Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children

Just so we are clear, when I discuss a movie that I have seen, I in no way "endorse" the movie, nor do I say "you have to go see this movie right now!" or suggest to you that you won't be offended by anything that is in the movie, whether it bothered me or not. I merely tell you what I thought about the movie, some stuff in the movie, perhaps caution you as to what to expect when you see it...

...I say all that in telling you that Saturday night, I watched Quentin Tarantino's new film, "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children". This is the film that, in the trailers, you see Brad Pitt with this crazy southern accent, telling a line of soldiers that he wants men who will torture and kill Nazis... well, it's "Nah-Zee", and he is demanding 100 Nah-Zee scalps from each man. Smashcut to Hitler slamming a table saying "Nein nein nein nein" over and over, and then the title.

So, here's what I thought the movie was going to be about... a group of Nah-zee hating Jew soldiers who was going into Germany occupied France during WWII to torture and kill Nah-zees. And scalp them. I figured we would see the exploits of this group, as they go from Nah-zee battalion to Nah-zee battalion, torturing and killing, and being a Quentin Tarantino film, I expected plenty of blood and gore.

And then Mikey, Matt Rector and myself watched the film.

Lt. Aldo Raines wants him some men to kill some Nah-zees

You know, I take pride in the fact that I'm pretty good with films. I've seen thousands of movies over the years, and many of them are the same, or at least the same type, and you can kind of predict patterns, kind of see where a movie will go, sometimes have a good clue as to "whodunit" before the blood dries on the ground...

however comma

I have to be honest in saying that this film went in a COMPLETELY different direction than what I was thinking it would. The trailer, which was very cleverly uninforming by Tarantino, tells you nothing of what this movie holds and where its going to go.

The Basterds, as they are called, is a group led by Lt. Aldo Raines, played by Brad Pitt, and he wants to kill Nah-zees.

Sidebar... I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I marvel at how good of an actor Brad Pitt actually is. Like, he's the perennial Pretty Boy, but his IMDB page is across the board, from comedies to action to action comedies to drama to crap to brilliance, he is truly great. And the scene where Aldo Raines is attempting to converse in Italian is absolutely hysterical.

Aldo Raines recruits a group of soldiers to do just that very thing, but along the way, we also see the story (and backstory) of Shoshanna (a wonderful--and gorgeous--Melanie Laurent), who's entire Jewish family is butchered by infamous Jew Hunter, Col. Hans Landa. Landa is played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, and the character is played to unsympathetic perfection. You want to absolutely hate Landa for who he is and what he does, but you almost find yourself liking him just because he is so "I'm just doing the job they asked me to do, and I'm going to do it well" blaise about it. Only the job isn't tiling a bathroom or fixing a transmission, its hunting and killing Jews in France.

I've heard a possible Oscar nomination mentioned with Christoph Waltz, and I would fully support it in this film.

In fact, the story of Shoshanna, and her run-ins with Landa, almost overshadows the parallel story of The Basterds until both stories intersect at the very end of the film. And the end of the film is glorious... Tarantino is not one to follow history by the book, so I'm sure there are a few things that happen in this film (like, the entire film) that really didn't happen in real life--and this is never more true than the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

I will say I am a little disappointed by a few events at the end... after the journey the movie takes you on, you see a character or two do some things that you just wouldn't expect or believe that character would do... its asking us to buy into one personality, then expect us to go along when the other personality rears its head... I know I'm being very, very vague, but I'm trying to be careful as I know there are a few people reading this that will actually see this movie.

(top) Shoshanna flees from Nah-zee execution. (bottom) Then later, she cleans up real nicelike.

And... I know there are a few people reading this that will shake their head that I went to see this movie. Understandably so, as its a Tarantino film, the same guy who did both volumes of "Kill Bill", and the bloody and violent (and magnificent) "Reservoir Dogs" and the language and violence filled "Pulp Fiction"... and yes, this movie displays all the QT charms. Random narration to explain plotlines, big writing on screen to tell you whats what and who's who, and the film is broken up into "Chapters" as it goes back and forth between The Basterds and Shoshanna, and a hilarious turn by Mike Myers as well. It almost makes you forget about "The Love Guru". Almost.

And we musn't forget Diane Kruger, who shows up as actress & spy Bridget von Hammersmark... you might also remember her from both National Treasure movies, the good one and the crappy one. And speaking of crap, she was also in "Troy". Man, that movie sucked.

Honestly, though, there weren't nearly as many blood and gore parts as I expected... now, the blood and gore parts were very bloody and very gory... but they were few and far between. The language was there, but there were more F-Bombs in the first ten minutes of Reservoir Dogs than this entire movie, so its not as bad as you'd think. As a matter of fact, I actually think that, if she could handle the few squeamish parts, The Lovely Steph Leann would actually enjoy this film...

Anyway, I enjoyed it quite a bit. On QT's movie rankings, I'd still ranking Dogs as my favorite, followed closely by "Pulp Fiction"... and then this one. I look forward to watching it again, enjoying all of Tarantino's eccentricities that he dashes throughout his films.


  1. I saw QT on Kimmel or some other late-night bubble-gum fest talking about this flick and how he got Brad Pitt to sign on for the film. Apparently it was 6 bottles of wine from the vineyard of the house in France where Brad and the brood were staying (do they own it? who knows) and some smoke (of the illegal variety). I was waffling about seeing this, but after your review, I think it will definitely go into the queue. I really enjoy Diane Krueger and hope that her performance won't disappoint. You didn't mention BJ Novak (of early Punk'd days and most notably, The Office fame) though. How did he come off in the film?

  2. Well... I'm one of six people in the entire world who don't watch The Office, though its in my Netflix queue--I'll probably watch it online, though. So, having said that, I'm not sure how BJ Novak came off... but I'm guessing he came off great, because they all did.

    Its just hard to be pleased with a movie who's title you cannot pronounce while in church.

    And Diane Kruger is great as well...


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