In case I haven't made myself clear yet, I'm firmly on the side of "Inglourious Basterds," a film I think it one of the best things released so far this year, and the best thing Tarantino's done since "Jackie Brown." 

And I say that as a fan of "Kill Bill" and "Grindhouse."  This is a whole different level of film from Tarantino... smart and adult and outrageous, and a big part of what I like about the film is the cast.

When I went to the recent press day, I was sorry to miss an opportunity to sit down with Brad Pitt or with Tarantino himself, but it still turned out to be a great afternoon of conversation about the film, starting with Eli Roth, who I've known since he first showed up at Butt-Numb-A-Thon years ago.  Seeing Eli play such a major role in the film was odd, but I think he absolutely stepped up and gave life to "The Bear Jew," Donny Donowitz, and we talked about him making the jump from one side of the camera to the other:

[more after the jump]

 

 

Diane Kruger made a splashy debut with "Troy," but until now, I didn't really have an opinion of her as more than a pretty face.  Her work as Bridget Von Hammersmark changes all of that, though, and we talked about her reaction to the opportunity:

 

 

I think there are two break-out stars just waiting to happen in this film.  The first is Melanie Laurent, who I recognize from smaller roles in earlier films like "Days Of Glory" or "The Beat My Heart Skipped."  Until now, she's never had a showcase like this, and it turns out, she's sort of awesome.  Wanna hear her wrassle with the English she's still mastering?  Warning:  it's adorable:

 

 

Finally, there's Christophe Waltz, the guy who absolutely steals this movie out from everyone else, movie stars and unknowns alike.  He's Col. Landa, "the Jew Hunter," and he is riveting in every single second he's onscreen.  I suspect we're going to see a lot more of him, and I'm pleased to have sat down with him at this point in his soon-to-be white-hot career:

 

 

My thanks to Pantea and everyone else at The Weinstein Company who put me together with these fine folks, and remember... "Inglourious Basterds" drops behind enemy lines this Friday, August 21st.

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