Wednesday 5 June 2013

Double Bill Mini Musings: Awards Bait Edition...

Django Unchained:
What's it about?
Quentin Tarantino's 'southern' adventure set in 1858 in which a German bounty hunter frees the titular slave, and takes him under his wing as they go in search of Django's wife Broomhilda, encounter gunfights and flamboyant slave owners along the way.
Who would I recognise in it?
Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Michael Parks, and Don Johnson, Jonah Hill.
Surprisingly, for a film that's the best part of 3 hours long, Django Unchained rarely seems to drag. As good as Inglourious Basterds was, there were several scenes where I knew what was coming and I was just waiting for it to happen (e.g. the tense encounter at the bar) - Django Unchained, on the other hand, felt more unpredictable, and featured a more balanced sense of pace (helped too, by following the same main characters for the entire movie, not just parts of it like in Inglourious Basterds). The traditional Tarantino dialogue is there - especially for Christoph Waltz, who once again gives a (rightfully) Award-winning performance - but there's enough nerve-shredding encounters and all-out gunfights (with gleefully gloopy geysers of gore) to keep things fresh and exciting.

Click "READ MORE" below for more Django, and a dose of Argo...
The film courted controversy by depicting the most hideous elements of slavery within a genre-movie context, but pleasingly, QT manages to keep things in check. One moment you'll be repulsed by a brutal scene of whipping, or a dog attack, or a bare-knuckle fight to the death, and the next you'll be laughing uproariously - most notably in a wickedly comic scene where a gang of racists bicker amongst themselves over their awkward masks.

Performances are tip-top all round, with the central duo of Foxx and Waltz being a particular joy - you want Django to succeed in his mission (and exact bloody justice in the process), and Dr King Schultz is like the Uncle you always wanted: a charming rogue with a confident sense of humour. Johnson as Big Daddy is all gentile Southern charm, Jackson is both humorously crabby and disturbingly sinister, and DiCaprio treads the range from well-presented businessman to teeth-gnashing villain (DiCaprio accidentally sliced his hand open during a scene, but continued acting, even employing the use of his own blood oozing from his hand). The only mis-step is a distracting cameo by QT himself as an Australian ... the scene itself is very funny, but QT playing the role takes you out of the movie ... Foxx is Djano, Waltz is Schultz, Tarantino is appearing in the movie he wrote and directed.

Typically stylish and typically injected with surprising shock moments, be they horrific, violent, or slapstick, Django Unchained is QT's best film since Kill Bill ... perhaps since Pulp Fiction. Great.

Fun Facts: Keep your eyes peeled for brief cameos from, among others, Tom Savini and Zoe Bell, and the set from Deadwood making a handful of appearances.

What's it about?
Based on the incredible-but-true story of how the CIA and the Canadian government exfiltrated a group of American embassy workers, who managed to escape being taken hostage during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979/1980. The plan for extraction? "The Hollywood Option" - the embassy workers in-hiding (at a Canadian residence) assume the high profile identities of a film crew on a location scout for a sci-fi movie. Crazy, but true.
Who would I recognise in it?
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Kerry Bishé, Victor Garber, Clea Duvall, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kyle Chandler, Zeljko Ivanek.
Affleck is now three-for-three in his stunning streak as Actor/Director (following Gone Baby Gone, and The Town), combining 70's-style political thriller, with Hollywood satire and sweaty-palmed escape drama. Some elements have been changed/tweaked for script & pacing purposes (however, the totally-true story is provided on the Blu-Ray in a documentary), but it's largely as-it-happened. The opening ten minutes (as Iranian protesters storm the American embassy) is genuinely, breathlessly terrifying, while the Hollywood portion of Argo is filled with biting satirical swipes, and the second half is a perfect example of how to gradually crank up tension as 'The Hollywood Option' is put into motion. Even with the artistic tweaks to certain events, the film feels authentic, honest, and intelligent. Great.

No comments: