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If you loved "Swindlers List" forget this Inglourious Basterds...


Grokked at ODEON Muswell Hill, London, Tues. August 25, 2009


I have never been a great Quentin Tarantino fan ( I hated "Pulp Fiction" and walked out of "Reservoir Dogs") but right off the bat I will have to say that even if he doesn't get an Oscar this year, Mr. Q.  should at least get a medal -  the Congressional Medal of Honour  (of Poland and Israel?) - for telling it like it should have been, even if it wasn't quite actually that way.   Any person of Jewish persuasion who does not stand up and cheer at various points in this tremendous historical revision comedy isn't worth his (or her) weight in schmaltz.  And any Gentile person of liberal democratic red blood who doesn't let out a few whelps of "Amen", or "right on", during the proceedings, needs to be taken out into the alley and shot in the head.


The basic plot: A merciless vengeance unit composed mainly of Jewish commandos under the leadership of a delightfully southern drawling Lt. Brad Pitt (best thing he's ever done!) is parachuted into Nazi occupied France in 1941, their mission, to strike  total terror into the hearts of all Germans by not only brutally slaughtering every German soldier they can get their hands on, but scalping them American Indian style, bashing their brains out with baseball bats (another all-American touch) and carving swastikas into the foreheads of their victims.  One such swasticated German soldier is purposely let go so that he can take his tale of terrorization back to the Fuhrer hisself.

Der Fuhrer (Adolph Hitler) is tellingly portrayed as a frenzied madman who does everything but literally chew up a rug (Supporting actor contender in my book) when he sees what these stop-at-nothing "Basterd" vigilantes are doing to his pure Aryan troopers.  Propaganda minister Goebbels also comes in for significant treatment in a film almost as good in its portrayal of Nazi pageantry and evil as Istvan Szabo's "Mephisto" in heavy reverse gear.


The plot, told in five well defined chapters, is far too complicated to unravel in a mini-review such as this, but it's all about getting good and even with the Germans for their well-known collective brutality and genocide policies. Suffice it to say that all the krauts get what they deserve in the end and just about every one of the many twisted and complex roles in the film are tossed off to perfection.  Very fetching is one of the heroines, Madeleine Laurent, as "Shoshana Dreyfus", a French blonde Jewish girl whose whole family was murdered by the Germans and who is hell bent at revenge no matter what the cost. (and does she ever get it!).  Equally fetching and outstanding is blonde German actress Diane Kruger as a conspiring anti-Hitler German actress who will get herself uncereminiously strangled by Herr Oberst  Waltz for her glourios underground efforts. Kruger, interestingly, was Helen to BradPitt's Hercules in "Troy" some seasons back, where she was little more than Teutonic window dressing, but here she has come a long way as an actress and is most cleverly employed by Quentin.


Of exceptional note in this delicious international cast is German Actor Christof Waltz who very nearly steals the show as a smooth-talking tri-lingual Gestapo officer, almost as charming and suave as he is evil and cruel.  Nearly half of the film is actually spoken in German and French, (with and without sub-titles) which adds a  touch of class and authenticity, giving a realistic semi-serious edge to this basically surreal black comedy.

Bunuel would have loved it and, even though it does get a wee bit talky here and there between scalpings and other instances of arch mayhem, I found the film extremely satisfying  -- in short loved it.  My only complaint was that there were not enough juicily explicit scalpings (since at the beginning unit commander Brad, half-Apache, tells his men that each one is expected to bring a minimum of 100 German scalps home, or die trying) -- and in the final inferno, where a full house of high-ranking Nazis (including Hitler, Goering and Martin Borman - just follow the white arrows) and their women folk are locked into a French cinema  which is then set on fire - (remember that a favourite way of getting rid of Jews in WW II without wasting bullets was to lock them in a synagogue and then burn it down) -- we don't actually get to see them roasting alive in dynamic close-ups.  What was needed here was a walk-on by Robert Duvall doing a variation on his Apocalypse Now theme -"When I smell German flesh burning it smells like  .. sniff-sniff ... VICTORY!" - and some lingering closeups of roasting live red German meat dripping juicily in the flames.

All I can say to anybody who stumbles onto this review is, forget about the bullshit the critics have been writing to show how deftly they can disssect a truly joyous and educational film to death. Just  get the fukk out there and see this bloody movie - or we'll break your laigs - and take the whole family too, because this is definitely family fare of the highest gradient. Not to be missed if you like movies  that tell it like it should have been .... and you can take that to the fukkin bank!


Alexander Cyclops, Oberammergau, Germany


PS: If you loved "Swindlers List" forget this....


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