Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds' hook is clever, canny, and seemingly irresistible. A squadron of Jewish-American soldiers, led by a gentile backwoodsmen (is there any other kind?), drops behind enemy lines in 1944 Germany and sets about killing as many Nazis as possible.  While Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) leads his titular squadron on an Apache-inspired campaign of terror against the Germans, a quiet, beatiful young cinema owner endures the unwanted attention of a chipper Aryan sharpshooter. Unexpectedly, these overtures lead to a meeting with Goebbels, a tense dinner with the man who killed her family (he does not recognize her) and the opportunity to exact retribution on her kin's murderers. The climax sees the Basterds' official mission unknowingly collide with Shoshana's personal revenge plot, as a propaganda print and occupied theater goes up in flames, and the Fuhrer goes down in a flurry of bullets. Yes, the movie's hooky all right, but in the finished film the goofy high concept (Nazi-hunting Jewish guerrillas) is probably the least interesting element; one frequently wonders if Tarantino couldn't have made a better film by foregoing the cartoonish central device and withholding the residual hipster winking (dramatically toned down, but still a dominant element in the director's style).

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