Inglorious Basterds


From this dubious core, however, the film sprawls in improbable directions, becoming, among other things, Tarantino’s most explicit movie about the movies to date. A French Jew (Melanie Laurent) escapes a death squad and reinvents herself as the proprietress of a Paris movie house, only to find herself romanced by a young German war hero and budding film star (Daniel Bruhl) who plays himself in a Nazi propaganda film. Meanwhile, another German star, Bridget von Hammersmark (a very good Diane Kruger), is conspiring with the Allies against Hitler, her primary contact being a British commando (Michael Fassbender) who is also a film critic (!) and an expert on German cinema. (One of Tarantino’s better inside jokes is to have the German-born Fassbender playing a Brit who impersonates a Nazi and jeopardizes the mission with his imperfect accent.) There is a discussion regarding whether Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth), who among other duties oversaw the German film industry, preferred to be compared to Louis B. Mayer or David O. Selznick. Several characters are named in homage to B-movie stars (Raine, a play on Aldo Ray, and Hugo Stiglitz among them), and the Italian western and crime-film director Enzo G. Castellari, who directed the original 1978 Inglorious Bastards (from which this movie borrowed its title but nothing else), has a cameo as a mid-century version of himself. The whole affair culminates with a massive, murderous set piece at the movie house, which testifies to the purifying power of film as a political medium and film stock as a combustion agent.

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