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Inglourious Basterds 

Wednesday, Jan 20 2010
Energetic, inventive, swaggering fun, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is a consummate Hollywood entertainment—rich in fantasy and blithely amoral. It's also quintessential Tarantino—even more drenched in film references than gore. Tweaked after Cannes, Inglourious Basterds may still be a tad long and a little too pleased with itself, but it’s tough to resist the enthusiastic performances and terrific dialogue—if you’re not put off by the juvenile premise (a Hollywood occupation romance, in which a Jewish special unit wreaks vengeance on the Nazis) or cartoonish savagery (though Inglourious Basterds is as much talk-talk as bang-bang). Christoph Waltz plays an elegant and clever SS man and is the movie’s most crowd-pleasing creation—he's Eichmann as fun guy! He’s also a European sissy whose “barbaric” antagonists are a squad of Jewish-American commandos led by wily hillbilly Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). The Jews are out for blood. Operating like a cross between the Dirty Dozen and a Nazi death squad, Raine’s eponymous Basterds take no prisoners; designated “survivors” are shipped back to Germany, swastikas carved in their foreheads to spook the brass. The rest are sent to Valhalla, most spectacularly by Sgt. Donny Donowitz (exploitation director Eli Roth), who uses a Louisville slugger to bash German brains. “Watching Donny beat Nazis to death is as close as we get to the movies,” one of the Basterds exults, tipping Tarantino’s hand. Everything here unfolds in and maps an alternate universe: The Movies. And if masterpiece is taken to mean the fullest expression of a particular artist’s worldview, Basterds could well be Tarantino’s.
Jan. 22-28, 7 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 4 p.m.; Jan. 29-30, 9 p.m.; Feb. 1-3, 9 p.m., 2010

About The Author

J. Hoberman


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