Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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Titanic (1997)


Music to Drown by.  Now I Know I’m in First Class.

I was really perplexed by today’s request from my friend Loni.  I typically review movies and video games, and have only rarely reviewed random things like hair dye.  But, I said I’d review anything and I meant it.  Today’s review is for the Titanic, or more officially the RMS Titanic, built by Thomas Andrews and the Harland and Wolff shipyard, and captained by John Smith.  I couldn’t do any personal research on this boat, but everything I’ve read about this boat leads me to decide that I cannot recommend this boat.  Sure, it was big and pretty when it first came out, but it has not held up well.  It’s practically a pile of rust on the bottom of the ocean by now!

I think I drained that joke for all it was worth, and that was not much.  I’m guessing (based mainly on the fact that Loni has a vagina) that she was requesting that I review the MOVIE Titanic.  I had seen this movie already because I’m a member of the human species, and it’s viewed as a requirement.  I was dragged to see this movie because I grew up in a household of women and it could not be avoided.  But, though I had already seen this movie, I really didn’t remember that much about it.  What I remembered about the movie was more accurately what I remembered about the actual Titanic.  So when it was requested of me, the only thing that made me delay the review for as long as I did is not having the desire to dedicate a large fraction of my day to watching a movie.  I finally decided that it’s time had come.  Thus, here is my review of Titanic, written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, David Warner, Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, Jason Barry, Suzy Amis, and Ioan Gruffudd.  Also, it should be noted that I will not entertain the notion that spoilers are possible in this movie.  Even if you’re one of the three people in the world who hasn’t seen this movie, I’m sure you have heard plenty about it.  And if you’ve managed to avoid that, then I’m sure you know about the actual event.  And if you don’t know that, then you’re an idiot and you haven’t understood half of the words I’ve used.

In 1996, Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his crew are searching the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, looking for a valuable diamond that was last seen aboard the ship known as Le Coeur de la Mer (the Heart of the Ocean).  They get excited when they find a safe, thinking it would contain the diamond, but find only papers inside.  But, as they are cleaning the papers, they find one of them to be a drawing of a naked chick wearing the diamond.  When it’s shown on the news, 100-year-old Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) sees the picture and calls Lovett, revealing that the girl in the picture was her back when she was young and extremely fuckable.  Lovett flies her and her granddaughter (Suzy Amis) to their boat above the wreckage and Rose unfolds her life story to a group of people that just want to know where she left her jewelry.  The story then turns to Rose back when her name was Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) who boards the Titanic on its maiden voyage with her fiancé Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane) and her mother Ruth DeWitt Bukater (Frances Fisher).  She starts a love affair with a drifter/artist named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Later, the boat hits an iceberg, Jack dies, and Rose is rescued by Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd).

Yes, I did only decide to tell the entire story of the movie so that I could make a joke about Mr. Fantastic saving Rose.  …WORTH IT!!!  And here’s another thing: this movie is WAAAAAY too long, but ultimately it is also worth it.  I feel like I had a very masculine reaction to this movie, but I was not totally against the female, lovey-dovey parts.  The love story occupied the bulk of the movie, and tended to make the movie feel a little slow and drawn out to me, but I liked that it was vaguely Romeo-and-Juliet-esque in how the two of them were like star-crossed lovers whose status was trying to keep them apart.  Also, we know that their relationship is probably not going to end well.  Speaking of which, though I thought the love story part of the movie was fine, I admittedly didn’t really get interested until things started going wrong and people started dying.  That’s when the movie got exciting and, sometimes, a little funny.  C’mon!  You tellin’ me that you didn’t snicker at all when that CG dude fell off the vertical sinking ship and hit the handrails, sending him into a crazy spin until he hit the water?  If you didn’t laugh, you just don’t know funny when you see it.  I didn’t find that quite as funny as the fact that it seemed as if Cameron was trying to build suspense right before the Titanic hit the iceberg.  Fer real, dude?  You want me to wonder whether or not the boat’s going to hit the iceberg?  I probably knew that was coming before I knew anything else about the movie, including who James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet were.  But I suppose it’s what a filmmaker was inclined to do, and I’m not sure just how much of my generation actually paid any attention to what the Titanic was before this movie made it a household name again.  And I can’t deny that I got a little choked up at the end of the movie.  It didn’t reach tears, but it got close.  And I also like the message of the movie.  The bulk of the movie is just about how classes are bad, but that message doesn’t go quite as far with me.  The one that resonated with me was what showed up at the end of the movie as the camera panned over the pictures from Rose’s life that she had endeavored to live to the fullest because of her promise to Jack.  Although it seems like something you should always have on your mind, sometimes I do need a movie to remind me that life is finite and you should really try to live it.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the look of this movie.  It goes for epic and it blows epic out of the water.  The launching and the sinking of the Titanic were both as epic as they should have been.  They even had some impressive transitions, like how they morphed the corroded image of the sunken ship’s bow into the recreation of the brand new ship.  Of course, there’s one thing that cannot be ignored when talking about this movie and that’s that Céline Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On.”  I remember finding that song somewhat annoying around the release of this movie, but it was really more due to the fact that it was entirely overplayed.  I feel prepared to say right now that it is a good song.  And I don’t care how gay it makes me.  It sets a great mood, and it’s actually fairly versatile, which you can tell by how often they used it in the movie.  Sometimes it was the score and sometimes it was the version with Dion singing, played fast and up tempo or slow and melodic.  But it does make me laugh on the few occasions when I see a movie that does this kind of thing.  Some movies just like the song they picked so much that they beat the audience over the head with it, demanding that they like it too.  Armageddon did it with that Aerosmith song, and I think one of the Transformers movies did it with a Linkin Park song.  At least this movie bothered to change the tempo on the song to change the mood.

I couldn’t think of much of anything to say about the performances in the movie.  I didn’t particularly find anyone that mind-blowing, but they all did very well.  And I think we all know the performance that stood out for me.  Was it the Academy Award nominated old broad?  Nah.  She did fine.  Was it Mr. Fantastic in his pivotal tiny cameo role?  Nope.  I’m more of a Human Torch person.  Obviously it was Kate Winslet’s boobs.  I could look at that lady naked all day.  And I have.  I also think there’s a chance that they revealed that Winslet would be nude in the end of the movie early on so that the male audience would sit through all the lovey crap to see the boobs.  It would’ve been off-putting at first because we’d be thinking that the nudity they were hinting at with that sketch was going to be that old lady, but then that old lady turns into Kate Winslet.  Alright, I’ll stick around for an hour or two, but you better deliver, movie!

So there’s a really long review to accompany a really long movie.  I would say Titanic holds up as one of the most watchable chick flick type movies that I know of.  You do have to sit through a good deal of a romance novel (albeit a decently written one) to get to the boobs and mayhem, but if you give it a chance it actually pays off in a way that surprised me with the expectations I had going in.  It’s mainly hindered by its ridiculous length, much like the Titanic itself.  I don’t know if that metaphor makes any sense, but I do know I will be saying that Titanic is a good movie.  Go check it out.  Titanic gets “It’s over a hundred feet longer than the Mauritania, and far more luxurious” out of “That’s one of the good things about Paris: lots of girls willing to take their clothes off.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Quick and the Dead (1995)


We Both Have Guns.  We Aim, We Fire, You Die.

Westerns are some of my favorite movies, so including it as a category in my contest was a given.  What wasn’t a given was which movie it would be.  Being a fan of the genre, it could have been any number of movies.  I’ve already reviewed True Grit, so that was out.  I really like the Unforgiven, but it’s a little too slow for my tastes so I don’t think it’d make it as my favorite.  It could’ve been any number of Sergio Leone and/or Clint Eastwood movies, but I don’t have that much love for older movies.  That being the case, one western movie caught my attention, so I picked it.  Going into it, I remember being very fond of this movie, but wasn’t sure how well my memory holds up.  So I’m throwing the dice and hoping that I was right in thinking I really liked the Quick and the Dead, written by Simon Moore, directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Roberts Blossom, Gary Sinise, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Mark Boone Junior, Tobin Bell, Jonothon Gill, Lennie Loftin, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Josef Rainer, Pat Hingle, Raynor Scheine, and Olivia Burnette.

A lady named Ellen, but referred to almost exclusively as “The Lady” (Sharon Stone), rides into the town of Redemption, where a single elimination quick draw contest is about to start.  The town is run by the ruthless John Herod (Gene Hackman) and the Lady enters the contest shortly after Herod does, and shortly after saving the life of a reverend named Cort (Russell Crowe) who used to ride with Herod.  Then she gets drunk and sleeps with another contestant, Herod’s son “The Kid” (Leonardo DiCaprio).  As the contest movies along, the Lady is revealed to have a deep hatred for Herod, but we find out why slowly.  Will the Lady be fast enough to kill Herod?

Hey!  I was right!  I still really liked this movie.  It’s just badass.  The action is well realized, the directing is great, and the story was very involving.  At first, the movie makes itself seem like it has a pretty obvious story, being all about the quick draw contest.  It would be interesting enough with this, but wouldn’t be anything special.  It’s not until the Lady’s motivations of revenge bubbles up that I started getting more invested in the movie, but it works very well.  She’s definitely got a really good reason for hating Herod, and when it’s finally shown in its entirety, it’s such a horrible thing that happened to her that you can’t wait for her to kill this dude.  Not that he had made himself seem like a likeable character at any point in the movie as everyone hates him, but even he has some decent reasoning for the way he is.  Cort also has a pretty great back story.  As a matter of fact, a lot of the characters in the contest are given enough story that they’re mostly not just bullet fodder.  I would say that one thing didn’t make sense about the story.  If everyone in the town knew how fast and deadly Herod was, why would any of them join the contest?  Cort didn’t have a choice, the Lady had revenge on her mind, and the Kid wanted to earn his father’s respect, but all of the other people should’ve known better.  The dialogue in this movie was also very crisp and most of the characters had a nice snappy line prepared for any old situation.

All of the action in this movie worked very well for me.  Some people might think quick draw shootouts move a little slow, but I appreciate them so long as they build up the tension well leading up to the draw.  And Raimi does it very well, using a lot of quick cuts, close ups on the faces of the contestants, and quick zooms on the clock that will set things in motion.  He also uses the montage a lot, but not in an annoying way.  It just works for getting the lesser contestants taken care of quickly so we don’t waste too much time.  And one of them was the people preparing for the contest, using various period-correct ways of loading their weapons, which would seem to be pretty boring, but I was interested by it.  He also uses shadows and lighting very well, like the part where it showed a guy had gotten shot clean through by having his shadow have a hole in the chest.  There was also a part where a character got his head canoed by a bullet that is one of the coolest and most memorable moments in the movie.  Even with my dim recollection of the movie, I remembered that part before I started watching.

The greater majority of the performances in this movie were just fantastic.  Sharon Stone sets herself up as a badass quick, fast, and in a hurry.  She’s got this gruff, abrasive exterior at all times, but sometimes shows that underneath she’s out of her element and frightened.  I thought this worked excellently for a character, starting her off as the classic, fearless protagonist, but then humanizing her.  Of course, at the very end of the movie she is just straight up badass.  She was almost scary when it came time for the climax of the movie.  Gene Hackman was almost always intimidating.  He played it as almost nice on the surface, but if he was even slightly crossed he turned very intimidating.  He even cracks that intimidating façade slightly when something actually happens that he seems to regret.  He’s mostly holding it back, but you can kind of see a hint of it.  I really liked Russell Crowe’s character in this movie.  He was always made out to be this epic badass and stone cold killer, but he had denounced violence and claimed he wouldn’t pick it up again.  When he did, it was great.  He has a little scene near the end of the movie where he takes out something like six guys in a very short amount of time and it was fantastic.  I liked Leonardo DiCaprio too.  He always had this cocky little twerp attitude, but it was clearly covering up some serious low self-esteem issues that had been beaten into him by his father.  He also performs it very well around the time when he’s going to face his father in the contest where he gets very serious for the first time, and has a very well-acted emotional scene shortly after.

The Quick and the Dead may not accurately be considered my favorite western movie, but I think it’s up there.  It’s a lot of good action, a very engaging story, and some pretty top notch performances to back it all up.  I’ve liked Sam Raimi as a director for a while, and he seems to fit into the western genre very nicely.  It’s not the most groundbreaking movie, but it’s pretty awesome.  Check this movie out.  The Quick and the Dead gets “Me and Jesse James think it’s the best handgun in the world” out of “Is it possible to improve on perfection?”

Congratulations again goes to Chris for guessing today’s movie and winning his third DVD in this contest.  A more paranoid man would begin to think that he’s got cameras in my bedroom and can see the stack of DVDs waiting to be reviewed, but I think I’ll just assume that he’s madly in love with me.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.