Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • September 2, 2009 Tarantino presents World War II tale with helping of satire by Dennis Seuling “Inglourious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, is about World War II, the SS, a band of relentless Nazi killers, movie star spies, and a German war hero, among other things. It is a rich film in terms of plot, star power, performances, photography, film references, and dark humor. Defying traditional compartmentalization, it offers an intriguing, textured story, action, and a nice helping of satire. “Inglourious Basterds” is a feast for movie lovers. Several stories that will eventually merge unfold separately. In Nazi-occupied France, SS officer Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), accompanied by several soldiers, comes to a farmhouse in search of Jews who may be hiding there. He is impeccably uniformed and intimidating, yet polite, even deferential as he speaks with the nervous farmer (Denis Menochet). Landa questions the farmer slowly, quietly, yet conveys menace in every syllable. The scene then switches to Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), in charge of a unit of Jewish-American soldiers whose mission is to instill fear in the German military by brutally killing Nazis and scalping them. Finally, viewers meet Shosanna (Melanie Laurent), who owns and operates a Paris cinema. A German officer, Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), sees her and is immediately attracted to her, but she rebuffs his advances until she learns he is a celebrated war hero. Tarantino divides the movie into chapters, taking time multilingual Landa. Waltz understands this character perfectly. Landa refers to himself as a detective, a Teutonic Sherlock Holmes, though those in the area have given him the nickname “The Jew Hunter.” Waltz takes his time with his dialogue, very much like a kind uncle speaking to a child. He smiles, laughs a bit, smokes a pipe, gives compliments, and is always courteous to a fault. That is, until he bares his claws and pounces. Waltz is so perfect as Landa, so memorable, that an Oscar nomination is assured. He adds tremendous stature to this film. Pitt’s Raine -- a reference to the 1950s actor Aldo Ray, who appeared in many war movies -- is in charge of committing horrible acts, yet because it is wartime and his subjects are the genocidal Nazis, he is likeable. Pitt adopts a Tennessee drawl for Raine, which is funny, though the character never crosses into caricature. None of Tarantino’s characters do. Shosanna, who becomes important in the film’s third act, has a past that makes her a particularly fierce antiNazi, though her feelings must be suppressed until the time is exactly right to reveal them. Laurent is attractive, but her role -- despite its importance -- is not as showy as the others. Her story is a framing device for the entire movie. Bruhl is effective as Zoller, the golden boy of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). His flirtations with Shosanna are initially innocent and charming, but his persistence leads to dire complications. Diane Kruger turns in an elegant performance as Bridget von Hammersmark, darling of Third Reich cinema. Beautiful, sophisticated, talented, and widely popular in Germany, Bridget plays a crucial role in an intricate plot. A scene between Bridget and Landa darkly mirrors a climactic moment in “Cinderella,” in another neat Tarantino touch. The smooth blending of these three stories showcases Tarantino’s artistry as a writer. Nothing seems out of place or contrived. Mulling over the movie afterwards, the viewer may come up with some inconsistencies or flaws, but the movie is riveting as it unreels. Tarantino has mastered the technique of placing what is important to his story in the foreground and banishing bothersome details. The finale was something I simply did not see coming. For Tarantino’s tale, however, it is a smooth, appropriate fit. Rated R for violence and language, “Inglourious Basterds” ranks among Tarantino’s best films. In style and substance, it most closely resembles “Pulp Fiction.” This new release features a Class A script with an A-list cast. The two-and-a-half-hour running time flies by. If anything, I wanted more. Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is an urbane, yet feared SS officer in Nazi-occupied France in ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ to establish characters and make them more than rehashes of previous war movie types. This is done largely through dialogue, one of Tarantino’s fortes. Two scenes come to mind. In one, a group of German soldiers has been attacked by Raine’s team. Many of the Germans have been killed and Raine is questioning their commanding officer about German military installations in the region. Raine’s interview consists of introducing his men and their various unpleasant specialties, and playing a mind game with the officer. The goal: Learn where the Germans are entrenched. The threat: If you don’t reveal this information, there will be severe consequences. A second outstanding dialogue sequence is the aforementioned conversation in the farmhouse between the SS officer and the farmer. From the outset, the viewer mistrusts Landa’s oily charm and knows his mission is more than merely asking a few questions and going on his way. As he speaks calmly in metaphors, his dark intention, ruthless proficiency, and pride in how well he does his job all become apparent. The cuts to the soldiers standing outside and various close-ups of the farmer amplify the dread that something awful is imminent. Christoph Waltz, an obscure Austrian actor, undoubtedly undertakes his greatest role ever as the multifaceted, Engaged? Just Married? Celebrating an Anniversary? Share the news with neighbors and friends! Announce your Special Event in We welcome photographs. Send announcements to: The Villadom TIMES P Box 96, Midland Park, NJ 07432 .O.