Django Unchained – Directed by the man himself, Quentin Tarantino

django_unchained_movie_poster_by_artoftu-d5pvahk-711x1024Man, there sure is a lot of cool art that is inspired by this movie, I found this poster on the second page of pictures when I googled it, and it makes sense – this is a movie that inspires creativity, because damn if it isn’t one of the most creative things I’ve seen in years. And of course it is, why would we expect anything less from Quentin Tarantino by now? I don’t even think I need to link you his name, you know who he is, unless you’ve been living under a rock for about the past 20 years. Pulp Fiction is probably the best disturbing movie ever made, and his penchant for making extremely-almost-to-the-point-that-its-comical violence explode off the screen has been around since his first (and probably still my favorite) movie, Reservoir Dogs. If you haven’t seen that one, for gods sake turn off this review and go buy it $4 at wal mart, and start there. Because I’m not entirely sure how one would handle everything that’s going on in this movie if you didn’t first have an idea of what kind of movies Tarantino sets out to make, because he is most assuredly a one of a kind film maker. And of course that’s a good thing. If we had ten more like him in Hollywood I’d imagine we wouldn’t get as much crap coming out like we do now – for gods sake, I linked you to the movie The Call there once, just watch the trailer for that pile of complete s***. It’s ass like that that gets released that makes me all the more thankful for Tarantino and his special brand of weird.

Django-Unchained-2 I’m pretty sure I could just populate this review with awesome art from the internet art nerds and you would all be ok with it. You would? Ok then. So anyways, we have this monster of a movie that Tarantino has apparently wanted to do a Western for quite a while, and some of the reasons for that are in this really cool interview with him that I found when I was obsessing about him after I saw this two days after Christmas. It talks about the various aspects of how to make a good Western, on which Quentin nearly nails all of them. Badass superhero like protagonist? Yep. Misson for revenge because someone wronged him and/or his wife? Of course. Evil bad guy with a charming air about him, to the point of you ALMOST maybe liking him in some scenes? Who better than the great Leonardo DiCaprio to play something like that. He even has a cool villainous name, Calvin Candie. But the real twist here, the sheer awesomeness of Tarantino, is that he added his own brand of crazy to this formula that would have already worked had it not had something like this, but because of its inclusion the movie is elevated to near classic levels – and I’m speaking about the walking, talking, shooting, nearly as hardcore badass as the main badass maguffin himself, Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, who you should already know about, but if you didn’t, you will now.

django-unchained-1c And not just because of my bigass picture here, either. So the character of King is pretty much unnecessary in a common Western, and here’s why. We already have the vengeful hero, a slave in the form of Django, who’s wife was taken from him and sold to another plantation. What better form of vengeance could there be than someone who was a slave? Of course he’s angry, of course he has more than enough reason to want to kill nearly every white man he comes across for putting him in this situation. But instead of him simply escaping his captors and going on a rampage, he is helped along by Mr. Maguffin, Schultz. And what a spectacular maguffin he is. You are probably yelling his name is KING stupid, NOT MAGUFFIN, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! By now – and don’t worry, I’m getting to it. You see, King knows pretty much everything. He travels the country in his “dentist cart”, giant plastic tooth flopping over top of his wagon not withheld, and, he pretty much knows EVERYTHING. He is a bounty hunter, who magically produces documents for whomever he has killed, and never suffers any consequences for it. He is magically in the middle of some random forest at the beginning because he needs Django to help him track down two particularly valuable targets, who just so happen to be the brothers that were responsible for taking Django and his wife, Broomhilda (I’m serious, that is really her name in this – but in typical Tarantino fashion, there is even a reason for THAT). It is within the first 45 minutes that Django is rescued, the two become friends, and decide to spend the winter tracking down various bounties, since Django seems to have a certain skill at killing the white folk – again, what slave wouldn’t? The main reason I call King the maguffin however, is because he is the one who tells us what we are watching. We are watching a fairy tale that happens to take place in the slave ridden south. That’s probably never done before, it might have been, but hey, I don’t watch every movie there ever has been, although if life didn’t get in the way, I’d certainly give that task my best damn try I could until my eyes fall off. And King pretty much all but leans to the camera and tells us this when he tells Django about how is pretty much a hero from a german fable and hell, he even has his own Broomhilda, that’s the same name in the fairy tale yo! Hence the significance of her name. He tells us all of the things we need to know, and moves the story along wherever it needs to be, and Waltz does it in such an elegant and amazing way (you might even say he, he…WALTZ’s us there? eh, eh?) that you don’t even care that he’s a maguffin. If he’s a plot device, well then he’s just about the best darn tootin’ plot device there ever has been.

DJANGO UNCHAINED And then there’s this guy of course, who will pretty much never let you down in a movie. Come to think of it, I really don’t think he ever has. Well, I’m no longer a fan of Titanic, but, six times in a theater will do that to you. No for real, I saw it that many times, that really happened. But anyways – Candie is every bit the insane villain you want him to be. This scene in particular is disturbing and hard to watch, I won’t ruin anything for you, but that is another staple of Tarantino’s films – you are gonna be uncomfortable a handle of times when you watch them, he wants you to be. I’d imagine he’d probably even laugh at you if he saw you squirm in your seat. He’s a brilliant filmmaker, of course, I certainly hope I’ve established that by now – but he loves the ultra violence and doesn’t shy away from some downright ridiculous violent situations, and this movie is no exception. There is this scene, and pretty much the last 3rd of the movie is full of insane, blood splattering shootouts leading right up until the end. This is a revenge tale so naturally people are going to die, some in more interesting ways than others, I can’t ruin anything for you here as much as I would love to, because you need to see this movie.

django-unchained Before I get to talking more about the violent shootouts, because if there is one thing in movies that I truly love, its a violent shootout, we’ll talk about this guy. Because, here’s the truth my loyal readers – I don’t like Jamie Foxx. I really don’t. I don’t like that he thinks hes fancy enough to spell his name with two x’s, I think Ray was HIGHLY EXTREMELY over rated and there were MUCH better movies deserving your respect made in 2004 than that one, and for gods sake he had an awful TV show. I think that Denzel is a far better actor and for some reason Foxx almost gets more attention. But enough ranting, because – he is fantastic in this movie. THIS movie is his best role, by far and away, absolutely no contest. He is the hardcore badass, he is shocking in some scenes like he needs to be, and he shows us that this dude has RANGE. He shocks some of the people on screen in some scenes, and he will shock you too. He is brutal, he is violent, he is an awesome borderline anti-hero. I wouldn’t even be mad at an Oscar nomination for this performance, because as much as I love Waltz and his character, I’m not sure if a maguffin has ever been awarded an Oscar. First time for everything though, amiright? I had to gush a little about Foxx’s performance because like I said, I expected him to be the weakest link in this trio of actors, and instead he proved to be nearly the strongest.

And what else to say – oh, I cannot end this review without talking about a scene where I honestly yelled out loud in the theater. I didn’t care who heard me, I was so damn excited. Now, along with Tarantino’s genius for violence, dialogue, pretty much freakin’ everything, we also have his excellent choices in soundtrack. That definitely goes all the way back to Reservoir Dogs and of course we all remember some of the great stuff that played in Pulp Fiction, and Django Unchained has some amazing stuff in it, some of it produced just for this movie (a first with Tarantino), but one scene in particular….man. Now, lets get something straight here before I start getting too long winded – I love me some rap. I love the hip-hop. I am a bit of a rap fiend even, and I’m not even ashamed of it. So, when I tell you that, during what could be argued as the climax of the movie, during an extremely violent, blood and bullets flying everywhere scene, when an old Tupac Shakur song came blaring through the movie theater speakers, I don’t think its a stretch to tell you that I got chills. And I honestly yelled “OH, MY, GOD. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?! NO WAY. DUDE.” when I heard that. It is arguably the most memorable thing I’ve seen in theaters all of last year, and I still say AWESOME! to myself when I think about it. Spot on. When you think about how this movie is about slavery, overcoming that, black empowerment, etc, etc, etc, who better to establish that in a movie than Tupac Shakur? Absolutely incredible, the best choice you could make for a movie of this caliber. That’s it, I’m done gushing about this scene.

So Tarantino has done it here, most assuredly. I never thought anything would top Reservoir Dogs for me, but this one very nearly has. My one and only complaint is that it’s a bit overlong – by about, a half hour or so. This movie clocks in at nearly three hours, and it could have been done in oh, say, two hours and 15. But again, we expect this sort of thing from Tarantino anymore – he is a self-confessed self indulgent film maker, he started as a film nerd and he shows us that he still is on camera, and really, you can’t fault him for it. Why get mad at someone for wanting to hold on to their masterpiece just a few minutes longer? Because I think this IS Tarantino’s masterpiece, and unlike that OTHER guy who ended his movie 656 different times, I can’t hate on Tarantino too much for keeping this one running a little bit too long. It’s still a brilliant movie, and I hope it picks up at least a couple Oscars next month. Have I made my case? I think I have. Go see this one immediately.

 

The verdict – 4-stars

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Top 10 Movies of 2012 – FINALLY!

I know I’ve been away for a bit, I’ll use the “trying to collect my thoughts from the awesomeness of all the movies coming out in December plus holidays” excuse on this one, but really there is no excuse for me remaining silent on all the great stuff that came out in the past 5 weeks, so I’ll just say that it will not happen again, and there will be a review freakin’ BLOWOUT this week – starting with some of the ones I skipped over on my top ten of 2012 list, although most of em you can find on here, particularly the top ones (except Django Unchained, which will be remedied today). So, without anymore grovelling to try and get you to come back and pay attention to my site once more, here is, my TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2012 WITH ALSO TOO MANY HONORABLE MENTIONS AT THE END:

10. seeking a friend buckwalter 615 focus  Seeking a Friend for the End of The World – I reviewed this one when I first saw it, and you can see how well it did on rotten tomatoes too, which is, how you say, not so good. I’m not really sure why, because this was a criminally underappreciated movie from last year and is one that any sad sack romantic, or anyone with even a passing interest in the apocalypse should see. It’s a different take on all of that, and it is funny, sad, insightful, and overall, wonderful. I said lots of nice things about it already in my review for it back in October, so go there if you want to read more reasons why you should watch it, because you SHOULD.

9. the grey Movie Wallpaper 1920x1080 The Grey – Here’s one I haven’t reviewed on here yet, but I will, don’t worry. This was one that I almost forgot about because it came out way back in January of last year, but man, what a ride this movie was. I originally went into this one just expecting TAKEN 2 (since that movie wasn’t out or even announced yet) : THIS TIME HE FIGHTS WOLVES INSTEAD OF DUDES. But man, how wrong I was. My boy Liam has an excellently underplayed performance here, not quite a departure from his usual because you always know he’s going to be a badass at some point, but man, this movie was an intense ride from start to finish. It is not for the weak, that’s for sure, and it is definitely not what you would expect. The ending is brilliant, exactly as it should be, and was nearly as controversial as the ending to No Country For Old Men…which, in my opinion, aside from Lost In Translation, is one of the best endings to any movie ever (spoiler alert, all of those endings are controversial, and most people don’t like them). It’s that good. See it, just uh, don’t expect to be laughing much when you do.

8. End-of-Watch-poster1 End of Watch – This was another one I had a long winded review for, I’ve said enough about it. This one was unexpected, but my god was it incredible, and it was ALSO intense, just not on the same level as The Grey. It also did really well on Rotten Tomatoes, and for good reasons. The chemistry between the two buds in this movie is reason alone to check it out – you wish you had a friendship like they do. It’s out on blu ray next week apparently, so you should probably just go ahead and buy it.

7. movies_liberal_arts_poster Liberal Arts – My last review before I shut down for a bit, you know I said lots of great things about this one. This one, I will admit, is more of a personal opinion choice, because I can relate to it, more so than it is something that will blow your mind, like the last three movies will. It’s a simple movie, but people mostly liked it, and hey, Lost in Translation and Once are simple movies as well, and they are two of my favorites of all time. You don’t need to have explosions and a big grandiose plot to get my attention, or to make a memorable impression on me (although I DO love explosions, I’m just sayin’). And Ted from How I Met Your Mother created a great simple little movie here – I didn’t even like the guy much until this movie, to be totally honest with you. But if his second writing and directing dealie is this good, then he’s one to watch for sure.

6. The-Cabin-In-The-Woods-new-poster Cabin in the Woods – for many months after I saw this, this was my #1 movie of 2012. That’s a testament to how great last year was for movies, but also to how fantastic this movie was. You’ve never seen a scary movie like this. I will review this one soon as well, because it comes close to making my top 10 of all time, and after I watch it a few more times this year, it might even earn a spot. It’s that good. I even hesitate to cram it into the “horror” genre, because man, there are just so many of those that are BAD. I don’t want it in a genre with movies like THE BED THAT EATS, when it transcends them so well. This movie is hilarious, it is inspired, it really is just…genius. Joss Whedon IS a genius, my fellow nerds and I have known this for quite some time now, but this movie, as well as The Avengers this year both written AND directed by him, just demonstrates that we are truly blessed to have this guy in Hollywood. I won’t ruin anything for you about this movie here OR in my inevitable review, because you just have to see it for yourself, and have your perception forever changed on what a scary movie can be. And after you see it, come talk to me about that ending, cuz, how about it, eh?

5. 13895633 Silver Linings Playbook – I’m going to watch this one about three more times just this week, and I will review this one ASAP. Because, my god was it good. I know the picture I chose was weird, I’m pretty…pretty sure it might not be playing at all those places anymore, but hey if you live in California, give em a call and maybe it is! And then send me a ticket to come visit, so I can actually see incredible stuff like this in theaters and not have to resort to…other, less legal means of seeing it. Because I simply HAD to see this one and couldn’t wait any longer for it to maybe show up at my podunk theater in my podunk town. I like the word podunk, don’t you? But anyways, I’ll toss this out there right away – Oscar WIN, not just the nomination, for my tied for favorite person in Hollywood right now, Jennifer Lawrence (Jessica Chastain is tied with her, btw). I always knew she had it in her – how good was Winter’s Bone a few years ago, when she was only SEVENTEEN, for gods sake?! But I use a word I usually don’t like here – she is a revelation in this movie. She’s a force of nature. Every scene she is in she steals, and hey, Bradley Cooper is great in it too, a pretty big departure from his standard role as well – although, not TOO far – he’s still sort of that arrogant jerk that you would probably still want to be friends with) and I wouldn’t even be mad at an Oscar nomination for him for this either – but we all know who’s gonna win THAT one this year, but, man. This movie is hilarious, it is dark, it is sad, it is…LIFE, man! Not to mention Robert DeNiro FINALLY playing to his talents instead of playing in all those garbage comedies he’s been known for the past years – how about a best supporting actor for him too? MY GOD this movie was good. I’ll gush about it (hopefully in 1500 words or less, but no guarantees!) more in my review, but in the meantime, see this by any means necessary.

4. Cover Argo Argo – If there was any movie that was more intense than The Grey, it was this one – and in such a different, brilliant way too. I don’t think Affleck is up for best director for this movie – and that is CRIMINAL, my friends. And this is ME saying that, I don’t even like the freakin’ guy! The fact that the idiot who played in Gigli and other piles of crap found his true calling with directing should be recognized by the Academy, because good lord did he do an awesome job on this movie. I already praised it, I already told you to see it, so will 96% of all the critics out there, so just go ahead and do it. Hell, just buy this one too.

3. django-unchained-poster-e1357542813658 Django Unchained – This is another one I haven’t reviewed, and something I will fix this week. This poster sums it up well – this is the man himself, Quentin Tarantino’s version of a fairy tale in the west, and is it ever awesome – it is extremely violent of course, but it has characters you will be discussing for weeks, it has possibly the best maguffin ever put in film in the form of the character portrayed by Christoph Waltz, appropriately named “King”, and what is easily Jamie Foxx’ best performance to date, yes, even over Ray, which I think is highly over rated. Only a director like Tarantino could take a story about slavery like this and have it work on so many levels. It’s a bit overlong – but which of his movies aren’t, he’s a bit of a self indulgent film maker and he always will be – but I (and you) could care less by the end of this movie. It is fantastic, and the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten aside from maybe my first Nintendo.

2. the_perks_of_being_a_wallflower_quote_1The Perks of Being a Wallflower – speaking of overlong, my review for this movie was, because I loved it. This one IS in my top 10 movies of all time, it blew me away, and I simply cannot wait to own it next month right after Valentine’s Day, which I hate. This movie will cheer me up on that awful wretched stupid pointless holiday. This movie will cheer me up five or ten years from now. It is pretty much a masterpiece on many levels for me, and most of the critics agree with me. And if you were a big dork growing up like I was, you will love it all the more. You must see this movie.

1. skyfall Skyfall – C’mon, like it would have been anything else. There was a late contenda in the form of Django, but nothing could top this movie for me last year. I’m not even sure if anything can THIS year – although there will certainly be a fighter come May. This is the best action movie I have ever seen, this is easily the best Bond movie, this is flat out one of the best MOVIES I have ever seen. It cracks my top 5 of all time, it’s that good. I’ve seen it four times in theaters and sadly only once in IMAX, and I will see it at least ten more when I buy it at midnight the day it comes out. And it isn’t just for Bond fans – it is for everyone. Much like a surprising amount of people, male and female alike, loved The Avengers, you will love this too. I don’t know what Oscars it will be up for but I hope it at least is nominated for a few – hows about a supporting actress nod for Judi Dench in this? She’d deserve it. I am also not alone in my gushing about this movie, pretty much everyone loved it. You will too – even if you don’t care about James Bond.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: There are so many of these that I should probably just do an 11-15, which, screw it, I will, but I’m going to say less about them than my top 10:

11. The Avengers – I mentioned enough up there, didn’t I? Obviously I loved it. I saw it in theaters four times too, it was my go-to movie for about two months when nothing was playing in theaters.

12. Dark Knight Rises – people probably wondered where this would show up for me. It wasn’t as good as Dark Knight, which is the best comic book movie ever made and possibly ever will be made, but it’s close enough. It’s also a bit overlong and could do with some editing, but that doesn’t make it any less great, it is.

13. Prometheus – this was a movie I didn’t like right when I left the midnight premiere….yet found myself thinking about it days, weeks, months later. I’ve only seen it once which is somewhat criminal for a movie I’ve thought so much about, and it is for that reason, that I still think about it when most movies are long forgotten, that I put it solidly at 13. It’s worth seeing just for the controversy, and maybe, to make you think too.

14. Moonrise Kingdom – like I could leave a new Wes Anderson movie out of a list of the best of the year, lets be serious. It had some wonderful imagery that stuck with me weeks after, and damn if it isn’t just all around pretty on blu ray.

15. Flight – this is MY pic for the best male performance of the year, give Denzel his second Oscar for this one, but sadly it won’t happen.

More honorable mentions – Wreck-It Ralph (that would be #16), Chronicle (for being incredibly original on such a small budget, hope to see more from that director), The Woman in Black (for being pretty much downright TERRIFYING – probably the best scary movie of last year, who knew Harry Potter had a scary movie in him?!), John Carter (go ahead and judge and make fun, I thought it was pretty much brilliant, it was under rated and a sleeper in my opinion, its sad we likely won’t see any more of them), Take This Waltz, Project X (guess I was sort of alone on that one, critics hated that one, yikes), Pitch Perfect, Wrath of the Titans (another one I think was under rated – this movie ruled! Zeus and Hades wreckin shop together, c’mon now!) Martha Marcy May Marlene (if only for being so STRANGE!) and man, probably a lot more. Comments are open, friends! Tell me if I missed one, if my list sucks, whatever. 2012 was probably the best year we’ve had for movies in the past five years or so, for real, so I’m sure I missed at least another 20 or more great movies. But man, what a year. Here’s hoping 2013 is just as good, a tall order!