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Non-Review Review: Django Unchained

“They’ll call you the quickest gun in the South,” bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz remarks to the freed slave Django Freeman. The cliché would suggest that he meant to say “West”, but Django Unchained has its mind firmly on the Southern United States. Producing the film, writer-director Quentin Tarantino argued that he wanted to produce a “Southern” rather than a “Western”, and he has done an admirable job. However, what’s really remarkable about Django Unchained is the way that it balances Tarantino’s trademark grindhouse aesthetic with considerable mature nuance. Django Unchained is the story about two bounty hunters tracking down wanted men dead or alive, but it that doesn’t mean that it is afraid to tackle more substantive and challenging aspects of American history.

If you’d asked me whether I thought that Tarantino could produce a powerful and insightful exploration of slavery in the Deep South before I saw Inglourious Basterds, I would have hesitated before answering. Django Unchained is smart, sophisticated and thoughtful, but never pretentious, never pandering, never dull. In a rather unlikely way, it is the most mature film Tarantino has ever produced.

An ice cold killer...

An ice cold killer…

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Watch! New Django Unchained Trailer!

Okay, I’m still sore that Django Unchained isn’t opening here until next year, but a new trailer does a little bit to alleviate that. And, well, at least I’ll be getting my most anticipated movie of 2013 a little early, I suppose.

There’s not too much here we haven’t already seen, but everybody looks to having such a good time that I can’t help but feel a little more excited about the film. In particular, Leonardo DiCaprio looks like he’s having a whale of a time.

Watch! New Django Unchained Trailer!

I’m still hurting a bit from the decision to push Django Unchained‘s Irish release date into 2013. Then again, I shouldn’t be too disappointed – hopefully it’s worth the wait. Anyway, they’re released a new trailer for the film, and I have to agree with The Guardian when they suggest that Leonardo Dicaprio might prove a dark horse in the Best Supporting Actor race. Of course, as with most of the Oscar season excitement, I’ll only be catching up after the fact.

That One Role: Seeing a Star Differently…

I saw Magic Mike last week. And I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. Part of the fun of the film was revelling in a superb performance from Matthew McConaughey as the incredibly sleazy manager Dallas. Watching the film, I found it almost hard to believe that this was the same Matthew McConaughey who had headlined such nightmares as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Sahara, Failure to Launch, The Wedding Planner, Fool’s Gold and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, to keep the list brief. It’s amazing how one performance can really change your opinion of an actor’s abilities, serving as something of a revelation of talent and ability that maybe you had never really seen before.

It’s a kind of magic…

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Non-Review Review: Carnage

Carnage is pretty much an excuse to watch four very skilled actors ripping chunks out of one another. What’s not to like?

This means Warhol!

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Non-Review Review: The Three Musketeers (2011)

“Guilty pleasure.” That’s a phrase that feels strangely appropriate when referring to Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers. It’s silly and daft, and has two fairly fundamental flaws, on top of the cheesiness that’s going to divide audiences straight down the middle. However, despite these fairly central and hard-to-avoid problems, it also features a knowing self-awareness, an appealingly straight-forward approach to the fact that is so very silly, a (mostly) great cast and some rather wonderful steam-punk production design. It’s not going to appeal to everybody, but I actually warmed quite a bit to it.

Four of a kind?

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Non-Review Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is undoubtedly a well made film from a technical point of view. It stylishly evokes a collective memory of Depression-era America with a skilled romanticism, all beautifully staged and designed, scored with music clearly intended to tug at the heart-strings. However, despite the technical proficiency with which the film is crafted, it ends up feeling ultimately quite lifeless, and a little stale – like a mediocre circus, the movie is stylish and momentarily distracting, but it never manages to grasp its audience, or to engage.

He packed his trunk and said goodbye to the circus...

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