Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Django Unchained (2012)

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“How do you like the bounty hunting business?”
“Kill white people and get paid for it? What's not to like?”

            There are only a few directors that I know I will never be disappointed with their movies. Those directors are Mel Brooks, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Christopher Nolan, and Quentin Tarantino. These directors are/were imaginative and know/knew how to get the most out of their actors and the stories being told. But out of all of these directors the most creative and imaginative one is Tarantino. The reason I feel Tarantino is creative is because he never holds back. He writes his own films as well as directs them. He knows what he wants out of a story and he knows exactly how it should look. Tarantino also seems to be the most enthusiastic director around because he is such a fan of cinema. All of his movies have homage to different movies he grew up but they are done in his style. I was not surprised that Tarantino wrote and directed Django Unchained which is a Western. The man absolutely took the Western genre and made it his own.
            On a dark cold night a group of slaves are being forced through the woods by two white men. A voice rings out in the night from a wagon with a waving tooth on top of it. The voice belongs to a man named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and he is looking for the slave Django (Jamie Foxx). Without batting an eye Schultz takes out the two white men. He kills one of the horses which falls over to the side and breaks the leg of the one man. When Schultz is ready to leave with Django he tells the other slaves they can kills the other white man and they descend on him in vengeance. Schultz lets Django take the other man’s coat and shoes and they travel off together.
            The following day Schultz and Django enter a small western town. The people are beyond shocked to see a black man riding a horse though the town. Schultz commandeers a saloon telling the owner to call for the sheriff first before he gets the Marshall. While waiting for the sheriff Schultz informs Django that he is a bounty hunter and he is looking for a group of brothers. He does not know what these brothers look like but Django does and that is why he needs his help. After they find the brother Schultz promises Django his freedom, a horse, and a few dollars. The sheriff cockily arrives at the saloon ready to intimidate Schultz and his black companion. Schultz comes out of the saloon and shoots the sheriff point blank in the stomach and then in the head. He yells out that now the Marshall can come for him. When the Marshall arrives Schultz explains that the sheriff is really a wanted man who has done some crimes that need to be punished.
            Eventually Schultz and Django track down the wanted brothers to a plantation owned by someone known as Big Daddy (Don Johnson). They go to the plantation under the guise of wanting to buy a woman slave. Django spots all three of the brothers. In a rage, instead of waiting for Schultz he shoots two of the brothers. Schultz comes just in time to kill the other brother and to save both their asses. That night Big Daddy is pissed and rounds up an army of men to attack Schultz and Django. They find the wagon and descend upon it from the hills. Unfortunately they do not realize that Django and Schultz are on another hill. Schultz shoots the wagon and it explodes killing some of the men. Big Daddy was riding away when Django shoots him down.
            After this incident Schultz makes a deal with Django. They partner up for the winter as bounty hunters and in the spring Schultz will take Django to his wife wherever they manage to track her down.
            In the spring they find out his wife Hildy (Kerry Washington) has been bought by cocky plantation owner in Mississippi Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Django and Schultz travel down there to get Hildy. Their plan was quiet but as events unfold it turned into a loud bang.
            Another fantastic aspect of Tarantino’s movies is his choice of casting. This one of the best casts I have ever seen in a movie every one of the actors was utter perfection in their roles. Christoph Waltz beyond a doubt deserved his Oscar for Dr. King Schultz. I love the way the man just disappears into his roles and adds more to them through his acting style and his mannerisms. I am not a huge fan of Jaime Foxx but I really liked him in this. While Waltz was the outgoing character Django was restrained. You can feel all of Django’s pain, sadness, rage, and need for revenge through Foxx. Leonardo DiCaprio deserves more credit and recognition for his role in this movie. He was awesome. Calvin was such a dick and DiCaprio played that so well. I was captivated by him and the character as soon as he came on screen. Kerry Washington I have not seen in many things but I liked her. She did not really have that much to do or say but she was good. Samuel Jackson was insane. The man just steals every scene he is in. Don Johnson has some good scenes. He did not really stand out but his scenes were my favorite.
               On that note…My favorite scene of the whole movie was when Big Daddy and his men try to invade the wagon to kill Schultz and Django. As the men are riding down to the wagon the scene cuts to them before they invade. It is the entire group bitching about the bags over the heads and how they cannot breathe or see out of the small eye holes. I loved that scene so much because it reminded me of something Mel Brooks would have done. It was so hysterical from beginning to end. Tarantino knows to perfectly blend comedy and drama. The way I view his comedy scenes are dark, they are darkly comedic. All of his characters and all of his scenes have that darkness with a comedic element to them. Like, they are serious but not super serious you can still laugh like crazy at them.

            It took me three years to finally sit down and watch Django Unchained and I cannot believe it took me that long to do so. This movie was so much fun to watch. From the moment it started I was hooked and also mad at myself for having waited so long to see it. You do not have to be a Quentin Tarantino fan to enjoy Django Unchained. Just bring your love of movies, good stories, writing, directing, and awesome characters with you and you will enjoy the hell out of it. Absolutely see this as soon as you can if you have not seen it already. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

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What if you came home one day to the news that one of your parents went missing? Would your reaction depend on how close you are to each other? If you were close would you be scared, anxious, and emotion? If you were not close, would you be indifferent and just accept the fact that your parent just suddenly disappeared and be unaffected by them leaving? When it comes to movies dealing with the subject of a parent abandoning a family the kid(s) are usually left emotionally scared and damaged from abandonment issues. That is the typical road movies take but White Bird in a Blizzard goes a different way. It goes with a girl be unaffected by her mother’s disappearance.
            Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) was seventeen when her mother Eve (Eva Green) up and disappears one day in 1988. She came home to find her father, Brock (Christopher Meloni), sitting at the kitchen table, staring blindly ahead of him. He tells Kat that her mother has not come home and cannot be found. Kat asks about calling the police but Brock says he does not want the police to come around and have the neighbors in their business. He says that they  go to the police station in the morning.
            Months go by. Kat sees a therapist to discuss her family life and her mother no longer being around. She seems unaffected. She explains that her parents had a lot of issues and were not very loving. Eve used to be a good mother. Kat loved and adored her when she was little. Then all the sudden began to change into someone different like someone going through a midlife crisis or a personality disorder. She just snapped. Kat also tells the therapist that she has these dreams where she is driving through a snow storm or walking in a blizzard and she sees her mother calling for help.
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            Years later Kat comes home from college for a week long break. She hears small things about her father from her best friends and her ex-boyfriend. Now Kat really starts to question all the events that lead up to the day Eve left.
            The cast was great. I watched this mostly to see Eva Green. As of this writing I have seen two episode of the show Penny Dreadful in which Green is the star. In just those two episodes I was totally floored by her acting. I cannot get over how fearless she seems with her acting. She was given crazy things to do in Penny Dreadful and you can tell she just went for it she was all in. Green was the same was in this movie. Something went wrong with Eve and Green went all out to show that. What I like about Green is how her face always has a touch of evil and insanity in it. Maybe that is why she was so good in her scenes and so convincing. Shailene Woodley I am not too crazy about but I enjoyed her in this. I like how she played the character’s indifference yet still see some impact of her parents’ loveless marriage and Eve’s disappearance. She is as if Kat wanted to care yet at the same time did not. Woodley played that perfectly.
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            My summary of White Bird in a Blizzard is not the best. There are so many details I do not want to give away and if I had tried you would be even more confused. The narrative jumps around through the years to explain how and why Eve disappeared. I thought the story was great. I liked how it was not typical. Kat and her parents were not close. You can see there was really no love between any of them. The whole time I was thinking that Eve defeinitely left because she was just pissed with the way her life was going. Honestly if I was spoken to like she was by daughter and I had a husband like Brock I would have left too. I felt like you could not blame Eve for leaving for the way she was spoken to by Kat and had a husband who did not fight back or charge. But you can see that something was mentally wrong with Eve. As I said she just seemed to snap. She snapped out of boredom her whole life was just too uniform. When the real reason why Eve disappeared is revealed it was something I was not expecting I was actually surprised. The direction really brings out the greatness of the story. There is no bullshit with it much like there is no bullshit with the story. Both are raw and uncomfortable. I like feeling a little uncomfortable or unsettled with a story and the direction, to me that indicates everyone is doing their job perfectly. White Bird in a Blizzard is movie I recommend seeing. It is not a drop what you are doing right now and go watch it movie but it is a movie that is worth taking the time to watch.
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            I would just like to give a shout out to my wonderfully incredibly awesome friend Emily for telling me about White Bird in a Blizzard. She is a huge Shailene Woodley fan and watched the movie twice in one week. Emily my dear thank you very much for the suggestion.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Silent Sundays: The Primrose Path (1925)

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According to the title cards a primrose path is a path that someone takes towards temptation. I can tell you that there is nothing very tempting in The Primrose Path that makes it really worth watching.
            A young man named Bruce Armstrong comes from what seems to be a wealthy family. He wastes his life gambling, drinking and partying. He apparently got so drunk one time that he seriously hurt his young brother Jimmy to the point where the kid has to walk with a leg brace. Despite that injury Bruce’s mother and brother love him and the family has become even closer because of the injury. As much as Bruce is a jerk Jimmy sticks up and covers for his brother after he trips him for no apparent reason. Bruce feels terrible and confesses to his mother that he has no idea why Jimmy sticks up for him (*great guy I would want him for an older brother let me tell you*).

            A phone call comes in for Bruce from a girl named Marilyn Merrill (Clara Bow). Marilyn dances at a popular club and she tells him not to come to the show that night. He ignores her request and replies that he will be there no matter what. Before he leaves his mother pleads with him not to stay out too late.

            Bruce gambles with Tom, the owner of the club, and a guy called Big Joe Snead. Tom owes Tom and Snead a lot of money. Bruce constantly passes bad checks and he has no other way to pay them. Tom comes up with a plan to have Bruce meet a man named Talbot at a dock. At the dock Bruce with exchange canes with Talbot. The canes are full of smuggled diamonds. If Bruce takes this job all his debts will be forgiven. He struggles with the idea he does not want to be a part of their smuggling operation but he does not have the money to pay them off. He decides to take the job. Marilyn hears what is happening and she is afraid Bruce will get hurt.

            Things happen that I cannot remember even though I somewhat wrote them down. A guy named Parker (I think that is who it is) intercedes the transfer and takes the diamonds back to Tom himself instead of Bruce getting them. Parker wants a cut but Tom lets him know that his cut will be Marilyn. Parker gets pissed and punches Tom sending him landing on a fireplace. Tom dies. Parker climbs out of the window and passes Snead. He tells Snead that Bruce has the diamonds. Bruce was in the room when everything happened. He is in such shock that he cannot move himself out of the room. Marilyn’s dressing room is on the other side of a second door in the room. She opens it and pulls Bruce into her room just before two other guys (possibly detectives I don’t know) come in to find the murderer.

            Snead wants the diamonds. Thinking that Bruce has them Snead goes to Bruce’s house. The two men get into a fight that winds up outside on the sidewalk. Snead was about to bash Bruce against the sidewalk when Bruce takes out a gun and fires. Snead is killed. Jimmy sees everything and goes to the mother to tell him everything he saw. Bruce is arrested for Snead’s murder. At the trial Bruce’s lawyer tells him that he will not go to jail because there are too many versions of the story and no witnesses. Well, the dumb lawyer was wrong there was a witness in the form of a cab driver that pulled up just as Brue shot Snead. The cab driver also blows everything to pieces when he tells the court that Jimmy was at the door an saw everything. The lawyers argue about having Jimmy come up to testify but they get the kid to come up. Jimmy is a boy scout and promises to swear an oath. Before he can even tell his story Jimmy becomes upset about what he will be made to say about his older brother whom he adores. Bruce will not let his brother carry the guilt of sending him to the electric chair for the rest of his life so he confesses himself that he killed Snead.
            In a nice lovely twist of fate the guy Talbot is picked up and he tells the District Attorney everything that happened with the diamonds. And because of Talbot’s story Bruce is let out of jail and back to his family.

            Blah how boring. I had no idea what The Primrose Path was about. I do not think it would have even mattered because it sounded interesting when I read the little summary of it on IMDB. But the story is so boring and typical. You know that by the end of the film   Bruce is going to reform and be home with Marilyn and family. You know that Bruce is truly innocent in the whole scheme of things. I watched this film to see Clara Bow. I have yet to see her in a role that makes people believe she is such an icon. From her films I have seen I do not understand why she is such an icon both as a 1920s woman and in film. I will confess though that I have quite a few of Bow’s films to sit through and I do not know that much about her. I like Bow I will watch more of her films in the future. The Primrose Path is only worth watching if you really like Clara Bow otherwise skip it. 
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