Once hailed as the Great White Hope of American movies, Quentin Tarantino instead turned out to be the King of the "B"s. It's now clear that Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction weren't the work of a wunderkind so much as drum majors leading a wearisome parade of wised-up, tricked-out genre movies. The heated homage v. ripoff debate that accompanies every new QT release is certain to attend Inglourious Basterds, his hyperviolent take on the World War II platoon flick. Get yourself prepared with Enzo G. Castellari's 1978 Euro exploitation precursor, Inglorious Bastards, with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Bo Svenson headlining a cast of no-names in American uniforms. The hit-and-run plot involves a group of bad-apple G.I.s who find themselves unexpectedly at loose ends in occupied France in 1944 and take on a Dirty Dozen-ish suicide mission. It doesn't much matter if they're heroes or thugs, patriotic or ruthless, since they're dedicated to the reassuring task of wiping out brigades of Nazis -- the most heinous villains in movie history, certainly, if not actual history. Tarantino's take is bound to push bad-taste limits that Castellari could only dream of, with the gore, torture, and tension ratcheted to, well, Tarantinoesque levels. The original, however, absent QT's moral messiness and in-your-face intensity, promises more low-budget fun.
Fri., May 29, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., May 31, 2 p.m., 2009