Saturday, October 11, 2014

6. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Code-name: Hugo Stiglitz

[cue guitar solo]

Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino

Type: historical fiction, drama

Lt. Aldo Raine- Brad Pitt

"The Jew Hunter" Col. Hans Landa- Christoph Waltz
Shoshanna- Melanie Laurent
Fredrick Zoller- Daniel Bruhl
Bridget Von Hammersmark- Diane Kruger
"The Bear Jew" Sgt. Donny Donowitz- Eli Roth
Lt. Archie Hicox- Michael Fassbender
Utivich- B.J. Novak
Hugo Stiglitz- Til Schweiger

Notable Awards and Nominations:

OSCAR- Best Supporting Actor- Christoph Waltz
nomination- OSCAR- Best Picture*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Original Screenplay- Quentin Tarantino*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Director- Quentin Tarantino*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Film Editing*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Sound Mixing*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Sound Editing*
nomination- OSCAR- Best Cinematography (lost to "Avatar")
Golden Globe- Best Supporting Actor- Christoph Waltz
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Picture- Drama (lost to "Avatar")
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Director- Quentin Tarantino (lost to "Avatar")
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Screenplay- Quentin Tarantino (lost to "Up in the Air")
nomination-Grammy- Best Compilation Soundtrack for Film or TV
*lost to "The Hurt Locker"

With the exception of next week's Tarantino movie, I guess you could file the rest of my countdown under gateway movies.

Gateway movie (n)- Films that introduced me to new people (either in acting, writing or directing) whose work I enjoyed so much, I couldn't help following up with their other projects

Case in point (per this entry): Quentin Tarantino

I really didn't know who he was before this movie, although I'd heard the name a few times.
Based on the premise, Brad Pitt taking on the Nazis in WWII [something that's already a very heavy topic], I gave it a shot and wound up getting much more than I bargained for.
And I mean that as an absolute compliment.
You could easily judge my reaction and conclude this was my first Tarantino film because I had no idea what to expect. That his writing was wicked smart and more cutting edge than most dared to go.

It's funny... my dad and I saw this movie pretty much the same day from two completely different locations. I was in the comfort of our family room, he was chilling out in-flight in first class. Literally the day after I saw it on HBO or whatever, he emailed us and said he saw it in-flight.
Right away, it was clear it'd become another one of those movies we enjoy watching together (sometimes with other family members because it is just that good).
And it was also clear how much we loved to hate the film's villain.


The Villain

I'd never seen or heard of Christoph Waltz before this movie and, sadly, my dad and I might never see him as anything but Hans Landa. From the very first time he appears on screen, he has us eating out of his hands.

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill bad guy. He is COMPLEX. He takes his job very seriously, but not to the degree where he has a clichéd superiority complex. He's a gentleman, but at the same time, he does have his mean streak. Often times, he'll strike so quickly that his victims have zero reaction time.
Probably the one thing that wins me over every time: he is extremely eloquent (in all FOUR languages he speaks, French, English, German and Italian). Just one of those great voices I enjoy listening to, but there's always that reminder in the back of my head that he is THE bad guy.I dare you to find a movie villain comeuppance THIS enjoyable... we're always cheering in the end when Aldo Raine gives him, you know, a little something he can never take off

The Heroes

The gripping first chapter of this five chapter story ends with Hans Landa and his comrades taking out a Jewish family that he rooted out of hiding.
The only member to survive, who he oddly enough lets escape, is the eldest daughter, Shoshanna.
We will catch up with her four years later where she's running a small cinema in France under the name Emmanuelle Mimieux.
Chapter 2 introduces to our titular troop of Jewish American Nazi killers. They're led by Tennessee native Lt. Aldo Raine, a character Brad Pitt inexplicably disappears into. His opening monologue is as about as compelling as Hans Landa's, but he ups the ante with a wicked sense of humor.

Their initial goal is to kill and scalp as many Nazis as they can find. Those they leave alive to "send a message" to Hitler and his followers, they mark their foreheads with a swastika. But as the movie progresses, their efforts shift to something much bigger.... taking out the top officials of the Third Reich to end the war.
It just so happens that their plan, Operation Kino, crosses paths with something Shoshanna came up-- burning down the building on Nazi night, therein getting revenge for her family.

Story and Details
Ah, those details... the costumes and makeup are historically accurate, the set pieces are spot on and every detail included is so tangible, you can almost reach out and touch it with your five senses.
One prime example: Hans Landa orders strudel for Shoshanna at a fancy restaurant (this is an "interview" regarding her cinema prior to Nazi night...she knows who he is, but luckily, he has no idea about her) and the camera focuses on the food and how the cream is garnished on top. Can almost reach out and smell/taste it.

The movie night comes about when Joseph Goebbels (who was behind a lot of real-life Nazi propaganda) wants to have a screening for his new film: Nation's Pride.
It features the war exploits of sniper-turn-war hero Fredrick Zoller. He was stationed in a bell tower for three days where he took out 250+ people.

His original plan was to show it at the Ritz, but the venue changes when Fredrick falls in love with Shoshanna. Throughout Chapter 3 of the story, he meets her in front of her cinema and proceeds to stalk her until she agrees to host the movie at her place.

Admittedly, he is a very good looking man that you think it'd be hard to say "no" to... but given everything she and her family went through with the Nazis, it would be impossible for Shoshanna to return his feelings. Not to mention she's in a relationship with her projectionist, Marcel.

Not only does Shoshanna decide to commit arson with her own building, but she decides to make a film that'll intersect with "Nation's Pride" to develop one final message.

It's interesting to note throughout the film, when the spoken language suddenly changes (i.e. chapter 1: English to French, chapter 4: German to English), you know there will be blood.
The case is also true here. Up to this point, "Nation's Pride" was in German... then with Shoshanna's film, she spoke in English... very dramatic stuff that really changes the tone of the entire scene.

Tarantino is noted for his excessive body counts, but there were a couple of spots in this movie where I almost wish that wasn't the case.
Chapter 4 involves German actress Bridget Von Hammersmark meeting a couple of the Basterds to discuss Operation Kino. Much to Aldo's annoyance, the rendezvous takes place in a basement.
They had no idea there would be Nazis on premise (men given the night off to celebrate one becoming a father and a higher-ranked officer hiding in the shadows) and things wind up so badly, only two survive:
Bridget Von Hammersmark and the new father, Wilhelm.

All because Michael Fassbender (I had no idea it was him until this movie review because in 2009, nobody really knew him yet) blew his German by ordering three glasses

 instead of three glasses

and rumor is that Michael Fassbender encountered a lot of people who flashed him the "German three" as to not let him forget that.
So after all the bloodshed, Aldo Raine talks Wilhelm into lowing his weapons (as to not engage a Mexican standoff)... and Bridget Von Hammersmark, after being so nice to him and talking him into lowing his weapon, shoots him dead...
That was always such a WTF moment for me. Sure, he called her an "f$%&ing traitor" beforehand, but that still felt uncalled for.
Things also end darkly for Shoshanna and Fredrick Zoller. For a moment, I felt as if they could work things out, that she could learn to trust him, it can only end in them killing one another. Again, I can understand why because of their personalities, but it's gut-wrenching. Especially in the super slow motion with the sappy music in the background.

It appears that most of the music was taken from other sources, so there is no official "composer" for this movie.

My favorite contribution, hands down, opens the final chapter: Revenge of the Giant Face.
Featuring David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"... it's the most current of all the music included in this movie, and you'd think it'd be out of place... it works amazingly well.
We own one of his albums, but it didn't have the same version as featured in the movie.
I guess I'll just have to dig through iTunes for it because it is pretty amazing.
Also part of the reason why I thought "Love is the drug" (featured in "Suckerpunch") was another David Bowie track because it reminded me so much of this.

One final note: as a fan of The Office, it was kinda cool to see B.J. Novak in this movie, even if he had a small role.
And Hugo Stiglitz, he got his own 3 minute introduction. He was a legendary Jew killer that got captured by the SS, who intended to make an example out of him, but later got sprung by the Basterds to join their ranks.

Coming Soon

My review for "The Judge" will be up momentarily.

Other than that, I have one another Tarantino movie to review...

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