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#587212 - 06/24/11 11:45 AM tarantino's django unchained
Charles Reece Offline
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#587311 - 06/27/11 12:08 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Originally he was in talks with Will Smith, I remember reading. I'm surprised it's not going to his boy Jackson (though I've heard Jackson has a secondary role).

K

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#587312 - 06/27/11 12:41 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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So how is this supposed to be played? More silly bullshit like Inglorious Basterds, or is he playing it straight?

It's interesting that after Pauline Kael criticized Steven Spielberg for being simply a fantasist, he made The Color Purple. Is that what Tarantino is trying to do?
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#587315 - 06/27/11 01:44 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I think a guy from The Wire almost got it, but he had another film to do. Foxx is one actor that makes Smith preferable.
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#587316 - 06/27/11 01:46 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Based on the inspirations, I'm guessing it won't be the Color Purple.
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#587317 - 06/27/11 01:59 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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What are "the inspirations?"
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#587318 - 06/27/11 02:06 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Synopsis from IMDB:
Quote:
Django is a freed slave who assists a German bounty hunter. In return for his aid, the Bounty Hunter will help Django get revenge on the cruel Plantation owner Calvin Candie, who has kidnapped his wife and seeks to put Django in chains once more.


Eh-boy. Sounds like yet another vehicle of historical bullshit sung to the same old tune of Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song.
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#587337 - 06/27/11 09:16 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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I don't see any benefit to Tarantino "playing it straight" or why anyone would expect him to? Inglourious Basterds was a critical and commercial hit; its historical revisionism was flamboyantly inventive, its genre roots a diverse and engaging tapestry! It was much better than the floaty, rambling Kill Bill; Tarantino's writing works better when he has something from the real world to ground himself in and talk about. Kill Bill was *too* divorced from reality for any real world concerns to much apply; thus much of the dialogue was over-expository and forced-feeling. Or maybe I should say that the over-expository nature of QT's dialogue style stuck out more, in that context. IB worked considerably better IMO.

I am a little disappointed Django is up next though; I had initially read about a profane medieval period piece starring Helen Mirren. I would love to see medieval Tarantino. But Django has promise too.

As to Foxx, I have no experience with him, but he seems kind of cheese-puffy and I have noticed Tarantino's knack for casting becoming more and more questionable as time goes by. He finally wises up enough to leave himself out of the movie, and he starts plugging Eli fucking Roth in there instead. And BJ Novak? Mike Myers? He claims regardless of whether or not he wants to work with someone, he only casts them if they're "right," but I feel like he's prone to pretty arbitrary casting these days.

Do you know which guy from The Wire was in the running? I'm assuming probably Idris Elba, or the guy who played the kingpin? Or the guy who played Omar maybe?

K

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#587338 - 06/27/11 09:26 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Wait, was Foxx in the Miami Vice movie? He didn't seem to have a lot of presence. It was all Farrell and his cheesy put-on gravel-growl. Though I sort of liked Miami Vice, in a weird way. Sort of. More than most other people apparently did, anyway.

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#587341 - 06/27/11 09:58 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
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Jamie Foxx is a pretty versatile actor, I think.
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#587343 - 06/27/11 10:50 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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"Idris Elba"? Yeah, that's Stringer Bell, right? Hell, I guess I could look to make sure ... Yep. I also found out that he was in Thor as the controversial bridge guardian -- didn't recognize him.
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#587346 - 06/27/11 11:04 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Jimbo]
Charles Reece Offline
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Maybe Foxx is versatile, but he's always hammy.
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#587349 - 06/27/11 11:13 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I agree with you about QT's casting. I think it might be a matter of his belief that he can get a great performance out of odd choices these days. It's sort of like a parody of himself, like what Richard Kelly and others have attempted to do after QT's success. It's like he's forgotten that the reason someone like Pam Greer, John Travolta or Robert Forster were surprisingly good was because they were always good. That's not the case with Mike Myers. But, then again, he did cast that gal from SNL in Pulp Fiction -- she's probably the worst thing about the movie, except for QT's performance.
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#587355 - 06/27/11 11:37 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Foxx was good in The Soloist, even if the movie was obvious Oscar bait. He won the Best Actor award for his Ray Charles impersonation, one of the few times in the past 15 years I've even kinda-sorta agreed with the Acadaemy's pick. His acceptance speech was great — [paraphrasing] "I got my first acting lessons from my grandmother, who told me to act like I had some sense."

I don't see how he could possibly make a Tarantino flick any worse.
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#587380 - 06/27/11 12:45 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Well, isn't the fact that QT fans don't like Foxx and Foxx fans don't like QT a good indication of the problem?
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#587384 - 06/27/11 12:59 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Hm. Maybe so. I was a little kid when Barry Lyndon came out, but I think there were similar concerns from Kubrick fans over Ryan O'Neal. There definitely were such concerns over Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. The former turned out great, while the latter... not so much.
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#587407 - 06/27/11 06:44 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Girl from SNL in Pulp Fiction? Not ringing a bell.

I'm not sure about Elba's range, as I've only seen him in The Wire and in a less-convincing goofy guest-spot on The Office, but Stringer Bell was a pretty great character, at any rate.

K

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#587408 - 06/27/11 07:03 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
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I have character.


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#587414 - 06/28/11 01:44 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Mr. Socko]
madget Offline
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Wha..? Where was she in it?

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#587417 - 06/28/11 03:10 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Towards the end. She goes off with Keitel.
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#587423 - 06/28/11 11:27 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Ohhh.. right right right.

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#587424 - 06/28/11 11:48 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
MBunge Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget
I don't see any benefit to Tarantino "playing it straight" or why anyone would expect him to?

K


JACKIE BROWN was pretty much played straight and turned out to be a tremendous film. Unfortunately, the public and critics sort of shrugged their shoulders at it because it wasn't jam packed with Tarantino's shtick. His response was to give us KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF.

I was glad to see QT do INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS because it's a legitimately good movie. Sadly, it's probably as good as he'll ever be from now on.

Mike


Edited by MBunge (06/28/11 11:49 AM)

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#587425 - 06/28/11 11:58 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: MBunge]
Charles Reece Offline
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IB and JB are my favorites of his. I'll be surprised if he ever tops either.
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#587426 - 06/28/11 12:03 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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True. O'Neal played a bumbling idiot, whereas Cruise was supposed to be somewhat sympathetic. EWS is the only Kubrick film, other than Fear & Desire, which I don't much feel like rewatching over and over. (Even if I could, I probably wouldn't watch F&D again.)
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#587468 - 06/30/11 10:12 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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http://gawker.com/5816417/the-quentin-tarantino-toe+sucking-sex-email-that-will-haunt-your-dreams

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#592531 - 10/27/11 07:16 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I figured Madget, at least, wouldn't want to miss the debate over at HU. There are a slew of comments, which begin here.
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#592544 - 10/28/11 02:40 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Gerald Offline
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I didn't like Jackie Brown. I wanted to cause I like Pam Grier, and Sam Jackon's character was interesting. But the storyline was whatever, and the performances by everyone else weren't that good.
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#592548 - 10/28/11 05:55 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Stephen Parkes Offline
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Geez, that's a lot of comments.

Of topic, but I notice in there you mentioned A Song of Ice and Fire. Did you see the New York Times article from Ginia Bellafante, where she dismissed Game of Thrones (the TV series) as "boy fiction". Her article produced some interesting responses, including from Annalee Newitz at Io9, who light-heartedly counters that if anything it's chick lit/tv.


Edited by Stephen Parkes (10/28/11 06:00 AM)

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#592549 - 10/28/11 08:57 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Gerald]
Jimbo Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gerald
I didn't like Jackie Brown. I wanted to cause I like Pam Grier, and Sam Jackon's character was interesting. But the storyline was whatever, and the performances by everyone else weren't that good.


Neither did I. For me, it was just boring.
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#592553 - 10/28/11 11:12 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Jimbo]
madget Offline
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Kinda picking and dabbing through that link ....

Re: Deathproof-

Quote:
"Like I said, the fact that it is so much about women’s relationships is I think it’s why critics have tended to find it so unappealing."


I think it's more that all of Tarantino's women are like pseudo-Tarantinos. QT's writing ends up feeling more forced when pushed through a group of young women "just being girls" than it does pushed through a group of fictional gangsters. Tarantino's dialogue is ambitious and strong, but somewhat limited in tonal scope. I know a guy whose chief problem with QT is that "everyone in QT's movies, sounds like QT." I don't fully agree, but I understand where a criticism like that is coming from. I think the males in QT films are able to slip into the skin he gives them a little more naturally and that part of the reason for that is the character of the writing itself. With female characters, you feel them "acting" it out more. It is a less natural extension of their normal behavior/rhythm.

K

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#592555 - 10/28/11 11:32 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Stephen Parkes]
Charles Reece Offline
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I'm going to go read that now, Stephen. Thanks!
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#592556 - 10/28/11 11:41 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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That's a plausible argument, Madge, but Rose McGowan's character is one of the better in the film and then there's Jackie Brown (although she's in an adaptation). And isn't it possible that we tend to think of men as the pop culture quoting gender, so some can't accept women doing it? Anyway, one could say the same of Fellini and Godard, too. They create worlds that are very particular to who they are (or were).
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#592557 - 10/28/11 11:56 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Stephen Parkes]
Charles Reece Offline
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Yeah, what Newitz said.

Have you started the books, yet, Stephen? The world building is really amazing.
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#592651 - 10/31/11 11:11 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Quote:
And isn't it possible that we tend to think of men as the pop culture quoting gender, so some can't accept women doing it?


Well, can't accept them if they do it poorly, or if the script isn't as good. I mean, I'm not really buying the theory that I just can't "handle" Quentin Tarantino's Empowered Women. I suppose the acting probably suffers partially from DP having one foot in Planet Terror, full-blown retro-grindhouse camp, and one foot in QT's more singular exploration of his own ideas. I.e. actors thinking to themselves "oh wait, this is SUPPOSED to be cheesy, right?" The women handling QT's dialogue in DP don't feel as in on the joke as they should; it's stiff.

Quote:
Anyway, one could say the same of Fellini and Godard, too. They create worlds that are very particular to who they are (or were).


I can't really speak to that, but sure -- I'm certainly not the one who has a problem with it. I understand how it could annoy someone, but obviously I like QT's world/style/voice, even if it didn't work for me in DP as well as some others.

K

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#593174 - 11/15/11 12:23 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Stephen Parkes Offline
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Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Have you started the books, yet, Stephen? The world building is really amazing.


Nah. I'm not usually one for those long world-building sagas. But I've had so many enthusiastic recommendations I just might have to give Thrones a try.

I was also planning to watch the TV series, which just started over here, but I had cable-tv problems when the first ep was on.


Edited by Stephen Parkes (11/15/11 12:31 AM)

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#596972 - 04/26/12 12:48 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Stephen Parkes]
Charles Reece Offline
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Some of the first images for the film here.
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#596973 - 04/26/12 12:49 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Stephen Parkes]
Charles Reece Offline
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Stephen, have you given GOT a try yet?
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#596978 - 04/26/12 10:12 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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How accurate was the SNL parody?
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#596980 - 04/27/12 03:47 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Didn't see it.
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#596981 - 04/27/12 04:51 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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The basic point of it was that there was a lot of unnecessary sex/nudity, and the reason was the script consultant was a 13-year-old boy.
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#596985 - 04/27/12 12:35 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Well, they don't so much add sex as depict what wasn't as explicit in the books. Some fans have been bitching about that. Along those lines, some of the best scenes this season weren't actually in the book, because the characters involved didn't have point of view chapters.
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#597045 - 04/30/12 09:12 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Well, you can only take away so much from stills, but everyone looks pretty good, anyway. Looks like it could be a fun role for DiCaprio, although I'm not generally a big fan.

I hate that the posters pitch it as "THE NEW FILM BY QUENTIN TARANTINO" in lieu of the title. But Quentin's created an environment where he can get away with those things. He's made a brand of himself without dumbing down his product.

K

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#597046 - 04/30/12 09:13 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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(removed double post)

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#597047 - 04/30/12 09:22 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Also, having rewatched it now, I'm more sympathetic to the pro-Deathproof point of view, which I think I mentioned in another psot recently. I do think the girls in the second act are overwritten and that the movie has its problems, but maybe there's something to be said for the criticism re: male reactions to the film. DP is good stuff.

K

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#597057 - 04/30/12 03:15 PM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: madget]
MBunge Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget
Also, having rewatched it now, I'm more sympathetic to the pro-Deathproof point of view


Trust your first instinct.

Mike

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#597149 - 05/02/12 03:26 AM Re: tarantino's immoral films [Re: Charles Reece]
Stephen Parkes Offline
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Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Stephen, have you given GOT a try yet?
No, but if I'm still in the mood for fantasy after American Gods then it might be next.

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#598181 - 06/07/12 11:14 PM Re: django unchained trailer [Re: Stephen Parkes]
Charles Reece Offline
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#598270 - 06/10/12 01:51 PM Re: django unchained trailer [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Only one usage of the 70's style graphics, at the end. He'd be wise to steer clear of that completely, but I never expect wisdom from Tarantino.


Quote:
How can you enjoy the work of a director that just cuts and pastes scenes from better films. He is the equivalent to that kid that did not do his essay so he just cut pieces from others and sloppily threw it into his own.
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#598287 - 06/10/12 10:53 PM Re: django unchained trailer [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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What a stupid analogy.

As for the trailer, it looks really entertaining. But yeah -- I wish they'd cast someone other than Jamie Foxx. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Waltz as the Bounty Hunter either, he still reminds me too much of his previous QT character; but it all looks engaging, at least.

K

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#601595 - 12/15/12 12:34 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
Sounds like yet another vehicle of historical bullshit sung to the same old tune of Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song.

Samuel L. Jackson just described Django Unchained on Letterman's show as "Shaft on Horseback."

I wasn't previously aware that Miike's movie from a few years ago, Sukiyaki Western Django (which Tarantino was also in), was a remake of a series of spaghetti westerns from the 60's. This is another case, like Inglorious Basterds, of Tarantino lifing a title and a general theme then just meandering off on his own tangent.
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#601633 - 12/18/12 12:46 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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You say that like it's a bad thing.

Then again, I did just watch Kill Bill again, which holds up really poorly. Especially part one. Never was a favorite of mine where QT goes.

DU looks good. Can't wait to see it next week.

K

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#601636 - 12/20/12 03:22 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I'll get around to blogging about it. Been under the weather lately. Anyway, DU is probably the weakest of QT's films, aesthetically, structurally and morally. People will probably rank it somewhere next to Death Proof and Kill Bill, depending on how much one likes those films. Personally, I much preferred KB. There are some really great scenes, though. I'm curious to see what you think next week.
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#601637 - 12/20/12 06:42 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I'm surprised to hear it; it's getting such immensely strong reviews so far -- better than IB -- although the full wave of critical response has yet to hit. Do you think it suffered from Sally Menke's departure?

I'm actually trying not to read too much about it, as I want to go in as fresh as I can. We'll see what we see I guess. I loved IB.

K

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#601639 - 12/21/12 02:13 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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I'll probably go and see it. I just want to know, since the story is set two years before the Civil War, if Tarantino does something stupid like in Inglorious Basterds which would have a serious impact on history.
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#601640 - 12/21/12 02:56 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Well, it's a fantasy of sorts, but not exactly an alternate history if that's what you mean.
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#601641 - 12/21/12 03:01 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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No, I mean something that irrevocably contradicts true history.
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#601644 - 12/21/12 10:17 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Ted Kilvington Offline
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Wait, so WW2 didn't end with Hitler being killed at a French movie premiere!?!?!? Tarantino lied to me!!!!!
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#601645 - 12/21/12 12:53 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Ted Kilvington]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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I'm sure there are examples of pure fantasy stories set in historical settings that I'm not opposed to, but I'm having a hard time coming up with any right now. The Amazing Screw-On Head, maybe. When you start down the path of serious-within-itself historical fantasies, there's a not only a danger of perpetuating a false history that sticks, but also almost invariably short-changing the more interesting true story. Gladiator is a prime example.
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#601646 - 12/21/12 01:08 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Well, if you know the premise, then you know it's not exactly a historically accurate picture of the possibility of what a slave could accomplish under such domination. The film doesn't put an end to slavery if that's what you're driving at, though. In reality, we have Nat Turner's story, which is a good bit different from a wishfulfilling fantasy.
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#601647 - 12/21/12 01:33 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
The film doesn't put an end to slavery if that's what you're driving at, though.

Yes, that was my question exactly. After IB, I was wondering if Tarantino would have the audacity to do something like that again.
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#601650 - 12/21/12 05:37 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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What exactly is your objection? That you think more impressionable people than yourself will start believing a hot blonde French girl killed Hitler and pre-emptively ended the whole war? Did you see the movie itself? How postmodern does one have to get before the onus of understanding a wink and a nudge is upon the audience?

And how boring does storytelling become if we're not allowed to ask "what if" and see where imagination can take us? (For the record, Abe Lincoln was not *really* a vampire hunter.)

Hitler's more drastic comeuppance in IB works as the catharsis it's intended to be, at least it did for me. It might've been silly in a lesser movie but IB was very intelligently crafted and knew how to pack a punch.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the notable resurgence of "revenge" as a major end-of-itself theme in film generally. It's a bit one-note and has been a major element -- and in some cases the driving force -- behind every QT film since JB. But it can certainly be a thrilling fantasy in deft hands, and I don't really analyze film through a moral lens. Because I'm dead inside and don't really care. I'm more concerned with what's interesting and sophisticated and effective, intellectually and aesthetically speaking.

Slightly more interesting is the current debate about Zero Dark Thirty, which illustrates torture as having produced evidence that led to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, which according to many officials contradicts the political reality.

K

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#601651 - 12/21/12 05:40 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Incidentally did anyone else catch QT's recent interview with Howard Stern, who confronted him about the whole toe-sucking e-mail scandal that hit the net during DU's production?

K

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#601652 - 12/21/12 07:34 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget
What exactly is your objection? That you think more impressionable people than yourself will start believing a hot blonde French girl killed Hitler and pre-emptively ended the whole war?

Do some people actually believe that lemmings commit mass suicide by leaping off cliffs? Has the textbook definition of the word "lemming" come to include that connotation? But do they really? Or was that simply the result of an over-zealous camera crew filming a Disney nature documentary?


Originally Posted By: madget
And how boring does storytelling become if we're not allowed to ask "what if" and see where imagination can take us?

So make up something from whole cloth. Anyway, I find true history more interesting than fantasy.


Originally Posted By: madget
Slightly more interesting is the current debate about Zero Dark Thirty, which illustrates torture as having produced evidence that led to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, which according to many officials contradicts the political reality.

Kathryn Bigelow. Need any more be said.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#601656 - 12/22/12 01:37 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget
Incidentally did anyone else catch QT's recent interview with Howard Stern, who confronted him about the whole toe-sucking e-mail scandal that hit the net during DU's production?


yep, a bit of a beard:

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#601658 - 12/22/12 04:36 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I couldn't help but feel he just threw that on to sorta stick it back to her. I don't remember the details at this point, but I know her write-up about him was far from flattering.

I was surprised that part of the discussion got as far as it did, given how clearly QT didn't want to go into it. My favorite bit though:

HS: "Did she have nice feet, at least?"
QT: "Eh ... not really."

K

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#601661 - 12/26/12 09:52 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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(Spoilers) Sad as I am to do so, I have to agree with Charles. DU was pretty disappointing. It is surprisingly straightforward -- no chapters, no shuffling of chronology, no intertwining stories -- and character development and opportunities to provide content are too often traded out for laying an arbitrary song down and showing nothing-much-happening. The pacing is awkward and even the most interesting scenes -- say the one where Candie discovers the duo's ploy -- make little sense in the specifics of how they play out.

Perhaps more central yet to the movie's ineffectiveness is the fact that at no point are we given any particular reason to like Django himself. As protagonists go, he's a bit of a dud, to the extent that QT feels the need to awkwardly stop the action at one point to have the Schultz character remind us, through a needless bit of exposition, that Django isn't really an asshole, just pretending, as instructed. We knew this, but it's as if QT didn't have faith the audience was on the same page -- it felt to me like something added during filming, because of how ineffectually characterized Django still is at that point. And if Django is a dud, it's doubly true of his absolutely non-developed cipher of a wife he has set out to rescue. Given the nature of their predicament, historically and narratively, it's almost impressive how little QT managed to get me to care about their plight. The excitement ends up stemming more from a desire to see the relatively cartoonish slavers get their comeuppance, which they do -- but even that somehow fails to be as satisfying or well-executed as one might hope. There's at least one pretty terrific shoot-out, but the overall trajectory and resolution of the various action bits was somehow unsatisfying to me.

Dr. King Schultz is a much more enjoyable character than the pair he is assisting, but that's more by dint of Waltz's natural charisma than anything: the character himself doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

What I did like: I normally can't stand DiCaprio, but I thought he did a fine job as Candie. Samuel Jackson was really terrific as well, and the relationship between those two characters was loaded with all kinds of interesting potential. But like most things in the movie, it wasn't delivered on to the degree I thought it would be, given a near 3-hr running time.

The movie also boasts QT's own most insufferably awful cameo yet. It's cute that he blows himself up, as if joking with the audience that he realizes his sudden presence isn't welcome -- but alternatively, he could have just left himself out of it.

DU is definitely at or near the bottom of my list as far as QT's movies go. It had a lot of potential but so much of that potential felt either half-baked, or all together squandered.

K

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#601662 - 12/26/12 10:36 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
MBunge Offline
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I haven't seen it yet. May decide between Django and Miz this weekend. All I needed to see, however, was that Django was 165 minutes long to know it would be problematic at best. 2 hours and 45 minutes + a director whose worst flaw is never knowing when to say enough = trouble.

Mike

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#601664 - 12/27/12 11:51 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: MBunge]
Charles Reece Offline
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"The movie also boasts QT's own most insufferably awful cameo yet."

That's what I've been telling everyone, too. I believe he has 2 cameos: the unmasked proto-klansman sounded like him. I truly hated that scene. It was so fucking flat and just kept going on. And nothing gets my hatred flowing like Jonah Hill.
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#601668 - 12/27/12 08:12 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Ah, right, I'd forgotten about that. I agree, it seemed to me that was QT also. Even hooded, he somehow sticks out like a sore thumb.

And I agree about the scene, too. It was too slapsticky, suddenly shifting gears into the equivalent of an SNL sketch. Of all the rich situational things QT could've done with a run-in with the Klan -- that's what he settled on? I understand the satisfaction of demystifying them, but the bit about so-and-so's wife doing a shitty job with the eyeholes should've been a small, quick joke in the midst of something more fundamentally interesting, not the centerpiece of a scene where the heroes are forced to abandon their iconic carriage.

K

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#601741 - 01/08/13 11:04 AM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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#601744 - 01/08/13 09:46 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
Peter Urkowitz Offline
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Well argued and stated, Charles. Nice work!

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#601745 - 01/08/13 09:51 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Peter Urkowitz]
madget Offline
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Your analysis was in some ways more interesting the film. I liked your very alternate take on the scene in which Waltz attempts to save the would-be runaway, and your contrast of his and Django's differing ends. I saw it merely as clumsy writing resulting from weak characterization, but you make a good argument for the arguable merits of it.

Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Thus, the film is an abysmal failure at addressing the other ensemble of questions Wilderson delineates, the prescriptive: “How does one become free of suffering? [Those] questions concerning the turning of the gratuitous violence that structures and positions the Black against not just the police but civil society writ large.” [p. 126] By giving the story a revenge motive, Tarantino reduced the suffering to a personal level, a subjective violence that one person might do to another — kill the oppressor, stop the oppression.


S'true, but then again QT's answer to Jules' theological deliberations in Pulp Fiction was for him to decide to "walk the earth, and get in adventures," like a TV character he enjoyed. Tarantino's characteristically been far better at digging unflinchingly into situational dynamics, than in providing moral insights. On the other hand (and tangentially) the majority of QT's characters are so thoroughly, almost fetishistically, driven by pragmatism that the introduction of compassion becomes inherently interesting. Mr. White's in RD, Jules' in PF (and Pumpkin's seemingly sincere submission to it), the bond bailsman's in JB, etc. There's always these little threads of compassion playing a subtle and unusual tug of war with both the logic of pragmatism and the conventions of genre simultaneously. Morality in QT's films seems to be centered around self-sacrifice, mainly. But revenge and pragmatism triumph as often as not. I still love Butch's sequence in PF in part because of how amazingly this recurring tug-of-war between compassion and pragmatism peaks. Then again, I think Roger Avary wrote that part.

Anyway, this said, I agree Jackson's character is cartoonish in DU. I thought he was great, but you couldn't help but feel: "Aw, that's all they're going to do with him?" Missed opportunity. I'm not sure I entirely agree with your overall critique of Stephen's function, though ... something there's not sitting quite right for me. But I'll have to mull it a bit, nothing I could articulate off the top of my head.

K

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#601760 - 01/13/13 10:36 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Jimbo Offline
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I liked it.
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#601776 - 01/16/13 12:12 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Contrary to Spike Lee, I think you can make a genre film with slavery, but QT fails because of the way Stephen fits into the narrative structure. In some ways, I think QT touches on moral issues about genre and movie making more than most, but his cinephiliac focus can occlude moral understanding, too. That Butch segment is, to me, one of the weaker segments in his films once it gets to the hillbillies, but it does get to the contrast you're talking about, I guess: it shows a sense of honor and morality (Butch saving Marcel), while also using cartoonish movie stereotypes (the buttfucking hillbillies). On the other hand, part of the problem I have with it is it doesn't say anything particularly interesting about honor other than what it borrows from some macho movie tropes.

As a moral critic, if he is one, QT's stance can't be separated from movie mediation. Moral questions are always about how morality is reflected in movies.

Thanks, Peter.
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#601777 - 01/16/13 06:19 PM Re: tarantino's django unchained [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Maybe you have more experience with the buttfucking hillbilly genre than I do, but like most things in PF, I thought it took that scenario onto a whole new playing field aesthetically and tonally, in ways I'd never have expected. Same for the macho honor stuff -- sure I've seen two enemies put aside their differences in the face of an even greater threat or evil, but never quite with this level of intensity, or with such a tight eye on the "choice" aspect. Normally it would be entirely obvious. Here, it isn't so clean cut. Butch could leave Marcellus to his fate; he is about to; he stops, and we see him struggle, and consciously make the decision to turn back. What I mean isn't so much the contrast as you describe it, but the complexity of Butch's decision in terms of the motives behind it. On the one hand, yes, there's a question of the Man Code: to leave a man to his death is one thing, but to leave him to the indignities of sexual torture and servitude of the kind faced in that scenario, well ... that would be beyond the pale. In that sense, yes, Butch feels he has a moral obligation to turn back. But there's also another layer at play, which is that of this being a way to get out of the "debt" Marcellus is pursuing him over to begin with. If he left Marcellus to his fate, Marcellus might escape on his own, or might not -- but the debt would remain. The level and nature of the danger still remaining to Butch over having ripped Marcellus off, would be unknown to him. By saving Marcellus he takes a calculated, strategic risk, wagering that it will earn him forgiveness/reprieve of his debt. Even if it didn't achieve that, Butch would still now have the upper hand, and control of the situation: he could still kill Marcellus himself, after all, as he would not have hesitated to do prior to their mutual capture. Either way, Butch gains something: he knows where he stands, with regards to Marcellus Wallace and the un-thrown fight. It's a moral choice and a pragmatic (even selfish) choice at the same time. And not an easy choice even with both of those things going for it, a credit to the bleak shock value of the situation.

Bruce Willis is at his best in this sequence, because -- for me -- I see all this clearly playing out in his head, etched on his face, and carried through in the tone of his actions as the sequence plays out. It's not all just one guy saving another from malevolent faggotry. It's a complex situation, but the complexities are transmitted with -- despite the sequence's obvious excesses -- quite a bit of subtlety and care, not to mention impeccable timing (something DU's set pieces sorely lacked).

As for Stephen in DU, I don't know. I get your point about the movie's central evil -- slavery/racism -- being a problem that can't be sufficiently addressed with a one-off revenge scenario that takes place on a single plantation. We can more easily accept that the death of Hitler pretty much brings the atrocities associated with World War II to a grinding halt; Django isn't going to have it that easy. The problem is more complex and not at all centralized around a single authority figure the way the extermination of the Jews was. If the atrocities of WW2 had a face, it was Hitler's. The atrocities of slavery had no such single external face; it had only the face of the slave himself. However, I'm not sure the focus on Stephen is ultimately as inappropriate as you argue, for just that reason. There is something about the notion of selling out one's own, that is not only powerful in general, but particularly relevant to slavery in the sense that in many cases it was blacks selling blacks to the whites, to ship over to America to begin with. I realize that's a simplistic lens, but it is a uniquely heartbreaking part of the whole picture, and one echoed faintly in the decision to make Stephen the greater arch-nemesis. The horrors inflicted by whites are horrible indeed, and depicted as such; but "otherness" is understood as a troublemaker in the realm of human nature in general. To inflict those same horrors upon your own people, to give them up to that fate to save your own skin -- is beyond the pale. This said, I do agree that Stephen was not as richly mined as he could've been, as a character. Surely he has had a very difficult life himself, and probably some very hard and complex situations led him to where he is. That's all great soil left criminally untilled by QT here. But had it been tilled, I think it only would've made the selection of Stephen that much more interesting as the film's true arch-nemesis, as opposed to less.

K

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