats watching them achieve their unique brand of bizarre greatness. As a result, the final scene at the Nazi chateau combines both terrific action and wonderful exploitation of the bond we have forged with the characters.
"Basterds" looks a thousand times better than "Dozen," and Tarantino has written some exquisite scenes. And yet, by the time of the climactic scene at Shosanna's movie theater - which cleverly uses film to defeat Hitler - I could not name any of the Basterds involved in the mission other than Raine. Indeed, a couple of Basterds appear to be on a suicide mission, yet we have not seen any discussion of who these guys are and why they would be motivated to make that supreme sacrifice. While the easy answer is, "because they're killing Nazis," but there's nothing in the film that indicates these guys are motivated by anything approaching Bushido - these guys are in Europe to kill Nazis and to keep killing Nazis . . . something that's hard to do if you're committing suicide.
One of the hardest things to do in writing a book or making a movie is deciding what to leave in and what to leave out. Authors often lament leaving favorite characters and subplots out of stories because they don't work in the overall scheme. In "Basterds," QT left in some stuff that's darn good but distracts from the overall work - you can't make a movie called "Basterds" and not have the audience fall in love with the guys. But QT doesn't give us time to do that.
Ultimately, this movie has some of the finest scenes of suspense of any war movie (particularly a war movie that doesn't have any real battlefield scenes). There are also scenes of pure visual artistry. And there are some terrific performances. But as a whole, the movie does not exceed the sum of its parts. It is a case study in What Might Have Been.
Loved this film. Tarantino nails it once again. Of course, this film has been reviewed so many times that it becomes quite challenging to bring anything new to the table. Really, all I can do is offer my own personal, select aspects I found most enjoyable. First and easily foremost is the outstanding performance of Christoph Waltz as the Nazi SS man Hans Landa. He takes over every scene in a disturbingly polite way that disarms you, belying his true evil nature as a tool of Hitler's Germany. My second favorite aspects of the film were every scene in which the Basterds inflicted their own form of warfare on the German army and, later, the High Command. I don't think, this point, there is anyone who hasn't seen the film, but I won't offer any spoilers here. I do believe this is one of my favorite 100 movies of all time. I am a HUGE film buff, usually a movie a day, so while that sounds like a silly number, when you do the math, it's really saying something (again, at least for me). If you enjoy Tarantino, this one's easily a winner (though I couldn't sit through Jackie Brown). But if you just love movies, it's also a winner. Unless you really can't tolerate violence - and why would you consider a Tarantino film if you can't - then I think this is just one of those films you have to see at least once in your lifetime.
on September 4, 2013
We won WWII...You don't have to make it better because it was pretty epic as it happened, so this story line is pretty much silly nonsense..Christopher Walz did a fine portrayal as did Diane Kruger...I think he did his part OK (just OK) but this is the worst movie I ever saw Brad Pitt in...It bothers me somewhat that a movie that glorifies breaking the Geneva Hague Convention is somehow very American,,,and a reviewer on the cover wrote, "Riveting and viciously funny"...It was riveting in that you wondered who was going to die next (pretty much everyone)but I saw very little "funny" in it...This is immediately going in the sell pile as i will not be watching it again.
on January 7, 2016
Quentin had a blast making this movie, and it shows. And I had a blast watching it. If you want to enjoy this movie, you have to do a little prep work. Get your snacks and beverages all ready, turn off/down your phone, put on your comfy PJs/whatever, make sure the dog(s) are squared away, if you have kids (12 or below) wait until they're in bed, or at the grandparents/cousins, etc, set the thermostat/AC to optimum, adjust the lighting, take care of your head if that's your thing and get yourself situated in your comfiest chair. Take a minute or 3 to relax yourself, sit back & click "play".
A few suggestions regarding the actual viewing. First and foremost, remember this is going to be Fun. Quentin had fun making this and he wants us to have fun watching it, so in order for that to happen you're going to have to suspend disbelief. Rid yourself of any preconceived notions or knowledge , any expectation of historical accuracy, any adherence to significant dates or milestones, known sequencing of events, etc., etc.. If you are a WWII buff, and are expecting this movie to engage you on that level or test your expert WWII nerd brain, lose those expectations.
However, that's not to say this movie is not accurate in it's portrayal of the periods atmosphere, paraphernalia, accoutrements, trappings, idiosyncrasies, etc.. It is. Tarantino has brought Nazi-occupied Paris to life for us. His talented eye has captured the moment so adroitly one can almost taste the tension humming through the small knots of random French citizens scattered about, here or there, while, simultaneously, we are acutely aware of the sadistic, yet placid Gestapo SS officers, who also occupy seemingly random positions along les rues calmes de Paris. I must say, Quentin took the same great care with each and every scene in this film-the staging, the set, the lighting, the mood, the camera placement(s)...it's all there. He's become a real master at his craftwork.
But remember, I said this was a fun movie, and so it is. Now, in order for that to work, a director usually puts more emphasis on the situation than on the performance, generally speaking. It's no different in this movie. That's not to say there aren't some fine performances here, there are. By far, the best role in this film is that of SS colonel Hans Landa, aka the "Jew Hunter". The movie turns on this character. So, as this is a Quentin Tarantino movie, iow, a Very Big Deal, the most important role/character in the film, SS colonel Hans Landa, the "Jew Hunter," is not going to be handed to just anyone. This is a role for one of the Big Guns. Clooney? Nope. Bradley Cooper? Nope. Leonardo? Nope. Colin Firth? Nope. Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Nope. Matt Damon? Nope. Christian Bale? Edward Norton? Gerard Butler? NopeNopeNope!
There was only one Huge Star that could carry this film. Who else could it be but Christoph Waltz?! Wait...who?! Who is that? Christoph Waltz, an Austrian actor, who has done basically zero work in La La Land, was picked...or should I say plucked, to play Hans Lander, Gestapo officer, SS SOB, Jew hunter, carrier of entire Quentin Tarantino production. No big gamble there. Another reason I dig QT--he has balls and he does it his way. And in case you haven't heard, Christoph Waltz f'ing NAILS THIS CHARACTER! Best performance of the year, easily. Oh, what an evil, monstrous, cruel, very scary Nazi SS bastard! But, in a very demented sort-of-way, QT made him kind of interesting and relatable, too. I'm like-hey! I'm not supposed to relate to this creep! Stop it, Quentin! But you can't help it. Oh well. I'll tell you, though, this is one juicy role for an actor. And Waltz (pronounced Walz, me thinks) slam dunks it. He's great in this. Well worth the price of admission.
Brad Pitt is in this, too. He plays Aldo "The Apache" Raine, an American "Special Services" Lieutenant who puts together a squad of Jewish-American Nazi killers. Their idea of a relaxing afternoon is ambushing, hand-to-hand killing, then scalping Nazi soldiers or watching their fellow hunter, "The Jew Bear", beating some Nazi's brains out with a Willy Mays Super Slugger. I mean just going to town, hitting it out of the park, homerun, swinging for the fences head smashing. Gruesome? Yes. This is quite a bloody movie--at least for me. I don't usually go in for the gratuitous, but, in this case, Quentin somehow makes it seem almost cartoonish...imo. Anyway, speaking of cartoonish, Brad Pitt played more of a caricature than a character. Sólo una dimension. No depth to his character. Likeable, though. And Martin Wuttke as Adolf Hitler is a scream! Lol! My 2nd favorite character, I think. This movie is just a blast.
The ending is an alternate reality take. A thoroughly indulgent wouldn't-it-be-so-cool kind of ending. I loved it!
on May 26, 2012
For many years, Tarantino had this film partly written, but never could think of way to finish it, as well as finding time to fit it into his schedule of projects. There were rumors of Sly Stallone and Arnold playing characters, before production, but Quentin shot those down.
People were hoping "Inglorious Basterds" would be something on the scale of "Saving Private Ryan", but sadly, that is not what this film is. In fact, this film is not historically, accurate. It follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers hunting Nazi's and ultimately, plotting a massive explosion in a cinema premiere, which has all the high-ranking German officers (including, Hitler). There is another story being told in the film of a young Jewish woman, who runs the cinema and plots her own revenge on the Nazis that killed her family.
There many great actors and performances in the film, all elevated by Tarantio's witty dialouge and skilled direction. Christopher Waltz is fantastic (and deserved that Oscar), as well as Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger. Unfortunately, like many of Tarantino's films, there is A LOT of dialogue scenes, with small graphic violence thrown, in between. Not just dialogue, but subtitles all over the place. Expect a lot of reading, which is a shame, because this is a beautiful film to look at.
There are some great moments in the film, especially, the intense opening scene, involving Christopher Waltz invading a farmhouse, as well as the bar shoot-out scene with Michael Fassbender.
But like I warned, this a dialogue-heavy film. If you've seen Tarantino's other films, don't expect the pacing of "Kill Bill vol. 1", but more of "Kill Bill vol. 2". The pacing of "Basterds" feels slow. It's not as tedius, as "Death Proof" or "Jackie Brown", but at times, it almost feels that way.
Tarantino has certainly, grown as a filmmaker, in the way he constructs and shoots scenes. The colors and the compositions he uses in his imagery have quite the impact.
I'm a big fan of "Pulp Fiction" and the Kill Bill films and enjoyed, "Resevior Dogs" and there's no question that Quentin can write and direct, however he should be careful to not be so engrossed with his ability to do so. His love and knowledge of film, as well as his dialogue skills, are kind of impeding on story-telling. Also, there is a lack of balance of dialogue\action, which hurts the pacing.
Yes, this is not the grand, WWII epic we thought Tarantino was going to make. What he did make, is still entertaining and worth watching, for the performances, alone.
on January 4, 2013
I want to first comment on the product as this is what these reviews are supposed to be about. The Blu-Ray was great. Played well and did everything it was supposed to do.
Next I want to comment on the movie. I'm amazed by the negative reviews. First, if you can't stand exploitative violence...why are you watching something with Tarantino's name on it? Also, if you're judging it negatively because of people cheering the violence of the one side against the violence of the other....congratulations, you've just met irony. Tarantino's movies are very unique and they are certainly not meant for everyone. I haven't liked everything about every one but I have liked something about most. Good, bad or something else, they're always interesting. Does that mean everyone should experience them? No. It is definitely not for everyone and a lot probably walk away with the wrong impression.
on July 31, 2014
First, a caveat:
I DETEST Quentin Tarantino.
I detest him for his clearly Sado masochistic leanings-------the man is clearly a DISGUSTING Sadist who enjoys making pulp (yes, I know.....) and cannot stop himself from offering us his vacuous, yet sometimes entertaining product.
But, primarily, and what is the concern for writing this review is that, as my title alludes he is incapable of offering his fans (and I believe there is a serious fan base out there) a profound examination of character.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my title, and yet the truth is that, as they are a dime-a-dozen, thousands of directors are incapable at a shadow of characterization. Therefore, this poor human being, who has always longed to be an auter constantly churns out film after fim of mildly (and sometimes greatly) entertaining films that have no profound, humanistic value whatsoever.
The "laughable", but more to the point, infuriating reason for disappointment is that there are so many glimpses of near-greatness in some of his films, making it appear that indeed there is so much more in this man's talent than his movies expose, and his profound fears of making a "straight-on" film makes you angry (for a few minutes) and feeling pitiful for this repulsive creature. And repulsive he is. His ego is GIGANTIC and he expresses himself in the most pseudo-intellectual of ways, while so many people fall for his "shtick"........
The movie at hand is a perfect example. Unlike his, arguably, "masterpiece" Reservoir Dogs, a simple, direct wallowing in low-life violence and depravity (quite successfully, and yet bringing to mind "Clockwork Orange" and its OWN wallowing in depravity in the sophisticated, richly characterized anti-hero-------and that's where the analogy ends), from the title of the movie to its silly, ridiculous ending you have a director wasting his "precious" (if, again, minimal) talents------- on grandiloquence, kitsch, baffling, perplexing endings to scenes that have the power to move you quite deeply and are destroyed by stupid music, CAMP, perplexing dialogue, a (forgive me, but allow it from me, a gay man) QUEEN's take on the human condition (queen, for those unfamiliar, an effete, effeminate homosexual whose histrionics deeply try to conceal his vacuousness).
The film has quite a lot of moments of serious, searing drama, before it's destroyed by "Melo--drama".
The hair-raising long take on the girl's being taken by force to meet Goebbels, ending with that cigarette butt is heart-breaking, and the characterization by the actress who handles it is magnificent.
And yet the scene at the beginning of the movie, until he manages to make you laugh with the take on Hitler, turns out insulting, and fills you with anger.
Insisting on "entertaining" us, again, the villain of the movie has his tongue firmly on his cheek throughout the film, and nothing confirms this if not the ending with its profoundly disappointing denouement.
Pitt plays the character exquisitely as directed, I can safely assume, with a parody and an accent that come to exhaust you as it proceeds. Yet his is a wonderful performance.
Forget about plot. ALL that Tarantino is interested is in shocking you and plot remains secondary, if not tertiary in its convoluted, confusing absurdities filled with GIGANTIC holes. Keep a notebook next to you, if you are one to pay little attention between the shenanigans.
And so we have yet another WASTED moment in the career of a pseudo-auteur terrified (I hope, if indeed he does have it in him, and I repeat that those moments of somewhat deep resonance would prove this) of making a "straight-on" film. What demons could drive this man to continue to produce somewhat entertaining schlock that leaves you feeling so disappointed, so angry at having "wasted" 3 hours on something that could have been so superior remains a mystery to me.
You can see how conflicted one can be with this man.
I don't expect things to change.