2009-09-18 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'Inglourious Basterds' - Kill Hitler
By Robert Snyder

Quentin Tarantino has loftier aspirations than simply killing Bill ("Kill Bill"). He now wants to kill Hitler.

In "Inglourious Basterds," the writer-director has a special squad of Jewish assassins on a covert, pre-DDay assignment to scalp, mutilate and dismember as many Nazis as possible in World War II Occupied France. The idea is to terrorize the terrorists, victimize the monsters and make the Fuhrer furious. The group is led by a red-neck, part Apache psychopath, named Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), not to be confused with the he-man actor Aldo Ray of many 1940's and '50's war movies. The slaughter ends with mass murder in the Parisian movie house, where Hitler himself and his high command is trapped.

However, along the way (and it is a long way, two and half hours long), Tarantino subjects us to loads of subtitled dialogue and exposition in multiple languages. One bar scene involving a movie trivia game seems to know no end, until everyone is suddenly massacred.

The saving grace in this meandering mess is, strangely enough, a Nazi, flamboyant and charismatic, but nonetheless, brutal sadistic Nazi. His name is SS Colonel Hans Landa. He's played by Tarantino discovery, Christoph Waltz. And he steals the movie. Brad Pitt doesn't stand a chance.

In the opening episode, Landa smoothly interrogates a French dairy farmer (Denis Menochet), giving a lengthy dissertation on the difference between Germans and Jews. It is standard anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda comparing Germans to hawks and Jews to rats, but Landa presents it with such evil logic that the farmer knows death is inevitable, only a few feet away beneath his floorboards, where a family of Jews is hiding. There is classic Hitchcockian tension here, not to be surpassed in the next two hours of movie time.

Don't miss the first twenty-two minutes of "Inglourious Basterds." But you may want to miss the rest.

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