Jamie Foxx

Django Unchained

RYAN’S REVIEW

We finally made it out to see this film yesterday.  I had been anticipating the film for some time and went in with really high hopes.  I can thankfully report that I walked away more than satisfied and if I had the opportunity to do so would have turned around and went right back in to see it again.  This movie was so satisfyingly violent and savage throughout and I couldn’t have loved that more about it.  I think the script was clever and well written, probably one of the best Tarantino has written but that is hard to say.  What surprised me the most is how funny it all was. His movies have always had an element of wit to them that could make you laugh but this one was all out funny.  The humor seemed to balance out all of the obscenity and ferocity of the situation in my opinion.

I have heard much said about the controversial nature of the film both with how slavery is so brutally covered and how the “N-word” is so pervasive in the film.  Why though? What so many have seen as offensive I have only seen as necessary to the film he was trying to make.  I despise all racial slurs, and the people that make them but this was a movie set in 1858.  That word was used then with a frequency that not even modern rappers could keep up with today.  I don’t see a problem with how Tarantino used it, or how he didn’t make any effort to sugarcoat slavery.  Slavery was awful and brutal in this country and there is no way to truly make a film about it without getting your hands dirty. I studied history in college and my senior seminar class was specifically about slavery.  Slavery happened all over the world and every race was enslaved at one point or another.  The difference here is that it developed in this new country as the rest of the world was giving up on an outdated practice.  Not only that but the most significant difference in this country is how it became a specifically racial issue with one specific race being subjugated into the role of slave.  It was awful and unfair but it was done and what is done is done and can’t be changed.  All we can do now is to learn from it, prevent it from being that way now or in the future but that has never happened.  There are too many conflicting feelings from people in regards to the topic.  The memory of slavery invokes anger, disappointment, shame, rage, pity, and unfortunately there are always going to be those awful people out there that get satisfaction out of it. Most of the feelings invoked by that memory are understandable but still lead to deepening the divide among us all. As for the movie I will admit I don’t think it is entirely appropriate for a white man to be the one behind camera doing all of this, but I don’t think he did anything disrespectful or outlandish.

I think the cast of this film did an excellent job.  I think Christoph Waltz may have been a bit better in Inglourious Basterds but only because his performance as Colonel Hans Landa was so good I don’t think it can be topped.  I think he was great in this movie and I think he has so much to offer us in the future, he is an outstanding actor.  I think Jamie Foxx was great in the lead role.  Leonardo DiCaprio was awesome as the vile and violently unpredictable Calvin Candie. Samuel L. Jackson was really good, as always, but I really didn’t like the role that he played despite how well he did it.  Walton Goggins fits these kinds of roles a bit too well but I am a big fan of his work on The Shield and Justified.  There are great cameos from Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, and probably a few others I am forgetting.  The one awful decision Tarantino made in this film was inserting himself into it.  I think he is a great filmmaker but leaves far too much to be desired as an actor.  I liked his part in Reservoir Dogs but it should have ended there.  I don’t know why he is still doing this but he shouldn’t. This time around he reaches far too much and goes for an Australian accent; I shook my head at that point.  He had a perfect movie in the works progressing right before my eyes and he stumbled there for a moment.

I thought this movie was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to buy it and watch it again down the road. I’ll say the only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was the experience we had watching it in the theater.  The movie has been out for a while now but there was still a good crowd for the first showing on a Saturday afternoon.  However the audience was so unique.  It was practically a split between African-Americans and full blown rednecks garbed in overalls, hunting camo, and aggressive beards.  That kind of division really gave off an awkward vibe that we may have felt more because we somehow ended up literally sitting on a row with differing groups sitting in the opposite rows before and after us.  The Rednecks made me uncomfortable, specifically because I assume they took very different things from this movie than I did.  Wrong to assume I know, but those people were more like the white people in the movie and that’s unfortunate.  It will better to watch the movie in the privacy of my own home or with whoever I choose to watch it with.

If you are on the fence about this one I obviously strongly recommend it. However if you aren’t cool with violence in movies or profanity this is not the movie for you. To say the very least it is about ten steps past extremely graphic and it is not for the tender-hearted.  The violence is part of what make this movie great though, and in so many ways it is practically Tarantino’s calling card.  This movie is long as hell with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes but I can say with certainty that it is well worth that time.

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Movies By Request

The Great White Hype


Year: 1996
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin
Written By: Tony Hendra Roy Shelton

There are more movies made about boxing than any other professional sport.  I think there is a very good reason for that and it is simple.  Boxing movies are awesome, even if they are all the same. I have said as much before in my post on Cinderella Man but I think deep down we all have an instinctive desire to see fights. The men that choose to spend their lives as fighters always have interesting stories to tell as well.  Yet all boxing movies seem to follow a similar template, and this movie is no different.  It covers many elements of the boxing world that we see in others films, but the redundancy of boxing story lines somehow never seems to be a problem. I often find myself realizing this is the same thing I have seen before but still loving it in all boxing films, and or TV shows in the case of Lights Out. I was a really big fan of that show and disappointed to see it cancelled.  My main point here is that while they all might be so similar they are usually interesting in other ways.

This movie specifically makes fun of the racial element in the sport.  I despise racism but do enjoy the humor that can be found in stereotypes across the board.  We all fall into stereotypes, it doesn’t necessarily always have to be about race, but it is funny so long as it is in good humor.  There is a big difference between making a joke about a stereotype and making a racist joke.  I think this movie made fun of racist behavior albeit in a crude manner at times.  One of the times I laughed the hardest was when Samuel L Jackson accused a reporter of being racist.  He responds by saying he is Jewish to which Jackson then accuses him of being an “Uncle Tom.” The reporter says Jews can’t be “Uncle Toms” and Jackson turned to look at his cronie Jon Lovitz playing a Jewish man and puts the question to him.  Lovitz defensively says “we can be!” and it is just such a funny exchange.  This movie is about race all the way through and I did think it was really funny, but these kinds of films watched by the wrong people always send the wrong message.  I have found in my experiences that racist tend to feel validated by comedies or tragedies about race when in fact they should be humbled by them.  I don’t understand the disconnection but it is a disappointing reality about some people.  Racism at the root is a product of ignorance and people who embrace it are often not clever enough to see the error of their ways.

I remember always wanting to see this movie during my Action Video days but somehow never getting around to it.  So I was pleased when a co-worker brought it in among a stack of other films the other day.  I had completely forgotten about the film altogether and was glad for the opportunity to see it.  I was even happier to have liked the movie as I anticipated I would long ago.  Samuel L. Jackson has a charisma that reaches out to everyone and I am no different.  I have thought he was awesome for almost twenty years now since I first saw him in Die Hard with a Vengeance as an eleven year old. I had yet to see Pulp Fiction, that one was off limits for me until I was old enough to seek it out myself.  Nevertheless I have thought he was great since then and he has done nothing to dissuade me from that opinion.  If anything he has only made his image greater in my eyes as he has now become such a key figure in the Marvel movies as Nick Fury.  As to this film he is what would easily be expected, awesome.  As the key figure of a really large cast he does great with a powerful and commanding presence at all times. He is funny in this movie while playing a really flamboyant and enigmatic boxing promoter; he is exactly what he should be in that role.

Of this large cast that includes many notable actors I think the best one playing a supporting role was Jamie Foxx.  He is another actor that is very charismatic and good in most of what he does.  He plays someone kind of stupid in this movie and pulls it off well.  As a big and lifelong fan of The Shield I also really enjoyed seeing Michael Jace in a movie. He played Julian Lowe on the show and I thought he showed great range as an actor throughout the series.  The rest of this cast is made up of other notable actors who do a great job.  Among them are Jeff Goldblum, Cheech Marin, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from Lord of the Rings), Jon Lovitz, and Damon Wayans (the first one).

I am glad that at long last I have finally seen this movie and I really enjoyed it.  It was a fun and funny movie that didn’t let me down after I had waited so long to see it I had actually forgotten about it.  I am grateful that my co-worker lent it to me to see and I would recommend it to anybody looking for a fun boxing comedy to see.

Any Given Sunday

Year: 1999
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: John Logan, Oliver Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

When we started this blog back in March I had hoped that by the time we reached this film on the movie rack that the ridiculous NFL lockout would be over. I am a huge NFL fan, and this lockout has been difficult to endure. I would personally like to stick it to them when they come back and take a stand to not watch any of the games.  That would be pointless though and who the hell would I be kidding anyway? I couldn’t avoid it, I need football and the lack of an offseason has been driving me nuts.  I hope that the situation will be resolved soon, it’s disappointing to see what greed is doing to the sport.  This movie however is one of my all time favorites because I love football so much. I usually don’t like movies about football or other sports, they tend to all be the same, but this one is different.  I watch this movie annually during NFL preseason every year, I hope that I will be able to do that again this year come August.

For a long time Oliver Stone was my favorite director, and he still is to some degree, but this was his last great film.  This was the cherry on top of a great portfolio, it was all downhill after this, but I think this was one of his best. Oliver Stone has an incredible mind and the vision and ability to transition it onto the screen.  This movie is star-studded, fast paced, gritty, and awesome.  It portrays the game well on several different levels, it captures what super stardom can do to someone, and it tells an excellent story. Oliver Stone had a great quality in getting spectacular performances out of his actors.  This movie is no different, Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Aaron Eckhart, Matthew Modine, and even Charlton Heston are all great.  Stone somehow manages to get them all a lot of screen time as well throughout the movie. Stone brought in several real current and retired NFL stars to play roles in the film too.  Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, and Terrell Owens just to name a few, LT played his role exceptionally well.  Stone also puts himself in the middle of his epic football movie, as the play by-play commentator, I admire that.  Best place to be for a true football fan, I think it says something about him.

I say that it was all downhill for Oliver Stone after this movie because his next film, Alexander (2004), was apocalyptically bad.  I followed the production of that movie for over two years letting my anticipation build and I have never been so disappointed in a movie.  I haven’t seen anything Stone made since actually, but his magic was gone by then, it didn’t matter anymore.  If you have an opportunity to see this movie I think you should definitely see it. On second thought, if you are a football fan at all then go out of your way to get it and see it.  It’s a great movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am a really big football fans and I usually like Oliver Stone’s movies but this one just doesn’t do it for me.  I know Ryan loves it and I know a lot of other people who love it as well but I’m just not a fan.  Also, just a note.  I have always heard people talk about how big the penis in that one scene was, I didn’t think it was that big.

NEXT MOVIE: Apocalypto (2006)