Thursday, December 27, 2012


I loved Django Unchained - my favorite film by Quentin Tarantino since Pulp Fiction. It is a "genre" film - as he has described his movies in a recent interview - this time taking the Italian Spaghetti Western and setting it in the South in 1858 - two years before the Civil War complete with music that is quirky and wide ranging including James Brown, Johnny Cash and the composer Ennio Morricone (he was the composer of many of those original Italian Westerns directed by Sergio Leone such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon A Time in America.)

This movie views slave culture as seen through the eyes of an "unchained" free-man Django and the man who "buys his freedom" and becomes his "partner" a German-born bounty hunter. The two are a terrific team. This movie gives us an un-expurgated brutal vision of overweening racism, the slaves and the plantation slave owners as well as a look into the hierarchy of slave society and their roles vis-a-vis their Masters. Employing the bitterly ironic humor, theatrical violence and over-the-top Tarantino style, the dialogue is often humorous and campy but deadly serious and always refreshingly original. This is very much a tale of revenge and of a love which will not be erased by horrific obstacles. It is beautifully acted by Jamie Foxx as a soft-voiced, never distracted from his mission Django ("The D is silent",) Leonardo di Caprio - the heinous slave owner, Samuel L. Jackson as the wily House slave who helped raise Di Caprio and is his advisor, and the sophisticated might-be considered a scoundrel German Christopher Waltz who tells Django the story of Brunhilda and Siefried cementing our hero's determination to fulfill his quest in spite of the most dire circumstances.

This movie is filled with choreographed violence - literal blood baths but the history of slavery was one of power and raging cruelty so it all fits together.

Great discussion on Django on NPR with Michel Martin and her weekly group called The Barbershop. Start listening to Podcast at 8:19 sec.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

THE HOBBIT 12/25/12

Very simply The Hobbit is a tale of a displaced people (in this case Dwarves) struggling to reclaim their Lonely Mountain Kingdom; in doing so wandering through the lands to reach that home. There are trials by fire and the "help of Wizards - one being Gandalf The Gray - subtly and merrily not-so-subtly played by the wonderful Ian McKellan and Galadriea the fairest and most powerful Maiden in Elve Land acted by the beautiful Cate Blanchett. I regretted not seeing more of her as she is such an aesthetic feast for my eyes.

That this adventure takes place in Middle Earth - prequel to The Lord of the Rings does not change a basic tale of mankind's journey and fight for their homeland. I found the early scenes in the Hobbitshire charmingly fairytale-ish and the dialogue between Bilbo Baggins ( a well-cast Martin Freeman) and Gandalf quite amusing and also touching on another universal theme - the quiet, unassuming home-body who goes on an adventure and steps out of his/her "ordinary" life and thereby changes him/herself and the "world."

I must admit to terrible boredom with fight scenes between goblins and various creatures on scary wolf-like animals and wait for those scenes to end-my only fascination with them is how they are choreographed.

The pivotal and most moving scene in the film is between the wonderful Andy Serkis as the schizophrenic Gollum (fighting between his dark and light side - evident by his eyes and facial expressions) and Bilbo who discovers more about his own character through this encounter.

This film also uses special effects, and all that CGI can do to make a small lovely book The Hobbit, into a 3 part movie - with all the money that it will rake in. So a day fairly well spent but not great by any means...though the spare ribs I had right afterwards were delicious and satisfied a rib yearning I had for a long time