Slavery

Django Unchained Review

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Tarantino has a cult following but it almost seems that he has another cult that hates him. Personally I like his films. Some are a lot better than others but I do consider him one of my favorite directors. I think he has a very specific style and trademark. When you watch a film of his you know that he wrote and directed it. Even just watching a few minutes of a random scene you would probably notice that it fits his style. Tarantino has almost made a genre of his own.

The film stars Jamie Foxx as Django and Christoph Waltz and Dr King Schultz. Christoph Waltz is the supporting character but almost steals the show and this role earned him a second Oscar nomination and win. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the villainous Calvin Candy who is considered the main antagonist however does not feature heavily in the film and doesn’t show up until over half way through. Kerry Washington plays Django’s wife Broomhilda who is a slave at Candyland. Samuel L Jackson plays Stephen head slave at Candyland and who is just as evil as Calvin Candy. I do think Christoph Waltz really delivers in this but all the other cast help to make this film something the audience will remember.

The film follows Django a slave who is found by Dr King Schultz. Schultz is a bounty hunter who is looking for a gang called the Brittle brothers and needs Django to identify them. Once they have caught the gang Schultz promises to free Django and help track down his wife. They are lead to a plantation called Candy Land ruled by the cruel owner Calvin Candy and his assistant Stephen. The film does go off on several sub-plots but they do work really well as they help build up the characters.

The film is almost three hours long which I think is a very long time to sit in the cinema for. I don’t tend to like films that go on too long however I felt this film flowed very well. Long films can go off topic and get boring and that is what makes them bad. However Django Unchained keeps the audience interested throughout the entire film. I could have seen some of it being cut out for convenience but at no point when watching this was I bored.

The film is not really a western but something completely different. It does contain lots of elements and iconography of the western genre. Tarantino has described this film as a ‘Southern’ due to its main setting being Mississippi and taking place on plantations. The first half of the film is defiantly iconic to the western genre but then the film deviates. This is good though as I like things to change and I like to see different things. The film contains elements of other genres and it works really well mixing up genres.

The film has been criticized for the levels of racism.  I do think it is justified though. I do think that if you are doing a film about slavery then you need to have racism in it. I think censoring racism would ruin the film. I do think films should inform and highlight issues. Slavery has not really been shown in that many films before and the subject is taboo.

The film is very violent and this may deter people from seeing it but I think that if you are going to see a Tarantino picture you expect violence. I do not think that is is unjustified though. This time in America it was a violent time. Slavery was so brutal and I don’t think this film would have been as good if it censored the levels of violence. I also think that the characters actions of violence of justified. I don’t want to spoil the film but something Christoph Waltz’s character does towards the end of the film I first felt was out of character but after thinking about it, I think that his action was completely justified and not out of place at all.

Overall this is a great piece of cinema, I think this film is perfectly appeals to both fans of the art house film and those who like blockbusters. There is plenty in the film that will appeal to a lot of people and despite the subject matter being a touchy subject I don’t think that should deter anyone from seeing it.

8.5/10

What did you think of the film? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

Early Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture

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There are many films that will likely be nominated for best picture this year at the Academy Awards. I have not seen some of these but they are ones that are currently getting a lot of attention and hype. Here are some of my predictions for the nominations.

12 Years A Slave

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This seems a highly likely choice to be nominated for Best Film. Django Unchained was popular last year but this film will take slavery more seriously as it is based on a real life person and rather than being glorified to be entertaining I think this film will deal with heavy issues seriously. Slavery is ignored a great deal in the world and following such an intense and true story of Solomon Northrup will allow audiences to understand the hardship of slavery whilst being compelled by someones real life survival story. I think this film has the makings to get recognition from the academy and early reviews are positive and I am sure it will get a nomination.

Gravity

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Like most of these films I have not seen this yet but early reviews are praising Gravity as the new Avatar. It is also doing extremely well at the box office. If I had to make a bet now at this years winner I think I would have to say Gravity. I have not seen the film or anything but people are loving it. I am not a fan of Sandra Bullock but I do like George Clooney is some films and the director Alfonso Cuaron directed Children Of Men which is a film I really enjoyed. I will have to see it as soon as it becomes out in the cinema for me.

American Hustle

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American Hustle seems like a film that will get nominated. It has a lot of Oscar power behind it. It is directed by Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter director David O’Russell who has been nominated for directing for both mentioned films. Maybe the academy will reward him for this film. Also the film has two oscar winners starring in lead roles as well as the other leads all being nominees in the past. Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress last year and Christian Bale won best supporting actor a couple of years ago. Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams have also all been nominated for Oscars. This is bound to pick up attention form the academy and will likely get a best picture nomination.

The Monuments Men

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Frankly this film seems to have been made for the purpose of attracting the attention of the academy awards. I know very little about this film but I think its major theme will appeal to the academy. It is set in world war 2 and about soldiers who preserve art. Now I would think the academy would love to preserve art. The film has a great cast including George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and Jean Dujardin. Nice to see Jean Dujardin in something. Its been a while. But this film will get nominated just because of Clooney’s involvement I think.

Captain Phillips

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Tom Hanks is a favorite at the Academy Awards and this film is already getting a great deal of recognition. The film is based on real life events and its themes are due to get audiences attention as well as its intense story. I do think the academy loves films based on real life and this is very recent. Pirates have been in the news over the past few years so it is a subject that cinema should deal with. The fact that Tom Hanks stars does not hurt its chances of receiving a nomination.

Wild Card

The Counselor

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For me The Counselor is a wild card because I think it is going to be a hit or miss film. I think it has the makings of being a nominated picture but unlike other films its content is a heavy contributor. Where as a film may just get nominated for its subject this could be a generic crime films or one of the greatest films ever made. We don’t know. It has a great cast and had Ridley Scott directing as well as being penned by Cormac McCarthy. I will make my decision when the film comes out and reviews are in.

Early Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Leading Actor

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Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips

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Having won 2 Oscars in the past as well as earning many other nominations, Tom Hanks is known for being one of the world’s best actors and movie stars. In Captain Phillips he plays a real captain who had to protect his cargo ship from pirates. I have not seen Hanks in anything recently so I am very much looking forward to seeing his performance in this film. I do however think that he does not stand a chance of winning the Oscar even if he gets nominated. That is nothing to do with how good an actor he is it is to do with the politics of the academy awards.

Chiwetel Ejifor – 12 Years A Slave

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Chiwetel Ejifor has been in many feature films and has worked on both television and the stage. He plays the real life figure Solomon Northrup who was kidnapped in New York where he lived and was forced to become a slave. This will be a very different film from that of Django Unchained which brought the issue of slavery to popular cinema once again. This film will be a more accurate interpretation of slavery than that of Django Unchained. I am very much looking forward to this film as well and looking forward to not just Chiwetel’s performance but the great ensemble cast the film is going to feature.

Idris Elba – Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom

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Idris Elba is an esteemed actor who came to my attention in the BBC series Luther. He was also in The Wire, American Gangster and Thor. In this film he plays Nelson Mandela. This will be the story of Mandela’s life before he was imprisoned and will go up to him becoming president. This film is not about him being president. It is about the journey he needed to take to become president of South Africa. it is clearly a story people are interested in and I feel that Elba will win the academy award this year.

Christian Bale – American Hustle

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Christian Bale is famous for his ability to change his appearance and weight for roles. We have seen this in The Machinist where he got his weight down to 7 stone. He has also bulked up as Batman on three occasions and jumping in between a skinnier role in The Fighter. Bale teams up again with The Fighter director David O’Russell. He plays a con artist who teams up with an FBI agent for a sting. Bale has put on weight for this role and is donning a comb over. Obviously we cannot base his chances of getting nominated by just how he looks but Bale is a great actor and from what I have seen in the trailer and the team behind the film. I have faith that he will pick up a nomination.

Michael Fassbender – The Counselor

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Michael Fassbender is one of the most popular actors around at the moment and after having been snubbed for Shame he may pick up a nomination in The Counselor. The story follows a lawyer who gets caught up in the underworld of drug trafficking. It is written by Cormac McCarthy who wrote No Country For Old Men and is directed by Ridley Scott. However I think Fassbender may only get nominated for supporting actor in the film 12 Years A Slave in favor of this.  Only time will tell.

Wild Card

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf Of Wall Street

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street

DiCaprio is cursed to never win an Academy Award it seems. He has been nominated a few times and missed out on each occasion. He has also been snubbed many times by the Academy. He is overlooked for some great films he has starred in. Maybe this year he will get nominated for this role but even if he does I guarantee he will not win. He is playing a real person so this is almost a biopic depending on how you look at it. He has played real people before well and this still does not make a difference. The film follows Wall Street Banker Jordan Belfort on his rise and fall in the banking world.

12 Years A Slave Trailer Review

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Slavery is not a major part of US cinema. Django Unchained came out last year but and was more light hearted on the past slavery issue in the US. I liked Django Unchained but it did miss some points on slavery and was very much focused on sub genres and therefore the issue may be ignored by the wider audience.

12 Years A Slave looks very different to Django Unchained. Firstly it is not a western but that us stating the obvious. This film looks to be a more realistic interpretation of a slaves life on a plantation. The film is based on the real life story of Solomon Northup a black man born free in New York in 1808 who was kidnapped and subjected to slavery for 12 years in 1841. This is a very intresting story and think this film is really going to say a lot about race in America.

The film is directed by Steve McQueen who directed such films as ‘Hunger’ and ‘Shame’. In this film he reunites with actor Michael Fassbender who starred in both his previous feature films. Solomon Northup is played by English actor Chiwetel Ejifor and from the looks of the trailer he gives a powerful and intense performance of a man who has had his freedom taken away from him.

The film also has a fantastic ensemble cast featuring Michael Fassbender as the who I assume runs the plantation in this, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano and Paul Giamatti also feature in this film.

The film is already getting hype for awards season and this will likely pick up some nominations for acting, directing and writing. I am very much looking forward to seeing this and I think films like this should have more attention than popular cinema. This story is really worth telling and I think people will want to learn about it.

What did you think of the trailer? Please comment and thanks for reading.