AWFJ Women On Film – “Inglourious Basterds” – Susan Granger reviews

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Lifting the title from Enzo Castellari’s 1978 Italian W.W.II film, Quentin Tarantino begins with “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France” as he creates an alternate-reality fantasy/fable about a small group of Jewish-American soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Aldo “the Apache” Raine (Brad Pitt), a moonshine-maker from Tennessee, who wreak their own savage Nazi “retribution.”

So when the head of the Third Reich’s propaganda bureau, Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Green), decides to hold the premiere of a movie celebrating the exploits of the German Army’s finest sharpshooter, Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), in Paris – with Adolf Hitler and all his henchmen in attendance, British Lieutenant Archie Cox (Michael Fassbender) parachutes behind enemy lines to organize the commando Basterds to blow up the cinema, working with glamorous German actress/undercover agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger). At the same time, the art cinema’s owner, Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), whose family was brutally executed by evil SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) several years earlier in rural France, is plotting with her lover/assistant Marcel (Jacky Ido) to lock the doors of her theater and set it on fire. Everyone meets during the climactic finale in which Tarantino unabashedly rewrites Holocaust history.

Known for his gory, over-the-top violence and witty repartee in “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and 2,” idiosyncratic Quentin Tarantino interweaves fact with fiction and realism with fantasy in a non-linear tale, keeping the tension taut during the far-too-long (2 hours, 32-minute) running time, despite an abundance of dialogue which tends to drag on and on and on. Unfortunately, when the writer is also the director, there’s a tendency toward self-indulgence in length.

Those familiar with Second World War action/adventures will spot Basterdian antecedents in “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Great Escape” and Sergio Leoni’s spaghetti-Westerns, among others, while Diane Kruger’s character is obviously based on Hildegard Knef/Marlene Dietrich, and Mike Myers appears briefly, disguised as General Fenech.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Inglourious Basterds” is an exciting if uneven 8, exhilarating in the theme of Jewish empowerment and righteous revenge.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.