Quentin Tarantino makes movies about movies. He's really outdone himself with his latest, Inglourious Basterds. Basterds has a plot, a shaggy-dog story about a scheme to assassinate Hitler. But it's really Tarantino's love letter to film.
That said, it's an awfully funny, tense, violent love letter. As you've probably seen in the movie's trailers, the Basterds are a group of Nazi-killers (their leader points out they're not in the prisoner-taking business). And Tarantino isn't afraid to show them do their thing in graphic detail. And as you probably learned in history class, the Nazis were pretty rough customers themselves.
This isn't a History Channel production, though. Like Hendrix covering Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," Tarantino takes World War II events and spins them into something all his own, a movie full of larger-than-life heroes and villains. I mean, when we're first introduced to Tarantino's Hitler, he's wearing a cape.
A cape. Like Darth Vader. Or Doctor Doom.
Getting back to the real subject of the film, a French movie theater is a major character. Tarantino throws in nods to noir movies, Hitchcock, and probably a hundred other cinematic particulars I wasn't hip enough to catch, at least on first viewing. I especially love how one character, even after meeting an untimely demise, gets the last laugh thanks to a movie projector.
As is the case with most of Tarantino's flicks, the cinematography, editing, and sound work are top-notch. And the music is great, of course. I especially love a totally period-incorrect David Bowie song that shouldn't work but does. Totally. In fact, it might be my favorite ever use of a pop tune in a Tarantino movie.
I don't feel like my rambling about Basterds is really doing the movie justice, so I'll just add that it is currently my pick for best movie of 2009. And it's a movie you should see. In a proper movie theater.
I've had a good run at the theater lately, having also seen District 9 and Moon. Both are worth your time, and both feature excellent effects--D9 on the CG side (seriously, and I don't even usually like CG), and Moon on the practical side (seriously, and I love practical effects). And speaking of effects, the makeup and pyro in Basterds are just about perfect.