Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Capsule Review: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Audiences can be forgiven for not quite knowing what to expect from Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds upon its release in 2009. Perhaps shaken by the lukewarm (and in some cases hostile) response to his (along with Robert Rodriguez) Grindhouse double feature, Tarantino decided to revist one of his most anticipated scripts - ostensibly another genre mash-up in the vein of Kill Bill- but this time taking place near the end of World War II. The (reasonable) anticipation was that this would be a remake of Enzo G. Castellari's film The Inglorious Bastards (it's not), or perhaps a tribute to the "men on a mission" films released after the success of The Dirty Dozen (not really). These mixed expectations certainly contributed to a disasterous Cannes showing, but somehow despite the possible confusion - and a hasty re-edit - it ended up being Tarantino's most successful film, as well as leading to numerous award nominations. Somehow it manages to feel just like a Tarantino film - long, self indulgent scenes of dialogue, bravura camera work, pop-culture references, close-ups of feet - but with hints of a filmmaker ready to jump to an entire other level. As usual he pairs his dialogue with scenes of cathartic extreme violence, but these scenes absolutely crackle with tension - particularly the opening sequence and an attempted meeting at a bar that goes awry. Some audacious choices near the end may have confused some, but this may very well be Tarantino's most wholly satisfying film - thanks in no small part to a collection of wonderful, international performers.

No comments: