bookspluslife

June 10, 2017

Movie: Django Unchained (2012)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:33 pm

imageI realize why so many men are Quentin Tarantino fans. This man has a style, pizzaz, and a way of making the movies stand out.

 

Take Kill Bill, one of his earlier films. The movie may be just totally commercial (though stylish) but the dialogs were great. Especially where Bill talks to his ex wife about superheroes and how Superman is very different from all other superheroes. Nice.

 

This movie is audacious in its breadth. Look at the very opening scene where Dr. King Schultz (played with great skill by Christopher Waltz, who played the Nazi general in another of Quentin’s memorable works, The Inglorious Bastards and who seems to have become one of the repeat favourites of  Quentin) meet the slaves being brought along a forest and enquires about Django. Nice. How he deals with the Speck brothers is amazing. He even pays for Django, making him technically a free man.

 

Given that it is the slave trading South, the way he shocks people by treating Django (Jamie Foxx) is amazing. Scene after scene we find Django being paraded as an equal nonchalantly by Dr Schulz. The bewilderment of the people is amazing. You slowly learn that Dr Schulz is no dentist but is in fact a bounty hunter. He teaches Django the tricks of his trade.

 

He learns that Django was separated from his wife who was sold as a slave in another plantation and that they both speak German, his mother tongue. He takes Django under his wing, teaching him the tricks of the trade.

 

The scene is the saloon where, during segregated days, Schulz walking calmly with Django to a saloon and ordering a drink is priceless. Then he simply shoots the sheriff who comes to enquire, and proves that he is within his rights to do so – the reason is brilliant and by this time, you are hooked helplessly into the movie like you are in most Quentin movies.

 

What is the name of the wife? Broomhilda. No, I am not kidding, another example of the nerd humour that Quentin spontaneously displays in his movies.

 

Then there is a great scene where three evil brothers attempt to whip a slave girl for breaking eggs and Django takes care of them all. Again Schulz provides evidence to prove that what they did was legal. Incensed the people don Ku Klux type of masks (with hilarious dialogs) and go to kill these two strangers who appear to be camped outside town on their carriage with disastrous results.

 

Then starts the most brilliant sequence. He takes Django to the slave plantation whose owner is the evil Calvin Candie (another Quentin favourite, Leonardo DeCaprio) and the brilliant black assistant Steve (an amazingly memorable and different role by Samuel L Jackson).

 

Steve is suspicious of the nigger who behaves like a white man and blows their cover to Calvin. Calvin raises the price and when Schulz pays up, he insists that he shake hands or else the whole deal is off. Amazing turns and you are shocked to see how a big character like Leonardo dies.

 

The story goes into a typical Quentin crescendo and we lose a few characters we love and some that we loathe. I do not want to give up the ending. It is definitely worth seeing. A beautiful movie!

I will give it a 8/10

– – Krishna

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July 2, 2014

Movie: Blood Diamond (2006)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:58 pm

imagesThis movie feels part like an offbeat movie and part like the usual Hollywood potboiler and seems unable to make up its mind as to which one specifically it wants to be.

 

The story is focused in Sierra Leone in a particularly war torn period and portrays the uncertain and unstable conditions of life for the poor people of the place.

 

The main character in the story is about Solomon Vandy (brilliantly played by Djimon Honsou) who is a loving father of a boy and a girl, and who wants them to have opportunities greater than him through studies. Though Djimon has done bit roles including in that Russell Crowe starrer the Gladiator, this is perhaps the biggest role he had landed until then and he makes good use of the opportunity. His terror through the various situations and his anxiety about his family, all sound very real.

 

His idyllic but poor existence is rudely shattered when the RUF group invades his village of Shenge and captures him, putting him to work in the mines. He is separated from his family too, and does not know where they are, how they are and whether they are even alive.

 

He is treated as a bonded labour, trowelling for diamonds in a river – used to fund the war efforts and hence the title – when he comes across a big diamond of a rare pink hue. At that very moment, the rebels are distracted by gunfire and he hides it with his feet. Asking that he wants to pee, he goes and takes the diamond out and is seen by Captain Poison, his master; before the Captain can react, he is wounded by gunfire and Solomon just buries it in there.

 

He is arrested and thrown in jail, and is in the company of a wounded Captain Poison, who accuses him of hiding a large diamond. This is overheard by Danny Archer, played by Leonardo (more on him and his role later) before Captain Poison dies.

 

Danny Archer, a smuggler is in serious trouble because the diamonds he smuggled for a warlord were confiscated by police when he was arrested, and he sees a way to redeem himself by hunting for the diamond with Solomon. The rest of the story follows the breathtaking journey through danger into the civil war raging all around them, Solomon also motivated to find his family no matter what the cost.

 

The movie is also populated by Jennifer Connelly as Maddie Bowen, a journalist who covers civil wars and Africa.

 

Now back to Leonardo. This actor has taken a wide variety of roles and has been versatile in many of them and has also taken his share of classics (See the review of Romeo Plus Juliet elsewhere in this site.) Here too, he does a good job including his Rhodesian accent but it smells like blockbusters. His budding romance with Bowen, the ending, all of it seem very cinematic against Solomon’s role in the movie.

 

The scenes with Solomon are believable, especially where he realizes that his only chance of staying alive, let alone recover the diamond, is to team up with Danny. His confrontation with his son is very moving, before that scene, too, turns cinematic.

 

However, there are some nice touches, which elevate this movie to a higher plane than that of a typical Hollywood potboiler.  First, there is this sneaking suspicion as to what his intentions are. Like Solomon, we always are on the edge of certainty that he is trying to cheat Solomon out of the diamond, the only way Solomon can hope to live a decent life and recover his family. Even to a direct question from Maddy, Danny is evasive as to whether he will really do the right thing by Solomon. Nice.

 

Second, the romance between Maddie and Danny is understated rather than explicitly revealed. Nice.

 

Third, at various points, even though you are sure he is doing it for self-interest, you see Danny not only save Solomon but treat him like a friend.

 

But again, at the very end, you are left with the same impression that I mentioned in the beginning of this review. This movie is part Hollywood thriller and part a really honest look at the civil war and the diamonds that fund it, and does not do full justice to either.

 

There are really clever scenes and unusual touches, and therefore this gets a 6/10 from me.

 

–        – Krishna

August 18, 2013

Movie: Romeo Plus Juliet (1996)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:12 am

imagesThis is an interesting movie. In summary, it is a modern film where everyone talks old Shakespeare. The names are the same for people but the story pretends that it all happens in today’s America. Interesting for the first bit but the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Gun toting, car driving people talking ‘whereforest are thou going, my man?’ gets a bit cheesy soon.

Being a modern version of the play, there are many reinterpretations. The sword is the gun. The longsword is an automatic rifle. And so on. You know what? It actually works for a while. It is hilarious at first and then you tend to wonder, after the novelty wears off, whether it is all that funny after all.

The story, of course, is not new or a surprise. They clearly tell you what story they are telling from the title itself and the house names (families) are also the same – Capulet and Montague.

A touchingly young Leonardo plays Romeo. Diane Claire plays Juliet.  Also another nice surprise, seeing this after all these years is that Paul Rudd, in his pre fame days (pre Friends?) is Dave Paris, the hapless suitor of Juliet, a rich Governor’s son.  Nice to see where they all started and where they have reached.

Leonardo’s early films, where he proves that he always sought different movies. A nice link to the recent Great Gatsby release. So he was always interested in the classics, it would seem.

Capulets and Montagues are now business families but are feuding, as in the original play by Shakespeare. 

Were they gangs? Just riotous youth feuding? The line seems to be blurred. The story is true to the Shakespeare play (I think) but when you see US police coming to investigate the murder of a member of the family and then say ‘banishment’ is the punishment for the crime, that kind of jars, at least to me.  Yes, I know that in the original it is the Prince that does that. (Here the police chief is Captain Prince!). Clever, but stretches your credulity.

De Caprio lives the role – of Romeo of course – with convincing love and hate (the anger he shows when his dear friend is slain in a feud is remarkable) but Juliet? I am afraid it is not a strong portrayal by Claire Danes.

The friend of Romeo is black in the movie. His death starts the feud spewing out of control.

You wonder how true the narration is to the original movie. It seems very close even if you do not remember the details of the original play you read so long ago and the reviews say that even ignoring the modern setting as discussed above there are only minor variations (for instance Juliet sees and speaks to Romeo before he dies) and that is good enough for me.

The father of Juliet is very convincing and the father of Romeo has not a great role to play. The message sent to Romeo is through Registered Post and it misses him because he is away travelling. But then I can go on and on about the modernization of the story but you already probably get the gist of it very well.

For the novelty of it all, let us say a 5/10

 

— Krishna

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