Django Unchained (2012): Now You Have My Attention, Tarantino

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we begin this post, I want to announce that I officially purchased my opening night tickets for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is the latest film from director Quentin Tarantino. I’m going to see the movie in 35mm and I will likely have my review up by the end of the opening weekend. But since that movie is not out yet, I am going to be tackling a couple more Tarantino films from the past including one of the latest additions to the director’s library, “Django Unchained.” I sat down last week, watched the film for the first time, and let me just say, any movie that has Robert Carradine (King of the Nerds, Revenge of the Nerds), chances are I will have some interest in checking out. Without further ado, let’s start the review!

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“Django Unchained” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, Collateral), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet), Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Inception), Kerry Washington (Scandal, Save the Last Dance), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Snakes on a Plane), Walton Goggins (Justified, The Shield), Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away, It), James Remar (2 Fast 2 Furious, Sex and the City), Michael Parks (Red State, Planet Terror), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges). This film involves a dynamic duo, specifically a freed slave and German bounty hunter. The freed slave’s main purpose throughout the film is trying to reunite with his wife. To do that, they have to travel to a plantation in Mississippi.

I was pretty excited to watch “Django Unchained” for a number of reasons. As of watching “Pulp Fiction” and reviewing it, I instantly had Tarantino fever. “Django Unchained” had a decent cast including Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Plus, while he does not play a major role, Robert Carradine, one of the members of the legendary Carradine acting family, is in this movie. While I may not be invested in said family, Carradine is personally one of my idols simply for being host of “King of the Nerds,” one of the only good reality shows to ever exist. I was pretty much set for whatever Tarantino was going to deliver.

I just want to remind everyone that in the name “Django,” the “D” is silent. But as for my thoughts on the film, I almost feel that in a world where praise can make noise, my praise for “Django Unchained” would be pretty freaking audible. That is not to say that it is as good as “Pulp Fiction,” there are a couple issues I have with “Django Unchained,” including one or two that could be used in comparison to “Pulp Fiction.”

When I watched “Pulp Fiction,” I had my eyes glued to the screen for pretty much the entire picture. Part of me wants to say that for “Django Unchained,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t go without saying that the pacing for “Django Unchained” occasionally becomes a hindrance. The thing that kept me looking at the screen for “Pulp Fiction” was the execution of the dialogue between characters, not to mention actions in between. “Django Unchained,” much like “Pulp Fiction,” is a movie that is very cool to look at. It feels exactly how I would want a western-style film to be. But there are one or two points where I am thinking to myself certain scenes can be executed in a slightly different way for the sake of shortening the runtime or some other reason. Who knows? Maybe it’s one of those things that I will learn to appreciate over a second watch, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not like I became angry with the ways certain scenes went down, in fact, there is one scene in particular past the halfway point that goes on for a long time, and the execution there is brilliant. And that’s the thing about Tarantino that I have come to appreciate over the past couple of films I watched. There are a lot of movies out there that I would criticize for having extended scenes that go on forever, with boring dialogue. There are particular long scenes in this that may have dialogue that some directors and writers could probably leave behind. Tarantino however, seems to be the master when it comes to shoehorning in useless scenes. It’s mind-boggling that I as an audience member could be witnessing a moment of the film that is borderline unneeded, but because of what is being said, it feels like a cherry on top of a sundae!

As for the characters in “Django Unchained,” all of them are well written. In fact, there are some cases where I refuse to call them characters and instead call them “A+ dialogue generators.” I really felt for Jamie Foxx’s character of Django at certain points, and there are times where I managed to find him pretty kick-ass. And such kick-assery is established from the very first scene, which is carried through the entire film with ease. And as far as his chemistry with Christoph Waltz goes, it is taken to the point where I cannot even imagine anybody else playing either of their characters.

By the way, I love this scene.

Amerigo Vessepi: What’s your name?

Django: Django.

Amerigo Vessepi: Can you spell it?

Django: D-J-A-N-G-O. The D is silent.

Amerigo Vessepi: I know.

I dunno, there’s something about that which just randomly screams, “Hey! I kick ass and take names!” And not only do I have to give credit for Jamie Foxx for the way he delivered that line, but I think top credit has to go to Quentin Tarantino, because I imagine he wanted this line specifically in the way which it happens to be presented here. Granted, it is also an Easter egg because this movie was inspired by the 1966 movie “Django,” starring the guy opposite this movie’s “Django” in the conversation above. Specifically, Franco Nero.

Although, even though I said I cannot imagine somebody playing someone else’s character, there’s one exception, but the reasoning for it is kinda crazy. When I read the cast on the Blu-ray case for this movie, I almost thought KERRY Washington said DENZEL Washington, so I cannot currently get him out of my head!

Speaking of things I cannot get out of my head, part of me really wants to see this movie turned into a video game. Why? Because this movie at times is unnecessarily violent, but it is all the better for it. There’s one shootout towards the end in particular that was a giant bloodbath. Said shootout contains a number of satisfying kills, and I would probably would need to rewatch this film, or maybe that scene in particular, but it could end up being in my top 20 favorite action scenes. And it does not take away from any emotion that I had towards the characters, because Django would get himself into a less than satisfying situation that made me admire the other side for how they executed their actions (stylistically), but I was still able to latch onto Django as a character.

I also gotta give credit to the costume and makeup department, especially with the transformation of Samuel L. Jackson. Because in this movie, he does not completely look like Samuel L. Jackson and instead looks more like the stereotype for a retired badass NBA basketball player. Per usual, Jackson is charismatic, plays a well written character, and at this point I’m pretty much repeating myself, I do not see anybody else playing his character. It’s amazing what a little grey hair can do to make a role more convincing.

In the end, “Django Unchained” is a fun ride, and kinda bonkers. Depending on the next movie I watch from Tarantino, he could become my favorite screenwriter of all time, and while this was not as good as “Pulp Fiction,” this manages to have the same Tarantino flair that movie had which I appreciate. This is not to say that “Django Unchained” is a ripoff, but it is just another reason why I happen to admire Tarantino’s directorial choices. He’s edgy, creative, and badass. “Django Unchained” solidifies itself as one of the best films of its year and when it comes to other violent films out there, this makes every other film look like it was made for children. “Django Unchained” kicks ass! I’m going to give “Django Unchained” a 9/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those of you who want to know my next installment in the Tarantino review series, it is going to be his latest film, specifically 2015’s “The Hateful Eight.” I wanted to see this movie in theaters, but I never got around to it because of competition. Let’s face it, I ended up seeing “The Force Awakens” four times in a matter of two months. Nevertheless, I am very excited, I enjoy a good mystery every once in a while, so hopefully this will be good! As for new releases, I’m still trying my best to get myself to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I’m wondering if it is gonna be this year’s “Deadpool 2.” It’s a movie that I want to see, one that I am trying extra hard to get myself to see, but for one reason or another, I almost failed to get around to it. We’ll see what happens! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you ever watch “Django Unchained?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite unnecessarily violent film or scene from a film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pulp Fiction (1994): That Is a Tasty Movie

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In just a matter of weeks, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” is being released in theaters, with select engagements in 35mm. But before that comes out, I wanted to look back at three previous films this cinematic powerhouse has helmed over the years. And to kick this series off, we are going to tackle one of Tarantino’s most popular and highly revered titles, “Pulp Fiction.” This flick first released in the mid 1990s and is one of his earliest attempts at creating a film. Much like his previous efforts such as “My Best Friend’s Birthday” and “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino also had personal credits for “Pulp Fiction” as both a writer and an actor. Without further ado, let’s start the–

*GUNSHOT*

*in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice* Motherf*–

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“Pulp Fiction” is directed by Quentin Tarantino and stars John Travolta (Grease, Welcome Back, Kotter), Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin, Gattaca), Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park, The Avengers), Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Thelma & Louise), Tim Roth (The Hit, The Cook), Amanda Plummer (The Fisher King, Needful Things), Maria de Medeiros (Midsummer Madness, April Captains), Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Bringing Out the Dead), Eric Stoltz (Mask, St. Elsewhere), Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan, Nowhere To Run), Christopher Walken (A View to a Kill, Batman Returns), and Bruce Willis (Moonlighting, Die Hard). This film is partially inspired by unused scenes from the 1993 flick “True Romance,” also written by Quentin Tarantino. Without going into much detail, because to be completely honest, it’s hard to talk about the plot to a certain extent without spoiling, the film involves a bunch of different people who all have one thing in common: Deadly situations at hand. You have a couple of hitmen played by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, there’s a couple who wants to rob a restaurant, etc.

I went into “Pulp Fiction” with extreme expectations. After all, many would call this movie a masterpiece. Plus, prior to seeing the whole film on Blu-ray, my dad showed me clips on YouTube 5 years ago. From what I saw, I was rather impressed. In fact, as of publishing this review, this is the only Tarantino film I have watched from start to finish. I have seen part of one of the “Kill Bill” films when it was on Starz, but that’s not really saying much, isn’t it? I also saw the “Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?” clip from “Reservoir Dogs” five years ago.

And some may even argue that I saw a short film from Quentin Tarantino. I say so because “Family Guy” once did an episode presented in the style of three directors, with the first director being Tarantino. While he was never involved with the episode, the parody is there.

How was the film? Is it the masterpiece that just about every cinephile is making it out to be? Abso-f*ckinglutely. This is screenwriting at its finest! This is set design at its finest! This is actors’ chemistry at its finest!

In fact, I owe a serious apology to what I have said about John Travolta, because I think he has made some unwise choices throughout the century. “Gotti” was his most recent example. And while this was done last century, I now have an increased amount of respect that I can give to him as an actor. Also, Samuel L. Jackson has an incredible resume based on how much work he has been able to get over the years. Out of the millions of projects he has tackled in his career, this might as well be the one with his best performance yet. And part of that has to do with his traditional mannerisms where he yells and swears in a over the top fashion, but also due to what I’ll call “perfect dialogue.”

I cannot cite the screenplay of “Pulp Fiction” from start to finish, although based on how much I enjoyed this film, a mission like that would probably be on my bucket list. There are a lot of moments, either through spoken dialogue or visuals that feel like they would randomly play out in an everyday conversation, or at least I that’s the way I would desire these moments of dialogue to play out. Because there are no points in my life that I would discuss matters involving foot massages with others, but this movie makes me want to go to my local coffee shop or restaurant with someone I know just to talk about the most random topics. It doesn’t have to be foot massages. It could probably be about toenail clippings, maybe which brand of light bulb is the most reliable, which Target store is the best for shopping? There are a ton of moments where the movie is technically sticking to the main story, but it occasionally has diversions when it comes to spoken dialogue. And none of these diversions feel forced because each one is as entertaining as the next. Aside from the foot massage scene, we get a hypnotizing moment where one character wants to order a $5 milkshake, which plays out very well based on the chemistry between the two main characters in the scene, not to mention perhaps the sense of wanting to be a part of this world. Granted, that is a bit of an inaccurate statement, because I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to get an overdose. I don’t want to be in much danger.

BUT LOOK AT THIS JAW-DROPPING SET!

Seriously, if Tarantino imagined this, he is automatically my favorite filmmaker of all time. This is a classy, American restaurant with a lively interior, but with some unique features, one of my favorites being the car table on the right! At the start of the scene, we see John Travolta and Uma Thurman sitting across from each other chatting and eating, and a part of me just felt immersed into this other-worldly atmosphere. It was almost like watching a “Star Wars” movie if it took place on Earth! It almost reminds me of this movie theater chain that’s primarily known in New Hampshire, I’ve gone several times, but I have not been in years. If you are in northern Massachusetts, or southern New Hampshire, or if you ever heard of Chunky’s, you’d know what I’m talking about. They have this concept that combines a movie theater with a restaurant, where you can sit in car chairs at long tables. I imagine this could exist in other parts of the world, but it is a concept that is close to home for me. They have some traditional American restaurant food like… burgers. OK… this movie made me hungry.

Between this Thurman/Travolta segment and the scene in the apartment from the start of the film, “Pulp Fiction” really makes me want to go out and grab a burger. Coincidentally, I live near Boston, which has a quick bite chain called “Tasty Burger,” whose name was partially inspired by Samuel L. Jackson’s tasting of the Big Kahuna burger from this movie.

“Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger.” -Jules

Another highlight from Thurvolta, as I’ll call them in this review, is something I won’t dive too deep into, but there is a scene where Uma Thurman has an overdose. And let me just say, as those around her are trying to revive her, the execution of this process is nothing short of engaging and kinda brilliant. Again, I didn’t think this was going to happen based on the type of movie this is, I kinda felt like I was there. Luckily, I was not the one with the overdose, but a third party observer.

Last but not least, and WITHOUT SPOILERS of course, because this is one of those films you have to see before you die, let’s talk about the ending. Granted, over my years of experience of going to the cinema and watching films, I saw the direction this film was tending to go towards, but it does not mean that it is not awesome. It’s one of those endings that I feel like I will remember in my last moments. Between the atmosphere, the dialogue, and the mannerisms perhaps provided through Tarantino’s direction, it was like eating an entire birthday cake and realizing you lost a ton of weight the following morning. Again, there is not much I can say about it, because a lot of people who are young will probably read this, maybe they have yet to experience the film for one reason or another. This is a film that you have to watch before you die! TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!

In the end, what else can I say about “Pulp Fiction?” It’s creative, hypnotizing, and gritty to the freaking core. I have only seen one Tarantino film from start to finish, so I cannot really call him my favorite director. But depending on how I feel about the next two films I do in this series or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” I would not be surprised if I ultimately rank the man in my top 5 directors, or screenwriters, of all time. The man isn’t too bad at acting either. I don’t know when I am going to watch “Pulp Fiction” again, but when I do, I am gonna be grinning like an idiot. Why? This thing is freaking phenomenal. Well done to everyone involved (maybe except Harvey Weinstein)! I’m going to give “Pulp Fiction” a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those who want to know, my next Tarantino review is going to be for the 2012 film “Django Unchained,” I will be posting my thoughts on that next Monday, July 15th, which will eventually be followed by one more Tarantino review on July 22nd, stay tuned for both of those. As for new releases, I am trying to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home” as soon as possible, maybe I’ll go Tuesday, I dunno. But on Wednesday I will be going to see the movie “Stuber” as part of an advance screening. I was gonna go see this a couple weeks ago for a Regal Crown Club screening, but due to a mish-mash of reasons, I ended up bowing out. I am however going to do my best to make this one, because I am curious to see how this film turns out. Especially when you consider that this is one of the first Fox films released under their new Disney overlords. Be sure to stay tuned for that review, along with more great content! Also, be sure to follow Scene Before through WordPress or an email! Or, if you are on social media, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Pulp Fiction?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go grab a burger.