Sunday, 26 May 2013

Django Unchained Review

"D J A N G O - The D is silent"

Ah, Quentin Tarantino. Love him or hate him, you have to admire and respect his film making capabilities. His latest, Django Unchained, sees him tackle the Western genre - with devastating effect.

Django Unchained tells the story of Django who is freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) in order to help him with a bounty. Quite quickly, Shultz takes Django under his wing and trains him as his partner. But he made him a promise: that he would rescue his wife from a plantation owned by the ruthless Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). And rescuing her is not going to be all that easy.

What has to be said first is that this film is in no way racist. It's simply just stating facts about the time period it's set in. Yes, the word n****r is used fairly frequently but that's just because it stays true to the time and the setting. What was Tarantino supposed to do? If anything it's the opposite. It's showing us how wrong this was and is making the white guys out to be morons (one scene in particular). 

Apart from that, I can't see how anyone could dislike this film. The acting is superb. Christoph Waltz puts in the performance of his life. Every scene he's in he steals and that's fairly impressive around a cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Samuel L Jackson. These three too put in fantastic performances, DiCaprio in particular. His villainous Calvin Candie is one of the most vile and unhinged characters I've ever seen on screen. This is further reinforced by one scene in which DiCaprio slams down on a table and accidentally cuts his hand which draws blood, but he doesn't stop. Instead he stays in character and improvises licking the blood off his hand and smearing it over a young woman's face.

The soundtrack too is absolutely marvelous. It's titular theme 'Django' opens the film and it instantly engrosses you into the film. It also helps make the opening title sequence one of the best I've ever seen, although my top three opening title sequences probably have Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in them too, so I shouldn't be surprised. Django's has such an enthralling opening title sequence that you're instantly hooked into the film until the credits roll. Which is a big achievement considering the film is pushing three hours, but I was never bored or I never felt like it was dragging. 

The hybrids of genre are awesome too. It combines Western with a period drama, while all the same being a terrific action film with some hilarious moments. The shootouts in this film are crazy. I would go as far as saying that it's the goriest film Tarantino has made. Nut shots, brain explodes, blood spatters and branding irons. This film has it all and it's incredibly uncomfortable to watch at times - which once again just rings home how bad the times were. 

Dialogue is once again used as a hook for the audience. The way Tarantino uses dialogue in Django just encapsulates his entire career. It's simply baffling how a man can have such vision and imagination to write the speech that he does and to then pull it off afterwards is quite spectacular. It's quotable, it's heartbreaking and most importantly, it makes every character seem that much more important which is one of the key reasons this film (and Tarantino's other films) is successful.  

And need it be said how wonderful the cinematography in this film is. Tarantino continues to amaze me with what he can do with a camera. He delivers shots that I've never even seen before, it's unique and exciting to watch. 

This is certainly one of Tarantino's best. Better than Reservoir Dogs and probably on par with Pulp Fiction. Immense film making. 


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Paul Review

If, like everyone else in the world, you loved every second of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz you were probably very excited for Paul - Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's next film. I can tell you that it doesn't disappointment one little bit.

Pegg and Frost bring their love of everything science-fiction onto the screen with a story of two comic book geeks who accidentally come across an alien while on a road trip in America. Essentially, it's a road movie with the charm of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with an alien. And if that doesn't sound interesting to you then you're frankly crazy!

What is evident here, is the care and hard work Pegg and Frost have put into this script because it really is a strong and very, very funny script. What is also evident is the chemistry that they have on screen. They bounce of each other - just like in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead - and you can see their friendship coming through the screen. It really is a joy to watch.

What is also a joy is the science-fiction references throughout. It just reinforces their childhood love of this genre whether it's Back to the Future or E.T, Star Wars or Close Encounters it's charming, handled with care and terrifically funny. If you love sci-fi too, then you'll love this film. The references are truly brilliant.

I also loved the blend of American and British humour. I genuinely think that both audiences could watch this film and laugh all the way through it. It really nails that side of the humour. This, in part, comes down to the casting too. With a cast of Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Jane Lynch mixed in with Pegg and Frost themselves it really is comedy gold and just a joy to watch. Seth Rogan is usually an annoyance to me, but in this he plays the alien, Paul, to perfection.

This is a very good film. Not quite up there with Shaun or Fuzz, but it's got a very good script, it's hilariously funny and it's incredibly charming. Definitely check this one out.


Monday, 20 May 2013

The Great Gatsby Review

Sometimes you get a director who is so typecast that you know what projects would be perfect for them. Remember when Tim Burton announced he was going to Alice in Wonderland? Everyone thought it would work out perfectly and look what happened...

So when Baz Luhrmann announced he was going to be directing an adaption of The Great Gatsby I kind of thought go figure after what he's done with Romeo and Juliet and his romantic films like Australia and Moulin Rouge. However I always did have Alice in Wonderland in the back of my mind going into seeing this film. I would also like to state that I haven't read the book and that I haven't seen any other film adaptions, so going into this film I didn't really know what to expect.

The first thirty minutes of this film are frankly dreadful. Baz Luhrmann tries incredibly hard to nail down his technical style that he goes way overboard. The use of long, swooping camera shoots make the film look superficial and it doesn't fit the time period that it's set in. Which brings me onto my next point - the music. Jay Z has compiled the soundtrack for this film. I mean, REALLY? This films set in the 1920's, can someone please explain to me why the soundtrack is compiled of bad hip-hop music? Luhrmann has clearly done this because how well his modern Romeo and Juliet was received while still keeping the language of the play, but it just didn't work for me. It took me out of the film. I don't understand why they've gone to the effort of the mise-en-scene and locations if they're going to go modern with the music. It should have been a bit more jazzy and a little less Jay Z in my opinion (see what I did there?).

However, after the dire introduction the film picks up. This is for two reasons. One: Luhrmann doesn't rely on the music and odd camera movements as much and two: the introduction of the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. How this man hasn't won an Oscar I do not know. The character of Gatsby is such an interesting one as it is, but DiCaprio just takes it to the next level. He brings everything out of the character. The hopeless romantic, the completely obsessed wacko and the dangerous gangster, clinging to wealth. 

Consequently, the rest of the cast puts in fine performances too. Tobey Maguire, for once, didn't annoy the hell out of me and put in a very good performance (although I still haven't forgiven him for ruining Peter Parker) and Carey Mulligan put in an impressive performance as Daisy Buchanan.

However, much of it annoyed me. Like I said before, the music just didn't fit the material - but it didn't stop there. I just didn't believe that this was set in the 1920's. I didn't really believe the setting. I felt like they were on set and I was never entranced into 1920's New York/Long Island like I should have been. I think the 3D element took the nostalgia from me too. I just don't think a period drama and an adaption of a very famous novel should get the 3D treatment. It's like chalk and cheese - it just doesn't fit. Also, the 3D is very non-existent. It's barely utilised. 

All in all though, a successful film with some fantastic acting and for me, it's brought me into the world of Gatsby and I enjoyed the story thoroughly.