- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

The Inglorious Bastards (Severin, $26.00) — Italian director Enzo Castellari’s 1978 war movie “The Inglorious Bastards” kept getting its name changed after it hit U.S. shores. Some theaters showed it as “G.I. Bro” to capitalize on co-star Fred Williamson’s blaxploitation cred. It also got slapped with more generic titles like “Deadly Mission” and “Hell’s Heroes.”

Mr. Castellari won’t have to worry about people mistaking his film’s real name any more. Director Quentin Tarantino’s next feature will be a loose remake of one of his favorite World War II movies “The Inglorious Bastards.”

“It’s unbelievable that a guy, a genius like Quentin, between the billions of movies made, chose mine to remake,” says Mr. Castellari in accented but very clear English from his Italian home.

“The Inglorious Bastards” gets more respect Tuesday(July 29) with an extras-laden DVD release. The package includes a lengthy chat between a fawning Mr. Tarantino and Mr. Castellari.

“Bastards” follows a band of U.S. soldiers awaiting punishment for various crimes — including desertion and murder — while traveling with their U.S. jailers through German-occupied France. When German troops attack their convoy, they bastards cw are set free. They hope to leave the war behind them by heading to Switzerland, but Allied loyalty compels them to tackle one last mission.

It’s easy to see why Mr. Tarantino was drawn to the 1978 film. “Bastards” revels in Mr. Castellari’s action sensibilities — spectacular bursts of gunfire and flying bodies all orchestrated with great attention to detail. It also features macho performances by Bo Svenson and Mr. Williamson that barrel right past the film’s cornier moments.

Mr. Castellari, who grew up watching American, not Italian movies, forged a name for himself with violent films like “High Crime” (1973) and “The Big Racket” (1976).

The director credits his athletic background — he was a boxer in his younger days — for honing his ability to create stirring action on-screen.

“Action means timing, timing, timing,” he says. “You either grab and catch it immediately, or you never learn.”

He often choreographed that day’s sequences on the ride to the set.

“During the half-an-hour drive, I’m always thinking, thinking,” he says.

Mr. Castellari’s U.S. film career didn’t match the fame he found overseas, but Mr. Tarantino has been doing all he can to correct that.

The “Pulp Fiction” director organized an impromptu film festival of Mr. Castellari’s movies recently, inviting along some of his famous peers, like Robert Rodriguez (“Desperado”).

When Mr. Castellari first met Mr. Tarantino at an Italian restaurant, the former video-store geek shouted “Maestro, maestro” for all to hear.

As for Mr. Tarantino’s “Inglorious Bastards,” Mr. Castellari doesn’t know much more than the average Tarantino fan about the project.

“I’m so curious and anxious to see his movie, his interpretation,” he says.

The two discussed the upcoming film in Venice recently. They spoke about potential casting choices, with the usual suspects (George Clooney, Samuel L. Jackson) and not so usual (Sylvester Stallone, Tim Roth) coming up.

The veteran director knows one casting decision already: Mr. Tarantino promised him he’ll have a cameo in the new film.

— Christian Toto

The Hills: The Complete Third Season (Paramount/MTV, $39.99) — Strange, but true: Entertainment Weekly named this soapy “reality” series one of the 100 best television shows of the last 25 years. It must have been one of their younger writers. Its third season — all 28 episodes of which are collected here on four discs — was the most-watched broadcast series that year among women ages 18 to 24. MTV’s “Laguna Beach” spinoff follows the sort-of-true adventures of Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge and other beautiful young things in Los Angeles. Even if you’ve never watched a single episode of the show, you’ve probably heard of them. Their semistaged exploits regularly make the front pages of the tabloids.

Two Fat Ladies (Acorn Media, $59.99) — One wonders if the Two Fat Ladies would be able to get a show on the Food Network today. The women of FN — Giada De Laurentiis, Ingrid Hoffmann, Sandra Lee — are a rather attractive bunch. British cooks Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, on the other hand, were, well, two fat ladies. Yet their cooking show, which ran on the BBC from 1996 to 1998 and was rebroadcast throughout the Anglosphere, was so much more compelling. I couldn’t really name a memorable episode of a recent cooking series — even as much as I enjoyed watching the shows at the time. But I’ll never forget the easy banter between the hard-living, pleasingly plump chefs, although it had been nearly a decade since I’d seen an episode. Miss Wright and Miss Paterson, who always arrived on the scene in a Triumph Thunderbird and sidecar, were politically incorrect about food before Anthony Bourdain made it cool. Steamed vegetables were not their strong point; they would have rather eaten rabbits than “rabbit food.” Their heavy use of butter, cream and even lard must have been appreciated by the various groups around Britain for whom they cooked. (They showed up at convents and embassies.) There was nothing staged or scripted about this series, and there were always stories from their rather eventful lives.

All 24 half-hour episodes are collected here, along with a recipe booklet. There is also a tribute to Miss Paterson, who died in 1999 while filming the series’ fourth season.

— Kelly Jane Torrance



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