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INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

Director: QUENTIN TARANTINO

U.S.A.-GERMANY • 2009 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 152 MIN.


QUENTIN TARANTINO SPENT TEN YEARS TALKING ABOUT THIS FILM AND JUST 16 MONTHS TO WRITE, SHOOT AND EDIT IT — NOT BAD, CONSIDERING THIS WORLD WAR TWO MEN-ON-A-MISSION MOVIE ONCE THREATENED TO BALLOON INTO AN EPIC, 12-HOUR BAND OF BROTHERS-STYLE TV MINI-SERIES.

At roughly 150 minutes, it’s still a little on the epic side, but the surprise is not simply that Tarantino — famous for thinking aloud about films that never materialise — finally made it, but that, far from being a dour action movie for guys, Inglourious Basterds [the misspelling is deliberate] is fun. Described by the director as a kind of sister-piece to Tony Scott’s True Romance, which Tarantino scripted, it’s a tense but often very funny thriller in which the Allied Forces and a young, brutally orphaned Jewish girl collide on a dangerous mission: to assassinate the Fuhrer at a movie premiere in Occupied Paris.

Publicity for the movie may suggest that this is a Brad Pitt vehicle, but Pitt, playing the charismatic leader of a U.S. guerilla gang of Nazi hunters called the Basterds, is just one of the many pleasures Tarantino’s savage romp offers. A bravura 20-minute opening sequence introduces the previously unknown Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who steals the film as the insidious Colonel Landa. There’s also Michael Fassbender as the bumbling, stiff-upper-lip British spy Archie Hickox; Daniel Bruhl as the seemingly charming Nazi sharpshooter whose biopic is to be premiered for Hitler; and Diane Kruger as the beautiful but useless double agent who threatens to ruin everything. But most of all, there’s a visionary behind the camera, and Tarantino’s confidence, especially after the disappointment of his Grindhouse feature Death Proof, is amazing. — Damon Wise.

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