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Review: "Inglourious Basterds"

August 27, 2009

Inglourious_Basterds_10Quentin Tarantino is an unlikely choice to direct a Nazi film only insofar as we’ve come to view Nazi films. Rest assured, Inglourious Basterds ain’t Oscar bait, but that doesn’t mean the film’s revisionist Hitler death fantasy isn’t Tarantino’s most relevant work to date. Despite Basterds’s flagrant hipness, the cues of WWII and WWII movies positions Tarantino’s playful po-mo tendencies and personal perversions (facial mutilations, shock and awe n-bombing, an obvious foot fetish) into surprisingly mature and resonant territory. His frames of reference here aren’t blaxploitation, Superman comics or Shaw Bros. kung-fu; instead, wartime propaganda flicks are looked at through sincere cineaste eyes, a pop savvy Nazi gives a racial reading of King Kong, and a “Jew Hunter” evokes Columbo’s infuriating passive aggressiveness, reworking the detective’s damning third-act cross-examinations into the stuff of cross-generational nightmares. In this role, Cristoph Waltz strangles every scene he’s in, tightly garrotting words around other characters while he smokes a ludicrously ostentatious Sherlock Holmes pipe. Waltz’s reserved Nazi slime ball is counterbalanced by Eli Roth as “The Bear Jew”, one of the titular Basterds, an almost caricature-funny muscle man who beats Nazis to death with a baseball bat, talking shit like he’s playing a game of pick-up. Roth, however, best illustrates the maturity of Tarantino’s latest film, balancing his character’s superhero aura with an eye-twitch performance that reminds you of all the real world historical pain behind the whacked-out pop cult wish fulfilment.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 1, 2009 11:57 am

    Huh? to that last line. Roth almost ruined the film for me. He certainly ruined it for Hitler:

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