Energetic, inventive, swaggering fun, Quentin Tarantinos Inglourious Basterds is a consummate Hollywood entertainmentrich in fantasy and blithely amoral. It's also quintessential Tarantinoeven more drenched in film references than gore. Tweaked after Cannes, Inglourious Basterds may still be a tad long and a little too pleased with itself, but its tough to resist the enthusiastic performances and terrific dialogueif youre not put off by the juvenile premise (a Hollywood occupation romance, in which a Jewish special unit wreaks vengeance on the Nazis) or cartoonish savagery (though Inglourious Basterds is as much talk-talk as bang-bang). Christoph Waltz plays an elegant and clever SS man and is the movies most crowd-pleasing creationhe's Eichmann as fun guy! Hes also a European sissy whose barbaric antagonists are a squad of Jewish-American commandos led by wily hillbilly Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). The Jews are out for blood. Operating like a cross between the Dirty Dozen and a Nazi death squad, Raines eponymous Basterds take no prisoners; designated survivors are shipped back to Germany, swastikas carved in their foreheads to spook the brass. The rest are sent to Valhalla, most spectacularly by Sgt. Donny Donowitz (exploitation director Eli Roth), who uses a Louisville slugger to bash German brains. Watching Donny beat Nazis to death is as close as we get to the movies, one of the Basterds exults, tipping Tarantinos hand. Everything here unfolds in and maps an alternate universe: The Movies. And if masterpiece is taken to mean the fullest expression of a particular artists worldview, Basterds could well be Tarantinos.
Jan. 22-28, 7 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 4 p.m.; Jan. 29-30, 9 p.m.; Feb. 1-3, 9 p.m., 2010