In 1858, somewhere in the Texas wilderness, a German immigrant dentist (Christoph Waltz) comes across some fellas transporting slaves and begins to curiously inquire about a certain one named Django (Jamie Foxx). Turns out that dentist is a bounty hunter, and he needs Django to identify some targets. Turns out that Django, once unshackled, is more than happy to oblige. Thus begins the start of a beautiful friendship in Quentin Tarantino’s latest bit of exploitative hipster shock-schlock historical revisionist revenge fantasy. In his own signature absurdist self-referencing way, Tarantino combines many of the good elements that made Inglourious Basterds his masterpiece with many of the bad elements of every other overrated film he’s ever made.
See that dentist ain’t such a bad guy, wielding his own brand of justice, and Django has his own personal mission to track down his wife (Kerry Washington, allowed only to cry and get pushed around) who was sold down river in Mississippi to a one Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) of the infamous plantation called…you guessed it…Candie Land. Thus an episodic journey begins culminating in an overly elaborate scheme to free Django’ wife, and for the first well-paced two hours it’s a pretty damn entertaining ride. Continue reading →
In 1950’s Boston, two U.S. Federal Marshals (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) get trapped on an island that is home to a hospital for the criminally insane during a hurricane while investigating the disappearance of a psychotic patient (Emily Mortimer) in Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited screen adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s best-selling novel.
How long was the wait? Well, it was long enough for me to read Lehane’s book between the original and actual release dates. And was it worth it? Oh, you betcha! And let’s get another thing straight, boss. Shutter Island is a “lesser” Scorsese…as in Full Metal Jacket is a “lesser” Kubrick. It also means this is the Scorsese I fell in love with as a kid. Yup, my first exposure to the greatest living American director was Cape Fear, another “lesser” film. Continue reading →
I walked into Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds expecting non-stop Basterd-style Nazi killing, over the top violence and borderline kitsch. Sure, there’s some of that, and an anachronistic use of a David Bowie song among other minor albeit forgivable annoyances, but what struck me most was that this was not just a story of Basterd scalping maniacs. This was also a story of a young Jewish woman named Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) hiding out in Paris under the guise of a cinema operator and her elaborate revenge plot against the bastard SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) who murdered her family. This is a story of a ballsy double agent parading as a German movie star (Diane Kruger) who risks everything for an operation to assassinate Hitler. And most memorably, and cyclically, this is the story of that ruthless SS Colonel Hans Landa and his inevitable comeuppance after he arrogantly and erroneously plays everyone as if he were the smartest man in the room. In fact, the whole movie hangs on his story arc. From the moment at the end of the opening prologue where Shosanna barely escapes from his overreaching grasp, we wait…ever so patiently…to see…in that final scene…Hanz receive his comeuppance. And Tarantino, in his signature chapter-stop style weaves in all of these stories and others and uses the Basterds (essentially as a McGuffin) as the comic relief.