Richard’s Year of Movies — Inglourious Basterds

There’s a moment near the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds where a movie is seen projected on the billowing smoke of a fire that’s engulfing a movie theater.  What’s great about this moment is that, a few seconds before it happened, I was thinking, “Wow, it’d be really cool if we saw the film projected on the smoke.”  And then Tarantino happily obliges.

And I think that’s one of the things that makes Tarantino stand out as far as directors go — he’s always willing to throw something in because he thinks it’s cool, even if it’s out of place or slows things down or doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  He’s so in love with film as a visual medium that he’ll lose himself in it.  So you get the dotted-line square in Pulp Fiction or pretty much the entirety of Kill Bill.

I do still think Tarantino has a tendency towards bloat — his best film is still his leanest, Reservoir Dogs — but at least his excesses are in the spirit of entertainment rather than pomposity.  And if it’s anything, Inglourious Basterds is entertaining, and in a surprising way.  For a war move, there’s very little war.  We don’t even see all that much of the titular Basterds.  The action comes in the conversations, the verbal give and take between opponents.  They’re battles of wits, not weapons, and since Tarantino can sling dialog with the best of them, the results are lethal.

And yeah, Christoph Waltz shouldn’t be making any plans for March 7th, as I think he’ll be busy that evening.

The ending of the film is even a little Gillaim-esque, playing on the idea that imagination — this time in the form of cinema — has the potential to change history.  Even history as we already know it (and if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about).  And it’s also a film totally aware of our cinematic subconsciousness.  Tarantino riffs on images from films such as The Searchers and The Wizard of Oz, and plays on our knowledge of past WWII films to let us fill in blanks so he doesn’t have to spend time doing so.  You can tell this guy spent a lot of time working in a video store.

The only bad thing about my viewing experience was the disc itself.  The damn thing kept pausing and skipping back to the menu screen, and seeing as this happened in the middle of a pretty tense stand-off, a lot of the momentum of the film was lost in hurling obscenities at the Blu-ray player and the disc.  I may try to watch it again and see if the uninterrupted experience reveals anything new.

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