Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie day!

We are so behind on our movie-watching. We haven't been out to see a movie in ages and there are a few that we'd already wanted to see - with more opening! Today, finally, we were able to go and see Inglourious Basterds. It's Quentin Tarantino's latest film project; he'd apparently been working on this project for the best part of the last decade.

The movie is set during the second world war in an alternate universe and involves a lot of Nazi-killing. There are quite a few funny bits to it; the parts that are gory are very gory, but there aren't that many of those bits.

The story is interesting and kind of unexpected. I thought, given the trailers, that the movie would focus on the Basterds, how they got together, and their battles. One of the Basterds' backstory is told but all the others are ignored and half of the movie centres on a character we didn't see in the trailer. The ending is sort of  expected in that Hitler and his top agents are killed, but the manner in which they're killed isn't at all what I thought it would be, given the trailers and what I knew going in.

In many ways, this unexpectedness makes for a much better movie. Instead of following a trite, obvious, ages-old story, the story we follow isn't as obvious and is much more interesting. When the Basterds and this other character intersect - or occupy the same building, which is more how this movie works - there's quite a bit of tension as the audience knows what's happening but not all of the characters have the same knowledge. Plus the viewer wants to know exactly how everything is going to come together.

Apparently the structure of this movie was based on that of the spaghetti western. I don't know much about that genre, but there are definitely moments that hark back to what I think of as being part of these movies: revenge, escape (and release), unexpected opportunities, the calvary arriving, double-crossing, love rising out of hate, enemies meeting each other as equals, and sacrifice. Add to those themes tight shots on (grizzled) faces and broad landscape shots under the sun and I think we have it.

I very much loved the costumes; the movie stayed fairly true to the time period, costume-wise, even though the movie was set in this alternate universe where the war ended differently than it actually did. Those costumes were lovely... and the shoes! I loved the heels on those shoes; they were high but sturdy and shapely. Perfect for dancing all night.

For all that, it sort of felt like this movie was missing something... maybe that's just because the movie had these unexpected elements and I felt like the basterds story wasn't rounded out enough. If I'd gone in with no expectations or if the movie had been more like what the trailer led us to believe it would be, I think we would've enjoyed the movie much more. I think that the footage we'd sort of expected might have been shot already; if so, I'd love to see the six-hour version of this movie on the DVD (or Blu-ray) with that footage included.

Also on the down side, the music wasn't as compelling as it has been in other Tarantino movies. He has a history of using contemporary music in his movies - no matter in which era they're set - but there wasn't much of that going on. There also weren't that many pop-culture references, which is something else Tarantino usually does.

Even so, we recommend this film to you. If you do see it, forget what you think you know of the story and go in with an open mind. It'll make for a better movie experience for you.

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