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Inglourious Basterds

Whenever you talk about movies with friends, the question always comes up, "What's your favorite movie of all time?" Hands down, no question, tops on my list in Quentin Tarantino's INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.

The genius of QT is on full display in this 2009 masterpiece, a wholly original tribute and mashup of classic World War II films with a violent, revisionist revenge fantasy.

The film is separated into long chapters, each one fully creating characters that will eventually cross paths with each other over the film's fast, insanely enjoyable 153 minutes.

The film opens with a long sequence in which SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz in his brilliant Academy Award winning performance) visits a quiet farmhouse in the French Countryside. He suspects that the farmer may know where some local Jewish families may be hiding. Using only terriifc dialogue, great camerawork and excellent acting, the suspense of the scene is almost unbearable.

Other chapters deal with our title characters, Lt. Aldo Raine's troop of soldiers on a mission to kill as many Nazi's as possible, in the most gruesome styles possible in order to spread fear across the German soldiers.

Brad Pitt is perfect as Raine, weilding an unruly Southern accent, authority and humor throughout. His team, including The Bear Jew (Eli Roth), Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), Private Utivich (BJ Novak, hilarious) are violent, efficient soldiers and Tarantino lathers on the bloody violence in such extreme fashion that most of the bullet hits and arterial spray are cartoonishly exaggerated, making you laugh and cringe at the same time.

Other chapters deal with beautiful young cinema owner Shosanna (another great performance from Melanie Laurent) as she is pulled into hosting a major German film premiere that will have most of the third reich in attendance. A scene between Shosanna and Landa in a French cafe drips with almost unbearable tension.

In another chapter, English Lt. Archie Hicox and his team join forces with the Basterds to meet German movie star Bridget Von Hammersmark, who is secretly a spy working with the English. When she arranges the meeting in the basement of a bar in Nazi occupied France, it gives Tarantino the perfect setting to stage what might be one of the best scenes of his film career.

Over the course of 40+ minutes, the basement meeting takes place, with SS officers, bar patrons, secret agents and armed solders from both sides playing a verbal cat and mouse game that could explode into violence at any moment.

Two actors standout in this long sequence, Diane Kruger as our undercover spy and German diva film star and the always great Michael Fassbender as Lt Hicox.

Some directors rely on elaborate stunts, explosions and pyrotechincs to create tension. Tarantion masters this film with plenty of fire, but most of it is on the page, with excellent, smart and often hilarious dialogue pouring out of every scene.

When the screen darkens and the Chapter header announcing the night of the film premier pops up, Tarantino launches into a long, dialogue free sequence set to David Bowie's "Putting Out The Fire with Gasoline" from the early 80's film "Cat People". Like every one of QT's choices here, it's the perfect song, at the perfect volume over strong visual storytelling that brilliantly sets up the final act.

You can watch this film over and over again and still be surprised by moments that emerge after multiple viewings. The film is sprinkled with fun cameos, including legendary sixties film star Rod Taylor as Winston Churchill, Mike Meyers almost unrecognizable as General Ed Fenech, a character you have seen in every WWii film EVER and Daniel Bruhl as a reluctant young German war hero who falls for Shosanna.

Violent, gory, suspenseful, hilarious and incredibly dramatic, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS is truly genius. It's undoubtedly my favorite film of all time (wrestling with Lawrence of Arabia, Goldfinger, The Godfather, Django Unchained, Skyfall but always victorious) and gets an A+.

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