Viewed – 29 January 2012 Cinema
When Quentin Tarantino makes a movie, it’s an event. Fact. Few director’s have the kind of celebrity status he enjoys, and thankfully more often than not, he can deliver. Over the years I would say he has evolved, from merely the movie geek wonder kid with a series of snappy scripts and a growing cult fan base, into a film-maker of true credibility. 2009’s Inglorious Basterds proved that, and now with this highly anticipated latest effort, he’s painting the classic spaghetti western in his trademark sharp-as-a-knife dialogue, clever-ass narrative and obscure soundtrack.
Jamie Foxx (Ray, Colateral) plays Django, a slave who teams up with savvy bounty hunter King Shultz (Inglorious Basterdz’ Christoph Waltz) who promises to help him track down and free his wife, who has been sold off to a local tycoon, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Now as should be expected, this isn’t like every other western you might have seen (technically it’s a southern, according to Quentin) with Tarantino’s usual mix of sporadic violence, smattering of carefully implemented comedy and lengthy scenes of tense dialogue all aided by a soundtrack so bizarre and obscure, that the whole thing threatens to turn into farce. Yet Tarantino is better than that and somehow makes it all work, especially once you get into the groove. Waltz, as in Basterdz steals the show with a brilliantly charming but no less deadly performance, aided by a perfect Foxx, who owns the title role. Of course it should go without saying that DiCaprio is also excellent in possibly his first villainous turn (proving very psychotic), and a special mention should go to Samuel L. Jackson who as always lights up the screen every time he appears.
Naturally though this is QT’s gig, working from his own brilliantly entertaining and often shocking script (his take on the slave trade utterly humbled this viewer) … and although stylised and at times comic-book-like (the bloody violence clearly exaggerated) still nails one of the darker times in American history.
Verdict: 5 /5
- Review | Django Unchained (theblend.ie)
- “Django” Is an Entertaining Revenge Story, Despite Becoming Too “Unchained” in Its Ending (thejkreview.wordpress.com)
- Tarantino releases Django Unchained comic-book series (telegraph.co.uk)
Viewed – 20 August 2012 DVD
With the news of director Tony Scott’s death, I felt the only way I could pay a genuine tribute, was to watch and review one of his best (and most underrated) movies. Starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, we follow the story of Clarence (Slater) who falls for rookie call girl Alabama (Arquette) and ends up doing a drug deal with a hot-shot movie producer after accidentally coming into possession of a suitcase full of cocaine. With the Police and the Mob closing in on them, will they make it to the happy ending they dream of?
Based on a stellar screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and released at a time when Hollywood had Tarantino fever (it followed Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs only a year previous, quickly followed itself by Oliver Stone’s controversial Natural Born Killers) and with Scott’s trademark soft-focus filtered style and a great soundtrack this simply bleeds quality from beginning to end. Supporting cast members all get their moment to shine, most notably Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in a very memorable scene (you’re Sicilian, right?), but also Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer (as the ghost of Elvis) and Gary Oldman. Slater delivers easily the performance of his career, helped no end by a spunky and sexy Arquette, looking her most iconic. The dialogue especially impresses, some of the best I’d say Tarantino has ever written, and with Scott’s confident direction, it even feels weightier and more meaningful than when Tarantino himself is behind the camera.
The plot does get a tad complicated, seems to wallow at times in the violence, and there’s probably too much going on … but if you’re paying attention, it all just works – which is a rare thing indeed. A sure-fire classic of 90s cinema well worthy of repeated viewing.
Verdict: 5 /5
I was shocked and saddened today to learn that much celebrated director Tony Scott (brother of Ridley Scott) had apparently committed suicide off the Vincent Thomas Bridge, San Pedro, California. Considering he remained one of the top directors in Hollywood with recent hit movies like Unstoppable and The Taking Of Pelham 1,2,3 this came as quite alarming news.
On a personal note my favourite Tony Scott movie will always be True Romance, working from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino. He collaborated with stars like Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and had been rumoured to have been working on a sequel to Top Gun.
My thoughts go out to his family and those that were closest to him, and as one of the best directors in the business, he will be sorely missed.
21/06/1944 – 18/08/2012
- Top Gun director Tony Scott dies after jump from bridge in apparent suicide – Metro (metro.co.uk)
- RIP Tony Scott: Celebs Mourn the Filmmaker’s Death on Twitter (eonline.com)
- Directors react to Tony Scott’s death on Twitter (variety.com)
- ‘Top Gun’ Director Tony Scott Commits Suicide (hollywood.com)
…and so we reach the final quarter, and with the last three months, some gems appeared and a few not so gem-like…. enjoy.
October – December
October started off with the enjoyable but underwhelming Scream 4 that considering the long gap between that and the last movie, delivered clever ideas, but not much new. Revisiting the Star Wars saga continued with four of the six movies being viewed and reviewed, which was exhaustive to say the least, but very memorable … and documentary-style sci-fi drama Monsters impressed with great performances and a very convincing atmosphere.
Drive Angry was a fun road-movie come horror actioner, with a great Nicolas Cage and a sexy-as-hell Amber Heard. Not a bad way to start off November. Justine Timberlake made for a credible action hero in sci-fi thriller In Time, and Spanish chiller Julia’s Eyes delivered tension, good performances and brilliantly executed scares. It was great to view The Lion King again, in pin-sharp Blu-ray, and also a second viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds proved it to be a better movie than I had originally realised. The Strangers however was disappointing and predictable, and really, the premise was done better in French horror Ils (aka Them).
December kicked off with David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet, a creepy and erotic masterpiece. It was good to see Terry Gilliam back on form with The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, which proved he’s lost none of his bonkers brilliance. And although I usually avoid remakes, The Thing showed that revisiting a classic and throwing in a few new ideas and a good cast, can make it work. On Christmas Eve I checked out the much hyped Super 8 which despite aiming for 80s family movie nostalgia, just felt old-fashioned and lacking in its own identity.
So, now you must be asking yourself, with all these movies in mind, what will make the final Top Ten. Well, you will just have to wait until later today. Happy New Year!!
- Terry Gilliam: ‘I’m not sure I’ll direct again’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- 2011 a look back – part three (themoviereport.net)
- Top 15 Movies I Didn’t See in 2011 Because They Looked Terrible (geektyrant.com)
First viewing - 23 August 2009 Cinema
Second viewing – 27 November 2011 Blu-ray
The Redux Review
I had a feeling this would happen. When I originally watched this movie, I wasn’t that impressed. Perhaps I was expected something else, or I had a very cynical head going in. For the next movie by acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, it went in directions I as a self-confessed Tarantino fan hadn’t expected, or could appreciate. His trade mark clever dialogue is for the most part, in either German or French with subtitles. And I couldn’t enjoy the long drawn out scenes of talking leading up to violence. I don’t know what it was … but having sat through it a second time now, I fully understand what Tarantino was doing, creating some of the most tense scenes I have witnessed in a long time, and the violence, when it comes, grabs you by the throat. It was very bold of him to make the dialogue authentic to the setting, and along with his very believable, emotionally engrossing characterisation – I was gripped.