INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS:

Not content with breaking the rules of spelling, director/writer Quentin Tarantino (PULP FICTION) rewrites World War II history in this wrong-headed effort about Jews turning the tables on Nazis in occupied France. That aspect alone will insure that few people will feel neutral about any movie that depicts Hitler and his top ministers being killed in a theater fire. Although I acknowledge this as a “twist” on war films where the outcome is known, I have to wonder, at a time when teachers at schools named after Dwight Eisenhower don’t even know who he is, if this is a wise idea. Putting that aside, the Jewish soldiers who are supposed to be the good guys routinely club their prisoners with baseball bats or mutilate their corpses in the kind of atrocities usually associated with their Nazi oppressors. Really, the Hebrew G.I.s in the title feel like an unwanted distraction from the more compelling plot about an attractive young cinema owner (Melanie Laurent) who concocts an elaborate plan to kill high level Nazis, including the SS officer (Christoph Waltz) who had her own family murdered. Clever dialogue and verbal flights of fancy have always been Tarantino’s trademark and the opening scenes introducing Waltz’s elegantly reptilian Gestapo agent as well as Brad Pitt’s (LEGENDS OF THE FALL) cartoonishly likeable, Tennessee-bred squad leader bear his stamp. After that, the script takes on an air of pontification that considerably diminishes the pace of the movie, causing it to be overlong at two-and-a-half hours. I have the feeling that Tarantino was so obsessed with paying tribute to everything from “men on an impossible mission” flicks, spaghetti westerns plus ‘50s and ‘60s big screen tough guy Aldo Ray (BATTLE CRY) that he overlooked the potential in what could have been an excellent war movie instead of an uneven fairy tale revenge fantasy.

MOVIES TO WATCH FOR IN SEPTEMBER: ALL ABOUT STEVE (September 4), EXTRACT (September 4), GAMER (September 4), 9 (September 9), SORORITY ROW (September 11), CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (September 18), THE INFORMANT! (September 18), JENNIFER’S BODY (September 18), LOVE HAPPENS (September 18), THE BOYS ARE BACK (September 25), FAME (September 25), SURROGATES (September 25)