Monday, September 28, 2009
I debated a lot about writing this review, the film having already been out for over a month, and the buzz all but dead. But after reading the drivel written about the film in GQ I had to lower my pen and raise my voice. And instead of trying to compete with Tom Carson's "all up my own ass, look at how smart I am," pseudo-review, I figured I'd just do what I always do: hit on both the good points and bad. Fortunately, in this case, there were very few bad moments, the worst coming when I read the aforementioned review.
As you may or may not know, the film, by this point, has been almost universally accepted as one of Tarantino's greatest achievements yet. And while we can sing the praises of the script and the concept of making the outcome of Hitler's life fictitious (both of which I loved), the real heroes here are the cast members who shine in every way. Brad Pitt is great as the southern lieutenant with a heart of stone. And even more impressive was Christoph Waltz in the role of Col. Hans Landa, or "The Jew Hunter" as he is nicknamed.
Landa is arguably the most iconic Tarantino character ever written. Taking the consumption driven model that shone so brilliantly through Pulp Fiction, Landa spends each scene enjoying one of life's most secular pleasures. At the top he enjoys two glasses of milk, each sip more menacing than the last. He also takes time to pack a pipe as well, letting the wisps of smoke play about his face (thus enjoying the second hand smoke as much as the act of smoking itself. He practically swallows a danish at a fancy German SS-friendly restaurant and prattles on about how delicious it is for at least a page. Then, in his closing fit of sensory carnage, he (SPOILER) strangles our female heroine, straightens his jacket, and continues with his day as if it were nothing new. Point being, this character is one that enjoys living his life...ironically, at the cost of killing presumably 1000s of others.
Basterds is a movie for men. Maybe that's why GQ put their top scholar on the article. But it's also a movie for movie-lovers, those that frequent the multiplex each weekend hoping to actually see a good film for once. In this case, they will, and they should be thankful they get one amidst a sea of mediocre dramas this year so far. And instead of me telling you too much more, I'll just let you go see it for yourself and make your own decisions about it like a good critic should.