"Inglourious Basterds" is as my friend calls Tarantino films "gratuitous," but it's also an absorbing film on many levels, one of which being how (as has been said very often) Tarantino has his films look and how he shifts between "genres" so effortlessly. Filmed by Robert Richardson ("Kill Bill") with what Ebert calls in his review "the deep, rich colors of 35mm" with set decoration by Sandy Reynolds-Wasco (a Tarantino regular), we have a visually sound film here. This is the building block for something good, and we get that.
The film chronicles "Nazi-occupied France" when very key things are happening within it. An unseen force is literally cutting through the heads of the Germans. These are the eponymous Americans, and their methods are as such due to the fact Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) wants to "be cruel to the Germans." The script by Tarantino (which I read beforehand to get somewhat of an idea of what this movie would be, and it was very helpful) gave more backstory on them, or at least Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth), who rivals the collective methods of the group with some gruesome ones of his own. Germans (at least for a little bit) have a resource of their own in Hans Landa, a Colonel who critics have described as "charming" and who is undoubtedly deplorable. Christoph Waltz has gotten a lot of awards attention, and he's, as another friend said, "very good." As that same friend noted, he sounds at times like he's taken a couple notes from Heath Ledger's book, since when he exclaims "That's a bingo!" (a line endearing to users of Itunes) there's a trace of a Joker there (and in a couple other moments, too). Anyways, I probably should get back to the plot.
As Ebert noted, it's a "big" film, and it's a wide one. As noted in the structure of Ebert's review (with "The Hero, the Nazi, and the Girl"), the film is a wonder of three converging plot strands, and has more to offer than just those. If I had to pick a problem, perhaps it would be with Melanie Laurent and her sort of rushed plots. But then again, that section may have suffered from the "loss of Maggie Cheung's part" (as reported by the Playlist). If I remember correctly from the script, the sections were a little more divided correctly with her in it. But nevertheless, the movie is still good. I was worrying about how the "basement fight scene" and beyond would turn out on screen, since when I read it I was a little underwhelmed. But my friend (who thought the film was "bizarre") acknowledged this scene as "ingenious," and I think I have to agree. It's definitely a visual thing.
What I have to say is this: some have said this is one of the better films of 2009. It's good, and actually very enjoyable (sounds like a macabre thing to say, but yes). I strongly recommend (like myself and others such as the Playlist, who may have given me the idea to read it) reading the script beforehand to get an idea of the film you're seeing (like others on CommonSenseMedia among other places have said, "It's not all about the basterds"). For me, it was like I got to see the film twice. This is how you should "experience it", not through just plot details. B
Yes, the film is "self-indulgent" (my friend and/or a lot of other people said this). So was "A Single Man". So how is this one better? More diverting. As Ebert said, "quixotic delights".