Argo Screw Yourself! Why Django Unchained Was the Only Movie that Mattered at The Oscars

Or, come back to the raft ag'in, Quentin Tarantino.

The 2013 Academy Awards may be history, but at least one of the movies under under consideration for Best Picture—Django Unchained—deserves more attention than it received during Sunday night's Oscar telecast. 

None of the other best pic nominees took the actual craft and artistry of filmmaking more seriously than Django. In the end, it is a movie about other movies in the same way that Don Quixote is a book about other books and the madness they can cause if taken too seriously. The same is true of what I'd consider Tarantino's best movies, such as Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds, which pay homage to their filmic inspirations while revising gangster and war movies respectively. Even more important—and despite controversy over its prolific use of both the n-word and fake blood—Django Unchained masterfully revises the childish archetypal narrative at the heart of so much American storytelling, from Moby-Dick to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In so doing, Django Unchained may be one of the first truly post-racial works of art created for a mass audience.

Unlike most auteurs, Tarantino doesn't just revere past films and creators, he revisits them and recreates aspects of them while critiquing them and adding a layer of critical reflection. Where highly acclaimed directors such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg tend to be deferentially worshipful of film's past, Tarantino uses the past as raw material for film's future. In its depiction of stomach-churning sadism and tension that is typically aestheticized in gangster films, Reservoir Dogs effectively closed out an entire genre by refusing to turn the camera away at the exact moments when other directors would. Scorsese, for instance, would have figured out a way to literally and figuratively pull back from such moments either with voiceovers directing the viewer what to think or romanticizing violent protagonists in a way that blunts the implications of their actions. He always gives the viewer a rooting interest in a way that Tarantino doesn't (Scorsese's tendency arguably reaches its nadir in Casino, which ends with an unintentionally comic screed against the Disneyfication of casino gambling).

Inglourious Basterds is a far more interesting, smart, and uncompromising movie than the ones that inspired it. Go watch The Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Kelly's Heroes or The Great Escape or They Were Expendable and you'll find movies that don't even struggle to rise to the level of meta-commentary on either film as a medium or war or violence; despite comic flourishes, they are earnest and plodding and utterly cliched in their war-is-hell-ain't-it perspective. Even as loopy and uneven a comedy as Kelly's Heroes expects to be taken seriously despite its threadbare messaging and utterly conventional morality. As does Speilberg's Saving Private Ryan, the ending of which is so maudlin and contemptibleMatt Damon's title character demands his family and the audience certify that he'd led a good lifeas to erase the power of the film's recreation of the Normandy invasion. Indeed, one of the best ways to view Inglourious Basterds is as a sort of answer movie to the gauzy "Greatest Generation" nostalgia that ultimately undermines Saving Private Ryan.

Tarantino's movies typically pull double duty like the best art always does. Which is to say, they're both interesting in and of themselves while adding on a level of meta-commentary and criticism about how the best art operates. They thus incorporate a faithful evocation of an original while allowing—or forcing—the viewer to think about the generic conventions and cliches we use to convey supposedly unique moments of meaning. Call it the Madame Bovary effect, for Flaubert's masterpiece is ultimately a novel about the effects of novels on people. Or maybe call it The Colbert Report Perplex. Especially at the show's launch, Stephen Colbert's blowhard character was such a perfect distillation of the energy and dynamism and self-importance of Bill O'Reilly that you didn't need to watch The O'Reilly Factor anymore. You could get everything that was truly engaging about O'Reilly—and a comic critique of it—simply by watching Colbert (and note that Colbert pulled this off in large part because his character regularly reduced liberal guests to incoherence by challenging them on their beliefs). Tarantino does something similar in movies such as Django Unchained: He channels past movies but makes something that incorporates their essence while easily surpassing them (if you don't believe that, check out the movie that inspired Tarantino).

As Tarantino and Jamie Foxx explained on a TV One interview earlier this year, on one level Django Unchained is simply a classic Clint Eastwood Western with a black slave as the hero. No wonder so many people were offended, including Spike Lee, who denounced the film without seeing it to various others who were outraged by the movies prolific use of the word nigger, its historical anachronisms, or its cartoonish gun violence. It's no simple feat to reimagine the Man with No Name as a black slave and in so doing Tarantino powerfully revised one of the central plots in American storytelling, one first identified by the critic Leslie Fiedler.

In his 1948 essay, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!," Fiedler posited that much of classic American literature revolved around a juvenile fantasy in which white boys flee from what is inevitably figured in explicitly female terms as civilized adulthood. Again and again, observed Fiedler, at the heart of "classic" American tales, you find a white male who runs away in the company of a dark Other rather than submit to the pressures of living an engaged, responsible adult life. The result is a sort of "innocent homosexuality," or a pre-pubescent fantasy in which boys can always stay boys, having adventures out of reach of girls. The archetypes include Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook in Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, Ishmael and Queequeg in Moby-Dick, and, of course Huck Finn and his slave companion Jim. Throughout Huckleberry Finn, Jim stays close with Huck, who at novel's end famously declares that he must light out for the territory rather than be "sivilized". What makes Jim's devotion to Huck—he sticks around even when he can easily escape from Tom Sawer's relatives who are holding him captive—even more stunning is the fact that his original impetus for escaping from his owner was a fear that he was going to be sold down the river, away from his wife who lives on a nearby plantation. Early on in the novel, as Huck and Jim plan to make landfall in Cairo, Illinois (where Jim can be free), Jim talks of working to make money to buy his wife's freedom.

Django Unchained reverses this narrative in a way particularly suited to 21st century America that is largely, though certainly not fully, post-racial. Christoph Waltz's character, the bounty hunter King Schultz, forms a pact with Jamie Foxx's Django with the explicit goal of finding and freeing Foxx's enslaved wife. Indeed, Schulz puts himself in mortal danger specifically to help Django in his quest, thus reversing the relationship of Jim regarding Huck. From a Fiedlerian perspective, the conclusion of Django—in which black man and black woman are reunited over the body of a self-sacrificing white man—can be read as a powerful sign of cultural maturation. Rather than fleeing from "sivilization" and all that in entails (first and foremost marriage), the whole point of the movie is to arrive at that very moment. The works illuminated so well and disturbingly by Fiedler's "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!" literally cannot come to a similar conclusion.

No matter how entertaining or well-executed they might have been, that sort of psychological and archetypal depth was missing from the other best picture nominees at this year's Oscars.

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  • fish||

    `You may think of Jamie Foxx as Django, or Ray Charles but he will always be Shenaynay to me!

    http://tinyurl.com/aalayfo

  • Fatty Bolger||

    OK, maybe I'm missing a reference here... but Martin Lawrence was Sheneneh.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Jamie Foxx was one half of a flamingly gay duo in In Living Color. I no longer recall the premise of those sketches, but those two guys just cracked me up.

  • fish||

    EAP the flamingly gay duo doing the movie reviews was David Allen Grier and one of the Wayans (I never remember who is who)!

  • Jeff||

    Pretty sure you're thinking about the "Men on..." sketches, and that was Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier.

  • KDN||

    "It gets two snaps, a twist, and kiss!"

  • fish||

    "....HATED it"

  • Enough About Palin||

    Well they all look...

  • Art Vandelay||

    "Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier."

    Um...two black guys together making lots of money?

    Drug dealers!

  • fish||

    Shit it's been so long...but I think you're right!

    Still, that picture should always remain in your thoughts when Jamie Foxx is in the area!

  • Jeff||

    That's Wanda, fool.

  • Jeff||

    I agree, though. That was the first thing I saw him do, and it would have been fine with me if it was the last thing I ever saw him do.

  • Terry87df||

    just as Daniel said I cant believe that anyone can earn $8297 in one month on the computer. did you see this site... www.Snag4.com

  • 34lbs||

    Yep.. making a webcam show can earn you a shit load, just ask Daniel, he's got some previews over at www.manhub.com

  • Enough About Palin||

    "In the end, it is a movie about other movies"

    Every Tarantino movie is a movie about other movies. He really only has the one shtick.

  • sarcasmic||

    He really only has the one shtick.

    And he does it well.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Oh, I completely agree. But it surprises me that he doesn't do more stylistically.

  • ||

    It's probably wise of him to stick to what he's good at.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Like Episiarch and paying for sex.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Your mom's gotta eat.

  • ||

    This works on two levels.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    ergo...Art

  • ||

    I think you mean "what he's motherfucking virtuosic at."

    And I'm referring to both Tarantino and Epi there.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Him and Godard. At least Tarantino doesn't fill his movies with Marxist bullshit, though.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    "Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told."
    ― Umberto Eco, PostScript to the Name of the Rose

  • John Galt||

    I've actually seen the two spaghetti western Django films, he's the machine gun cowboy monk. Had no idea Tarantino did a remake. That could be interesting.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    When I think of Django, I think of this (coincidently co-starring Tarantino).

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    When I hear the term "post-racial" I check for my wallet. Not sure if that makes me racist or preist.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I always misread it as "post-facial", which I'm sure makes me a pervert.

  • ||

    That's not what makes you a pervert, HM.

  • ||

    Is it his penchant for raping angel food cakes?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Idiot. You can't rape something that can't say no.

  • ||

    Actually it's giving facials to angel food cakes.

  • ||

    Can we really hold that against him? They're so soft and moist, they're clearly asking for it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    After I'm done with them, they're called devil's food cakes*.


    *Because miscegenation is evil.

  • ||

    jesse, do you really think we hold being perverts against people? Come now.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Unlike most auteurs, Tarantino doesn't just revere past films and creators, he revisits them and recreates aspects of them while critiquing them and adding a layer of critical reflection.

    Can't I just like Tarantino movies because I find them entertaining? Or does that make me a philistine?

  • ||

    I eat high end or home made pasta but I admit I eat Chef-Boyardee from time to time. Just enjoy, man, I say.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    My personal guilty pleasure is eating cream of chicken soup cold straight from the can.

  • ||

    I actually do the exact same thing.

    I also eat Boyardee the same way. After being in the army, I just don't find myself heating up canned food anymore. It's all just interchangable red, brown, or off-white paste to me.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Forget it, Crane, it's English PhD-town.

  • ||

    "including Spike Lee, who denounced the film without seeing it to various others who were outraged by the movies prolific use of the word nigger, its historical anachronisms, or its cartoonish gun violence."

    What an insufferable, self-righteous puke Lee is. Ah, one of those 'I don't need to read or see because I know' types.

    I didn't get all huffy with the way he portrayed I-talians in 'Do the right thing' so what's this brotha's problem?

  • Irish||

    He needs to be eternally offended because it gives his life meaning. Just like most people on the left.

  • ||

    His problem is that he was never very talented in the first place, got feted for his work because of political considerations, and pretty much doesn't have much of a career any more because his movies suck, while Tarantino continues to make acclaimed work based on the work and not on racial idiocy. However, Buggin' Out played by Giancarlo Esposito was a great character, I must admit.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    You know who else was never talented but got feted for his work for political considerations....

  • ||

    Tommy Wiseau?

  • ||

    OHAI EPIS-ARK

  • ||

    You're lying! I never hit you! You're tearing me apart, Warty!

  • some guy||

    SPOON!

  • ||

    I just like to watch you guys.

  • R C Dean||

    Obama?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Rob Reiner?

  • Brandon||

    WTF? He directed The Princess Bride. That alone blows Spike Lee's career out of the water.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I never saw that movie. Is that the one where Patrick Swayze dresses in drag, or the one where Jon Leguizamo dresses in drag?

  • Corneliusm||

  • Zeb||

    Do The Right Thing is good.

  • SugarFree||

    He also directed The Sure Thing. Meathead made a few good films.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Nick Gillespie?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Brenner?

  • Enough About Palin||

    DAVID FUCKING WEIGEL.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Nero?

  • $park¥||

    Al Franken?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Meh, I thought Stuart Smalley was funny. And he was one of the SNL writers back in the 80s and early 90s when it was still decent.

  • Brandon||

    The correct answer is Michael Moore.

  • JWatts||

    for the win.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I disagree. Moore is an ethically challenged douche bag, but one with some talent.

  • ||

    and a curious affinity for hats, too...

  • Hugh Akston||

    Inside Man was pretty good, mostly because it was a fairly by-the-books heist movie with some racial/cultural/historical elements thrown in, rather than Lee's usual epic bullshit race rants.

  • John||

    No he is not particularly talented. If he were, he would have made a decent movie that wasn't a political polemic. He has tried a few times and the results movies like Crooklyn and the Miracle of St. Anna and Mo Better Blues were fair at best.

    He is a fair to middling film maker who capitalized on being black and telling white liberals things they wanted to hear.

  • Juice||

    I guess Spike Lee never watched Roots.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Huck Finn was a repressed homosexual fantasy? Wow, that's original, Nick.

    Someone needs to do a meta-parody of highbrow movie reviews in which every movie in history has been about repressed gay people.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Nick really groks Huck Finn.

  • JWatts||

    Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, obviously a repressed gay with confused sexual feelings about his sister and droids. (And maybe Jawa's, I'm not sure on that point.)

    Luke was probably working up to asking Obi Wan Kenobi to be his Papa Bear, but then Obi Wan Kenobi was killed. And then Luke discovers his big hairy avatar was killed by his Father!

    I think he eventually retired to San Francisco with his Life Partner, Chewbacca.

  • SIV||

    It's not original. Nick admits he cribbed it from Leslie Fiedler. That is what they teach you to do in English class.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yes, I was being sarcastic.

  • Stormy Dragon||

  • JWatts||

    From the link:

    For instance the author wrote: "The curtains were blue."

    What your teacher thinks: "The curtains represent his immense depression and his lack of will to carry on."

    What the author meant: "The curtains were fucking blue."

  • lap83||

    That's awesome. In my opinion, people who see symbolism and allegories everywhere in literature and art are no better than someone saying about an abstract painting, "it looks like a bunny". But the former is so much worse because they think they're being profound and elevated, when really they're just making stuff up and making it harder for anyone else to appreciate it for what it is.

  • Enough About Palin||

  • d_remington||

    "making it harder for anyone else to appreciate it for what it is."

    Dried cake of pigments slapped onto a surface?

  • John||

    As Freud said, sometimes a tie is just a tie.

  • Corneliusm||

    As Carlin said, sometimes a cigar is a big, brown dick.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "Airtight Grannies 3 was really a parable of the post-Stonewall ennui that affected mid-1970's New York City. Two of the men on granny are in her rectum and mouth, respectively representing a mis-directed gay lust in the first case, and with the porno funk in the background, an ironic take on the ubiquitous slogan "disco sucks" in the latter..."

  • Redmanfms||

    Snort.

    That was pretty funny.

    I'd like to go back to college just I could major in film/comparative literature just so I could do nothing but find hidden meaning in porno movies.

    I wonder what kind of grades I would get? The way things are I'd probably get A's, land a gig with Rolling Stone and end up laughing my ass off after I've had my fun by writing a tell-all in which I admit my entire career started as a sarcastic joke.

  • MJGreen||

    Oh, such studies exist. I had to take a film crit class, and the supplemental class (or side class... whatever it was called) was taught by a TA focusing on porn films. Bullshit about their evolution from the 70s through the 90s. It was hilarious and reminded me why I could never live with myself if I were a film scholar.

  • JWatts||

    " Especially at the show's launch, Stephen Colbert's blowhard character was such a perfect distillation of the energy and dynamism and self-importance of Bill O'Reilly that you didn't need to watch The O'Reilly Factor anymore. You could get everything that was truly engaging about O'Reilly—and a comic critique of it—simply by watching Colbert"

    LOL, that statement seems fabulously bad. In other words, Colbert is O'Reilly without the intelligence.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Celery is hummus without the sausage.

  • John||

    As Tarantino and Jamie Foxx explained on a TV One interview earlier this year, on one level Django Unchained is simply a classic Clint Eastwood Western with a black slave as the hero.

    Sure it is, except that it self consciously tries to be that and thus fails. What made a movie like the Good the Bad and Ugly so great and not just kitsch was that it took itself seriously. It didn't step out of itself and wink at the audience telling them "look how kitschy and clever I am". It managed to be kitschy and over the top while taking itself seriously. That is good art.

    Django in contrast doesn't do that. It, like every other Tarantino movie, is nothing but a exposition of Tarantino telling the audience how smart and self consciously cool he is. And that is why it fails and that is why he fails as a filmmaker.

  • Enough About Palin||

    This better states what I was trying to say out of the gate here.

  • A Serious Man||

    Django in contrast doesn't do that. It, like every other Tarantino movie, is nothing but a exposition of Tarantino telling the audience how smart and self consciously cool he is.

    I think Tarantino would be the first to tell you that that's exactly what he does, pay homage to superior filmmakers while adding his own gloss to it. He doesn't strike me as pretentious at all in that regard since he gives credit where credit is due.

  • John||

    I don't think it is pretentious. I just don't think it is particularly interesting or that good.

    In some ways I think Tarantino is a victim of this age's obsession with irony. He doesn't give himself enough credit. Instead of just making the kind of movie he likes, he has to step back and tell the audience not to take it too seriously, it is not the real thing just a homage to this other great movie.

    He reminds me of The Band "The Darkness". The Darkness had a few minor hits a while back making "ironic" 70s stadium rock stuff. They couldn't bring themselves to actually make 70s style rock because they were afraid to be laughed at. So they laughed at themselves first. That is what Tarantino is doing with Spaghetti Westerns.

  • ||

    THANK YOU. I've said much the same thing for years, and people act like I'm an apostate because Tarantino is supposedly the greatest director working today.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Course not. Greatest Director working today is the Cohen Brothers. QT is near the top though.

  • SIV||

    Is Cronenberg just collecting Canadian unemployment checks?

  • SugarFree||

    He went from the dean of body horror movies to a fairly competent director of action films. And his Twilight of Bret Easton Ellis' Bright City was terrible.

  • SIV||

    I was unaware of that movie's existence.

    All his movies kind of have that body horror theme (I'm assuming the DeLillo adaptation does as well)

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I think I agree in general. To me somehow Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction aren't this though.

    Reservoir Dogs, it seems like the added violence just give it a kind of straight up "revisionist" vibe of say sort of like Unforgiven. Not that I'm saying it is as good as Unforgiven

    And Pulp Fiction does kind of seem like the one movie where he just did what he wanted. Maybe I'm just not enough of a film nerd .... if so, I think I'd like to keep it that way, because I don't want to unlike Pulp Fiction.

    Everything else I've seen though, I agree (and I haven't seen Django yet).

  • Redmanfms||

    He doesn't strike me as pretentious at all in that regard since he gives credit where credit is due.

    The pretense comes not in the delivery, but what Tarantino decides to pay homage to.

    Like how shitty prog rock bands used to always cite the fucking Beatles as there main influence. Now the hipster chic is citing influences most people have never fucking heard of (outside of seriously committed music lovers).

    Tarantino is the same way. While SpagWest and ultracrime are pretty mainstream, Japanese samurai Westerns and blaxploitation aren't. Also, the campiness of the low production values and (with a couple notable exception, especially in SpagWest) allows Tarantino to come along and be ironic and cool by making a slick big budget version of those genres. One, it's easy as shit for a marginal talent like him to pull off, and two, it is phenomenally pretentious (something all hipsters love being).

  • Redmanfms||

    *insert "unskilled no-name actors and bad writing" after (with a couple notable exception, especially in SpagWest)

    And it's their, not there, damn it.

  • John||

    What is especially pretentious is that he acts like he is doing something new, like no one in Hollywood ever thought of using Japanese or B movies for inspiration before him. Since hipsters don't know much, he is able to get away with that pretense.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm not getting your point here. Are you pissed because he riffs on "SpagWest" or because he doesn't? You seem to be critical of everyone involved, both the shitty prog rock bands and the hipsters.

  • Redmanfms||

    I'm saying he is pretentious. Jeebus man, get the now.

    I'm not pissed about anything here, I was only arguing that his choices were where his pretense lies, not the delivery and I explained why I thought that.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    70's Blaxploitation isn't mainstream?

    Have you ever heard a rap song?

  • Redmanfms||

    Have you ever heard a rap song?

    Yes, though I'm not a fan so that may be why I don't see the connection between the two (other than hating THE MAN).

    I've never gotten into rap because much of the interesting stuff includes the "Kill THE MAN" stuff, which I'd totally be into, except most of these guys really mean THE *white* MAN and since I'm a white guy I can't really get into a genre that's apparent raison d'etre is to rail against me because of a perceived association with oppressive government and because I lack sufficient melanin and b-ball skillz. And the non-gangsta rap (except for Geto Boys) is just speechifying to autotune, which is boooorrrring.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yes, though I'm not a fan so that may be why I don't see the connection between the two (other than hating THE MAN).

    Tons of rap songs make overt references to various Blaxploitation films like The Mack, Shaft, Foxy Brown, etc.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yep. Tarantino is very forthcoming about his influences, and the homages in his films. he will say what specific films/scenes inspired particular scenes in his films. He is a re-mixer. He does to film what Kruder & Dorfmeister, Thievery Corp., Fila Brazillia, RZA, etc. do to recorded music.

  • Redmanfms||

    And that is why it fails and that is why he fails as a filmmaker.

    I agree.

    Tarantino is a hipster. I am almost fucking certain the words, "I was into X before it was cool" leave that man's mouth on a daily basis.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    I am almost fucking certain the words, "I was into X before it was cool" leave that man's mouth on a daily basis.

    I'm pretty sure he coined the phrase.

    I still like the fact that Tarantino regularly depicts people getting their heads blown off in movies. As far as I'm concerned, that's ART!

  • John||

    The thing is I like a lot of the same movies he loves. And I think he is a talented filmmakers. I just wish he would give himself some credit and just make a movie. You want to make a spegettti western, just make one. We haven't had a good western since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    that was 5 years ago...

  • John||

    And there hasn't been a western made since that I am aware of.

  • hotsy totsy||

    WHAT?? Jesse James was assassinated, like, more than 100 years ago!

  • lap83||

    I haven't realized it until you mentioned it, but I think that's why I haven't seen Django Unchained even though I've seen every other Tarantino film and I love westerns. It's because I know it'll just be one long ironic, violent nod to the genre. Ho-hum.

  • John||

    Exactly. If I want to watch a kitchy Western, I will rewatch a good one.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "I'm pretty sure he coined the phrase."

    Barbara Mandrell would like a word with you.

  • SIV||

    Tarantino is an otaku, not a hipster.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    He was into anime before it was cool.

  • Hugh Akston||

    All Weeaboos say that.

  • $park¥||

    And that is why it fails and that is why he fails as a filmmaker.

    John, your post would have been infinitely cooler, and seemed less like a pretentious speech, if you had just included one link at the end.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That's why it fails as art, maybe. As role reversal wish fulfillment fantasy it's great stuff, just like Inglorious Bastards.

  • Zeb||

    I think you are right about everything but the failure parts. What you describe is exactly why he succeeds so well in doing what he does. That doesn't mean you have to like it.

  • John||

    He may succeed in the sense that he makes entertaining movies. But I don't consider them to be very good art.

  • A Serious Man||

    I thought Zero Dark Thirty was the bets movie I saw from last year, certainly way better than Argo in depicting the consequences of US foreign policy and what we had to give up to get revenge on one man.

    Unfortunately for it it was dogged by bullshit accusations of glorifying torture when in fact it does just the opposite, so it would have been deliciously ironic if Michelle read that name as the winner.

  • John||

    That would have been great. And Argo was just a good movie. I don't think it was great. I don't think it was deep. But it was a really well made entertaining movie that was very enjoyable to watch.

    I didn't see all of the movies up for the award. I would like to see Zero Dark Thirty but haven't. It may be better. That said, Argo is more deserving some of the other crap films that have won in recent years.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Nowadays I divide movies into "suck" and "don't suck." Argo doesn't suck.

    Most movies nowadays flunk the Ebert test - watching them is not an improvement over watching paint dry (or is it watching the actors eating lunch?).

    So I tend to grade on a curve, and when a non-suck movie like Lincoln or Argo comes around I'm just so very grateful that my enjoyment is increased.

  • A Serious Man||

    I would have been happy with Life of Pi winning because Ang Lee really deserved that Best Director Oscar since, if you've read the book, pulling off an adaptation of that novel so well is almost a miracle.

    But after giving the award to The Artist last year I don't think they wanted to give another relatively obscure movie the award, so they went mainstream.

  • ||

    Ang Lee has almost redeemed himself for totally ass-raping the Hulk... but not quite yet.

  • ||

    I wish I knew how to quit you, Dr. Banner...

  • ||

    No love for Lincoln?

  • A Serious Man||

    Lincoln and Amour were the only Best Picture nominees I hadn't seen.

    I dunno, Spielberg has a tendency to drench his movies with overly sentimental crap but I may revise my opinion after seeing it whenever it becomes Red Box available.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Lincoln had a great acting performance, but the movie itself was terribly made. It wasn't sure what it really wanted to be about: procedural about how the 13th ammendment got passed? A reflection on the tension between Lincoln's public life and his home life? Relating the history of the civil war? A biopic?

    It tried doing everything and as a result didn't do any of them particularly well.

  • Timrek||

    I, unlike many other libertarians here, am a big fan of Lincoln, and i agree with you. While its a much better film than crap like The English Patient or American Beauty it lacks real focus. Furthermore a in depth look at the Emancipation Proclamation would have been more interesting as it was bigger test of wartime Executive Power and thus a bit more timely. Finally, Spielberg really blew it with the ending. Everything after Lincoln got the gloves and walked out as the butler watched was unneeded padding.

  • John||

    Someone needs to explain to Nick that being ironic is not art, it is criticism. Art is creating something, that while maybe when taken as a whole makes an ironic statement, on its own terms takes itself seriously. It is a subtle difference but an important one.

  • lap83||

    I don't think hipsters are aware of that difference.

  • Zeb||

    There is no difference. I hate it when someone decides that they get to be the arbiter of what is or is not art.

  • Zeb||

    "being ironic is not art, it is criticism"

    Why can't it be both? Irony most certainly can be used in art. And art can be used as criticism.

    Saying that such-and-such is not art is always a bad idea. Anything can be art.

  • John||

    I am not saying art can't be ironic and irony isn't a legitimate part of art. But there is a difference between something that has the effect of being ironic and something that comes out and says it is ironic.

    Think of Dr. Strangelove. There is a movie that uses irony. It is a comedy about nuclear war. But the characters in the script are not trying to be ironic and don't think of themselves as ironic. Buck Turgensen is a funny character, but he never considers himself to be anything but a real go war air force general. But the overall effect of the movie is very ironic. That is different than what Tarantino does which is write characters who seem to know that what they are doing is really irony.

  • MJGreen||

    Django is not ironic. Waltz's character doesn't think of himself as ironic, though Waltz has that charm that feels like he's winking at the audience.

    The movie takes itself pretty seriously. Kill Bill is an example of what you're talking about. Django Unchained is not.

  • ||

    The line is "Argo fuck yourself". Fuck.

  • Hugh Akston||

    That was the original title. But the Nick had to issue a formal apology to Ben Affleck and the Academy.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Tarantino's movies typically pull double duty like the best art always does. Which is to say, they're both interesting in and of themselves while adding on a level of meta-commentary and criticism about how the best art operates. They thus incorporate a faithful evocation of an original while allowing—or forcing—the viewer to think about the generic conventions and cliches we use to convey supposedly unique moments of meaning. Call it the Madame Bovary effect" etc. etc.

    Yeah, that, plus I like the parts where people get their asses kicked or stuff gets blowed up.

    Blowed up real good!

  • John||

    Which is to say, they're both interesting in and of themselves while adding on a level of meta-commentary and criticism about how the best art operates.

    There is another place where Nick doesn't understand art. He thinks that beating you over the head with the "meta commentary" is art. No, that is criticism. Art makes that statement by doing something else. It doesn't make the meta commentary, it does something that causes the audience to make it themselves.

  • gaijin||

    so, Bruce Willis, best actor or what?!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    There's certainly a good argument to be made that Tarantino's pre-Inglourious Basterds work was too insufferably "cool" and "hip." But I think since Basterds Tarantino has actually started to understand how to incomporate his love exploitation cinema into actual movies (not post-modern schlock like Kill Bill, or dare I say?, Pulp Fiction).

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Maybe I'm too hard on Pulp Fiction. It is what it is, but why re-make it with Kill Bill.

  • Cytotoxic||

    They are both excellent shut your whore mouth.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Jackie Brown was his best pre-Basterds movie. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs were certainly well-crafted neo-exploitation flicks, but I don't think they have aged well. I will never watch Kill Bill ever again.

  • SIV||

    Reservoir Dogs is his best picture.

  • T||

    Jackie Brown sucks hairy dog balls. Even Pam Grier couldn't make that turd watchable. Tarantino owes me money for that interminable evening I spent watching that POS.

  • Blueman||

    "Jackie Brown was his best pre-Basterds movie."

    This

  • Libertymike||

    Okay, Cyto, you get some props for appreciating Tarantino's work.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I love Tarantino and liked Django but it was hardly my favorite of Tarantino's ouvre. I preferred Argo, but I had a real problem with its taking historical liberties. ZD30 was much better and a great film. The Hobbit was good but should have been better.

  • John||

    I missed The Hobbit too. I am a sucker for those films. So I am sure I would have liked it.

  • A Serious Man||

    The Hobbit seemed kind of pointless to me since 1. we know what's going to happen and 2. the stakes are so much lower.

    I'm not sure I want to see Part II and III which will explore the Tolkien legendarium since I was never that into Tolkien.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Uh, scads of people in the audience already knew what was going to happen in the LOTR movies. The Hobbit's problem is that it's being drawn out into 3 movies.

    I was one of the few book-LOTR fans who totally understood why PJ left out huge swaths of the book material...because he had to to keep the story moving and prevent the audience from getting bored. And now he's doing the exact opposite with the Hobbit.

  • ||

    Dredd was surprisingly good.

  • ||

    The result is a sort of "innocent homosexuality,

    Yeah this is bullshit.

    Literary criticism circles are populated by women, homosexuals and social hermits. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Male bonding among mammals exists, one does not question when two male lions join forces to split the spoils of meat and lionesses is anything more then survival, 2 are better then one. Why is bonding among human males viewed very different?

    Why assume some secret homosexual context when nature rewards brohood? One would assume it exists and would appear in our letters.

  • John||

    Yeah it is funny how they would be offended if you assume that every female character in a work of fiction is sleeping with a male protagonist. Yet, they totally assume that any bonding among males is really homosexuality.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Along with the implication that pre-pubescent boys prefering to be around other boys rather than girls has something to do with homosexuality, rather than having similar interests and preferred kinds of play and a weak or nonexistent sex drive which is not powerful enough to overcome that.

    In fact, back when homosexuality was considered mental illness by the psychological elites, one of the arguments was precisely that, that homosexuality was a case of stunted mental development since pre-pubescent boys also like other boys.

  • John||

    That I think also stems from the constant desire of Hollywood to sexualize children. There is nothing homosexual about pre-pubescent boys bonding because they are not yet fully sexual creatures. Once Hollywood sexualizes them, they have to be homosexuals.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Hollywood sexualizes EVERYTHING, even inanimate objects.

  • ||

    Could you provide some examples for the class?

  • Timrek||

    "Could you provide some examples for the class."

    Sexy feather duster - Beauty and the Beast
    Sexy Porsche - Cars
    Sexy robot - Wall-E
    There are others in morning cartoons and old Don Bluth movies as well. This of course doesn't even begin to touch on the animals that are sexualized in countless Disney and non-Disney animated movies.

  • ||

    I think that's less about "sexualizing children" and more animators who like to draw sexy characters. Most modern cartoons have inside jokes and references that only an adult would understand.

  • ||

    I was mainly referring to John talking about Hollywood sexualizing children and particularly homo-sexualizing pre-pubescent boys.

    I don't think that they're sexualizing inanimate objects in those cases so much as personifying and people have romantic/sexual entanglements. This is what sexualizing inanimate objects looks like.

  • ||

    Could you provide some examples for the class.

    This is from the video game World of Warcraft:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeAJ4mlcPyA

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It's funny though, in a way Hollywood has cleaned up its act in the era of Internet porn. It used to be that one of the few socially acceptable ways to see nude women, other than your wife, was at the movies. So a large part of Hollywood was catering to men's desire for nudeflesh.

    Nowadays, anyone who wants totally anonymous nudeflesh (and more) can get it instantly for free, or at least for less than the cost of a movie ticket if you want quality stuff. So that genre of skin flicks is slowly dying off, since the only audience you gain is creeps who really want to get off in a theater.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    There is nothing homosexual about pre-pubescent boys bonding because they are not yet fully sexual creatures.

    First of all, Tom and Huck weren't pre-pubescent. In the books, they were 13 and 14. Secondly, I think they were referring more to the relationship between Huck and Jim.

    If my 13-year old son ran off with an older dude....

  • John||

    Back in the day, people were not defined by their sexuality. There actually were innocent relationships. Amazingly enough, straight men could actually befriend and mentor boys and people thought it was a good thing.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Back in the day, people were not defined by their sexuality.

    Oh? Remember, in Huck Finn, Jim is a slave. The stereotype of the hyper-sexual Black man was alive and well during Twain's time and wouldn't have gone unnoticed by Twain's readers. Considering one of the messages of Huck Finn was "slavery is wrong", the episode with Huck and Jim was an attempt to show that by having nothing bad happen to Huck.

  • John||

    True HM. But the reason it made its point is because people considered black men to be crazed sex fiends. Now we consider all men to be that way and assume the worst.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But the reason it made its point is because people considered black men to be crazed sex fiends. Now we consider all men to be that way and assume the worst.

    PROGRESS!!!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Ugh. Another humanities PhD in the mix.

    The stereotype of the hyper-sexual Black man was alive and well during Twain's time and wouldn't have gone unnoticed by Twain's readers.

    And even less unnoticed by shockjock English PhDs 125 years later who want to show how much smarter they are than the common man.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What's your point? Everything "olde-tyme" was innocent and devoid of subtext?

    Or do you just want to engage in some "Two Cultures" pissing and moaning?

  • ||

    The west has a pretty extensive history of the grown man mentor/young man mentee relationship being sexual, I don't think you can really make an appeal to history on this one.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The west has a pretty extensive history of the grown man mentor/young man mentee relationship being sexual, I don't think you can really make an appeal to history on this one.

    Huh? Ancient Greece is not all of western history. And even they didn't approve of penetrative sex between men for the most part, it was all frottage.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Ancient Greece is not all of western history.

    You're right, it's just the origin of our entire civilization.

    And even they didn't approve of penetrative sex between men for the most part, it was all frottage.

    I don't see how the mechanics of the situation matters. jesse is talking about the long history of the cultural trope of the erastes and eromenos, which, at times, even flourished in the Church.

  • ||

    And because C. S. Lewis is a more trustworthy source than I: Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

    Pederasty among the lower classes was not "side." ir at keast bit seruiys sude; not like putting one's hands in one's pockets or wearing one's coat unbuttoned.
  • Libertymike||

    to a NAMBLA conference?

  • Killazontherun||

    "You told my son, 'Look kid, that chick is totally bullshitting you. You want the tang don't be a chump'?" is the conversation I have learned to avoid over the years.

  • ||

    If my 13-year old son ran off with an older dude....

    Huck was abused and imprisoned by his father then escaped...then after faking his own murder (and framing his abusive father for it) and hiding away runs into Jim a run away slave.

    This does not look like a story of a gay older man kidnapping a boy to me.

    Why can't we take the story for what it is?

    Two fugitives forming a bond in order to aid in preserving their mutual survival and freedom?

  • ||

    I should also point out Huck endured the constraints of civilization up until his father beat and imprisoned him for it.

    I think Nick is wrong about Huck fulfilling some Peter Pan complex. The point of the narrative is to portray Huck as 'wild" and therefor able to form a natural moral view that sees the true evil of slavery.

    It is a liberation narrative completely in tune with the naturalist classical liberalism of Mark Twain's time...weird that Nick missed that (or ignored it) to be honest.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    My Name Is Earl reference?

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    One word for this: projection. Hunters who share a tent? Gay Priests who don't get married? Gay. Anti-feminists? Gay. Animals? Gay. The army? Gay.

  • Fluffy||

    Priests are pretty fucking gay, dude.

    As is the Navy.

  • ||

    What exactly is gay about salty seamen on the poopdeck?

  • Agammamon||

    Well the Army *is* gay. Unlike the Navy - except for the submariners. Aviation aren't gay either, they're just pussies.

  • Redmanfms||

    except for the submariners.

    Eat shit floater.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Why assume some secret homosexual context when nature rewards brohood?

    I blame Socrates.

  • Zeb||

    "nature rewards brohood"

    Does it? I don't think you see a lot of male lions sharing either food or females with each other. Even in species where more than one adult male is part of a group, such as wolves, there is a definite order of dominance. Not exactly brotherhood. If we looked to nature for normal behavior then men should probably all be serial rapists and infanticide should be allowed.

    But, people are generally a lot more cooperative than other social animals and bro-hood is good and doesn't mean the gay.

  • Timrek||

    Not true. Many of the largest and most successful lion prides are headed by two or three males, often but not always brothers, who work to together and share mates. Similar relationships exist in chimpanzee groups and killer whale pods.

  • Agammamon||

    Brotherhood doesn't mean that there isn't a hierarchy or an uneven split of resources.

  • Libertarius||

    Of Tarentino I can say that at least he picks a great director to emulate in all his projects (Sergio Leone) and a prolific, masterful composer to use in his films (Ennio Morricone).

  • ||

    Morricone's score in 'Cinema Paradiso' was divine. I'm crying as I type this...

  • Jack-it||

    Come on, you read to much into QT's movies.
    The guy loves movies and the ten year old in him never grew up.
    That is why we see the splatter and the heads exploding.
    Fascinating on how people take QT's movies more seriously then he does.

  • Killazontherun||

    Exactly. You might as well be writing a literary essay on Cowboy Bebop. I find QT's movies hugely entertaining, but at the same time, everything he has done post Jackie Brown has been really fucking stupid in terms of plot and world view. Idiots like me should be enjoying this stuff, not the Academy.

  • John||

    He is sort of the Jon Stewart of film making. In the same way Stewart makes a comedy show that his audience swears is real news, Tarantino makes unserious but entertaining movies that his audience want to pretend is high art.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Tarantino makes unserious but entertaining movies that his audience want to pretend is high art.

    These are the same people who are convinced that Andy Warhol is a fucking genius and not some no-talent-hack.

  • Zeb||

    Again, why not both? He was a genius in being able to be considered an artistic genius, while by many standards he was a hack (I wont say untalented because he actually was a decent designer and draftsman before he got into being a weirdo). His fame and was the work of art, not the junk he sold.

  • Fluffy||

    I actually think it's the reverse.

    Since Tarantino is not really that concerned with making high art, he makes it incidentally, as a feature of what interests him, because he's a smart guy who's unable to not do stuff well.

    You think Euripides was focusing on making "high art"? Nope.

    Pulp Fiction is an amazing examination of the concepts of friendship and loyalty. If you sat down to make a "serious movie" about those concepts, you couldn't really do a better job of it than Tarantino did by taking the piss.

  • Agammamon||

    Funny thing is that for *8* years Stewart had a real news show. Then Obama got elected and he turned it into a parody again.

  • d_remington||

    Was it really all that more real during those 8 years, or was it the same shit that it is now, only we hated bush so much we didn't really see it, then? (And also the concept was a bit more novel at the time.)

  • ||

    Umm...

    What is high art?

    Why should high art be analyzed but not low art?

    Pulp and popular entertainment often have larger audiences then serious work...shouldn't we look harder at stuff that people actually read and watch and listen too rather then the stuff only elites look at?

  • Drake||

    I'm going to love this post in 8 months or so when all these movies hit cable.

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    "post racial."
    What a utopia we live in. A black man cqan go on a rampage against the police department, but if he cries about racism, everybody will take his side. Why was the man fired? Why was he hired. I have an idea.....

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    I read that the audiance at the opening was over half black. Post racial....

  • Zeb||

    Go fuck yourself.

  • ||

    I read that the audience at the opening was over half black.

    The white, age 16 to 25, male demographic pirated the movie rather then going to the theater.

  • RightNut||

    Not sure how anyone could like Inglorious Basterds. I'll admit at times it was brilliant, pretty much any scene with Christoph Waltz, but the ending really killed the film for me. I enjoyed Django a great deal more than Inglorious Basterds, although if the shootout towards the end of Django had gone any longer I may have changed my opinion. In a way Tarentino is his own worst enemy, and I don't just mean his terrible attempts at acting in his own movies. Tarentino's desire to leave his mark in a genre of film, instead of simply trying to make a good film, ends up detracting from his work.

  • phandaal||

    Pulp Fiction. That's the only Tarantino movie I've ever been able watch more than once, and it's a really damn good film.

    I tuned out of Inglorious Basterds, honestly. It got really boring after a while and just kind of trailed off into an unsatisfying conclusion. But yeah, Christoph Waltz. Where did that guy come from?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    but the ending really killed the film for me

    What part didn't you like?

  • RightNut||

    To be more precise, the movie theater massacre. Its vintage Tarentino to be sure, but it was also stupid, needless, ham-handed, and just pulled me right out of the movie. It was sorta like a big neon sign appeared in front of the screen and kept flashing "A FILM BY QUENTIN TARENTINO!!!!!!". Django had a couple of mercifully quick moments like that, but they were few and far between for the most part.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I do agree it was ham-handed. Still, for me, gunning down Hitler was the money shot.

  • Fluffy||

    Here's the thing about that.

    Upthread we're questioning whether Tarantino's films are "serious" or just shlock.

    To me, the central observation of Inglorious Basterds is that movies about history are always inaccurate - either because of the limits of the filmmaker's talent or budget, or in the service of dramatic wish-fulfillment. Every last WWII movie made from 1941 to 1980 or so exists in this weird environment where cause and effect and the passage of time are kind of suspended in the service of plot.

    So Tarantino said, "What if instead of making up fake history accidentally, I do it deliberately and make the craziest end to the movie I can think of?"

    And it's just a goof. But in being just a goof, it's a better commentary on the history of film than stuff people do when they're trying to be "serious". Any other filmmaker in the world sits down to make a movie about the falsity of history in film, it turns into a fucking PBS special. Tarantino is actually able to do it as a MOVIE.

  • SugarFree||

    The most troubling thing I find when watching a Tarantino film in the theater is that I'm usually the only one laughing. Do people really not get how funny his movies are?

    The pre-KKK joke sequence alone was funnier than most comedies managed to fill an entire movie with.

  • Gladstone||

    Gillespie = Hipster Douchebag.

    So is his next film going to be some Indian or female revenge fantasy?

  • Gladstone||

    Of course he would have to rip ironically ripoff some 1970s B-movie to do that. Billy Jack remake?

  • John||

    Billy Jack is screaming to be remade. They redid Walking Tall, why not Billy Jack. The other one is Sugarland Express, although I am not sure even Tarantino has to balls to touch a Spielberg flick.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm boycotting Hollywood until they finally get on track with the Beastmaster remake.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Why do you hate America?

  • phandaal||

    That would be magnificent.

    Honestly, whoever makes it should just keep the same plot and upgrade the sets and special effects.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    After the American Indian revenger fantasy, I vote for a Tarantino Irish revenge fantasy starring Basterds alum Michael Fassbender. I'd call it The Fightin' Irish.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Indignant Potato Eaters?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Gaelic Gore Fest from Planet Dublin

  • Agammamon||

    Sounds more like a Robert Rodriguez title.

  • John||

    You could do that easy. Just remake Inglorious Bastards only with the protagonists IRA bombers in the 70s. Hollywood loves to make hate the Brit films and Tarantino loves to recycle existing material. It is perfect.

  • Gladstone||

    So what should the time period for the Irish Revenge Fantasy? Wolfe Tone? Draft Riots? Phoenix Park? Easter Rebellion? The Independence War? The Irish Civil War? (waiting for Nick to gush over it instead of the Wind that Shakes the Barley)

    Of course Hackatino should make a film about the recent Troubles. That wouldn't upset people in Northern Ireland at all!

  • John||

    Wasn't Gangs of New York a period Irish Revenge fantasy?

  • Libertymike||

    John, we had Born Losers, Billy Jack and The Trial of Billy Jack. I believe that there was also an unfinished The Return of Billy Jack.

    You want more?

    Don't get me wrong, I loved Born Losers, Billy Jack and The Trial of Billy Jack.

  • John||

    Don't you find it surprising they have never been remade?

  • Gladstone||

    Probably because of Tom Laughlin.

  • Gladstone||

    The Trial of Billy Jack is screaming for a remake. Hackatino could turn into a revenge fantasy for 1970s campus radicals and end it with Nixon being assassinated and Ho Chi Minh peacefully taking Saigon. Add in lots of anti-Nixon speechifying, Native American mysticism and anti-capitalism and viola masterpiece that Nick will gush over in order to prove he is down with TEH YUTES.

  • John||

    It is surprising someone in Hollywood hasn't remade Extremities.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So is his next film going to be some Indian or female revenge fantasy?

    The Indian/Hispanic revenge fantasies he leaves to his friend Robert Rodriguez; though I think QT would have done a much better job at remaking I Spit on Your Grave.

  • RightNut||

    The Indian/Hispanic revenge fantasies he leaves to his friend Robert Rodriguez;

    Which group was Shark Boy and Lava Girl for?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Both, obviously.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    That's reality, not fantasy.

  • SugarFree||

    Yuck it up. This new handle will be banned so enough, you Nazi piece of shit.

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    I believe in America. The America I was born in. Not Somalia. Not Mexico. America. All nations in the world except for America and Europe want to preserve themselves. I guess their all "nazis" too.

  • SugarFree||

    blah blah blah

  • Zeb||

    God, you suck. How can a nation want anything?

  • SugarFree||

    Don't worry about it, Zeb. He's been trying to get us to sign on to his Neo-Nazi White Power A3P nonsense for years, under a variety of handles. He'll push it a little too far like he always does, get banned, and be back with a new handle in a few weeks.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I only dislike you and want half your land.

  • Redmanfms||

    That's your not black side talking.....

  • RightNut||

    "our" land? Which land is "our" land again?

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    Do you own any land? HWITTE PRIVAGE!!!!!

  • ||

    Do you or do you not own the entire country?

  • ||

    Gillespie = Hipster Douchebag.

    Gillespie is too old to be a hipster.

    He is one of those 1980's academics that read Kathy Acker and studied postmodern critical theory.

    Some of the hipster culture can trace its roots to this but i think a distinction should be made between people who actually read books and just idiots in old cloths who start bee farms in the city.

  • Libertymike||

    Far and Away (not the 1993 snoozefest) the best films of 2012 I viewed:

    1. The Hunger Games
    2. Silver Linings Playbook
    3. Jchango
    4. Life of Pi

  • phandaal||

    You left Hotel Transylvania out of that list. Honest mistake, I'm sure.

  • Fluffy||

    Jennifer Lawrence will have her restraining order filed any day now.

  • ||

    Django was good but had a lot of flaws. The plot felt forced and had some holes that broke the immersiveness of the film. The comedic relief scene with Jonah Hill dragged on torturously and the film would probably have been better without any of it.

    Tarantino's last three major films (Kill Bill, Basterds, Django) have had the same plot structure:

    1. Classic aggrieved minority gets revenge fantasy (battered woman, Jews during WWII, slave)

    2. Hero is caught right before reaching goal (buried alive, captured by Hans Landa, captured at the house)

    3. Hero does unexpected action because of principles at the end (kills Bill even though he has been taking care of their daughter and is revealed to be not such a bad guy after all, cuts swastika into Hans Landa's head even though he helped kill Hitler, Schultz shoots Candie even though they are getting away with Hilda)

    In my opinion Inglourious Basterds should get Best Picture far before Django Unchained.

    As to Nick's assessment of the movie's meta-criticism, I think it's mostly bullshit. My take on Tarantino is he is a guy who just wants to make cool movies. Part of that formula is using nostalgic styles as the jumping off point, but I don't really see his movies "critiquing" those styles. They are just touchstones that lend a layer of cool to his movies, in the exact same way that the soundtrack and the gore do.

  • RightNut||

    Ya Nick is giving Tarentino way way to much credit. Tarentino knows what he is doing for sure, but if you asked him about the meta-critique or whatever I'm sure he'd tell you he did it because he thought it would look cool on film.

  • Liberty Reloaded||

    Hey guys, I'm back!!!! Where's my daughter at?

    To start out, would you be happy living in a majority NAM neighborhood? Then why would you be happy living a a majority white nation.

  • ||

    Fuck no, those manufacturers and their union should stay the fuck out of MY neighborhood.

  • Zeb||

    What the fuck is NAM, you racist shittard?

  • ||

    National Association of Manufacturers, obviously.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The 'NAM.

    You had to have been there, man.

  • ||

    Someone mentioned Morricone earlier.

    Anyone can name all the scenes in this clip from Cinema Paradiso?

    Anyways, epic ending to a film like Rushmore.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZLKfdJ19go

  • Fluffy||

    The Harvey cut of Cinema Paradiso is in my top 5 films all time.

    If anyone is actually able to list all the movies in that final reel of clips, I'd love to see it.

  • ||

    I don't know why but it makes me...yearn...like Kramer.

    It's such a moving film it literally chokes me up everytime.

  • ||

    By the way, I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't enjoy or wasn't moved by this movie. Reminds me of how Shawshank just touched the right nerve with viewers.

  • Brandybuck||

    Speaking of the disgust in the other thread, violent movies disgust me. I'm fine with movies that have violence in them, but am totally turned off by movies that glorify the violence for the sake of violence. This includes not only teen slasher flics, but also most films by Tarantino. I got about halfway through Reservoir Dogs before I had to shut it off and return it to the video store. Never had an interest in seeing Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction because of it.

    Stylistic punchfests are fine (like kung fu flics). Brief violence for the purpose of the story is fine (like The Watchmen). But graphic violence for the sake of graphic violence just turns me off. I guess this makes me a conservative instead of libertarian. And yes, Tarantino's revenge flics are still about graphic violence for the sake of graphic violence. The whole point of the movies is that the heroes are on a quest to engage in graphic violence.

    This underscores the Haidt's disgust theory, because most people I know who are rabid Tarantino fines are extremely liberal. I used to think that it was just some sort of repressed something that made the hand wringing kind hearted people dig the graphic violence, but now I think it might just be a lack of disgust.

  • John||

    It is just pornography. Pornography may turn you on, but it is not art. In the same way, watching violence can be exciting, but that doesn't make it art much less good art.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Graphic violence isn't automatically lurid and low-brow. Look at Goya's The Disasters of War. It is a brilliant commentary on the horrific nature of war that wouldn't have nearly as much impact if the brutality depicted in the scenes weren't realistically and unflinchingly portrayed. Goya produced these prints in a time before war photography, when most people couldn't see the aftermath of a war unless they were present at a certain battle.

  • Fluffy||

    If it was just pornography, there'd be no difference between Reservoir Dogs and a Rob Zombie movie.

    The violence in Reservoir Dogs really isn't cartoon movie violence meant to be enjoyed. The scene near the beginning where Tim Roth has been shot in the gut and squeals in the back seat of the car for what seems like 20 minutes in a row is one of the most uncomfortable, least "cinematic" depictions of violence I've ever seen on screen.

    Although I will admit I laughed when Michael Madsen did his little dance before he cut off the cop's ear.

  • ||

    The only reason people like John think pornography is separate from art is because no one has done a classy enough porn.

  • ||

    Here's a really great article on Django Unchained and Afrigan American folklore.

    Whether Tarantino recognizes it or not, Django relies on tropes that have long been a part of the working-class African-American memory of slavery and its aftermath.

    Enlarge Image The Kobal Collection
    The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972)
    The Kobal Collection
    The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972)

    As other scholars have pointed out, Django borrows from three blaxploitation films of the 1970s, The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) and its sequels, The Soul of Nigger Charley (1973) and Boss Nigger (1975). Indeed, Tarantino faithfully copies whole scenes, visible on YouTube, from those movies. Boss Nigger has a long scene of two black men riding into a rural Western town as white people look up in silent awe and horror. Django uses an almost identical scene to show us the main character's conversion from slave to bounty hunter. Later in Boss Nigger, two seated black characters demand service at a bar. One pretends to be completely unaware that they are violating the conventions of the antebellum South. Django reproduces the same scene with a white and a black character.

  • ||

  • Gladstone||

    Hackatino rips off some 1970s B-Movies. Film at 11.

  • Fluffy||

    BTW the ending of Saving Private Ryan is not contemptible.

  • ||

    Apparently it isn't ironic enough for Nick.

  • phandaal||

    Saving Private Ryan blows Inglorious Basterds out of the water in just about every category besides irony, actually.

  • ||

    In sheer entertainment value, it does not.
    But it doesn't really make sense to compare them. One is trying to be cool, the other is trying to be emotional and serious. Apples and oranges.

  • phandaal||

    Saving Private Ryan beats Inglorious Basterds in entertainment value for me, and it did for the people I watched IB with. SPR was engrossing from start to finish, and IB was a chore to finish.

    This is all subjective, of course, as any movie's value is.

  • ||

    In sheer entertainment value, it does not.

    The first 30 min of Saving Private Ryan and the 30 min battle scene at the end were pretty fucking entertaining.

    War is spectacular.

    Pretty sure the Call of Duty and Battlefield video game franchises are to this day still milking the hell out that entertainment value.

    As a visceral experience Saving Private Ryan was a Game changer in the entrainment industry.

    But i think Nick does make a good point...in terms of cerebral rather then visceral entrainment Inglorious Bastards wins...Which is ironic as Private Ryan is serious while Bastards is Pulp.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And The Great Escape was great. Sorry if it wasn't postmodern enough.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But it is maudlin.

  • Fluffy||

    It's maudlin, but it's a genuine sentiment. And it's one of Spielberg's best insights.

    All of us stand at the top of a pyramid of suffering and blood that was all, in a sense, done "for us". Do we deserve it? Do we even worry about deserving it?

    Not really.

    That's what makes it so maudlin - because we see one guy actively worrying about it for, you know, a few seconds.

  • ||

    BTW the ending of Saving Private Ryan is not contemptible.

    last 40 min of Saving Private Ryan:

    Jew being gutted by Nazi who shushes him as he dies, men blowing up into pieces by their own sticky bombs, Sniper in tower praying to god while killing a score of men until he gets blown to hell by a panzer tank, cowered redeems himself by murdering a prisoner of war, wounded commander takes on a panzer tank with a 1911 until his last breath..

    Then cut too

    Crying old man at the grave yard with his family...

    Yeah that is contemptible.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's what makes it so maudlin - because we see one guy actively worrying about it for, you know, a few seconds.

    ...for our entertainment.

  • Fluffy||

    Yes, of course.

    So what?

    The destruction of the Lodz ghetto in Schindler's List is moving, too, despite the fact that it's done for our entertainment.

    The sentiment is the sentiment, regardless.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The destruction of the Lodz ghetto in Schindler's List is moving, too, despite the fact that it's done for our entertainment.

    And that is even more fraught with the problematic morals that Gillespie finds "contemptible". I believe his point was that at least QT is honest in admitting that his depictions of hyper-violence are to titillate and entertain, as opposed to someone like Spielberg, who claims to higher aspirations with his art.

  • phandaal||

    Anyone who's personally seen the effect of modern weaponry on the human body wouldn't think the violence in Saving Private Ryan is there to titillate. It's entirely accurate to show disgusting, sudden mutilations happening to people in combat.

  • Fluffy||

    You want to make a spegettti western, just make one.

    That can't be done.

    The reason spaghetti westerns are the way that they are is because the guys who made them were marginally competent Italian dudes who didn't really know anything about the American West.

    In order to make a movie like they made, you'd have to be a native Italian speaker who knew no American history or geography.

    As soon as you identify the genre, you can't imitate it, you can only homage it. Because the guys inside the genre didn't know they were inside a genre, and you do.

  • ||

    That is the curse of post-modernism in art. Once we are aware of the existence of conventions within a genre (and others are aware that we are aware of them), we can either subvert them or play them straight with a subtle wink at the audience; anything else seems to show that the creator doesn't acknowledge the convention's existence, and marks them as essentially uncreative and dull-witted. "Don't you know that's been done before?" is a death knell for creative types, so they have to say "Well, obviously", preferably in-medium, in order to save face.

  • ||

    The White man does sacrifice himself for the Black couple but i think there is more going on there.

    King Schultz is motivated by the medieval European tale of Sigfried a very different sensibility then what motivated Huck Finn

    All his adult life King has hunted and killed men for money...His redemption motive was for an ideal that is older and alien to Django's American liberation narrative.

  • ||

    Actually he sacrifices himself because he hates the evil plantation owner, after he had already helped save Django and Hilda. In fact, they would have gotten away a lot easier if he had just shook Candie's hand instead of shooting him.

  • An0nB0t||

    That's just a bit of a problem with Tarantino's script. He has to get the heroic German out of the way so that the courageous black freeman can save himself and his woman, but first the German has to get himself killed and very nearly get Django tortured and killed as well. Oh, and in the process he ensures that two of the three most interesting characters in the film die within seconds of one another.

    I love Tarantino and consider him one of the most subtle and delicate directors around (no sarcasm), but Django was a train wreck that desperately needed another draft, an editor with the moral courage to red-line about half the script, and someone, anyone who holds enough regard for cinema to tell Tarantino not to cast himself as one of the Three Stooges.

  • XM||

    I heard some great things about the Kill Bill films. Then I found that they were your typical manga where many story arc boils down to stylized duels (fighting and long cryptic conversation) the between hero and a overstylized villain. Bill's crew is Akatsuki for grownups.

    I don't know what Inglorous Basterds was. Nothing about the crew even remotely says "Jewsih assassins." All the interesting characters were German. Most of that movie is about eating pastry, drinking milk, and making veiled threats.

    I'm jaded, because 90% of "can't miss" movies are duds. I only sort of liked Inception. Tarantino is overrated, I'll watch Django on TNT next summer. For free.

  • ||

    In his 1948 essay, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!," Fiedler posited that much of classic American literature revolved around a juvenile fantasy in which white boys flee from what is inevitably figured in explicitly female terms as civilized adulthood. Again and again, observed Fiedler, at the heart of "classic" American tales, you find a white male who runs away in the company of a dark Other rather than submit to the pressures of living an engaged, responsible adult life. The result is a sort of "innocent homosexuality," or a pre-pubescent fantasy in which boys can always stay boys, having adventures out of reach of girls. The archetypes include Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook in Coopers's Leatherstocking Tales, Ishmael and Queequeg in Moby-Dick, and, of course Huck Finn and his slave companion Jim.

    So you have these naturalist classical liberal narratives that talk about natural morality, rejection of civilization (government), and racial tolerance (whites and non-whites forming brotherly bonds)...and so Marxist Fiedler writes an essay that calls them childish and gay...

    I think we may have found the equivalent of the 40's version of a terrible internet troll.

  • Libertarius||

    Tarentino is a hack and a ripoff artist, not unlike those who are against IP. His work did not deserve to be graced with the greatness of Ennio Morricone.

  • Reverendcaptain||

    The "n" word, as we say these days, didn't bother me but Django was a terrible movie. Tarantino is always commenting on movies. That's his thing. But he's not making any comments that are interesting anymore. There was nothing new or interesting in this last movie. It was simply wish fulfillment.

    And the only reason that it's getting all the praise is that people can finally understand that slavery was bad. So glad we got a movie to let us know that.

  • Old Johnnie Goggabie||

  • abercrombie brussel||

    thanks for posting your articles so often, every day i access your website and check for updates.abercrombie

  • rubias||

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