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DVD Shopping Bag: Inglourious Basterds hits Blu-ray
The New Stars Emerge in this week's DVD Shopping Bag.
By Robert T. Trate
December 15, 2009
Inglourious Basterds (2-Disc Special Edition) arrives just intime for the holidays.
© Universal Pictures/Robert Trate
While sitting there in the theater last August I sat on the brink of anticipation. Long had I waited for the Quentin Tarantino WW2 project to hit the big screen. It had been discussed in the media for quite some time but after both Kill Bills and The Grindhouse (a modern classic in my opinion) this Tarantino WW2 film was nowhere to be found. Then it happened. Brad Pitt was to lead a bunch of commandos and blah, blah, blah, who cares its Quentin Tarantino doing that WW2 pic! That first trailer was everything I hoped the film would be. There were guns, slow motion action shots, blood, chicks with guns and a monologue that I never got tired of.
Now back at the packed theater. After waiting in line for an hour and sitting through the commercials and trailers the film, finally, commenced. The first scene was totally out of left field. It was not what I expected at all. Two guys talking in two different languages with subtitles about a rats and squirrels. Where were the guns, blood and Brad Pitt? It was excruciating. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I wanted Tarantino! I quickly reminded myself that Tarantino likes to talk and so do his characters. All of his great action scenes have been preceded by scenes upon scenes of people talking; Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and so fourth. I settled back and watched the scene unfold. By it’s conclusion I was ready for whatever came next because this was not the movie the trailers dangled in front us. This was to be something better.
Inglourious Basterds (released today on Blu-ray and DVD) isn’t your typical WW2 movie with a Tarantino twist. It is exactly as its opening describes, “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France…”. Inglourious Basterds is a fairy tale complete with monsters, heroes and damsels that know how to fight back. If you have seen the film you’ll understand its fairy tale quality, especially with the ending. However this is just more than another Tarantino film. It is a tour de force of directing and writing and introduces a plethora of actors that American audiences have never heard of.
The opening scene between Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet) is an Academy Award worthy performance by Waltz. Here this tiny little man completely dissects this Paul Bunyan type, LaPadite, to the point of tears. How does he do this? Not with brute force or a sadistic taunt but complete charm and a string of words that not only convinces LaPadite to surrender but the audience as well. By the end of the scene, as vile as Landa is, the audience has long forgotten about Pitt and the Basterds and is ready to go on this journey. Surely Tarantino suckers in a lot of his audience with cool dialogue, blood and a lot of guns but here was something else. Tarantino displayed a maturity and brilliance that was obviously hinted at in Kill Bill but often gave way to genre gimmicks and homages. Here his focus stays true to the film, the characters and the audience.
Eventually we do get to the Basterds. Their screen time seems very limited in relationship to the trailer. That was our lure though. Revenge crazy Jewish soldiers let loose on Nazi Germany. We were bated and hooked. Could we have spent more time with them? Surely. Would the Inglourious Basterds have been a better film with more of them in it? No. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 are all set up. Without an introduction to all the players the final acts are meaningless. The real meat of this piece comes in two slices. Obviously Pvt. Fredrick Zoller’s (Daniel Brühl) romantic pursuit of Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) leading to her revenge takes up a bulk of the film. The real piece to chew on is the rendezvous in the tavern basement. Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) could be seen as an additional character just thrown into the mix because Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine is a boorish backwater slob. Lt. Raine isn’t going to fool anybody at the Nazi premiere party. Tarantino appears to circumnavigate his Basterds once again. Fassbinder, to his credit, is cool, collected, charming and almost Wolf-like (Tarantino fans will get the reference). He’s the perfect spy and talks his way out of brilliant pickle until he makes that one final mistake. Enter the Basterds once again, only this time it is to save the day in the film.
The Basterds are the answer to the problem in the film and exactly what Tarantino needed to get an audience into the theater. To sit around and watch a bunch of foreign actors talk in another language with subtitles isn’t going to pack the house. It barely does it for some art house theaters. In this case Tarantino and his Basterds were all that was needed. It only seems appropriate that Tarantino opens yet another door for a different group of actors once again. He has become famous for re-introducing old talent to a new audience. He has launched several careers of indie actors as well. Now Tarantino has helped us all embrace the brilliance of Michael Fassbender, Mélanie Laurent, Daniel Brühl and, if there is any justice, the next Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz.
There is always a pressure and mystique to a Quentin Tarantino film. In the supplemental material on the Blu-ray Brad Pitt and Tarantino discuss making the end all, be all Nazi film. They may have just put a cap on that genre forever. A different mystique then what most Tarantino films receive. His next film will have a lot to live up to, as Lt. Aldo Raine may have been speaking for his creator as well as his handy work. Tarantino may have gone and created his masterpiece.
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
18 Fingers of Death ~ Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, Robin Shou, Bokeem Woodbine, and Lorenzo Lamas
20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End ~ Teruyuki Kagawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Toshiaki Karasawa, and Arata
Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers ~ Jintara Poonlarp, Bongkoj Khongmalai, and Supakson Chaimongkol
Domino Effect ~ Shaun Taylor, Phil McFadden, and Rachel Ancheril
The Group ~ Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman, and Shirley Knight
The Headless Woman ~ Maria Onetto, Claudia Cantero, Ines Efron, and Daniel Genoud
Inglourious Basterds (2-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray] ~ Brad Pitt, David Krumholtz, Mike Myers, and André Penvern
Inglourious Basterds (Single-Disc Edition)
Inglourious Basterds (Two-Disc Special Edition)
In The Blink Of An Eye ~ Eric Roberts
Miike Collection (4pc) (Ws Dub Sub) ~ Kenichi Endo
Murder by Decree ~ Christopher Plummer, James Mason, David Hemmings, and Susan Clark
The Other Man ~ Antonio Banderas, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, and Amanda Drew
The Other Man [Blu-ray]
Presenting Roger Corman's ... Best of the B*s Collection 1: Hot Bikes, Cool Cars & Bad Babes ~ Gary Busey
Throttle ~ Grayson McCouch
Trunk ~ Jennifer Day
Basilisk: The Complete Series (Viridian Collection) [Blu-ray] ~ Laura Bailey
Bleach, Vol. 23
Case Closed: The Last Wizard of the Century Movie ~ Alison Retzloff, Jerry Jewell, and Colleen Clinkenbeard
El Cazador de la Bruja, Volume 1 ~ Maxey Whitehead
El Cazador de la Bruja, Volume 2
Ghost Hound: Collection 2
One Piece: Season Two, Fourth Voyage ~ Brina Palencia, Caitlin Glass, Christopher R. Sabat, and Colleen Clinkenbeard
Samurai Champloo: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] ~ Kari Wahlgren
To Love-Ru: Collection 1
The Head: The Complete Series
The Maxx: The Complete Series
Robot Chicken: Season Four
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead ~ Christina Applegate, Joanna Cassidy, John Getz, and Josh Charles
Taking Woodstock ~ Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Imelda Staunton, and Liev Schreiber
Taking Woodstock [Blu-ray]
The Hangover (Unrated Edition) [Blu-ray] ~ Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha
The Hangover (Unrated Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Hangover (R-Rated Single-Disc Edition)
Legends of Laughter: Abbott & Costello ~ Bud Abbott
Beyond Remedy ~ Rick Yune, Marie Zielcke, David Gant, and Daniel Krauss
Mental Scars ~ Richard Myles, Sonny Landham, and Theresa Alexandria
Red Canyon ~ Christine Lakin
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (Cinema Insomnia Slime Line) ~ Mr. Lobo, Pia Zadora, and John Call
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie ~ Selena Gomez
Lovejoy: The Complete Season One ~ Ian McShane, Phyllis Logan, Dudley Sutton, and Malcolm Tierney
Lovejoy: The Complete Season Two ~ Ian McShane, Phyllis Logan, Chris Jury, and Caroline Blakiston
Lovejoy: The Complete Season Three ~ Ian McShane, Phyllis Logan, Dudley Sutton, and Chris Jury
Lovejoy: The Complete Season Four ~ Ian McShane, Phyllis Logan, Dudley Sutton, and Chris Jury
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 [Blu-ray] ~ William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan
The Tudors: The Complete Third Season ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, and James Frain
Wagon Train - The Complete First Season - Special Limited Edition - 39 episodes! ~ Ward Bond, Robert Horton, Frank McGrath, and Terry Wilson
Antony and Cleopatra (1913) ~ Gianna Terribili-Gonzales, Elsa Lenard, Ida Carloni Talli, Bruto Castellani Amleto Novelli
Miss Mend ~ Natalya Glan, Boris Barnet, Igor Ilyinsky, and Vladimir Fogel
Spartacus (1913) ~ Enrico Bracci, Alberto Capozzi, Signor Fretti, Maria Gandini Luciano Albertini
The Mel Brooks Collection [Blu-ray] ~ Mel Brooks
Robot Chicken: Seasons 1-4
The Sherlock Holmes Collection ~ Peter Cushing, Nigel Stock, Douglas Wilmer, and Peter Madden
The Sherlock Holmes Collection ~ Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, and Christopher Lee
Star Trek: The Original Series - Seasons 1-3 [Blu-ray] ~ William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan