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Join Date: Jun 2006
Re: Rate the last movie you watched.
Saw Django last night, in a pretty full theatre.
I really loved it. Now I expected to really love it, so I don't know how that plays into my opinion of it, other than to say that if you don't think you're going to like it, then you probably won't, because to paraphrase Dennis Green on The Bears, "it is what we thought it was." In fact, as I walked out of the theatre with my cousin, there were two young kids in front of us who were pretty geeked about it, and one said to the other "The thing about Tarantino is that he'll always surprise you!!" We turned the corner and my cousin started laughing because she couldn't understand what they were surprised by. The guy just keeps making the same movie. She said it was just Kill Bill with a black cowboy. My opinion is that if you replace Nazi's with Slave Owners, and Jew Soldiers with a Black Cowboy, the structure of the movie is essentially the same as Basterds. Which makes sense, because he apparently started writing Basterds as this, then splintered off, and came back to this as a one man revenge plot instead of a team like Basterds wound up being.
Anyway, the thing about Tarantino to me is obviously not that he's always surprising me, but in fact that he's not. I knew exactly what I was heading in to see, and I got what I expected, what I paid for, and what I wanted.
I preferred this to Basterds by a pretty fair margin. I'd give it somewhere in the low to mid 90s, which I'm sure is what I gave to Basterds as well, but all in all I definitely preferred this.
For one, this is funnier. There are moments of genuine levity. The characters in both films are played to comic extremes, but in this there's a better sense for the source. Don Johnson essentially doing a Foghorn Leghorn impression is just funny. And there are straighter comic set ups, like one seen in the trailer, where Jonah Hill is griping about the hood he needs for the raid. These are straight comic routines that are more direct than what was done in Basterds, although Basterds certainly had it's moments.
Secondly, this is probably the prettiest of any of Tarantino's movies. Now I have a bit of a fetish for the western, and that's due in no small part to how they look. I love the wide angle isolation shots. Even some of my favorite looking movies that aren't westerns certainly borrow heavily from them, like Planet of the Apes, which looks distinctly western at times. Particularly the first act of this, which is a sequence of bounty hunting expiditions with Dr. King Schultz and Django, which has some of the most stunning visuals we've seen from a Tarantino movie. After that first act, it definitely gets a little more set piece-ish, although they are some pretty awesome set pieces, like both Big Daddy's plantation, and Leo's Candie Land. And the costume work is spectactular, even if it's not exactly period correct. One of the first things I noticed was how good the very first slave trader's teeth looked. Something that wouldn't have happened had we been watching a historical take on the era by someone like Speilberg, but that's not what Tarantino does or is doing.
Thirdly is the schlock factor. I expect, and want, a certain amount of hokieness from Tarantino. I was actually a little concerned about this element with Basterds before it was released, because the guy is so centralized on dialogue and cultural reference, that I was unsure how he play a film in which so much dialogue would be foreign, and so much of the pop culture he references would not have existed yet. It still worked. But this to me works better. First, he uses current pop music to tie into the race history in this country, and it definitely works. It also affects the characters to a degree. This is by no means a historical document. Jamie Fox plays Django with a modern swag to say the least. And Leo DiCaprio's Clarence Candie is a snarling villain straight out of a cowboy pulp novel. And Christopher Walz's Dr. King Schultz is a classic fast talking grifter who could've played any time period as the same type of character with little more than a wardrobe change. I mean ... there are multiple accounts of people actually twisting their mustaches. This couldn't be much more tongue in cheek.
Fourthly are the performances. I'm beginning to think that I'm just not a huge Brad Pitt fan. Perhaps I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Killing Them Softly, but as much as I enjoyed his bad assery in Basterds, it wasn't as relatable as the feeling Django has for his wife, or more importantly, the genuine feeling you sense develops between Django and the good Dr. Schultz. And Leo is spectacular. Perhaps not on the Antagonist level of one Hans Landa, but between him and a great characterization by Sam Jackson, there's more than enough bad guy to go around. Particularly because this was built in set piece type stages. So we get a few other bad guys to root against along the way. All of whom are more fleshed out than the storm trooper style faceless Nazi's we run into along the way in Basterds. Now I'm by no means a believer in god, but every once in a while the idea of intelligent design makes sense, like when I see the right woman's ass, or in this case, the fact that Christopher Walz and Tarantino seem to have stumbled onto each other. The guy's multi lingual pallet once again plays a part in making this movie work. But in addition to that, the way he lays it on so thick, with dialogue that you know he's not allowed to change, but in his speech patterns, it's like the two were meant for each other.
Fifth is the shock factor. Tarantino from day one has been cutting off cops ears with razor blades to pop music, and really hasn't stopped since, and in fact has had to ramp it up every movie to keep us, the blood thirsty audience, at bay. In Basterds it was the gorgeous Bear Jew scene, the vicious scalpings, and a masterfull payoff in the theatre. This has even more. From the Mandingo fights, to the slave treatment, Django's treatment, and yet again another masterfull closing set piece. This thing will have your eyes widen with shock more than once. He does it quickly but deliberately. Just enough to see, then quickly looking away. He's not implying the way some directors do. He's showing you, but only for a second, so your head can do the rest. And the styelized graphic violence is beyond most anything else I can recall from him. Seems like he had blood kits left over from Robert Rodriquez's Planet Terror.
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