Thursday, November 19, 2015

Django Unchained (2012)

Number Rolled: 46
Movie Name/Year: Django Unchained (2012)
Tagline: Life, liberty and the pursuit of vengeance.
Genre: Drama
Length: 165 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures
Executive Producer: Shannon McIntosh, Michael Shamberg, James W. Skotchdopole, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, David Steen, Dana Gourrier, Ato Essandoh, Sammi Rotibi, Escalante Lundy, Don Johnson, Franco Nero, Jonah Hill

Dr. King Schultz is looking for a slave that might know where he can find his bounty. He meets Django while the man is being transported to his new owners. From there, they form a partnership considered more than strange for their time.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie is awesome.

Of course, this wasn’t technically the first time I’d seen the film. My husband was watching Django Unchained one Saturday when I had to work. My desk and the TV are in the same room, so I had my headphones on to help me concentrate while I was writing. From time to time, a scene would catch my attention and I’d look up, zone in for about fifteen minutes then get back to work.

Long story short, I saw roughly an hour and a half of this film in nonconsecutive scenes about a year ago.

The first thing I noticed, after watching it in order, is that it makes so much more sense now! Scenes that I thought were really out of left field just clicked into place. Of course, that’s what happens when you watch a movie properly.

The acting in this film was outstanding.

Jamie Foxx (Annie, Horrible Bosses, Due Date) was ridiculous. Who would have known he could pull something like this off? He was incredible. Samuel L. Jackson (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Turbo, Avengers: Age of Ultron) transformed into a character so repugnant that it’s almost difficult to recognize him. Christoph Waltz (Carnage, The Zero Theorem, Muppets Most Wanted) portrayed Dr. Schultz in such a way that it was impossible to not get emotionally invested in him. Kerry Washington (Scandal, A Thousand Words, Lakeview Terrace) made for an ethereal and engaging love interest.

Finally, Leonard DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street, Inception, Blood Diamond) was out-right robbed. Do you know what award he won for his stellar performance in this film? A National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actor. I just… no. I’m not going to get into my theories about the corrupt award ceremonies. We’re just going to move on and keep this about the film.

Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Natural Born Killers) delivered a fast-paced, deep, intense plot with incredible settings and acting that just can’t be beat. Not only that, he made a three hour film that didn’t make me feel like I wanted to bang my head against the wall out of boredom.

The man may have a screw loose, but there’s no doubting his talent.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’d heard good things about this movie – mostly praise, as I tried to avoid spoilers. The film also won an impressive stack of awards. I counted at least 52 awards on IMDb (not counting 2nd and 3rd place showings); and many more award nominations.

Just because a gazillion other people liked it, doesn’t always mean that I will. Though, with Quentin Tarantino (Grindhouse: Deathproof, Inglorious Basterds, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series), I generally have an expectation that I’ll be entertained.

This film delivered with both barrels.

The only downside I have to mention about this film was just its length. There was so much landscape in this movie, both figuratively with the writing and also literally; so I understand that it couldn’t necessarily be short. It doesn’t really take away from it, though – and with the Netflix platform, it’s not like you can’t pause the movie and then come back to it.

The story was compelling in this period piece, and the actors really fleshed out their characters brilliantly.

I can’t envision anyone other than Jamie Foxx (The Kingdom, Law Abiding Citizen, White House Down) in the role of Django. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tarantino wrote the part for him.

My favorite character in the film, however, was Dr. King Schultz. Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, The Three Musketeers, Epic) was phenomenal in this role. I loved his sense of humor, intelligence, and even the clipped and precisely enunciated way he spoke. The character was endearing and interesting.

That’s really just scratching the surface. There were so many fantastic performances here. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed, Shutter Island, J. Edgar), Kerry Washington (Mother and Child, The Details, Peeples), and Samuel L. Jackson (Oldboy, Robocop, Kite) didn’t disappoint in the least. It’s amusing to note that Jackson got to use his “favorite vocabulary,” once more, in this film.

On a final note, fans of Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) might recognize one of the actors here in Walton Goggins (Cowboys and Aliens, Lincoln, American Ultra). He played Venus Van Dam in the critically acclaimed FX series, and also Boyd Crowder in Justified (2010-2015). He’s slated to team up with Tarantino again in The Hateful Eight, currently expected to hit screens in December 2015.

I would definitely confirm that this movie is worthy of the accolades it received, and would gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 91%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

P.S. Short scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 16, 2015

After (2012)

Number Rolled: 49
Movie Name/Year: After (2012)
Tagline: N/A
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy (Netflix labels it Thriller)
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Quite Quick Productions, Seabourne Pictures
Executive Producers: Michael Gangwisch, Greg Ham, Scott Healy, Jason Parish, Chris Schmid
Director: Ryan Smith
Writer: Jason Parish, Ryan Smith
Actors: Steven Strait, Karolina Wydra, Madison Lintz, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Jackson Walker, Chase Presley, April Billingsley

Freddy and Ana wake up to a strange new world after surviving a bus crash. They work together to discover what is going on, and how to overcome some daunting obstacles.

Selina’s Point of View:
After was an interesting film.

I found myself thinking it was longer than it was, but I wasn’t bored. I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened. Normally when I think a movie is too long it’s because I’d rather be staring at a wall than watching it. I think I was just tired though so, moving on.

We’re going to have to stop for a minute and talk about Steven Strait (The Covenant, Magic City, Sleeping with the Fishes).

This is my first exposure to Strait, and I was impressed. Yes, he had some weird facial expressions from time to time, but I found him supremely likable anyway. I believe he made a relatable and interesting leading man. I want to see him in more movies.

That being said, the movie had some great moments.

I knew the underlying plot about five minutes in, but they twisted it into something I actually became invested in. In fact, I wouldn’t even label this movie a recipe film. Although the initial plot is overdone, it certainly takes it somewhere new and fresh.

Critics panned this film. This is one of those times when I absolutely believe the critics are wrong. After was a great film that deserves more recognition than it has gotten since its release.  

Cat’s Point of View:
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I hadn’t heard of it before; though, when I saw that I recognized the lead actors, my curiosity was piqued.

The dice have been steering us to quite a few movies, lately, that are focused on a pair of characters. The previous films had a more limited setting, focusing in on just the characters. This film was a bit more expansive – the town, itself seemed to be a third cast member.

I was just as confused as the characters as to what had happened. I enjoyed putting the pieces together as they did – unraveling the mystery of how these two people’s fates intertwined and why. Kudos to the writing team, here. The dialogue felt natural, and the revelation of plot points felt like moments of discovery rather than something being shoved in my direction.

I liked the casting choices they made with this film. Steven Strait (10,000 BC, Stop-Loss, City Island) has this intensity about him which is great for roles such as warlocks and mobsters, and at the same time he’s able to pull off goofy so adorably.  His character, here, pulls from a wide range – and he was definitely up to the task.

One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies is Sky High (2005); which was his debut film. I can’t wait to see what he does in the upcoming SyFy Channel show The Expanse (2015-) set for release in December.

Then, of course we can’t forget his co-star, Karolina Wydra (Sugar, Europa Report, Incarnate). I remember her as the powerful and jealously possessive vampire, Violet, from True Blood (2008-2014). This role was a decided departure from that sort of personality. She tapped into a vulnerability in this film, and I think she did a spectacular job. I will have to go and look up more of her work.

All in all, I loved this movie. It kept me guessing, and drew me in as the plot wove together to reveal its secrets. I would definitely recommend this film.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – none
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 38%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. Short scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer: