feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Included In Lists:
A Living Tribute of Cinema: Ranking Quentin Tarantino
Strong Performances - Christoph Waltz
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Essentials -#72
Review In A Nutshell:
I hate starting my reviews as a cliché, but I think this opportunity would be as good as any; Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece, a perfect film that is only equally matched by his Palme d'Or winning Pulp Fiction 15 years back. Tarantino is a patient director, who takes time to develop his films; an auteuristic approach that produces one of a kind films, a sense of control and trust that many filmmakers crave. Inglourious Basterds was actually the first film that I have seen from the director, and at the time, I did not even who the director was. It was only after seeing Pulp Fiction, and letting it grow in my heart, that I started to appreciate this film; as the filmmaker's trademark qualities started to be more apparent and my increasing knowledge of cinema as a whole has allowed me to realise how inspired Tarantino was. A personality that lets it be displayed in his works, and it was because of this bold approach that I adore him and his films.
Inglourious Basterds shows the director pushing his personal limits by tampering with history and turn it into a violent and sexy revenge tale. Tarantino is quite aware of the common ideas in the Holocaust and Nazism, the sympathetic approach on the former and complete detestation with the latter; but the director subverts these perspectives and places them in an ambitious and entertaining tale. Inglourious Basterds gives the audience a look, with slight exaggeration, of the hidden aspects of its character's stereotypes; the oppressed have finally been seen to act on their hatred and actually produce effective results. The Germans themselves have been softened to the point where they come off as comical or cartoonish, but Tarantino has not completely spat on them, and instead displayed them in the same light as he does with the Jews; they are shown in such a way that has rarely been seen in cinema before - aside from The Great Dictator but that film was made before the height of the war while Inglourious Basterds has the benefit of retrospect.
The character themselves are wonderfully constructed, with pinpoint detail from Tarantino to make them so memorable and distinct. The film covers multiple Jewish characters with the intent to inflict revenge of the highest figures of the Third Reich, and some of these characters are not even aware of each other's existence. The characters no doubt share a common goal, but they are not only defined by their objectives, the script spends enough time and provides enough fresh qualities in its dialogue that makes them so different from one another. Many films with similar characters tend to provide minimal effort in making their characters clear, focusing more on developing its plot and emotions that the film becomes defined by it; whenever I look back on this film, I always think of the characters and how the dialogue shapes them. A wonderful example would be the film's introduction, an interrogation between the film's primary antagonist (Hans Landa) and a French farmer (Perrier LaPadite) who is sheltering Jewish people under his floorboards; this was an extended moment that sets up the film's world and slowly lays down the pieces of that world's threat, using Hans Landa himself as a metaphor of the Nazi's reach and commitment.
Tarantino's shapes and connects this film through un-linear storytelling; the first three chapters acts as an introduction to the film's key players, and does so with enough time that allows the characters and their world feel rich while also showing enough restraint to prevent the film from being over-indulgent. Each of these three chapters give the film's core characters a moment to shine through wonderful monologues that would stay in your head long after the film ends. The film then moves onto the fourth chapter, which sets up the film's central complication, which Tarantino executes in the most glorious of fashion; taking place at a bar (or basement) with conversations that build with such tension and suspense, a quality that is found in all of his films but none of the others could match the intensity that this scene was able to deliver. The film finally ends with the discussed plan (Operation Kino) rolling in motion. Tarantino provides a climax that keeps audiences on their toes with suspense but also maintaining that comedic tone in between tense moments, achieving a sense of balance that saves itself from being a complete farce.
Ever since Tarantino's Jackie Brown, Tarantino has given his films a sense of flavour that pays homage to a distinctive brand of cinema. Inglourious Basterds' tone and influences are not as obvious as Tarantino's other films but what he has utilised in this film are so emotionally and intellectually perfect that it does not matter if the elements themselves are much better suited to their respective genres. The spaghetti-western soundtrack is the main indicator that makes this film so distinctively different from any other war film, specifically World War 2, ever created.
Inglourious Basterds proved that the director still had some bullets left in his belt to make a perfect film. I just hope that we do not have to wait another 15 years for the director to deliver another one.