It Starts Off Great
Under the chapter heading ‘Once Upon A Time In Nazi-Occupied France’, Basterds begins with an intense interrogation scene that simmers the tension to choking point.
Running at 20-odd minutes, it’s a slow but very sure start – plus it introduces Christoph Waltz’s very nasty Nazi Hans Landa. More on him in a bit...
Its Not Grindhouse Vol.2
Been there, done that.
The abiding worry with Tarantino is that he can’t – or won’t – move on from film-geeky genre worship, but, thankfully, Basterds feels like a fresh step forward, not another slab of knowing schlock.
Sure, it’s still garish and show-offy and self-referential, but all in moderation.
Eli Roth Doesn't Ruin It
If you must insist on casting your not-that-talented mates, be shrewd and keep them on a short leash.
That’s what QT does with Roth, giving him minimal dialogue and relying instead on his best feature – his dark, faintly demonic looks.
Though he’s not as unnerving as Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa. More on him in a bit. Honest...
Brad Pitt Doesn't Hog It
That first trailer stoked fears of Brad barking in a Tennessee accent for 150 minutes, but like Roth, Pitt’s a sparing presence, upending expectations of a movie awash in overpowering alpha-maleness.
Here, a little of Pitt goes a long way - his jutting chin even further.
The Soundtrack Is Very Cool
Sure, it’s the least you expect from QT, but his latest riffle through his record collection is once again smart, original, personal and in sync with the imagery.
Okay, maybe there's a bit too much Morricone, but the use of David Bowie's 'Cat People' is an instantly classic, 'Stuck In The Middle With You Moment' - it shouldn't work but somehow does.
Tarantinos Foot Fetish Is Back
We were fretting that he wasn't going to, uh, shoehorn it in there, but at the 11th hour, the director’s penchant for leg-hands rears its... head.
Can’t say too much about the scene, but it’s strangely sexy, suspenseful and involves Christoph Waltz’s spectacularly brilliant and very, very nasty Hans Landa. More on him. In a bit...
Christoph Waltzs Hans Landa
Okay, here he is – the movie’s breakout star. (Although Melanie Laurent’s lush, vengeful Shosanna is a close-run second).
Basterds’ biggest bastard is a snivelling, sadistic scene-pincher who chews on dialogue and smoking-pipe alike with insidious, wolfish charm.
If the Academy can stomach the rest of the film, expect Oscar buzz to kick in towards the end of the year.
The Ending Is Ace
Generally, there's lots of talk-talk, and few set-pieces.
More impatient types may get the fidgets, but if they can keep still, they’ll be rewarded with a literal inferno of a pay-off that stunningly twines the many characters together.
It takes outrageous historical liberties, mind, but it kicks the crap out of Valkyrie .