It seems as though I’ve spent the majority of evenings sitting in front of the big screen this week. Here’s what I watched, and what I thought:
Django Unchained– Tarantino still at his best after Basterds
As much as Inglourious Basterds gave us a slightly absurd, or maybe ‘an artistic alternative’ to the historical truth, Django arguably does the same. One liberated black slave’s revenge against the white planter elite proves to be an entertaining and enjoyable 2.5 hours, but also confronts viewers with attitudes and ideals of the past which are pretty shocking, and rather racist as some have claimed in the films wake.
Christoph Waltz’s character, the lovable Dr King Schultz– dentist and bounty hunter extraordinaire– is the heart of the film. Despite the fact that I’ve admittedly never really been a fan of Jaime Foxx– though he is undeniably great as the films central character– the Doctor is the source of all that seems to be good in this film. Schultz as a character is a moderate but welcome departure from the way Waltz seems to have been type cast in most English language films (see Water For Elephants, The Green Hornet, and to an extent even Inglourious Basterds, though I’m sure no one has any complaints about the portrayal of quiet psychopath Colonel Hans Landa). The extended scenes between Schultz and Django are both touching and amusing, as the master trains his protégée in the art of killing, battling bad-guys and prejudice as they go. The supporting cast are equally as strong, and Samuel L. Jackson especially provides comic and villainous relief, as always.
While the last 30 mins or so were a little indulgent and unnecessary (pretty much the section that includes Tarantino’s really, really bad cameo, for those who’ve already seen the movie), this film is a must see, has an incredible original soundtrack, and is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
Rust and Bone– Optimistic doesn’t mean happy
The French language Rust and Bone is both likable and unlikeable, hard to watch and a pleasure to view, heart-breaking and optimistic. The focus is two journeys: the first of a father who finds himself caring for his young barely-known son, trying to survive, and a whale-trainer whose tragic accident forces her into a reality that anyone would find almost unbearable. These two stories converge when they meet, and their journeys are long, both together and separately. The performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts are moving and brilliant.
Les Misérables– trying so hard not to make the obvious joke
I fully expected to love this film. I totally prepared myself to weep along with the middle-aged female audience I was surrounded by. But I was barely moved, at all. Whether it’s the fact I wasn’t familiar with, and didn’t have an emotional connection with the musical, but I found the whole thing to be the longest near-three hours of my life. It’s not to say the film was especially bad, but rather not worth the hype. I think I have an inherent problem with trying to dramatise and give sets and CGI to a musical that has obviously been done so well on one stage in the theatre. The consistent singing was awkward and often embarrassing with no chance of reprieve (yes, I know that’s the point of a musical), and while certain aspects of the story did tug the heart-strings (see Anne Hathaway’s performance), the rest I just felt, as heartless as it sounds, that I didn’t care, because I was never compelled to care. The final section of the film arguably being the best, with the final song being the only point I actually achieved anything close to goosebumps, it’s safe to say it isn’t a film I’ll be rushing back to at any point soon.
I don’t think there’s any possible way to review or talk about this film adequately. Amour is an honest, truthful story of death, or rather, how life and love still go on even when confronted by death. The absence of a soundtrack or score means that it’s a quiet and peaceful film, but surprisingly not uncomfortable to watch. It’s an emotional one, but one I’m sure no one will regret making the effort to watch.