Inglourious Basterds. I almost had to be dragged to this movie. I'd like to thank that person before I actually put down anything here.
Now, I'm not a big fan of gore. I mean, superflous, gratuitous gore that Tarantino has almost made into an art. I'm not against realistic, in-context gore, but the sauce and ketchup show that was the restaurant scene in Kill Bill is exactly the kind of scene I never want to see again. I shouldn't have worried about that. I really shouldn't have, because I was in for a treat.
Tarantino had it spot-on with the Basterds. For what, from a quick glance, promises to be a jewish cowboy Western mashed into a World War II universe, the movie really revolves round the brilliant performances of two characters. It turns into a drama of unexpected events and odd coincidences, instead of the grit & gumption of the war hero. The script really winds around them and are perhaps the most real characters I've ever encountered in a Tarantino movie. So, move over Brad Pitt and the rest of the Basterds off the posters and let Shoshanna & Landa take their well deserved privileges. They're the real deal. It's their movie.
Shoshanna. I'm undeniably smitten by this woman. She is not a woman of violence, but neither is she driven to it. Violence lay in her path and she accepted it within herself. Her character is beautifully portrayed as woman whose war walked in through her front door & sat down to watch a movie. As the unwittingly chosen angel of death, she brings vengence back into style! Played by the lovely Melanie Laurent, her eyes speaking better than her words, Shoshanna comes to life right before our eyes. And dies.
But without a Hans Landa, there wouldn't be a Shoshanna. The multi-lingual SS officer is probably the key character to the entire plotline. The first few minutes of the movie are entirely his. But as the movie rolls on, it becomes clear that what he does is just what his job is. He is portrayed as a man who is given a dirty job because he's the best at what he does. By no means is he a positive character and eventually painted as a traitor, but he's not a demon posessed with a single-minded quest. Indeed, the way he deals with von Hammersmark, is frightening at a level beyond the impending violence. He's an intelligent opportunist on the wrong side of the line. And he plays that role with a smile and straight faced perfection.
The attention paid to details in the movie is amazing. The German three fingers versus the british three, the fancy shoe left behind, the autograph with the kiss and even the intial scenes where the conversation in French & English is intended to lull the hiding children into a false sense of security. Though I'm not quite happy with the way Hitler has been portrayed, he can be demonized without making him a comical misfit.
But perhaps, just perhaps the movie should've ended with Shoshanna's message and her laugh echoing through the flaming wreckage.--
In a war of ideas, it is people who get killed.
-- Stanislaw Jerzy Lec