Tarantino is often touted as a filmic sensation, a director who understands film and the art of storytelling and despite the backlash he gets from some, the man simply knows how to tell a damn story. In a world where blockbusters and animated films shake us down for cash in exchange for a movie that only acts as an amusement park ride (experienced now, easily forgotten later), Tarantino opts instead to give us bang for our buck with films that surpass their genres and provide us with the old fashioned art of storytelling. With his flair for dialogue and his mastery of the film camera, Tarantino is always performing at his best regardless of his film’s quality (erm–”Death Proof”) and “Inglourious Basterds” is one of his best works yet.
Told through the eyes of a slew of characters both Nazi and American, Tarantino’s story is comprised of four different perspectives that all aim to do one thing: kill Nazi bastards. A specific Nazi bastard named Joseph Goebbels who plans to screen his latest German film in the local French cinema. This news sends an opportunity to many of his enemies conceiving a four pronged plan from various people whose primary aspiration is to rid the world of as many Nazis as possible including Goebbels. What “Inglourious Basterds” accomplishes is creating a nod to the old fashioned war films while also branching out and seeking a story through the eyes of many people, all of whom approach their plans with fine tuned accuracy. And one of the best aspects of the story is the gripping intrigue that creates problems for not just our villains but our heroes as well.
What the characters plans to confront Hitler and Goebbels ultimately create is a clusterfuck that neither of them could possibly have expected. What’s best to remember is that this is Tarantino’s “The Dirty Dozen,” an homage to action films of the bygone era that revels in its brutality and humiliation of the enemy. Tarantino is working on a whole other level here dodging his usual references to pop culture in order to bring us a story that we wouldn’t normally expect from the man. All evidence of style and hip obscure nods to the audience are pretty much slim. Here he prefers his usual story structure through chapters and instead relies on a more subtle piece of epic storytelling that’s conveyed through tense confrontations and the battle between the Inglorious Basterds and the Nazi regime, all of which is played with a tongue in cheek manner.
Though the comedy is placed on the Nazi soldiers, the dignity belongs to the heroes who always play at the level of the Nazis and take great pride in providing them with slow and painful deaths that they dole out on the Jewish race throughout the narrative. What’s most memorable beyond the dialogue is the ensemble cast, most of whom are usually character actors who get a chance to shine on film with the help of Tarantino whose entire slew of characters both heroes and villains who are just as memorable as the last. Paired with an electric score, “Inglourious Basterds” is one of the best films of 2009, and another home run for Tarantino. If “Death Proof” were the skidmarks of Tarantino’s filmography, “Inglourious Basterds” is a brilliant rebound with a wonderfully complex story, a great cast, and a score that’s really up to par with Tarantino’s standards. It’s one of the best films of 2009, period.