First viewing – 23 August 2009 Cinema
Second viewing – 27 November 2011 Blu-ray
The Redux Review
I had a feeling this would happen. When I originally watched this movie, I wasn’t that impressed. Perhaps I was expected something else, or I had a very cynical head going in. For the next movie by acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, it went in directions I as a self-confessed Tarantino fan hadn’t expected, or could appreciate. His trade mark clever dialogue is for the most part, in either German or French with subtitles. And I couldn’t enjoy the long drawn out scenes of talking leading up to violence. I don’t know what it was … but having sat through it a second time now, I fully understand what Tarantino was doing, creating some of the most tense scenes I have witnessed in a long time, and the violence, when it comes, grabs you by the throat. It was very bold of him to make the dialogue authentic to the setting, and along with his very believable, emotionally engrossing characterisation – I was gripped.
Basterds follows the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers sent into Nazi-occupied France with one goal – to hunt down and scalp Nazi soldiers. Headed by a Clark-Gable impersonating Brad Pitt, this ruthless and unforgiving gang of men stop at nothing to shed some blood. Meanwhile we also have a Jewish teenage girl who vows revenge against the Nazi’s who massacred her family. Filled with some great performances, most notably Mélanie Laurent as the vengeance-seeking Shosanna, both beautiful and heart-breaking in her plight, almost making the movie her own, if it wasn’t for Christoph Waltz as the cunningly evil Nazi Colonel Hanz Landa shudderingly nick-named ‘The Jew Hunter’ who steals the film easily from under Brad Pitt’s over-acting but no less engaging Lieutenant Aldo Raine.
There’s a lot to like here. The camera work and cinematography brilliantly captures that 40s iconic imagery and it has a great pulp matinee feel with plenty of sharp humour and larger-than-life characters and situations. The music choices too, always a highlight of a Tarantino flick, work wonders, never failing to enhance a scene even when David Bowie pops up. I still feel that the overall premise is a touch under-developed though, the final climax too easy and yes, some of the dialogue does go on longer than necessary. Yet Tarantino seems to have grown up significantly over the years, with a visual-eye that can’t be denied and dialogue, music and setting that perfectly compliment one another for a change. He has delivered a movie that doesn’t walk the usual path, which has often been what marks him out as an original, but this time, his geeky fan-boyism hasn’t resulted in a a tribute to all his childhood obsessions, but more a real, fully-realised movie.
Tarantino is back!
Verdict: 4 /5