Django Unchained: the ‘D’ is Silent!


Django Unchained is the latest movie from Quentin Tarantino.  It is a blacksploitation/spaghetti western hybrid of sorts, and it has stirred up its share of controversy thanks to its use of the ‘N’ word.  But, is it any good? Yes.

The movie is setup as a group of slaves are being lead through various country landscapes until they are stopped by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who asks to buy Django (Jamie Foxx).  When the slave owners refuse, Schultz pretty much just kills them and takes Django anyway. Sorta but good enough.  Then Schultz who we find out is a bounty hunter then helps Django save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and exact his revenge on Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his evil Uncle Tom: Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). Again, sorta, but if you want a detailed plot go to Wikipedia, and now on to the reviewing.

Out of all the Quentin Tarantino movies I have seen, this is probably the most straight forward one.  Unlike most his movies that jump around in time, this one pretty much follows a linear path.  He also seems to have balanced his dialog that he loves so much with enough action to keep you engaged.  However what is the same, is the level of violence and gore in this picture.   There is raspberry flavored corn syrup everywhere in this movie, and I think it is fantastic.

As always Quentin found a good cast for this movie: Leonardo is great as the evil slave owner, and Samuel L. Jackson makes your skin crawl as the head slave.  Christoph Waltz is outstanding again, and it seems like he was born to quip through Tarantino’s famous dialog. Foxx plays the cool Django just right, with all the crazy people around him it is nice to have a cool and calm character as the lead.

This film stirred up quite a controversy thanks to using the ‘N’ word a lot, and it is jarring to hear it so often, and from so many white people, but I think it fits the time and theme of this movie.

I am not sure this is my favorite movie of Tarantino’s, but it is probably the most accessible.  Which is probably why more people liked it, and it is receiving all the accolades.  Django Unchained is a good movie, and I think it is important to throw slavery in all of our faces once and awhile, so that we don’t gloss over the horror of it.  This movie defiantly gets my recommendation.

Cry with Les Miserables


Les Miserables is the tear jerking update to the classic musical based off the novel with the same name by Victor Hugo.  It is also Tom Hooper’s follow up to his best picture winning King’s Speech, so it is safe to say that this film had some high expectations, and it mostly lives up to them.

Most people know the story by now, but as a refresher:  The movie is about Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) trying to redeem himself for past sins, while taking care of Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) child because he accidently put Fantine on the street, and dodging the unforgiving and obsessed law, Javert (Russell Crowe), and as a spoiler: They are all sad.

Tom Hooper does a great job directing this film.  Every frame is steady and in place, and allowing the actors to record the songs while acting on set gives the film more life, and bridges the gap from to the stage to the screen.  This film is quite a change from the King’s Speech, but he nails it.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are tremendous in this film.  Their previous work in musicals really pays off, and the emotion they carry through song is amazing.  The rest of the cast for the most part are very good as well, with one notable exception.  Russell Crowe almost ruins this film.  He can’t sing, and I am not sure that he is obsessed. He mostly just seems annoyed whenever he sees Jean Valjean like “oh yeah I hate that guy”.  Since everyone else is great it is a shame that they didn’t cast someone better.  I love Russell Crowe and applaud his willingness to try new things, but they should have found someone else.

This is a good movie and one that should be seen, but with a simple casting change it would have been a classic.  Tom Hooper is really proving himself to be one of the great directors and I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I am calling it for Anne Hathaway, she deserves that shiny bald dude.

Meet President Lincoln


Lincoln is a movie about the 16th President by Steven Spielberg.  This a rare movie from the award wining director: it is a small personal picture instead of a grand sweeping epic.  I think the change of pace was good for this prolific director.

Lincoln is about the last few months of the President’s life as he was trying to push through the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, and win the war with the south, but this movie is about backroom politics, not the Blue vs. the Gray, so while there are a couple of war scenes, this movie is mainly a bunch of meetings.

Don’t let the thought of a bunch of old dudes arguing keep you from watching this movie.  This movie is riveting in much the same way that 12 Angry Men is: as you watch the President use all his power and influence and his cunning to get his amendment to pass.  It is amazing to watch the political process work, and the kind of shenanigans they were willing to pull off to make this bill pass. Sadly we all know this movie ends in tragedy.

It was great to see Spielberg take a break from making big movie, and do a stripped down human interest political drama.  This movie has three main sets it would be very easy to convert to a play.  It proves that he can direct anything, and should not just be thought of for his big budget epic blockbusters.

The casting of this movie was spot on.  Daniel Day-Lewis gives another award worthy performance, as do Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field.  They really bring this movie and time period to life.

Lincoln is a great movie, and one that everyone involved in will be remembered for.  Spielberg adds another gem to his collection of films, and this is definitely a movie everyone should watch.