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Wick's Review

Created Aug 23, 2009 11:28PM PST • Edited Jun 13, 2022 05:36AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Tremendously entertaining and TFB1, this über-ironic masterpiece proves that Tarantino remains a supremely accomplished auteur and that Brad Pitt has reached a superstar plateau occupied by few others. LOL funny, hugely charismatic and deeply thought provoking, Inglorious Basterds enters the pantheon of first rank War movies and takes its place as an exemplar of Tarantinic film style.

    Hollywoodized entertainment gets no better than this.

    It’s not for everyone however. This magnificently vainglorious concoction declares itself a fable – “Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France…” – and therefore unbeholden to historical rectitude. People who dislike vainglory or ironic fables should realize this ain’t their kind of movie. Nor should those who abhor revenge fantasies watch it. For the rest of us, it’s “wickedly entertaining,” as one Rabbi recently observed.

    1 TFBTotally F-in’ Brilliant

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Brad Pitt’s every utterance is both LOL funny and deathly serious, a credit to Tarantino’s stellar screenplay but also to Pitt’s moviestar delivery in what must be considered one of his greatest performances. His career now resembles Paul Newman’s, with Lt. Aldo Raine – the Master Basterd himself – his Cool Hand Luke. Many leading men aspire to be darkly funny consistently throughout an entire movie. Few achieve it, especially without resorting to lame quips. Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale Bond was the last to sustain such a performance.

    “Thankya Vurrymuch”. Pitt’s Aldo Raine or Memphis Elvis? Bad Brad nails a Tennessee hick dialect here. Whereas hick translates to dumb in most of America, not to mention in sophisticated Europe, Pitt’s deeply Americun Raine is canny and commanding. Bravo to both writer and star.

    Christoph Waltz delivers a global star-making performance as Nazi Col. Hans Landa, an insufferably unctuous yet brilliantly wily “Jew Hunter.” Given Waltz’s unaccented English, he’s no doubt fielding Hollywood offers right now.

    The rest of the large cast holds their own with these two inimitable stars.

    • Diane Kruger, beautiful as Helen of Troy, easily inhabits the role of glamorous German movie star. Natürlich. (BTW, recall who played Achilles to her Helen in Troy? Brad Pitt of course.)
    • Mélanie Laurent also deserves more international roles after her turn here as the bravely intrepid Jewess who gets to fulfill two Semitic fantasies: killing Hitler and owning a chic cinema.
    • Eli Roth, of Hostel infamy, proves a natural as the “Bear Jew.”
    • Til Schweiger – already a big name in Germany – could easily become an international action star.
    • Michael Fassbender – a German playing a stylish British hero – also delivers a star-making performance. Tarantino crafted this character to be a movie critic as well as a death defying military man, delighting auteurs and critics alike.
    • Gedeon Burkhard plays my favorite Basterd: Cpl. Wilhelm Wicki. Beyond our similar names – Wicki and Wick – he played the kind of Jew I fancy myself to be: reserved yet ready to seize the day.
    • Sylvester Groth imparts a suitably creepy soul-sickness into his Joseph Goebbels. The man who personifies evil propagandist is now essayed on screen for the second time in a year, the other being in Valkyrie.
    • Mike Myers, channeling Austin Powers, contributes to the essentially comic nature of the movie as a prissy British general.
    • Samuel L. Jackson – a Tarantino favorite – lends his distinctive voice as the uncredited narrator.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Tarantino structures his pulpy war fable in chapters, the first of which has been universally declared a masterpiece of tension, staging and performance. Some 17 minutes long, it could have brilliantly kicked off a conventional Nazi movie. Tarantino’s ambitions are different, as becomes clear when the Basterds make their appearance in chapter two. Using rhetoric that mimics the Nazis, the film’s fundamental irony reveals itself. “Nazis ain’t got no humanity! They need to be destroyed,” declares Aldo Raine. Well. From then on, it’s clear this is a different kind of Nazi movie.

    By the end of the third chapter, it’s clear we’re in the grip of a first rate revenge fantasy. When a Jewish survivor of the SS declares her intention to kill all the top Nazis, a woman behind me let out an involuntary “Yeah!”

    By the end of the fifth and final chapter, it hardly seems like 2½ hours have gone by. Hell, it seems like a movie to watch again, and again.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    Tarantino hasn’t lost his talent for surprise. For instance, he employs lots of vainglorious flourishes, most of which prove reflexively tickling to the audience, such as when the Jew Hunter pulls out his absurdly large meerschaum pipe. It’s like a maniacally threatening analog to Mary Poppins’ wondrously capacious carpet bag.

  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Plenty of instaclassic lines.

  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Richly visual, Tarantino’s film exults in robust production values, from the iconic Nazi uniforms and pageantry to the Art Deco Parisian cinema where the final set pieces take place.

    Nazi Uniforms and what today would be called branded identity graphics are second to none, notwithstanding their association with world-historic evil. For instance, the black SS uniforms – made by Hugo Boss – are every bit the iconic movie villain costume as Darth Vader’s mask and cape, especially with the Death’s Head insignia adorning the cap.

    Even the swastika draws fresh blood – so to speak – in Tarantino’s movie.

  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.7

    Violence flares forth at times both expected and unexpected. Sometimes it’s so expected it becomes unexpected, and then is surprising when it does occur. Brilliant movie making, that.

    This isn’t comik violence either: Blood and guts get sprayed all over the place, while the resulting pain is often quite visceral. For instance, Pitt’s Aldo Raine tortures someone by sticking his finger in a gunshot wound, something so painful to observe it brings to mind the infamous ear cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs.

    The language often shocks as well. Not the profanity. We’re long since inured to that. Rather the sinisterly casual racism of Goebbels and his Nazi functionaries comes across as deeply shocking given how society has long since rejected such manifestly destructive thinking. Thank goodness.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.5
  18. Glib 1.7

    While circumstantially glib, the movie nonetheless proves deeply thought provoking across three vectors: Nazi intimidation techniques, military ethics and revenge, and the representation of Hitler and Goebbels.

    Nazi Intimidation: The one area where the movie seemed real was in how the SS and other Nazi functionaries used veiled force to break the will of righteous resistors. The bastards! (As opposed to the Basterds.) Chapter One shows this as brilliantly as any Nazi movie ever.

    Ethics and Revenge: “How do you combat evil without being reduced to that level?” as historian and former US Holocaust Museum Director Michael Berenbaum frames the issue. (This perennial question has never been more relevant than now, faced as we are with an especially nihilistic enemy in the form of Islamic Extremism.)

    For starters, brutality must be used only for military purposes. Scaring and intimidating the enemy is a military purpose. The movie professes to adhere to this, at least until the very end. However, asking soldiers to commit war crimes – even in the service of a military strategy – is asking too much. Thus the punitive flourish at the very end was illegitimate even if well deserved.

    As to burning down a movie theater full of people: Any structure containing top enemy commanders is a legitimate military target. Case closed.

    Jews might feel especially conflicted about this movie, both because we were the main target of the Holocaust and because Jews are the movie’s main avengers. Jewish law and ethics are clear that revenge is “a very bad trait” (according to Maimonides), and that Taking revenge is corrupting yourself. OK, clear enough. What about enjoying others taking revenge in a movie? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

    Hitler and Goebbels Representation: Some critics have said that these two top Nazis were reduced to comic characterization. Perhaps in the case of Hitler, though it worked for me in the context of the movie. Goebbels, OTOH, was presented as a thoughtful creep deeply craving the approval of his boss. Sadly it seemed right.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0

    Bummer that WWII didn’t end this way.

  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


Subscribe to Inglorious Basterds 8 replies, 2 voices
Jan 18, 2010 12:44AM

Regarding hurwizzle’s Review
Just curious, Hurwizzle. If you were dissapointed with the film and was eager to move on with your life, why rate it a Good 3.5? Not trying to be a smartass, just curious. Also, Brad Pitt was sidesplittingly hilarious in this film, his performance was brilliant.

Dec 24, 2009 9:34AM

Regarding Wick’s Review
Nope. I found the whole thing transfixing.

Dec 24, 2009 12:46AM

BTW Wick, during Inglourious Basterds, during the extended dialogue scenes did you ever just shout out “DO SOMETHING!!!!” God know I did. Still a good movie, but not one of Tarantino’s best.