Django Unchained

May 20, 2018

DJ Rambles About Revenge (2017)

INSUFFICIENT

Of all the subgenres in film, I’m kind of a sucker for a good revenge flick.  The Count Of Monte Cristo, Kill Bill, The Crow, Django Unchained, John Wick, Gladiator, The Outlaw Josey Wales.  They are all films that are the quickest to grab my attention in terms of understanding the needs of the character.  A tale of someone seeking justice without the hindrance of rules or morals.  One of the granddaddies of them all is the 1978 exploitation film, I Spit On Your Grave.  The film I’m reviewing here, Revenge, does not come close to the gory exploitiveness of an I Spit On Your Grave.  However, one can’t help but feel that Revenge is a bit of an echo to what I Spit On Your Grave left, for better or worse.

The glitzy colors mixed with the minimalism of narrative makes Revenge feel like a Jonathan Glazer film (Sexy Beast, Under The Skin) by way of the late great Tony Scott (Literally every film in the ’90s).  It actually comes to us from French director, Coralie Fargeat.  It tells the tale of a “party girl” named Jen who, while on vacation with her married boyfriend, suddenly finds herself attacked, left for dead, and miraculously saved allowing her to seek her vengeance.  And though it seems like I’m being vague to avoid spoilers, Revenge’s plot doesn’t get much more intricate than that.  Since we come directly into the middle of a pretty cliched situation between the characters and don’t know or learn much about them, there really isn’t much for me to cling to in terms of their goodness or badness.  This is a big part, for me at least, in getting the intended catharsis of any revenge film.

We know how good of a man and how despicable of a person Maximus and Commodus are respectively before the inciting incident and quest for revenge takes place in Gladiator.  Characters do nothing but talk about the character of John Wick and the reasons he got out and why it’s really bad that he’s coming in his film.  Same with William Munny in Unforgiven, or the Bride in Kill Bill, or John Creasy in Man On Fire, or Khan Noonien Singh in Wrath Of Khan.  Because we know so little about Jen her man and her man’s friends, we are left to just focus on the incident and titular revenge, weakening the overall catharsis.  In short, you care less because you’re given hardly anything to care about.  A stripped down revenge flick was likely Fargeat’s intention, along with the idea of just having a normal victimized female brutally confronting her attackers. (A clear commentary on the social climate we are living in today with victims of physical and psychological abuse fearlessly fighting back against their abusers.) 

As I alluded to before, the visuals of the film are really well done, as well as the accompanying synthy score by Robin Coudert.  Fargeat has a great eye, a flair for symbolic imagery and a bright future ahead of her.  As far as debut feature film outings go, Revenge is not bad at all.  It just left me feeling unfulfilled near the end, making it an INSUFFICIENT tale of revenge, in my opinion.  Maybe I have to watch it again.  Maybe you have to watch it too…and then tell me I’m wrong.

February 21, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: 2013 Oscars Special

In this very special edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast we break down the 2013 Academy Award, this Sunday, February 24th.  Will “Argo” make The Academy rue the day they didn’t nominate Ben Affleck for a best actor award for “Gigli?”  Will another French Revolution occur with “Amour?”  Will we ever get to see the SyFy Original movie, “Zero Dark Thirty-One: The Return of bin Laden?”
All of this and much, much more in our special Oscar edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  Below are the categories we cover in the podcast, with our favorites BOLDED.
Best Animated Film: FRANKENWEENIE
PIRATES: BAND OF MISFITS
BRAVE
PARANORMAN
WRECK IT RALPH

Best Screenplay Adapted: CHRIS TERRIO-ARGO
LUCY ALIBAR & BEN ZEITLIN-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
DAVID MAGEE-LIFE OF PI, 
TONY KUSHNER- LINCOLN
DAVID O. RUSSELL-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Original Screenplay: MICHAEL HANEKE-AMOUR, 
QUENTIN TARANTINO-DJANGO
JOHN GATINS-FLIGHT
WES ANDERSON & ROMAN COPPOLA-MOONRISE KINGDOM
MARK BOAL-ZERO DARK THIRTY

Directing: MICHAEL HANEKE-AMOUR, 
BEN ZEITLIN-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
ANG LEE-LIFE OF PI
STEVEN SPIELBERG-LINCOLN
DAVID O. RUSSELL-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Supporting Actress: AMY ADAMS-THE MASTER
SALLY FIELD-LINCOLN
ANNE HATHAWAY-LES MISERABLES
HELEN HUNT-THE SESSIONS
JACKI WEAVER-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Best Supporting Actor: ALAN ARKIN-ARGO
ROBERT DENIRO-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
 PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN-THE MASTER
TOMMY LEE JONES-LINCOLN 
CHRISTOPH WALTZ-DJANGO UNCHAINED

Best Actress: JESSICA CHASTAIN-ZERO DARK THIRTY
 JENNIFER LAWRENCE-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 
EMMANUELLE RIVA-AMOUR
QUVENZHANE WALLIS-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
NAOMI WATTS-THE IMPOSSIBLE

Best Actor: BRADLEY COOPER-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS-LINCOLN
HUGH JACKMAN-LES MISERABLES
JOAQUIN PHOENIX-THE MASTER
DENZEL WASHINGTON-FLIGHT

Best Picture-AMOUR, 
LIFE OF PI
ARGO
LINCOLN
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD 
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
DJANGO UNCHAINED
ZERO DARK THIRTY
LES MISERABLES

Click on the link below to download the podcast and enjoy folks!

Show Notes

Official Academy Awards Site 
Django Review
Silver Linings Playbook Review
The Master Review
Zero Dark Thirty Review

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest
December 31, 2012

Happy Holidays: Django Unchained

Django Unchained – Conversation

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately;  “Tarantino is back…..classic Tarantino,” blah, blah, blah.  My question is; “What would you call classic Tarantino?”  Yes, he’s known for his witty dialogue, mind-bending plot twists, and recently, alternative takes on important periods in U.S. and European history.  But I reiterate; “What would you call classic Tarantino?”  My answer:  There’s no such thing!  People like to come off as smarter than they are, myself included, but of course I’m reviewing movies so I need to come off as a little bit of an expert, aka, dickhead.  Tarantino is Tarantino, you can’t say any of his work is “classic Tarantino” because every film he makes is entirely original and nothing like the previous film he made.  Here’s a practical example of two other directors to prove my point:  Take Ridley Scott.  He is known for his sci-fi epics, “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”  After those two films he went in entirely different directions, please see “Gladiator” and “Matchstick Men” as examples.  Classic Scott would be sci-fi, and he went back to that with ‘Prometheus” with mixed results.  Another director would be William Friedkin, known for taut thrillers and exciting crime work, please see “The French Connection” for a excellent example.  Friedkin left those movies for a while but returned with “Killer Joe” a taut thriller that keeps you on your toes with plenty of violence.  “Joe” would be classic Friedkin.  Digressing, enough talk about “Classic Tarantino.” Yes, you can say a movie of his is a classic but enough saying “Classic Tarantino.”  I feel it’s something that someone says whose only seen “Kill Bill” and “Inglorious Basterds.”  Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, but this brings me to Tarantino’s newest “classic” the Southern-fried Spaghetti Western “Django Unchained.”

“Django” is a modern day “Birth of a Nation,” only with more guns, more talking, and the white man getting his comeuppance.  It’s intriguing, noteworthy, timely, violent, offensive, and thought-provoking.  Not since 1997’s “Amistad” has the issue of slavery been covered in such an unflattering light.  Whereas Steven Spielberg directed “Amistad” with his usual gravitas that includes a two-and-a-half hour history lesson, Tarantino directs with HIS usual gravitas that includes memorable characters, witty dialogue, graphic, sudden violence, but this time, with more maturity.  I might add that Tarantino had the added challenge of directing his first movie without the assistance of late-editor, Sally Menke, who passed away shortly after the premier of “Inglorious Basterds” in 2010.

Tarantino uses both the original 1960s “Django” film, starring Franco Nero, (who he also gives credit to during the opening credits for “Django”) and the much-maligned (and probably still is) film “Mandingo” as a template for his newest blood-soaked revenge opus.  We follow Django, played with much restraint by Jamie Foxx, as he and Dr. King Schultz, a dentist turned bounty hunter played by Christoph Waltz, set out from Texas to Tennessee and into the dark heart of Mississippi to collect bounties and save Django’s wife, Broomhilda, from the evil clutches of plantation owner Calvin Candie, played with conviction and maniacal delight by Leonardo DiCaprio.  Once again, the plot is easy to follow and unlike much Tarantino fare, is streamlined and doesn’t deviate into his non-linear storytelling aside from a few flashbacks of both Django and Broomhilda.  In typical Tarantino fashion, he is also able to find humor in dark subject matter which ranges from KKK riders who are having disguise issues to cameos by the likes of Don Johnson playing a slave-owning Colonel Sanders, and Tarantino himself as an Australian slaver.

If you’re a fan of Sergio Leone, or any Western, you’ll love the vast landscapes that Tarantino uses to great effect and moments of tension between characters.  It’s much like “Basterds” where the tension usually pays off with a grand crescendo of violence, blood, and dead bodies.  Contrary to what people might say about the violence in “Django,” its nowhere as bad as some of the other stuff that is out there, but I think it’s the context in which the violence is portrayed that might get some people’s goats.  Aside from the physical violence, which runs the gamut of black on black, white on black, and black on white, there is also the assault of the dreaded “N-word.” dum-dum-dum……the word that people still try and skate around as much as they can.  However, I don’t have a problem with Tarantino’s use of the word, especially in “Django.” Spike Lee might have an issue with it, but when you haven’t made a movie that matters since “Inside Man,” I’d be a grumpy, short, black guy too.  The word pretty much takes on a character in-and-of itself.  It flows freely throughout the film, but you know what, it flowed freely in 1858, and it still flows freely today.  No matter your creed or race, everyone has said the word, either out loud or under their breathe.  George Carlin gave us the “Seven Words That You Can’t Say,” and thank goodness he didn’t put this on the list.

Maybe it’s my white guilt, but yes, I have black friends.  Does that give me the excuse to use the “N-word?” No, it doesn’t.  There really isn’t a need to use the word at all, but we still use it, even in casual conversation. While I was watching “Django,” in a packed theater, I knew the dialogue was going to be chalk full of “the word that shall not be named,” so i was waiting to hear some noise when stars like DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson starting dropping the “N-bomb” like it was going out of style.  But, alas, not a peep.  Perhaps people were prepared to hear that type of language, and if you’ve seen “Jackie Brown” you know that Tarantino loves using it in a casual sense.  The reason this word is effective, and makes sense in “Django,” is the context.  Yes, slavers and plantation owners used this word freely (of course I don’t know that for sure, but what would you expect racist slave owners to say in the 1850s).  Tarantino’s dialogue has always been known to be both direct, and a zeitgeist for the time and place the story is taking place in.  He takes ugly language and somehow makes it beautiful and poetic.

The one problem I did have with “Django” was ironically enough the music.  Usually the music that QT picks is almost as important as his dialogue and characters, but this time around it seems like a cash-in.  There’s original music from John Legend and Rick Ross (the first time in a Tarantino film that music was actually written for his films), and while you’re not going to include music from the 1850s, why include the 808-thumping sounds of Ross.  In a film full of good ideas, this was by far the most awkward and perplexing.  It almost felt like a cheap MTV-type movie gimmick, see the trailer for “Gangster Squad” as a prime example.     

As most of Tarantino’s films, there will be a lot of conversation about the violence, language, and how he takes portions of genre films that he loved and makes them his own.  But I find “Django” his most polarizing film.  You already have the line in the sand where many people think that he is tearing the scab off the topic of slavery and uncovering the ugly, but true, side to life in the South for African-Americans in the 1850s.  Others are saying the violence is too much in a post-Newtown world, while I’m saying, relax!  Sorry social crusaders, it’s a movie, or maybe this time, it’s a little more than a movie.  Maybe it’s time to have a conversation about our ugly past.  Since the founding of our nation we have been gun-toting, slave-buying, violent jingoists.  As a society we crave violence in our films, video games, and news.  But the moment something tragic occurs it’s time to tone it back.  Enough toning back, we have to face our past demons and prepare for new ones that are sure to come.  While “Django Unchained” might not be Tarantino’s best film, it’s an example of filmmaking where someone decides that we can’t keep looking at our past through rose-colored glasses.  There were some despicable things, and people, in the work-up to the Civil War, and whether you like his style or not, no one spins a story quite like Quentin Tarantino who re-writes history again, sort of, with “Django Unchained.”

Fun Fact:  The story of Broomhilda, or Brynhildr, is an old German legend that involves a Norse Valkyrie.  She was later popularized by Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle opera series.

Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top