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I've never been a fan of Quentin Tarantino because I'm very much against the use of gratuitous violence in film. That said, I've only seen "Pulp Fiction" and (probably all of) "Reservoir Dogs," which are 12 and 14 years old, respectively: There's something about "Django Unchained" which called out to me, despite me suspecting it would probably be Tarantino-esque; violence was terribly real in the days of slavery, and so here was a film in which I could perhaps justify it - perhaps even enjoy it, in a vengeful sort of way - depending on how it was used, and for what purposes.

I also had a rough week at the office, and needed some mindless escapism - Tarantino is about as mindless as it gets: A bloodhound gift-wrapped as an intellect. Maybe Django (played by Jamie Foxx) will get some sort of revenge at the end of all this, and shoot the bastards who deserve it. That's the kind of week it has been for me.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

It's a safe bet that I'll be discussing things from this point forward that will ruin the movie for you - as usual, I'm writing while watching, so my comments will arrive in mostly chronological order.

As usual, I'm writing this as I go, and so far, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), worries me. He has been almost superhuman in killing the Speck brothers, and now he has taken on an entire town, killing the sheriff in cold blood, and getting everything he wanted in the process. He's a little too good to be true, I'm afraid, though I admit it was satisfying to see the poor, chained-up slaves have the final say against the remaining Speck brother - I only hope they followed the North Star as recommended by Schultz.

The scene where they were arguing about the eye-holes in the KKK masks was the first time I've ever seen comedy surrounding a KKK meeting, and it was brilliantly done, too - acting both as comic relief, a suspense-builder (for what we dread is about to happen), and most importantly, foreshadowing - for what actually happened. This guy Schultz is no dummy.

With almost two hours remaining in the film, Schultz and Django have just partnered, and I'm afraid that things are going a little *too* good - there's plenty of time left for lots of terrible things to happen. I sure hope Schultz isn't guilty of a last-minute betrayal; he sure seems like a decent fellow so far.

Okay, this Mandingo fighting is making me physically sick to my stomach (some movie fans will remember the 1975 Blaxploitation Film, "Mandingo"). This is the side of Tarantino I don't like - there's nothing left to the imagination, and if he could do it in 3D, he would, if he could do it so that you could smell the blood, he would, if he could do it so that you were there in the room with fighters, he would, if he could do it so that you felt the pain, he would. There's no subtlety with Tarantino - even in this film, over a decade later, he's still doing body horror under the very thin veil of "high art" - he is the most contemptible of directors: the kind that substitutes gross-out shock value for true artistry.

When Leonardo DiCaprio perks up upon hearing the outlandish amount that Schultz and Django are willing to pay for a top-level Mandingo fighter, he just goes to show that even the most heinous, sadistic people will gladly sell their principles if the price is right. This is a universal theme.

Tarantino could have made the dog-killing scene much worse, but then the film would have carried an NR-17 rating - I honestly wonder if that's the reason he chose to make most of it impressionistic. Assuming there *were* slave owners as sadistic as Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) - and I assume there were - this is just 165 years ago, and we, as a species, haven't evolved all that far from this. In fact, genetically, we've scarcely evolved at all - there are still people, Americans, who would be doing this if given the right. Maybe Tarantino is a better director than I give him credit for, because he's being quite successful at making me hate people.

---

Comic Relief: The Candyland plantation is located in Greenville, MS (trivia: there are more towns and cities named "Greenville" in the 50 United States than with any other name - at least, that's what I remember reading about ten years ago). Greenville is near the Mississippi Delta, and not far from both Arkansas and Louisiana. Some real-life people born in Greenville that you may have heard of are Jim Henson, Shelby Foote (these two men alone have provided PBS with a disproportionate share of talent), George Scott, Frank White, and Mary Wilson. These are the ones I know, but there are others whom you may know that I'm not familiar with. Well, I guess this wasn't really "comedy," but at least it wasn't someone getting ripped to shreds by three angry dogs - back to the film.

---

The best scene in the movie so far is when they ride into the Candyland estate, and the elderly butler gives Django the biggest eat-shit look I've ever seen. [Edit: Hoo boy was I wrong, and I had *no idea* this was Samuel L. Jackson at first, either.]

Vintage Quentin Tarantino: A director with finesse wouldn't have felt any need to see Broomhilda graphically pulled from the hotbox; (s)he would have simply shown Django's facial expressions the entire time, and let viewers use their imagination. Any excuse for gore, violence, and shock value: That's Quentin Tarantino. I know, I know, it'll make Revenge Time all the more sweet to watch, right?

That said, the scene at the dinner table with the wise old butler is suspense at its finest, and I mean it is *masterful*. The entire course of events, from the hotbox up until the handshake was masterful - a flash of brilliance from a sadistic provocateur.

Oh, look! A bloodbath juxtaposed with rap - how intellectual.

And ... I just stopped watching the film before the potential castration scene - I have no need for this in my life, and shame on Hollywood for a Best Picture nomination for this piece of sadistic garbage. Since I try to always finish what I start, I may or may not finish the film later, but I will most certainly read the synopsis of the plot before I do, because at this point, I no longer care what happens: they can castrate Django ... or not. They can kill Django ... or not. They can kill Broomhilda ... or not. The two can magically escape and ride off into the sunset ... or not. I couldn't care less. 

Franco Nero in a cameo: Screenshot 2016-05-14 at 02.30.40.png

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On 5/14/2016 at 10:28 PM, DonRocks said:

piece of sadistic garbage

This flick had no redeeming value at all, IMHO. Total crap...

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33 minutes ago, Al Dente said:

This flick had no redeeming value at all, IMHO. Total crap...

Go back and rewatch the 20-30 minutes between the hotbox scene and the handshake scene. This is enough to show that Tarantino is a talented director (Samuel L. Jackson's chronic overacting notwithstanding); Tarantino merely chooses to bury that talent under a thick layer of frat-boy gore.

I have no problem at all with Christoph Waltz winning the Best Supporting Actor award, although in fairness I didnt see every nominee. I really, really liked his character, even though I think he overacted by ten percent.

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On 5/16/2016 at 8:52 AM, DonRocks said:

Go back and rewatch the 20-30 minutes between the hotbox scene and the handshake scene. This is enough to show that Tarantino is a talented director (Samuel L. Jackson's chronic overacting notwithstanding); Tarantino merely chooses to bury that talent under a thick layer of frat-boy gore.

I have no problem at all with Christoph Waltz winning the Best Supporting Actor award, although in fairness I didnt see every nominee. I really, really liked his character, even though I think he overacted by ten percent.

I've been thinking more about "Django Unchained" than I should (it's the same way with "Good Will Hunting," for some reason, which is not a good movie, but has some extremely intriguing (if somewhat bogus) scenes) - there are some sequences in "Django Unchained" that have really resonated with me).

Not only do I like Christoph Waltz's character (Dr. King Schultz), but I really like the development of his relationship with Django - it starts out slowly, as it's impossible for Django to trust any white man, but then it quickly evolves into a beautiful friendship, one that I find touching and very poignant. Not once does this friendship waver throughout the entire film, and we find ourselves, the viewers, actually *loving* this ruthless bounty hunter.

I kind of "hate myself for liking this," but I do like it, and I like other aspects of the film as well. Damn Tarantino for undermining his non-negligible talent with so much gore - he's only hurting himself. Oh, there's no question that the hyper-gore brought him scads of teenage and twenty-something male fans, which translated into tens of millions of dollars, but now that he's rich and famous, he needs to focus on his legacy - unless he's concerned with amassing even more wealth, it's time for him to grow up and worry about developing his reputation for posterity; or is that asking too much?

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On 5/16/2016 at 11:14 AM, Al Dente said:

This flick had no redeeming value at all, IMHO. Total crap...

I'm with Mike on this. Watched about 20 minutes one night before simply saying "This sucks" and turning off the TV.

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*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

One thing I just noticed: After the nearly unwatchable Mandingo scene, immediately after Big Fred hammers his opponent, Candie says, “Come on up now, boy. Get yourself a rest, you did a *fine* job, a *real* fine job.” And while he’s saying that, the camera diverts its attention to another man in the room, just behind Candie, having a drink, and that man - I’m pretty sure - is subtly mocking Candie by mouthing those exact words as he’s speaking them, as if Candie had spoken them many times in the past. It looks like he’s chewing gum until you examine it more closely, and then you ask yourself, ‘Why would the camera decide to focus on this random person?’ As to what the significance of this is, other than to further establish Candie as a mindess, rote, demon, it’s up to you to decide.

I rewatched this scene on YouTube (Warning: Extreme Violence) in order to determine if the winner of the fight was the same person who Candie dog-shredded (and quite honestly, I still don’t know, and don’t really want to perform the work it would take to learn the answer - if anyone knows, off the top of their head, please chime in, but I’m not going to watch any more of this sadism). To think this type of thing (and I don’t know whether or not there’s any proof of Mandingo fighting) might have existed, makes me so ashamed of white people that it invokes a low level of nausea, and an indescribably high level of compassion, pity, and an overwhelming desire to trade my own life for any slave that was put through this, which I would do in a heartbeat.


America should be glad that I wasn’t alive in the 1960s, possessing the same knowledge that I have today - I would’ve made Malcolm X look like Mother Teresa. “By any means necessary?” I would have *been* the means necessary.

 

Speaking of which, would anybody want to join me in going down to Richmond to disrupt the Virginia Flaggers? I'm going to write this gentleman and ask him if he needs some help, and as injured, and as disabled, and as racked by constant pain as I am, I will knock the living shit out of any "Flagger" who takes the first punch, and may God help them if they do, because they're going to need God's help. I wrote this post on Aug 24, 2015, and I'm going to stand behind it despite the terrible pain I'm in. If others want to help me, fine; if not, I'll do it on my own. I couldn't care less about Mr. Gatsby's hip-hop; but regardless, I will stand by his side in standing up to these people. I'm embarrassed to be seen in public these days, but there are some things more important than my own personal pride.

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