I’m still not fully won over by Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but there’s no denying his darkly comic World War Two action movie’s brazen counter-factual cheek or its genre-hopping panache.
The story that allows Tarantino to hop from genre to genre, starting off with spaghetti western and then “macaroni combat” movie, goes something like this: A band of Jewish-American soldiers led by Brad Pitt’s Tennessee hillbilly officer are spreading fear behind enemy lines by capturing and scalping German soldiers. Meanwhile, a Jewish fugitive (Melanie Laurent), a British film critic turned commando (Michael Fassbender) and a glamorous German actress (Diane Kruger) are also planning retribution against the Nazis.
The plots for revenge all converge on a cinema in Paris that is hosting the premiere of a propaganda film featuring the exploits of Daniel Bruhl’s German war hero (you can see Nation’s Pride, the black-and-white spoof film within the film, directed by Eli Roth, among the Blu-ray and DVD extras). But can the conspirators outwit cunning SS colonel Hans Landa?
Christoph Waltz’s Landa is easily the best thing in the movie, effortlessly reeling off Tarantino’s trademark verbal riffs in four different languages, while investing his character with a combination of suave menace and knowing humour. He won the best actor prize at Cannes. Hollywood is taking notice (he’s already been cast in The Green Hornet). But is he now doomed to play nothing but Euro villains in undemanding action movies and thrillers? Let’s hope Tarantino writes another great part for him.
Released 7th December.
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