Lt. Aldo Raine: …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?
It sounds great… This was not at all the movie I expected. It exceeded my expectations. Going in, I thought I was getting a straight-up Dirty Dozen, Kelly’s Heroes, Where Eagles Dare kind of action picture, with a rag-tag group of military men wreaking havoc on the enemy. I should’ve known better. I should’ve known that the man who brought us Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill would deliver something wholly unexpected.
From its amazing Sergio Leone-like opening to its fiery, fictionalized ending of World War II, Inglourious Basterds is a film in flux, seamlessly transitioning from beautiful idyll to horrific atrocity and back again with such ease its almost poetic, which is kinda strange to say of a film billed as Nazi-bashing tour de force.
Tarantino’s preternatural attention to detail seems yet to have reached its pinnacle. As Col. Hans Landa, Christopher Waltz’s immeasurable charm only adds to his disquieting menace. Brad Pitt seems to be having a great time, it imbues his performance with a joie de vivre and humor that lightens the dark subject matter. Mélanie Laurent is a pleasant surprise as Shosanna Dreyfus… I could go on and on raving about the cast. Michael Fassbinder, Diane Kruger, Til Schweiger, they’re all great.
It’s a brilliant film, and far more than just mindless Nazi-killing, though there’s nothing really wrong with that either. And as much as I love Kill Bill (Volumes 1 & 2), I love Inglourious Basterds a little more. So… no, Kill Bill will not be on my top 20 of the decade, not because it isn’t a great film, but because one caveat I gave myself in making this list was I couldn’t have any directors represented more than once. I do still love me some Kill Bill… I’d even sit through both volumes back to back…