‘Basterds’ – A humble review of an uncontested classic

Revisionist cinema has found flavor in the box office in numerous instances, be it Westerns or historicals, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), There Will Be Blood (2007), Gladiator (2000) etc. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds(2009) is the latest movie in this genre, if we can regard it as such.

The movie, set mostly in Nazi-occupied France, follows a band of Jewsish-Americans known as “The Basterds” who bring upon themselves the task of spreading fear among the Nazis during the Second World War. Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), the ruthless leader of the gang, takes a commitment from every member to get him a hundred Nazi scalps. The team consists of a motley crew of guerilla soldiers including a renegade German. Incidentally, we have Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie’ Laurent), a Jewish refugee who has fled to France after witnessing the slaughter of her ilk in the hands of Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), who infamously earned the title of “Jew Hunter”. In France, Shoshanna is running a modest cinema hall, when war hero Frederick Zoller takes an instant liking for her and is very insistent on her friendship. He has starred in a film that glorifies his bravado in the war, and gets his mentor Joseph Goebbels to have it premiered in her cinema. Shoshanna uses this as an opportunity to get her revenge on the Nazis, and plans to blow up the hall on the evening of the premiere. When the ‘Basterds’ get wind of the premiere, they know it’s the best opportunity for them to get as many Nazis as possible in one stroke. The paths of the ‘Basterds’ and ‘Shoshanna’ are waiting to be crossed on that fateful evening of the premiere.

 

Quentin Tarantino is back with his brand of entertainment with graphic violence in good measure, raw humor and a non-linear narrative. People who have watched Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill would know what know what to expect from ‘Basterds’. The latter is a crackling yarn, given the fact that WW2 is such a perennial favorite among history junkies. Christoph Waltz can well take a bow. He has essayed the role of Hans Landa with great conviction. It is little surprise that he won the Academy award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009. Brad Pitt with his Southern American is absolutely delightful as Lt. Aldo Raine, and had audiences shrieking in the aisles, in a scene of particularly violent interaction with Diane Kruger.

Inglourious Basterds will easily join the list of classics that have revisited WW2, but will be remembered more for its engaging screenplay that has the better part of the film speaking French and German.

-Met

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Stuffed and Loaded

The home theatre, true to its name, is a great way to watch movies and sport at home. My uncle had a purchased a new Bose home theater system and it was an opportunity I grabbed with both hands when he invited me over to watch the Cricket World Cup finals. We all know what a humdinger of a match that was, but the fun was doubled when we had before us many bags of chips, an equal number of cola cans and also a few buckets of popcorn. Watching crucial finals with such accompaniments is indeed a great way to experience the game.

The first innings had us fairly upbeat about our chances of clinching the final. Our bowlers did a fairly decent job of restraining the score from reaching mammoth proportions. We munched on the chips and popcorn with cheerful abandon, every couple of minutes. And the cola was just flowing. Anyone would think there was an orgy going on. We were all so loaded, but nothing could get us off our seats, as the match was in such smooth progression. When the Sri Lankan innings was through, we spent the half hour that followed, discussing strategy. I don’t recall discussing cricket strategy ever, but a world cup finals match with India running a strong favorite warranted all behavior so typical of an ardent cricket fanatic. With our minds completely on the game, we trooped back into the drawing room to watch the remaining innings. The great Indian innings.

Virendar Sehwag was out for a duck, and it was so unbelievable. Then Tendulkar, for all the hopes we had pinned on him, gave a catch to Sangakkara, and walked back to the pavilion for a meager 18. Like most other casual cricket viewers, I began to let my hopes loose. At that moment I realized that I couldn’t hold myself on the couch any longer and headed to the restroom. I hadn’t visited my uncle’s house in a year till then, but when I entered the toilet, it was such a welcome moment for me. As I relieved myself blissfully, I looked around the elegantly done up bathroom in the next cubicle. The toilet was really clean and the room freshener really made me feel better. Much better than the thought about India’s impending loss to Sri Lanka. I zipped myself up, used the flush (which was a very elegant looking one again) and washed myself at the sink. Really, the trip to the toilet was never more welcome. All cleaned up, I flopped on the couch and looked at the TV with some trepidation. I don’t recall how long I was stuck in the restroom, but back on the field, Gambhir and Kohli were putting up a brave show and our hopes just stopped short of getting dashed!

-Met