For most people, video rental shops are a thing of the past, or at the very least vestiges of a bygone era. At the beginning of the year, I watched one of the last once-mighty American Blockbusters close down, and that looked like just about the last nail in the coffin of physical video rentals as a business model.
However, I recently came across a charming little video rental joint in my travels: Videodrome, a local shop in the heart of Atlanta, GA. I can giddily report that it is just as delightfully dingy and fascinatingly unique as the Cronenberg masterpiece from which I assume it draws its name. And even more excitedly, I can happily report that the business seems to be doing well!
I spend a lot of my time on the road wandering through used DVD shops, and find a lot of interesting and hard to find movies in the process. I even have a section of this blog dedicated to the interesting and obscure stuff I find.
Well, Videodrome knocked them all out of the water. They had copies of films that I though didn’t exist in any kind of physical form. They had a number of movies that I had only ever heard of via Z-movie reviews from folks like The Cinema Snob or the deeper cuts of MST3K. Overall they didn’t have the widest selection out there, but the stuff that they had was impressively off-the-wall. Any place that keeps a physical copy of “Turkish Star Wars” in stock with a warning label that subtitles are not included has my attention.
Personally, I picked up a handful of movies that I had been meaning to watch but hadn’t gotten to: “WestWorld”, “Dead Alive”, and “Time After Time”. If you haven’t seen those three, I can highly recommend the lot, but with a special emphasis on the latter two. I will likely do a full length post on the bizarre creature that is “Time After Time” soon, and I plan to go over all of the early Peter Jackson movies once I can find a copy of “Meet the Feebles” to watch (to Videodrome’s credit, it was present but already checked out when I came in).
I am tempted to pick up a couple of more movies for my last night in Atlanta tonight, because I want to support this lovely, utopic cinematic paradise in any way that I can. Also, because they have some Ted V. Mikels movies that have proved near-impossible to find through any other means, and because I’m hoping “Meet the Feebles” is back in stock today so I can start working on that aforementioned review of all of the early/weird Peter Jackson films.
If you love B-movies and find yourself in the Atlanta area for a few days, you absolutely must check out Videodrome. They are open daily from noon to midnight, which are business hours I can totally get behind. Videodrome Atlanta is an amazing video rental spot that is surviving through their focus on the rare and obscure entries into the history of cinema, and can use the support of local film buffs and transient bad movie enthusiasts alike to keep being awesome.
There is a post currently at the top of r/badmovies this morning that caught my attention. The article is from a few years back over at Badass Digest, written by the Film Critic Hulk and titled “NEVER HATE A MOVIE”. I typically loathe reading lengthy things written in all caps, but this is pretty interesting read despite it. The author talks at length about an encounter with Quentin Tarantino, in which Quentin said the following regarding bad movies:
“Never hate a movie
There’s plenty of reasons to not to like a movie. But if you hate them? Meaning if let them bother you? Then they’ll do nothing but bother you. Who wants to be bothered?
You can learn so much about the craft from bad movies…Bad movies teach you what not to do and what to correct in your process and that’s way more helpful.
Never hate a movie. They’re gifts. Every fucking one of em”
People often ask me why I watch so many bad movies, and the answer isn’t just because I like to hate things. There is actually a lot to learn about how movies function from seeing how they can fail, kind of like tinkering with a faulty machine. If you never have a machine break, you may never completely know how all of the pieces work together to make the whole thing function.
When I watch bad movies, the first thing I aim to figure out is what about the film is throwing it off. It is usually a cacophonous mix of problems, but sometimes just one or two cogs are loose and throw the whole project off. The analytical aspect of the bad movie experience is a significant part of how this has become a hobby for me.
That brings me to an issue that I have with the aforementioned article. There is one aspect of a movie that can lead me to unconditionally hate it, given the right circumstances: the writing. I don’t hate writing if it is stale or cliched, mind you: that is a mechanical problem just like any other potential faulty cog in a movie. Sometimes, however, the writing in films is needlessly malignant or harmful without any cause or for any conceivable contribution to the movie as a whole. Writing is in this way unique among the many parts of a movie. It is pretty hard to do societal damage with bad lighting or set design, after all. The writing in movies can influence people and propagate ideas / values that are legitimately harmful. In those cases, ire towards movie writing is absolutely deserved.
Even then, perhaps it isn’t fair to level hatred at the movie in total for harmful writing (the director deserves blame for giving the writing a platform, so the writers aren’t totally isolated in blame). The writing is a crucial part of the whole mechanism, but it isn’t the extent of the machine; which can be very hard to differentiate. The movie “Pledge This!” comes to mind, which has truly loathsome and offensive writing that is not only vapid and immature, but relies on bullying and abuse as plot devices. As much disdain as I have for the script, I can’t say that I hate the work that, for example, the sound editors put into the movie. They inserted those fart sounds like absolute pros, the well-polished brass on a sinking Titanic of a project.
I might still say that I “hate” a movie like “Pledge This!”, but what I mean by that is that I loathe the narrative story that is the bedrock of the film, at least 99% of the time. The screenplay is pretty inseparable from the film itself in the final form, but there are more workings and levels to such a movie that may be functioning up to par or better. So maybe it still isn’t fair to “hate” the movie as a whole, but for practicality’s sake I don’t think it is totally out of line for me to say that I “hate” certain movies due to the harmful writing at their center. A nefarious and famous example that I think clarifies this idea is “Birth of a Nation”. It is an influential part of film history on the mechanical side, but also a rotten piece of racist propaganda at its functional core. I personally would say that I hate that movie, because the intention and writing are ultimately inseparable from the work as a whole. However, I think that it is possible to hate something and still appreciate aspects of it, such as in reference to Hitler’s oratory skills or the Detroit Red Wings’ scouting team. I think the positive influential aspects of “Birth of a Nation” fall securely into that realm.
In any case, I think the point of the “NEVER HATE A MOVIE” article is to encourage people to put more thought into how we all look at “bad” films in general, which I certainly don’t disagree with. A lot of people write off movies without much thought, and fail to see the nuances that actually lead movies into becoming failures. That said, I don’t think sitting through, analyzing, and enjoying bad movies is for everyone, and I can understand why a casual movie watcher would want to generally avoid them.
For me though, this all relates to an important life lesson: you should learn how to read the mistakes and failures of others as a means to improve upon yourself and your work. That seems to be at the core of what Tarantino and the Film Critic Hulk are both trying to get across here, and it is something that I think we should all strive to do in whatever fields we happen to work in.
Hey folks! Just like this time last year, I’m planning to actually use this blog for movie reviews and commentary now. The fact is, I watch movies with almost all of my free time anyway, so I figure that I might as well throw my opinions on them into the great void of the internet. So, I am going to aim to write about them (consistently) on here. There are a few differences this time around:
The IMDb Bottom 100
In the first week of 2014, I froze the listing of IMDb’s Bottom 100. My goal for the year is to watch through all of the miserable movies on the list from that particular point in time. Some of the entries are admittedly a bit obscure, so I have a contingency plan of sorts if I get down to the wire and can’t find some of them.
Without further ado, here is the list as I froze it:
1. Final Justice (1985)
2. Keloglan vs. the Black Prince (2006)
3. The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)
4. Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
5. Disaster Movie (2008)
6. Yes Sir (2007)
7. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
8. Going Overboard (1989)
9. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
10. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
11. Die Hard Dracula (1998)
12. Space Mutiny (1988)
13. Turks in Space (2006)
14. Who’s Your Caddy? (2007)
15. Pledge This! (2006)
16. Crossover (2006)
17. Anne B. Real (2003)
18. Daniel der Zauberer (2004)
19. The Creeping Terror (1964)
20. The Maize: The Movie (2004)
21. Ghosts Can’t Do It (1989)
22. The Pumaman (1980)
23. The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)
24. From Justin to Kelly (2003)
25. House of the Dead (2003)
26. Track of the Moon Beast (1976)
27. Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
28. The Pod People (1983)
29. Prince of Space (1959)
30. The Touch of Satan (1971)
31. Zombie Nightmare (1987)
32. Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1985)
33. Surf School (2006)
34. Glitter (2001)
35. The Blade Master (1984)
36. Zombie Nation (2004)
37. Eegah (1962)
38. Miss Castaway and the Island Girls (2004)
39. Soultaker (1990)
40. Ram Gopal Varma’s Indian Flames (2007)
41. I Accuse My Parents (1944)
42. Himmatwala (2013)
43. Son of the Mask (2005)
44. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964)
45. Danes Without a Clue (1997)
46. Tangents (1994)
47. Devil Fish (1984)
48. Chairman of the Board (1998)
49. The Starfighters (1964)
50. Ben & Arthur (2002)
51. The Final Sacrifice (1990)
52. Seven Mummies (2006)
53. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)
54. Nine Lives (2002)
55. Leonard Part 6 (1987)
56. Hobgoblins (1988)
57. Santa with Muscles (1996)
58. The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000)
59. Santa Claus (1959)
60. Epic Movie (2007)
61. Fat Slags (2004)
62. Popstar (2005)
63. Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
64. Monster a-Go Go (1965)
65. Titanic: The Legend Goes On… (2000)
66. A Story About Love (1995)
67. Body in the Web (1960)
68. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
69. Alone in the Dark (2005)
70. Mitchell (1975)
71. A Fox’s Tale (2008)
72. Gigli (2003)
73. Beginning of the Great Revival (2011)
74. Demon Island (2002)
75. Laserblast (1978)
76. Dream Well (2009)
77. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
78. Baby Geniuses (1999)
79. Anus Magillicutty (2003)
80. The Underground Comedy Movie (1999)
81. Zaat (1971)
82. Simon Sez (1999)
83. Battlefield Earth (2000)
84. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
85. Ed (1996)
86. The Hillz (2004)
87. In the Mix (2005)
88. Bratz (2007)
89. Another Nine & a Half Weeks (1997)
90. Monstrosity (1963)
91. American Ninja V (1993)
92. Tees Maar Khan (2010)
93. Maskeli besler: Kibris (2008)
94. Feel the Noise (2007)
95. Troll 2 (1990)
96. Addiction (2004)
97. .com for Murder (2002)
98. 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998)
99. Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)
100. Joker (2012)
As some of you are probably aware, the IMDb Bottom 100 is a living, democratic list. It tends to be a bit volatile because of this, so movies come in and out of the list on a regular basis. In addition, there is a minimum vote quota to qualify for ranking (1500 votes), meaning that at any point new movies can qualify for the list if they gain enough votes. If it comes down to it, I may use some new additions to the Bottom 100 that have popped up since my beginning of the year list freeze in lieu of movies I just can’t find.
To add a bit of a random element to the mix, I also have a fun new tool to help me randomize my selections:
For the better part of a decade, I have been watching shitty movies with my friends on a regular basis. A number of years ago, I started the tradition of a holiday shitty movie distribution, in which I would collect the worst films I could dig out of the city’s bargain bins and distribute them to my friends through some form of chance.
This Christmas, inspired by the folks at Red Letter Media, one of these friends built a “Wheel of the Worst” imitation for this specific purpose. Equipped with a mocking smile to rub in your our cinematic viewing choices, it has so far been dubbed the “Wheel of Regret”. In its inaugural use, we sat through “The Untold”, an episode of “BibleMan”, the “Black Christmas” remake, and 2002’s “Rollerball”, along with shitty movie distributions to all in attendance. It was a tough night.
In any case, I’ve been using that spinning, grinning monster to help me randomize my Bottom 100 selections. I pick 8 numbers representing listed films I have already acquired, place them on the wheel, and then spin away. Speaking of which…
Believe it or not, finding these movies isn’t particularly easy. I managed to luck out during a recent road trip to New Orleans, running into a head shop with an extensive used DVD selection and a BlockBuster having a full clearance. Aside from the stack of generally bad movies I purchased for next to nothing, I came back with hard copies of seven of the Bottom 100.
After some local digging afterwards, I came up with another seven or so. Also to my luck, a huge number of Bottom 100 films were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, meaning they are easily located on YouTube and/or Netflix. Through all of that (and the ones I already owned), I’ve already found a huge percentage of the list. That said, I’m still in an ongoing hunt for some of the obscure European / Bollywood entries.
As of writing this, I am 16 movies into the list. I have been following each movie up with a mini-review on facebook, and occasionally doing live commentary. I’m planning to expand on all of the mini-reviews a bit and post them here over the course of the challenge.
I’m planning to cover some other generally bad movies as I watch them as well. For instance, I recently watched “New Gladiators” and “The Toxic Avenger” for the first time, both of which I have a whole lot of thoughts on.
So, you can look forward to a whole lot of content here shortly. In the meantime, you can check out some reviews I did last year on Les Miserables and Django (1966). Or I guess you could go outside or something, that’s cool too.
I’ve finally finished my holiday vacation, and gleefully returned home to my War on Christmas present to myself:
That is a big ol’ collection of Tarantino movies. In the XX set alone are his mainstays: Jackie Browne, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, both Kill Bills, and even Death Proof and True Romance.
In my other hand are the less favorite sons, some of the illegitimate ilk of the Tarantino canon. I could write the praises (and occasional gripes) of the classic Tarantino films, but I’d much rather focus on these other works for the time being.
To start off, I don’t think any of these are bad movies. In fact, I think they are all objectively better movies than Death Proof, which suffers from agonizing accuracy to its genre of inspiration. However, it is interesting to take a look at the Tarantino apocrypha (which should really include True Romance, though I think the film’s inclusion in XX is a legitimizing move). Particularly, it is interesting to see how Tarantino’s writing materializes under someone else’s control; and how we deals with it.
So, over the next few days you can look forward to:
And just for fun, check out Tarantino’s trailers from the Grindhouse double-feature with Robert Rodriguez. Growing up on crap movies, I could legitimately see those showing up on MST3k. Kudos to those guys for accuracy.
From the moment this movie came out, my Facebook feed was flooded with raving positive reviews. To judge from most of the reactions, this was not just the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that mere bakery tricks were far transcended by this masterpiece of film. This was Citizen Kane with singing.
I went into this movie as unbiased as I could be. I was a bit apprehensive knowing how passionately people were lauding the movie, knowing that it could not possibly live up to such enthusiasm.
Once I came out of the movie, I noticed that a number of people around me were crying, while others were talking among themselves about how astounding the spectacle they just witnessed was. That was when I first questioned whether or not I was a robot. Since then, I’ve been going over the movie in my head in order to understand the disparate between our experiences, and to hopefully cast aside my doubts as to my humanity.
When I walked out of that movie, I was thinking two things: 1) “That movie was really long and felt really long,” and 2) “Russell Crowe can’t sing worth a damn.” This was not Citizen Kane with singing (though I would watch that movie). This was an OK but forgettable adaptation of a classic story, maybe a 7/10.
I already know that giving an average review of this movie is going to take some flak, so here’s my defense: this movie had a handful of distracting flaws. They weren’t enough to make the movie “bad”, but they were enough to hold it back from the “good” or “elite” categories.
The first of these flaws is something that I thought would be a boon, in that it is something that the screen offers that the stage doesn’t: the wide, panning, spectacular establishing shots. This would typical only be a minor gripe, but it felt so incredibly out of place whenever they showed up, I couldn’t help but point it out. Those shots should feel natural despite their beauty, but it felt like they were trying way too hard and thus the shots looked artificial. The opening shot with the ship being hauled looked almost cartoonish, like it belonged in a Pirates of the Carribean movie. I was actually specifically reminded of the maelstrom fight scene in Pirates III, which also looked incredibly unnatural and jarring.
The second flaw is maybe the one thing even the fans will admit was an issue with this adaptation: Russell Crowe. Crowe is a good actor, but this was not a role for him. His singing was inconsistent, and at its worst sounded like all-caps slurring. As one person noted on my facebook, he sounded like he was singing through peanut butter in his mouth. His character was just too important to have flubbed on the casting, and I can’t help but feel like this was a ticket-selling move. I am a big fan of casting for talent and aptitude for a role over throwing bones to the already well-fed, especially if they don’t cut it in a crucial aspect of a role. Then again, you could always have worse casting issues…
Next issue: the casting. Outside of Jackman and Hathaway, only three members of the ensemble cast felt like good choices: Cohen and Bonham-Carter as the comic relief (killed it), and Isabelle Allen, who I was thoroughly impressed with as Young Cosette. Everyone else suffered from some issue, typically either not having enough time on screen to develop a character (thus becoming just a warm body/bullet depository); or just not fitting the bill for their part. The first issue wouldn’t be so much of an issue if we weren’t supposed to care so much about these characters who are only vaguely familiar faces in the film. The second issue, like the casting of Crowe (and in my opinion, Redmayne as Marius) isn’t something you can just work around. It sours every scene they are in, regardless of the effort they are putting in. Then again, is there such a thing as trying too hard?
Next issue: Anne Hathaway. To be clear, she did a really good job in the movie. However, I thought it was too obvious, even to the point of blatant manipulation, that this was an Academy Award audition. If a role/performance is truly impressive on its own merits, it should not occur to you as you watching the depiction that they (the filmmakers, to be clear) are pandering at an award. You should be fully immersed in what is happening. To me, her entire segment of the movie felt completely staged for the purpose of bringing in an award. She didn’t actually get much time on screen, so I am curious if they were looking to make as strong a case as possible for what they had (and justify her billing). Still, the fact that the thought even popped into my head while she was still on the screen didn’t impress me. Then again, I might be a robot.
I honestly think that the main audience of this film (fans of the source) were willing to either consciously or subconsciously gloss over most of the issues. Even that, however, is perplexing to me. Since when is a fandom forgiving to Hollywood adaptations of their sacred cows? If Joss Whedon isn’t in the director’s chair, nerds are seldom pleased with anything that hits the screen from the realm of nerddom. Maybe musical fans are just really forgiving on the whole to film adaptations? I’m not a big musical fan, so I can’t really speak for them on that. Still, it was something I found interesting.
In addition to the forgiven flaws, I think fans of either the musical or the story would not have the same problems as a general audience member walking in cold. I have to assume that many of those young, rebellious characters were better portrayed in previous versions, and that the fans actually knew who they were from previous experience. For them, youthful rebellious boys #’s 1-6 were actual human characters with personality traits, and not just (as mentioned earlier) bullet depositories.
The last thing I had a big issue with was not something fixable: the length. At once, this movie was both too long (and more importantly, felt too long) for a casual theater and too short to flesh out the colorful cast of characters. This movie should have been an epic miniseries, as had been done in the past with Les Miserables. The acts are already well-structured for it, and the characters would have actually had a chance to breathe and come to life before the camera. That’s my opinion anyway.
List of other minor gripes: Hugh Jackman’s “old” makeup wasn’t convincing at all. Jackman and Crowe had no chemistry on screen; they looked like they were acting at each other instead of with each other. Redmayne and Seyfried did not have a compelling or believable chemistry on screen (at least I wasn’t buying it). Mostly issues related to casting again.
aging: the process of your beard retracting and re-emerging from your scalp
Despite all of my issues with this movie, I honestly stick by my guns of 7/10. Taking the awesome source material out of the equation, this film on its own is just average. It had too many instances where I was jerked fully out of the experience, and Crowe / the ensemble really failed to hold the whole thing together from the bottom up. If anyone should be upset about the final product, it should be Hathaway and Jackman. The frame below them wasn’t up to par, and there wasn’t anything they could do about it. They were waving the flag on top of a ramshackle collection of furniture. The flag was still flying, but they could certainly be on much better footing.
I’m still unsure if not breaking down into tears at this movie and then having the audacity to give it an average review makes me a robot or not. I guess we will never know.
I’ve never been much of a spaghetti western fan, but I’ve had some friends swear by Django long before Tarantino’s recent homage. To put it accurately, the 1966 cult classic has always had my curiosity. After seeing Django: Unchained, it had my attention.
The first thing that caught my attention as I started Django was the title song. From the first pluck, there’s a twang of pure badassery. Is there any better way to start a western than with a catchy guitar riff? The shots that accompany it are equally awesome, revealing the mysterious title character through a blur, shuffling away from the camera with his iconic coffin in tow. Just give it a watch, it is a particularly impressive way to start a movie:
Of course, the next thing one notices after the opening is the dubbing. I grew up on Toho movies, so I’m typically immune to shoddy dubbing. However, the dubbing on the version I watched seems particularly bad. Could they have twisted the dubbers’ arms to at least try acting? It gets distracting at times, but I suppose it is plenty forgivable.
The first action scene brings up my biggest problem with the movie: outside of the lead, the characters just aren’t memorable or interesting. There’s Mexican leader bad guy, KKK leader bad guy, the bartender…they feel pretty cookie cutter to me. Then again, it is a spaghetti western. My hopes may have been a bit high. The only character apart from Django who can intrigue an audience is Maria, but her motivations barely make sense. As bold as she is at times, she does inexplicably fall for Django for unexplained and unexplored reasons. Apart from the fact that he saved her in the first scene, there’s just nothing there. By that logic of attraction, they might as well have had a romance between Django and General Hugo for as many times as he lent him a hand. Speaking of hands and Hugo, violent punishments are pretty much all his character had to define him. Not the makings of a strong character. Then again, that’s leagues better than the KKK guy. His defining characteristics are wearing a red scarf and disliking Mexicans.
Franco Nero pretty much distinguishes this movie from the spaghetti western pack with his performance alone. He has a gaze that stands out whenever his eyes are on screen, and makes the whole film revolve around him. He’s at once an intimidating figure that eats up the screen, but also portrays the deep pain that really defines the Django character. There is actually an interesting comparison to be drawn between Django and Django Unchained here that is pretty fundamental to how Tarantino’s diverges from the source in style.
As mentioned, Nero’s Django is the absolute dominating force in Django throughout the film (apart from the ear/hand scenes and a few good Maria moments where she surprised me). In Unchained, Foxx’s Django is surrounded by an outstanding ensemble, and for a good portion of the film plays second fiddle to Waltz’s King. Honestly, I think having a stronger cast top to bottom makes a stronger movie than one that is purely driven by the lead. That may seem fairly intuitive to anyone with a brain stem, but the box office begs to differ. In any case, it makes the two films very different in their executions.
Focusing back on the original, I liked the plot much better than I thought I would. There’s quite a lot going on given the two “bad” factions that Django interacts with, and the weapons technology angle is really interesting to throw into the mix. Django’s minigun really is a game-changer, and is what initially makes his character important in the grand scheme of the story. Of course, he is certainly an impressive gunslinger as well, but his shooting skills aren’t what primarily brings attention to him. Django also proves to be rather cunning yet misguidedly greedy, which is quite the fault when it all comes down to it. Having a fallible, vulnerable, and not-so-straight-laced protagonist who doesn’t always come out on top gives Django an interesting edge. It makes the audience wonder on a number of occasions whether Django is someone you should be pulling for, while simultaneously making the audience feel genuine concern for his well-being. There aren’t a whole lot of characters like that out there.
*ending spoilers below*
The finale is outstanding in terms of shootouts. The suspense of the scene as it leads up to the conclusion is not what you generally anticipate from a concluding gun-battle, but it has a great charm to it. The scene is imitated in contemporary movies every now and then (Shoot-em Up comes to mind) In terms of trope-ness, everything sets up for an expected ending for Django. But as the kick-ass title song timely reminds us, “Django, you must face another day.”
There’s something about his ultimate survival that makes Django’s story deeply sadder. Throughout the movie, he is expecting (maybe even desires) to die; and it seems like the only thing he isn’t very good at is living. The way he brokenly stumbles away from the camera without even the solace of his companion coffin makes for a heart-wrenching closing shot.
Overall, I was impressed with Django; primarily in how much it exceeded my expectations. That said, I think this is a movie whose appeal is pretty limited to film buffs and western fans. Most of the glee I got out of the movie was in recognizing its influence on later works. To the average viewer, this is probably just a run-of-the-mill western. Judging from the ratings of the film online, this seems to hold true. On imdb, it hold a modest 7.3; whereas Rotten Tomatoes shows a disparate between critics : audience of 91 : 79.
Still, I’m confident in recommending it to anyone who at least enjoyed Django: Unchained. It is pretty cool to see scenes that are nodded to by Tarantino in Unchained. That said, the two movies are not exactly comparable. The original has only two advantages over Tarantino’s in my opinion: the ending is far better, and Nero’s Django is a better character than Foxx’s (Foxx’s Django is good, but he just isn’t as impressive or deep on the screen). Apart from those two aspects, Tarantino made a much better film in every imaginable aspect. The dialogue, ensemble, cinematography, plot, characters…just everything. And in Tarantino’s defense, his ending felt to be more of a nod to blaxploitation westerns than an attempt to make a compelling and deep conclusion. He could have made one if he wanted to (and I’m curious if there isn’t an alternate ending awaiting us in the future on the DVD release), but he elected to go a different route with it. I might not like the chosen path as much, but I think most audiences would prefer to not be left with a broken Jamie Foxx limping into the distance after seeing his wife killed. Bit of a downer.
The only other thing Django: Unchained was sadly missing was a recreation of this scene:
This was a movie filled with interesting and risky choices. The setting, the dialogue, the casting, the style: it all panned out superbly. The chemistry between both Foxx/Waltz and Jackson/Dicaprio was unexpectedly astounding, and the choices in ghastly imagery were more than mere exploitation.
There were no gasps in my theater during the more grisly scenes, just a powerful silence. I’ve seen plenty of Tarantino violence, but it has never been so powerfully sickening. In my opinion, it was deservedly and rightfully so. The setting shouldn’t be treated any differently. What Spike Lee describes as a ‘Holocaust’ should be depicted as such, with no blows held back in regards to stark and grim reality of the time. For a movie based on and expected to be mostly mindless action, much of the violence was more affecting and deep than I had expected. He went places in depicting the “Peculiar Institution” in film that has rarely (if ever) been dared. The fact he was able to get laughs out of his dialogue despite the tone and style of the movie says quite a bit for Quentin’s penmanship. It is also worth noting that the dialogue flow and form didn’t stick out with the setting, despite it being well out of Tarantino’s comfort zone of the contemporaneous.