Discussion in 'Community' started by Adam of Nuchtern, Oct 12, 2012.
December can't get here soon enough.
The panel at Comic-Con was really interesting. The movie looks great, and I'm interested to see how the film turns out!
Just watched it this morning. It was incredible. Sam Jackson was perfect in it. he was seriously the highlight of the movie for me and he was barely in it.
And Waltz... you can't say enough good things about that guy. Does any actor "get" Tarantino's dialogue like this guy does? doubt it.
I just got back from it myself. I honestly think this ranks up there with Pulp Fiction as Tarantino's best movie. It's definitely up there! I agree about Waltz. He was magnificent. And SLJ was amazing as well. I was thrilled with Jamie Foxx too! He and Waltz did such a great job carrying the film for the whole 2 hr 45 min run time!
I was especially pleased that they didn't shy away from the ugliness of slavery. It wasn't a "light" movie at all. There were plenty of funny moments, of course, but it was dark and ugly, too. Loved it!!
So Spike Lee is just being an idiot, saying stuff like "slavery was not a spaghetti Western" and all that?
Idiocy is par for the course for Spike Lee. Remember, he once blasted Clint Eastwood for not including African Americans in Flags of Our Fathers, a movie based predominantly on the postwar lives of Rene Gagnon, John Bradley, and Ira Hayes.
EDIT -- JOHN Bradley. James Bradley is his son. Oops.
I was unaware Spike Lee had commented. If you are accurately describing his sentiments, I am inclined to agree. This "project" is disgusting, and I have no attention of seeing it.
Near as I can tell, Spike Lee said he couldn't comment on it because he wouldn't go see it, then proceeded to comment on it.
I don't see what's contradictory about his remarks. He said could not speak on the merits of the film itself, because he did not see the film and was not familiar with it. However, he did offer remarks about the film's premise and concept. Given that these things are conveyed by the trailer--and virtually every other piece of promotional material--and he was familiar with it, he was in perfectly good position to comment.
It's nearly as absurd as Inglourious Basterds, and otherwise is basically the same movie.
I've never been a fan of Tarantino. It's fine to be inspired by crappy old pulp movies, I guess - but it's another thing to actually just make crappy old pulp movies with a bigger budget and an all-star cast. That's what Tarantino does, and I don't get it. If I want to watch Truck Turner or Master of the Flying Guilloutine, I'll just watch the original, authentic versions - it's not like they're hard to get.
I mean, seriously, if this keeps up, in 30 years somebody will be making big-budget versions of Birdemic and Troll 2 with A-list actors, and be getting 89% on Rotten Tomatoes for doing that.
In addition, I think Spike Lee is right - there's all kinds of reasons why Tarantino making this film really is inappropriate. Partly for the reasons Lee mentioned, but also I'm not sure that this is the right time (as if there was any good time) to be making movies that inflame racial tensions in this country any worse than they already are.
Ok. I normally don't get into these kinds of "debates" but this is stupid. I've seen many movies over the course of my life that touch on the ugliness of slavery. Most are crap. The "good" ones sugar-coat the subject matter and focus almost exclusively on the awesome white people who were fighting to put an end to the practice. Most just allude to the horror of slavery. The black people in these films are usually there to tell the white characters how much they appreciate their efforts.
This movie, on the other hand, tells the story of an anti-hero that rises up in the midst of the worst of circumstances and shows a slave who strikes back. Sure, the violence is visceral and jarring, but so is the subject matter.
There's a very powerful moment in the movie in which Leo DiCaprio's character explains why he thinks blacks don't kill their masters--that we are basically genetically predisposed to submissiveness. But in truth, blacks rebelled all across the globe against slavery. But watching most movies, you'd never know it.
What's striking to me is how other than Amistad--which was more about Adams defending the slaves who revolted rather than the rebellion itself--there are so few movies told from the vantage point of the slaves and how they were treated. D'Jango is about a guy who is given the opportunity to strike back (as many slaves did, though most unsuccessfully) and he does. But he doesn't go around killing every white person he meets. He has one mission--to buy (yes buy) his wife's freedom--and all of his actions are focused on that. It's a love story, first and foremost. But it's also a story about fighting back. It's about the corrupting power of greed and the poisoning of humanity caused by generational slavery.
If you don't like Tarantino's films, chances are you won't like this movie--it's got a lot of his signature combination of grit and arguable wit. There are scenes that will make you squirm or look away (at least I did--both, at times). But it's also engaging and less convoluted than most of his films. The characters that we are to focus on are well drawn. The complex relationships among all the characters--from the plantation owner and his lackey head house slave to Django's fellow blacks who see him as the ultimate betrayer*.
In order to gain access to the plantation where his wife is being held, Django pretends to be a black slaver who is helping Shultz (Waltz's character) find prize stock to participate in "Mandingo" fights.
I do think that the trailers do the movie a disservice. It comes across as primarily a spaghetti western with a black guy holding the gun. While that is certainly partly true, that is not what the movie is. That is not it's center. That is merely the backdrop.
I couldn't agree more.
Edit: tl;dr version: Spike Lee can go suck it. Like the Knicks.
I appreciate what you are saying, but I am not much swayed by that argument. I would like to see more stories from more diverse perspectives in general, and more thoughtful pieces examining slavery from the viewpoint of its victims and their descendants in particular. But I'm not so starved and desperate that I will accept anything that brands itself as such. Tarantino has a particular style as a filmmaker. We have seen it used over and over, including in a similarly conceived piece about the Holocaust. In both cases, I think the tone invoked trivializes the historical traumas they purport to examine. I'll respect your decision, but I want no part of it, and I certainly hope no one is patting themselves on the back over this.
merry christmas wocky.
That's what makes this wonderful. It doesn't brandish itself as such at all. It just happens to be more than it appears.
Whatever similarities the two films have are superficial at best. If you bothered to watch the film(s), you'd know that. When it comes out on Netflix streaming (assuming you know what that is), watch it and then tell me about the tone. Without question, I'd agree with your observation about Inglorious Basterds. This is not at all my observation about Django.
I respect your decision as well. I can understand the reservations some might choose to have about it--especially if they are already predisposed against Tarantino films. But in the end, it is a movie. The only patting on the backs that are of real consequence involve whether or not people who bothered to see the film enjoyed it or not. I can tell you that the theater was full today (rough eye-ball count was on the order of 80% brown faces) at noon and the movie got a rousing applause. Anecdote, I know. But there you have it.
Inglourious Basterds was not a love story at all. Not even a little bit. Django's love for Broomhilda is the driving force behind this movie. The revenge angle isn't nearly as big a part of this as it was for Kill Bill or Inglourious Basterds. And I didn't find anything comical about the portrayal of slavery in this. Not to say the movie wasn't funny. It definitely was. Just not at the expense of slavery.
as far as a white dude making a movie about slavery goes... if a Turkish guy decided to make a movie about the Armenian Genocide, I'd prolly be annoyed to be honest. I know I would watch it though. And if the Turkish guy made a legitimately good movie about it, I'd prolly be ok with it. But there is the whole angle to this that Turks aren't fans of recognizing the genocide even happened so I prolly would be a little pleased that one of them is acknowledging it in the first place. So not really the same thing. Not to mention mine is completely hypothetical. And would never happen in a million years.
someone make a genocide movie.
Can a black guy make an Armenian genocide movie?
Sylvestor Stallone was thinking of making one a few years back but never did. I dunno how that would have turned out but I would've been glad to just see a hollywood movie of it.
I'm on it.
dope. I know Armenian people if you need help casting.
But if you want the movie to make money, you should prolly just white wash all the roles.
seems to me that refusal to see a movie for these reasons, that it might (MIGHT) trivialize or exploit atrocities gives said atrocities power over you. today. from near 150 years in the past.
i would argue the position that such exploitation might actually be necessary to better discuss and view the past. it's a caricature, not a facsimile. it's violent, over the top and on more than one occasion, abhorrent. and it should be. it's easier to swallow and comprehend atrocity if its chased with absurdity. it subdues, but does not extinguish the fire it causes in your soul.
you could call it exploitation. i would reply and say that it twists exploitation into exploration. the film isn't a shining standard of humanity. but it is as important as that standard. it defines that standard. it tests where substance meets shadow.
go ahead and refuse to see it. hide behind morality, if you will. but know that you do yourself a disservice. if you refuse to expose yourself to an idea because you don't like what it MIGHT represent, all you do is ensure that it WILL represent that.
Maybe I can focus on a white journalist and his precocious but adorable little girl who are trying to document the story of the genocide while running for their very lives. Why they happen to be there at that time will not be questioned. Of course, in the end, a wise old Amernian magic man who will help him escape back to America, will convince him to sit on the story "until the world is ready to hear what happened here".
I can appreciate what you are going for here, but I am of the opinion that this is how bluster replaces thinking. This is, after all about one breath away from "if you don't do X, then the terrorists have already won" which operates on similar logic. The truth is that people do (and don't do) things for a lot of reason. Especially when it comes to understanding national and (in this particular case, for me) family history. Boiling them down to such simple signifiers in a sort of accurate fashion is a hopeless task. In point of fact, it is not "atrocity" that has power over me. It is memory. I have walked the plantation where my first known American ancestor was held. It is part of a story of one family, as much as those who came penniless through Ellis Island. Like all those stories, it is textured, complexed, by turns challenging, delightful, and depressing. But of all those things, the one I don't think it is reducible to is an excuse for some guy to make an ultra-violent action/revenge scene as he has done several other times before. I think it deserves to be something more than a plot contrivance in his seemingly endless stream of movies about one person that kills a bunch of other people in ridiculous and gory fashion.
It certainly isn't "necessary." That's just patently false. But I assume you mean that it is "helpful." I'll note my disagreement with you on that point. I don't see where adding a layer of absurdity aids comprehension at all. When people are really trying to get a grip on these moments in history, or really want to work through issues they themselves may have with it, they tend to do so in a serious fashion. I'm not aware of the Simon Weisenthal Center making very extensive use of absurdity to help people overcome anti-semitism. I'll grant it may make these issues easier for some people to talk and think about. But I think the primary mechanism by which it does so is by down-grading the seriousness of the topic in question, and I don't think that's a worthwhile tradeoff.
I wanted to respond to these two related points. First, let's be clear bout what this is. The relation of this movie to black exploitation films is not some matter of debate. The title of the movie is lifted directly from a previous work in the same sub-genre, and its lead actor makes a cameo. Then there is Tarantino's long record of praising such films. The relationship isn't complicated.
Given that, let's pivot to what I feel to be the more disturbing point about the film. In a recent interview, Tarantino described himself as wanting to make this film because "Frankly, nothing could have me more excited, from an American storytelling perspective and an American healing perspective, that maybe there is something in the air." Take a moment to appreciate the huge pretensions he brings to this. His film is a vehicle for "American healing." A nation where many states refuse to even acknowledge slavery as a historical injustice, and which is still roiled on occasion by huge racial tensions even in the present day will be miraculously healed by his film. Lest you think I am reading too much into this, here he is again, explaining that his film will "deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it's ashamed of it [. . .] But I can deal with it all right, and I'm the guy to do it."
Even were someone making a completely earnest, somber film, they would deserve to be slapped for describing themselves in such messianic terms. But, in fact, that's not what this is. It's a spaghetti Western designed with abundant homages to black exploitation films. He's interested in hearing these perspectives, but only so long as it doesn't get in the way of making an exciting adventure. He wants to be praised for a brave and heroic stance, but also insist that this really isn't important enough to be addressed outside a setting with abundant comedy and action. Ultimately, I don't see how that's not just an implicit message that the material itself isn't worth much interest in its own right. That's only one interpretation of what he's doing though, and perhaps an unfair one. So leave it aside. I still think it fundamentally problematic that he (and the film's defenders) are trying to encourage the impression that there is something profound to learn about the American experience in all this, or that it will contribute the national dialogue. People only stretch themselves so far. The last thing we need is a self-congratulatory attitude about the state of race relations because someone goes to see a holiday popcorn movie.