Sunday, January 6, 2013

Onward to 2013!

I'm back after a holiday hiatus - hope you had a great holiday season (my tree's still up, so technically, I suppose my holidays remain ongoing) and are ready for an exciting 2013!  It looks like some great movies are being released this year and I'm sure there will be more than a few stinkers, which can be sort of fun in their own right.

Breaking Bad will be airing its final eight episodes this summer and I want us all to be ready!  Look for recaps, reminders, and all manner of oddities as "Walter White Wednesday" resumes operation by the end of January.

I kicked off 2013 by seeing Tarentino's latest, Django  Unchained, which is his homage to spaghetti Westerns twisted round a unique take on the "blaxploitation" films of the 1970s.  Now, Tarentino's violence-drenched bloodfests are not everyone's cup of entertainment tea and that's fine.  Django is hyper-violent - to the point of almost being cartoonish, but not quite crossing that line.  It's rated R for several thousand very good reasons.  We live in a society that has deemed certain words too crass to even utter aloud, especially when those words are racial slurs.  Django wastes no time and gets immediately in the audience's face about that.  The film also shows the casual barbarity that comes with a slave-holding society. Human beings are shot, beaten, and tortured for trying to escape a system that would allow them to be shot, beaten, and tortured.  It's harsh and brilliantly sets up the revenge fantasy that is at the heart of Django, with an unexpected German angle coming at the audience through a (very) broad retelling of the tale of Siegfried and Brunhilde.  I liked the film - much more than I expected to - in part due to Tarentino's eye for framing violence in a way that makes you remark on the beauty of it, while still decrying the horror.  A case in point is a quick shot toward the beginning of the movie involving bright green cotton stalks, puffy white bolls, and a spray of blood.

Is Django accurate?  Heck, no (my companion pointed out that a Winchester repeating rifle is prominently carried by one character - a gun that wasn't invented for a good 20 years after the movie is set, but anachronisms are part of the spaghetti Western genre, so I'll let that slide) but it's not intended to be a documentary, either.  Jaime Foxx and Kerry Washington (who worked together on the film Ray) never let you forget that slavery is about real, actual people being stripped of their humanity.  Django also has plenty of scenery chewing - Leonardo diCaprio seems to be having great fun and Christoph Waltz (who brilliantly played the evil Nazi Hans Landa in Tarnetino's Inglourious Basterds, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) is magnificent, with cameos by a host of spaghetti Western actors and others.  For example, Don Johnson is hilarious and Jonah Hill has a tiny role that'll leave you laughing. 

Laughing at racism - who'd have thought?  Django does it differently (and far bloodier) than Blazing Saddles, but they both work.

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