Inglorious Basterds

From Feb ’10 Spotlight: By the time this column hits your mailbox, Quentin Tarantino’s new film Inglorious Basterds will likely be a candidate for several 2010 Academy Awards. Carrying the tagline: “Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France…,” Inglorious Basterds is a WWII fantasy in which specially-recruited Jewish-American soldiers, led by Brad Pitt as “Lieutenant Aldo Raine,” take brutal revenge on hapless members of the Third Reich.

What to make of all of this? I, for one, found the 153 minute run time grueling, with long stretches of yawn-inducing dialogue punctuated by horrific but very predictable bursts of violence. On the whole, I thought Inglorious Basterds worked so hard at being clever that it came closer to performance art than cinema.

Me, I prefer Mel Brooks’ invitation to dance on Hitler’s grave, so my DVD picks for February are The Producers. Brooks first released The Producers in 1968 as an 88-minute low budget farce. Zero Mostel starred as washed-up impresario “Max Bialystock,” supported by Gene Wilder as nebbishy accountant “Leo Bloom,” and Brooks took home a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The 2005 film version, on the other hand, is a hugely expensive, elaborately staged musical starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Nevertheless, the basic plot points remain constant, and every time I hear the tune “Springtime for Hitler,” I’m consoled once again by the old adage: She who laughs last, laughs best!

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