"The Definition of Insanity is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results" - Albert Einstein

Friday, February 22, 2013

So Many Epics of American Slavery, So Little Time: Part 2

This post is a continuation of my review of Lincoln and Django Unchained, which you can read by scrolling down. This review may make more sense if you read Part 1 first. Then again it may not, since as I am constantly reminded, I have very little control over the human brain’s ability to reason. 

Anyway, where was I?

If Lincoln is the story of the white man who was finally able to pull the trigger on outlawing slavery, Django Unchained is the story of the white man who taught a really angry black slave how to pull the trigger well enough to murder everyone in sight.

Side Note Did you hear that Slavery was actually only officially outlawed in all 50 states a few days ago?

Way to go Mississippi. Breaking the World Record for Longest Time Spent in Bureaucratic Tape Hell.

Django is the story of a pair of bounty hunters, which apparently can exist outside the world of Boba Fett. Granted this is a Tarantino Film, so nothing in it is real at all, so maybe not. The snowman shooting team of “good guys” who brutally kill almost everyone in the film are: a freed slave named Django (the D is silent) and Christoph Waltz, a faux dentist/German who isn’t evil (huge twist). 

This movie also stars Leonardo DiCaprio as gross teeth dude, Kerry Washington as the most beautiful woman alive, and Samuel L. Jackson as the guy from Snakes on a Plane who has time-travelled to antebellum Mississippi by using his Jedi mind powers.

I have had it with these Mother F***ing N*****s on this Mother F***ing Plantation!

Disclaimer about my review of this film: I don’t generally love Quentin Tarantino. I liked Pulp Fiction, and I appreciate it as a film, but I’d still rather watch this:

Than this:

With that being said, I really didn’t like or “get” Django. It’s easier to start with what I didn’t like, since that is subjective, so we will go there first.

1.     I didn’t like that it was 3 bazillion hours long. It could have seriously ended after the first massive shootout at Candyland, but no, they had to keep Django alive so they could kill him. But then they could have killed him, but they had to keep him alive so they could sell him to mine workers. But then Django has to kill them so he can go back to the plantation and kill everyone else, for another 45 minutes.

2.     I didn’t like that it was contrived, and really skim on plot. For example: why didn’t they just buy Broomhilda and go? I understand that Schultz had a point of honor about shaking hands with Leo (again, I don’t get this), but they could have just bought her from the beginning and left! Their entire hair-brained idea hinges on the fact that Django has to pretend like he doesn’t care about slaves being brutally victimized, and Broomhilda pretending like she doesn’t know Django. Both of which, are clearly impossible for the love-birds to pull off, and unfortunately, it’s idiotic of them to assume they could do that.

Besides this major plot hole, the rest of the film is a plot-less, revenge driven schlock fest that is only propelled by a mix of Tarantino’s White Guilt and penchant thirst to cover everything possible in red paint and corn syrup. It’s not that I don’t want to see Jamie Foxx enact revenge on bad people for slavery, I just only need to see it for maybe an hour. The remaining time could and should have been better spent on some of the witty dialogue Waltz uses on the people who are the victims of his bounties. Now that’s entertainment. 

3.     I didn’t like that it was excessively violent. Yes, I understand that this is a Tarantino movie, so if there wasn’t violence we would just be watching a 25 minutes G-rated comic book about a dentist who teaches rich Plantation owner’s about the importance of brushing and helps a young couple get back together. But the gratuitous violence that is Tarantino is at even a new level for him in this film. In the first final shoot-out, blood covers the white walls of Candyland as if it were wallpaper. It’s gross.

Clearly Quentin Tarantino has lost touch with what is good filmmaking and what is just his own wet dream.

However, there were a few things that I did enjoy about the film.

For one: Christoph Waltz is really great in this. His performance is the reason that the Best Supporting Actor race is in such a dead heat right now. And he really does a great job portraying someone who detests slavery as an institution and feels for slaves in a time when no one else did.  Given that this is only the second movie I have seen him in, that I actually like him in the film, and that the first movie was Inglourious Basterds, I’d say he did a pretty solid job.

And that is coming from someone who is convinced that Ralph Fiennes is evil after having seen him in Schindler’s List. I screamed for Jennifer Lopez’s safety throughout the entirety of Maid in Manhattan.

Run J. Lo Run!

And I also really enjoyed the scene where Jamie Foxx wore blue velvet.

Imma Take Yo Grandpa’s Style!

But really, the problem with this film, is that it’s just totally driven by revenge and white guilt. And it’s the same problem with Lincoln. Both of these films are thriving on the fact that white people feel bad about slavery and that any film made about it is automatically “good” and “important.”

I certainly don’t want to argue that slavery isn’t important, or that white people shouldn’t feel bad about it. It was important, and white people should feel bad about it. But Django and Lincoln really only fly with audiences because of this fact, and they don’t stand up as films in their own right, at least they didn’t with me. I can’t just accept that both of them are  “important” and thusly must be good. Lincoln is wicked boring, and Django Unchained is very poorly plotted out, and doesn’t really make that much sense. I can’t just give them a pass for being important.

Really, we should feel bad that racism is still alive in America and that we don’t do enough to combat it. THAT is a movie that would be important. 

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