Inglourious Basterds (2009)Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino's latest film combines all the components viewers have come to expect from him—long and unhurried scenes full of rich dialogue, graphic and gratuitous violence that takes you by surprise even when you know it's lurking in the shadows, sardonic humor, a sophisticated plot that requires you to pay attention, and, at the center of it all, a film about a film that's altered by a film clip on which the whole movie hinges. Set in 1941 France, a young girl named Shosanna escapes death by the Nazis, and ends up in Paris as the owner of a movie theater. Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is the Nazi "Jew-finder" who compares Jews to rats. His nemesis is Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), a red neck from Tennessee who leads a band of American Jews of the title name to inflict terror through violence on the Nazis, people who in Raine's worldview lack any semblance of humanity. Horrendous violence meets horrific revenge. These two protagonists meet in an unlikely way in the final scene. Can you make a serious movie about the Holocaust that depends upon parody? That incorporates a "good" holocaust against the deserving enemy? This film kept my attention for all 150 minutes, yanked my emotions from one extreme to the other, and reminded me that the medium of an excellent film need not depend on its exact meaning. With Tarantino the film is an end in itself.