Monday, January 4, 2010

Best Movies of the Decade #29

29) Inglourious Basterds

I do not like Quentin Tarantino. Pulp Fiction was alright, but not as mind-blowing as everyone else thought. Kill Bill Vol. 1 was forgettable. Vol. 2 was saved by the performances of David Carridine & Michael Madsen. Deathproof was a waste of time. But this? This is good. Better than good, fucking great. The very first chapter, which is essentially just Hans Landa and Perrier LaPadite talking over a glass of milk, is riveting. There is tension from the moment Hans Landa walks through the door, and you don't quite figure out why until near the end. Tarantino decide to linger as long as possible in his shots during the entire movie, and it proves to be one of the film's strengths. Tarantino has always been known for his characters but for once, it feels like true characters, and not just archetypes designed to be cool. Hans Landa is a villain, sure, but he isn't quite as villainous as you'd expect. He doesn't necessarily enjoy his job, but he takes pride in being the best. In fact, the most villainous thing he does is contradict himself. He strangles Bridget von Hammmersmark for being a traitor, and then decides to become one himself. He calls the Jews a rat in the first scene only to become one at the end of the film. The Basterds themselves are terrifying, compelling, and yet, ancillary in their own movie. The movie belongs to Hans Landa and Shoshanna Dretfus. The interplay between Shoshanna and Zoller is unnerving and kinda, sorta sweet. Here is a German soldier, a hero for killing 300 men with just his rifle, trying to win this French girl, a hidden Jew. It was almost sad to see him shot by Shoshanna. It was even sadder when he shot Shoshanna himself. And the ending? Deliriously good. The image of Shoshanna, now dead, projected on the smoke, laughing manically is chilling. Ultimately, this movie was less a film about revenge and more about the power of film. Every plot turn was due, in some part, to film. There is a certain faith in film that we expect, foolishly. This is a film set in World War 2, a real event, and Hitler was a a real dictator. He isn't supposed to die, we didn't expect him to die, and yet it happens, because that is the only way the film could have ended. And that's what its all about, no?

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