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Author Topic: Recent Movies Discussion
Jeff C.
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So a few notable movies have come out recently and I wanted to talk about them. Since I didn't want to make three separate threads to talk about them, I though it would be better to just make one, so here we go.

Les Miserables. I've never been a fan of musicals, but this one was pretty good. It could have been much shorter, but there were some really amazing performances. Apparently, from what I've read of the production, the entire film was shot 'live', which means the actors were actually singing in front of the camera. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were amazing, especially. I loved the scene where Jackman's a prisoner, as well as the change that follows afterwards. Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" song was the highlight of the film's music, of course, but Jackman's Look Down was also very good (and it's the very first song in the movie). If the movie had only been about 40 minutes shorter, it would have been an easier watch, but given the fact that this thing is based on an actual musical, I guess you can't really fault it.

Silver Lining Playbook. This movie was amazing. It deals with mental illness really well and I thought the acting was superb. It's a smaller budget film, but it does have some talent behind it. Robert De Nero was great, and so were the two leads. If you've ever dealt with mental illness (specifically bipolar dissorder or OCD) you'll probably relate to it. I personally found it very interesting, especially since my father is bipolar and OCD, making each of the male leads even more interesting. It was a great movie.

Django Unchained. I haven't seen this one yet, but I'm going tomorrow. I've heard it's great, and it's the next project from Tarintino, which is cool. After Inglorious Basterds, my expectations are fairly high, especially with the reviews being so positive. Here's hoping they're accurate.

So how about it? Have you guys seen any other fantastic movies recently? Have you seen any of these? Thoughts?

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Shanna
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I went with my mom to see Les Miserables the day after Christmas. While I've always been a musical fan, this one has never caught my interest. I was in choir for eight years so I've probably heard way too many bad renditions of "On My Own" and "I've Dreamed a Dream," the latter being a song that I outright dislike.

But I found the movie quite enjoyable. Anne Hathaway's version of "I Dreamed a Dream" absolutely floored me. The entire audience was sniffling. Just something about her face and her phrasing made it perfection for me. I also thought Russell Crowe was a pleasant surprise as Javert. I've never been a fan of him as an actor but he did a great job.

I will say that I was expecting more visually from Tom Hooper. I happened to watch "A King's Speech" the day before and I'm always incredibly impressed by what a beautiful film it is and how he made, what is essentially a movie about two men speaking to each other, seem so dynamic. But many of the scenes between the main numbers just felt dull and uninspired.

I'm also conflicted about the Innkeepers. I get that they're supposed to be the comedic element in a story that would otherwise be insanely depressing, but I think they were so flamboyant at times that they felt like they were from a completely different style of film. And I don't know if the romance comes off better in other versions, but I really didn't get any motivation to cheer for either of them. I mean, I just can't get emotionally invested in two pretty people who fall in love on the street without ever speaking to each other.

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Emreecheek
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I had heard the soundtrack to Les Miserables before, but didn't care for the singing style required of such a demanding musical. This wasn't a problem in the film though, thanks to movie magic and close-micing.

I cried. A lot. And stayed crying on the way home because I'm cool like that.

Crowe sounded like T-pain, but I guess I can forgive auto-tune on one person. Anne Hathaway was very, very good. And the guy who played Marius was also lovely.

Adult-Cosette is already annoying as a character (I also wonder if the guy writing the lyrics intended for her to sound dumb, with all of her un-rhymed lines), and I think Seyfried made her more annoying.

But these are quibbles. The film is wonderful. I've seen it twice now, and will likely go back a third and fourth time. Or more. Who knows.

I, too, didn't care much for the love story. But I loved everything else.

It was one of the most gratifying movies I've ever seen.

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Jeff C.
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Yeah, the love story dragged at parts, which is a shame. I also didn't like the fact that the brunette girl ended up (SPOILER) essentially killing herself by letting the military shoot her. She took the gun and threw it into her chest, which was very odd to me. In the stage musical, as I understand it, she is out running an errand for the guy she likes and ends up getting shot as she comes back, which is completely different. I didn't understand why they changed it. It didn't feel logical.
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Belle
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My biggest quarrel with the movie is how they treated both Eponine and Enjolras. They took away a lot of what Eponine sympathetic in the musical and made her almost unlikable. Then, they cut Enjolras' role significantly, and even gave some of his lyrics to Marius.

**Mild spoilers**


Some of the changes hearken back to the book (having Gavroche take the letter instead of Eponine, etc.) It was disappointing, however, because the struggle Eponine has seeing Marius fall in love with Cosette is one of the most heart-rending parts of the musical, but in the film she just seemed petty.

**End Mild Spoilers**

Jackman was good, even if "Bring Him Home" was very obviously out of his range. Hathaway was brilliant, and Eddie Redmayne as Marius was the most pleasant surprise. I thought his version of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" was the best I've ever seen, primarily due to his emotional performance....it was well acted, as well as well sung.

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Emreecheek
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Actually, I was wondering about that - Eponine seemed royally lame.
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umberhulk
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The Hobbit. It was fantastic despite some overt exposition, shoehorned plot elements, and a littlebad use of slow motion. The shot of the eagle picking up Thorin would have been so much better if they did it normally. But I'm nitpicking. It's still outstanding and I'll be going back to the theater.

(after watching reacher, django, argo, playbook, maybe les mis, End of Watch, and hopefully something still plays Killing Them Softly.

Oh, I also hated the way Smaug was introduced when he first attacks the lonely mountain. The indirection was cheesy.

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Jeff C.
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I just watched Django and I have to say it was very good. There were a few cheesy parts and it lacked some of the finer Tarrantino moments I would have expected, but it was still fun.

The only thing that bothered me has been the reactions to it. Some kids after the film was over (in which Django, a black former slave, kills plenty of white people for justifiable reasons) started calling themselves "Djangos". I didn't think much of it, but then I began to wonder if perhaps this film might reigniting racism attitudes. I don't think it will, but it's hard to deny the possibility. We are influenced by the things we enjoy, after all. Who knows, I suppose.

The Hobbit was a solid film, but I felt like it had some flaws to it. As you said, the slow downs were odd. I also wasn't a fan of the CGI orcs, the completely unnecessary additions to the story, which at times felt like they came out of nowhere (Gandalf's offhand mention of Radagast was just annoying).

The problem with the Hobbit is that it was made at the wrong time. People will always compare these films to the Lord of the Rings movies because those came first to the big screen. It's sad, really, but true. The Lord of the Rings were full of characters who are all much more interesting than the dwarves, and each has their own stories that are equally engaging. Not to mention the fact that one of the characters actually dies in the Fellowship of the Ring. We already know Bilbo and Gandalf survive, so where's the payoff? With one of those dwarves? How many does anyone remember? I don't know any at all. Now if Jackson had decided to release the Hobbit first instead of TLOR, then it would be a different reaction altogether.

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umberhulk
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I liked Radagast. We got some funny moments out of him, including Bilbo's little zinger when he asks about the other wizards. I actually hope there's more of him in the extended versions--it may actually improve the movie if there's any content of him before Gandalf talks about him.

I would actually say that Thorin is the most interesting character in all Peter Jackson Tolkien, even if the other Dwarves are just one loyal character.

I agree on the new villain orcs. The pale orc would work better if his origins were narrated differently too. I think Jackson just wanted a villain. And I guess I kind of agree on the "no one dies" gripe too, because despite the shoe horned close calls, it's all a tease.

Also, Thorin's doubting and assumsions about Bilbo after the misty mountains feel a little labored, even though I loved the conclusions to that dynamic.

Can't wait for Smaug to get shot down.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
I just watched Django and I have to say it was very good. There were a few cheesy parts and it lacked some of the finer Tarrantino moments I would have expected, but it was still fun.

The only thing that bothered me has been the reactions to it. Some kids after the film was over (in which Django, a black former slave, kills plenty of white people for justifiable reasons) started calling themselves "Djangos". I didn't think much of it, but then I began to wonder if perhaps this film might reigniting racism attitudes. I don't think it will, but it's hard to deny the possibility. We are influenced by the things we enjoy, after all. Who knows, I suppose.

The Hobbit was a solid film, but I felt like it had some flaws to it. As you said, the slow downs were odd. I also wasn't a fan of the CGI orcs, the completely unnecessary additions to the story, which at times felt like they came out of nowhere (Gandalf's offhand mention of Radagast was just annoying).

The problem with the Hobbit is that it was made at the wrong time. People will always compare these films to the Lord of the Rings movies because those came first to the big screen. It's sad, really, but true. The Lord of the Rings were full of characters who are all much more interesting than the dwarves, and each has their own stories that are equally engaging. Not to mention the fact that one of the characters actually dies in the Fellowship of the Ring. We already know Bilbo and Gandalf survive, so where's the payoff? With one of those dwarves? How many does anyone remember? I don't know any at all. Now if Jackson had decided to release the Hobbit first instead of TLOR, then it would be a different reaction altogether.

On the flip side, all three of what my friends have termed the "hot" dwarves die at the end. That was always going to be a problem, with so many dwarves.

They went out of their way to add in elements to Thorin's story to pump up his character, which I thought was stupid. Thorin has plenty of personality without changing his actual back story.

The more I think about The Hobbit the less enthused I am with it. The cartoonish special effects, the overwrought battles, the fact that didn't have a smooth narrative but felt like a rough cut together of randomly associated scenes... I just think he's missing something from what made LOTR special.

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umberhulk
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The effects in Return of the King are worse. But I still love that movie.

I would say that I liked this more than the theatrical cuts of Towers and Return, but not the extended cuts of those movies. The four hour version of Towers improves the rhythm of the movie, in my opinion, which how the movie switches viewpoints, and then it also offers more Faramir content--so all the shit he goes through in Return is better. And some of the content they added in Return was great.

Fellowship is still the GOAT.

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Sa'eed
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I saw "Django Unchained." It's depiction of slavery is brutal, perhaps to the point of exaggeration. The so called "mandingo fighting" it depicts supposedly never happened. If you liked "Inglorious Basterds" than you'll most certainly like Django. It's tonally similar, with a similar promise of showing revenge being enacted by a member/s of a victimized group, but just like with "Inglorious Basterds," Tarantino is more concerned with the build-up than he is with the payoff. Tarantino's obsession with black people has always been bizarre and with "Django" he takes that obsession to its ultimate conclusion.
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umberhulk
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"The build up is so good you almost wish the payoff never comes" - David Fincher, on Inglorious Basterds.
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Sa'eed
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Interesting that you mention Fincher, because here's Tarantino insulting David Fincher, and claiming that he's a better artist than Fincher:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aklyZSo07vk

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umberhulk
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That's the same interview I got quote (which I messed up) from. He actually makes a great point, though, and I even admire his transparency.

And, really, it's a valuable commentary on all of Hollywood. But: Se7en > All Tarantino.

I saw Jack Reacher. It's great. Campy but self-respecting.

I wish more action movie were paced like it. Too many modern day action movies are paced like a five year seeing if he can play connect-the-dots faster than everyone else. Taken. Expendables 2. Star Trek. I would even pit this against The Dark Knight (which is better than Reacher)

Jack Reacher is slower. It's not as slow or atmospheric as Drive, but it takes it's time, and shows off some killer direction and editing.

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Jeff C.
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I'll agree that Tarrintino seems to have an odd obsession with black people. I never noticed it before, but apparently he wants to write a sequel to Inglorious Basterds starring a group of African Americans who kill a ton of white people:

http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/12/30/quentin-tarantino-reveals-plans-for-killer-crow

It seems really strange.

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umberhulk
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Tarantino talks about a lot films he never makes.
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Blayne Bradley
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Seems like the theatre near me has either Django Unchained or Reacher, which one should I see if I do?
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Sa'eed
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See Django. It certainly offers a strong experience, whatever its shortcomings.

And lol @"This is 40."

That no one is giving Judd Apatow grief for shoving his untalented family down audiences' throats is further proof of the pathological niceness of American society.

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umberhulk
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I doubt you could go wrong either way. But I would have actually chosen Django before the fact (haven't seen it, but Reacher is gr8)
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Sa'eed
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Sad that Roger Ebert hasn't managed to review either of those films.

His weekly reviews were among my favorite things about Fridays since 1999.

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SteveRogers
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Django Unchained wasn't a perfect film, but I enjoyed it.
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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Django Unchained wasn't a perfect film, but I enjoyed it.

Have you seen a perfect film?
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SteveRogers
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Hooray for hyperliteralism. [Razz]
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umberhulk
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Perfect Films: Blade Runner, Jaws, Fellowship of the Ring, Cowboy Bebop The Movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, T2, Die Hard, Sin City, The Raid Redemption, There Will Be Blood, Jesse James, Double Indemnity, Empire Strikes Back, Alien.
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Sa'eed
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Also: Mousehunt.

Yes.

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umberhulk
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Digimon the movie.
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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Hooray for hyperliteralism. [Razz]

Gotta keep it hyper-real. [Smile] I didn't really think you'd seen a perfect film. Which ones approach perfection to you?

Inglourious Basterds is one of my all-time favorite films so I went to see Django Unchained hopeful for, but not expecting, another amazing film. I wasn't disappointed. I really liked it. I'd heard plenty about the movie before I saw it. The interview of Christoph Waltz on Fresh Air was insightful. I noticed Tarantino's writing in Pulp Fiction and whatever I connected with in that film, it wasn't in any other Tarantino film until IB. Waltz's lines in Basterds and his delivery of them was captivating, the same way the writing captivated me in Pulp Fiction. When I heard that Tarantino had written the part of Dr. Schultz specifically for Waltz, I knew there would be some element of Django worth seeing. Plus, Leo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, and Kerry Washington all gave amazing performances, but it was Samuel Jackson who played the best supporting role. Normally, he's not on my list of must-see actors. I had all but forgotten he was in Django going into it and I had to do a double-take when you first see him in the film.

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Jeff C.
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Dr. Schultz was definitely my favorite character, although there were certainly a lot of great ones. I especially liked Tarintino's cameo (he's still a great actor).
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Sa'eed
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quote:
Originally posted by umberhulk:
Perfect Films: Blade Runner.

I need to watch this film again, because all that stays with me from my two viewings of it is its stunning end credits music by Vangelis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAwo7DPUFUM

[Cool]

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Foust
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Django was excellent.

I just saw Lincoln. Also great, all around, and I choked up when Tommy Lee Jones had to say "equality under the law."

Then I raged a little when they implied it was all about the fact he was getting laid.

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Tarrsk
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Les Miserables was the most schizophrenic film I've ever seen. Half of the elements (acting, songs minus Crowe, story) were top notch, 10/10 stuff. The other half (direction, cinematography) were horrendous, 0/10 crap. Tom Hooper demonstrated the approximate visual imagination of an episode of "The Jersey Shore." Really a damn shame, given how close the actors still manage to elevate the movie to greatness.
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Emreecheek
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I hated the Hobbit. I wished it was about an hour and a half shorter.
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Lyrhawn
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Just got back from seeing Les Mis.

I'm a little baffled by a lot of the responses I'm seeing to it. I think that, with the exception of Russell Crowe, the acting is absolutely fantastic. the sets, the costumes, all that jazz is also very good.

But the singing is at about the level of a really good high school production for most of the roles. Jackman tries hard, and he's really not bad, but Jean Van Jean is built for a powerhouse voice that he just doesn't have. He should have gotten 19 years in a French prison for murdering "Bring Him Home," not for the bread thing.

Russell Crowe was just terrible on all counts. He barely even sang, he sort of sang-talked his way in an incredibly flat monotone performance. And his acting consisted of glowering at people the entire movie. It was a wasted effort on a great role. I felt ZERO chemistry between him and Hugh Jackman, which is really a shame because the two roles can play off each other beautifully. They also changed the depiction of Javert, who in the play lets Valjean go more than at just the very end, and does it much better. It shows much better in their confrontations what Javert is thinking and builds him as a better character. You almost could have cut Javert out of the movie for how useless he was.

Seyfield made Cossette slightly more tolerable than she normally is, and I normally dislike the character entirely.

I really don't get all the praise for "I Dreamed a Dream." I thought it was very well acted, I might even agree she deserves an Oscar for the part. But it was terrible singing. The whisper-cry singing thing doesn't really work for me. As an acting role I give it an A+. As an acting role in a musical I give it a B. People calling it a showstopper are misusing the term in my opinion.

The Thenadiers were pretty good. If anything they might have been underused. Sasha Baron Cohen gets bonus points for being the only actor who actually attempted a French accent, whereas everyone else went American or British. They're a lot more amusing in the live musical, but they were still good.

I don't think most people would have really noted the change with Eponine's death. She died for Marius, though much more directly in the movie than otherwise. I do think she came across as somewhat less sympathetic in the movie than the stage musical, more petty, as Belle notes, but overall I don't think they ruined her character perhaps in large part because Samantha Barks knows the role very well and nailed it. But she wasn't a tragic or sympathetic as she was in the stage version.

I also agree with Belle that Redmayne's "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," was very, very good. It's not the best I've ever heard, I think I still prefer the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast version, but the emotional was palpable, and he was very powerful. I looked for and didn't really notice a reduction in Enjorlas' role or his lines being given to Marius.

Lots of people are saying it was too long, but they actually cut out a solid 30 min of material from the stage version, including large chunks of some songs, like "Turning." Since it was largely sung through, with very, VERY few pauses, I'm really not sure what they could have cut out while keeping the story intact. In fact, I think it needed to be 15 minutes longer to pace it more gently. They blew from song to song without any stopping. I bet they could have cut Javert out entirely, which would have saved maybe 20 min, and it wouldn't have harmed the story at all, given how little use they made of him.

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Emreecheek
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I loved Anne Hathaway's singing. I thought Jackman was wonderful.

Crowe sounded flat the whole time because they were auto-tuning the daylights out of him.

That's a really interesting point about Javert.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Emreecheek:
I loved Anne Hathaway's singing. I thought Jackman was wonderful.

Crowe sounded flat the whole time because they were auto-tuning the daylights out of him.

That's a really interesting point about Javert.

Jackman was the one person in that movie whose performance I knew I DIDN'T have to worry about. He has proven in the past that he can be a great actor when he wants to be.

I was fairly confused as to why Anne Hathaway was chosen for the part over some others, but she did a good job. I don't know, I've never been a fan of Anne Hathaway.

I did see Django Unchained. I don't understand the controversy over the use of the N word. It was a movie about the 1800's, and back then people used that word quite a bit. I can understand people being uncomfortable with the use of the word but come on, it's Tarantino! Pulp Fiction had the N-word in it numerous times and I don't remember a stink about that movie.

Dr. Schultz was my favorite character, and helped show that not every white person thought alike back then. Since the movie took place in the South, they needed a character to show that. I HATED Samuel L. Jackson's character, in a very good way. I thought Jackson did a great job, I thought the character was well written, and I hated him, which is exactly what Tarantino intended.

I think the movie did a good job at showing that it wasn't just white people that caused harm to blacks, and Django wasn't just killing white people because he could. Django's best friend was a white man, and those he killed meant him and his wife harm. Unfortunately this is where the movie annoyed me as well. Throughout the film Django acted as if he didn't care about the other slaves, only that he cared about his wife. The three men taking him to the mine were ready to release him in exchange for a portion of money from the bounties. Killing them really made no sense to me. He didn't free the slaves they were carrying afterwards, he just left. The other person he killed that annoyed me was Candie's sister. She was unarmed and hadn't acted against Django or his wife in any way. Yes, her brother owned slaves, but as far as we were led to believe she was just a guest in the house since she had lost her husband. We aren't told what her feelings are on slavery or towards Django. Django killing her just seemed out of character to me.

Overall I thought it was one of the best films I've seen this year, though it didn't feel like a traditional Tarantino film to me.

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