BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Django Unchained

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Django Unchained
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington

Django, like the ‘D’ at the beginning of his name, is silent.  This is no small feat, given that he is the main character in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and should be stopping to yak at any given opportunity, preferably before a burst of ultra-violence.

Of course there is plenty of bloodshed in Django Unchained, so much in fact that it paints a white plantation red, mostly with the blood of its owner and his employees.  It is Tarantino’s second historical revenge fantasy in a row, following the revisionist WWII epic Inglourious Basterds.  Here, though, he crucially refuses to revise the horrors of American slavery, and depicts them in ways that are startling and horrific.  The blood from the shootouts may be gratuitous and expressionistic, but it’s the beating, dog mauling and whipping that feel brutally real even if the movie they are in is often highly stylized.

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REVIEW: Django Unchained

Django Unchained movie still

Django Unchained
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington

Django, like the ‘D’ at the beginning of his name, is silent.  This is no small feat, given that he is the main character in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and should be stopping to yak at any given opportunity, preferably before a burst of ultra-violence.

Of course there is plenty of bloodshed in Django Unchained, so much in fact that it paints a white plantation red, mostly with the blood of its owner and his employees.  It is Tarantino’s second historical revenge fantasy in a row, following the revisionist WWII epic Inglourious Basterds.  Here, though, he crucially refuses to revise the horrors of American slavery, and depicts them in ways that are startling and horrific.  The blood from the shootouts may be gratuitous and expressionistic, but it’s the beating, dog mauling and whipping that feel brutally real even if the movie they are in is often highly stylized.

Continue reading

REVIEW: For Colored Girls

For Colored Girls
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Written by: Tyler Perry (screenplay), Ntozake Shange (play)
Starring: Janet Jackson, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, and Kerry Washington

It was hard watching the latest film from the controversial and wildly successful Tyler Perry without the expectation that at any moment Madea, an old black woman that Perry performs as in drag, would interrupt the tension by bursting through the wall like  Kool-Aid Man.  That character, the subject of backlash from other modern black filmmakers like Spike Lee who say it recalls early stereotypes of blacks on screen, often struts into Perry films with attitude and comedy to break the melodramatic tension.

There is no Madea in For Colored Girls.  In fact, there is very little at all to break apart the tension created by the struggling lives of these 9 African American women, who deal with everything from rape, abortion, and infidelity over the course of the film’s two-plus hours.  Perry’s adaptation is drawn from an award-winning play by Ntozake Shange and is structured around poetic recitations of these horrific events.

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