Rave: Django Unchained

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, chances are you’re likely going to go to the movies over the holidays. (Hey, everyone needs a break from the fam jams, amiright?) Fortunately, Christmas Day has become the day for studios to bust out the year’s most anticipated movies. This year’s offerings include Les Miserables (!!!) and Django Unchained

We were lucky enough to be invited to an advance screening of Quentin Tarantino’s latest, with the venerable director in the audience, no less. While we didn’t love this film as much as Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained certainly makes for some interesting counter-programming to the normal holiday fare. Set in the American South, two years before the Civil War when slavery ran rampant, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave who crosses paths with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz and Django pair up, initially to capture the murderous Brittle Brothers, and then as a bounty hunting duo. While developing his vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on his goal of finding and rescuing his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Their search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. 

Now that we’ve given you the overview, we’d like to share some important notes on Django:  

Be prepared to hear the “n word”. A lot. 
Django features a lot of cursing and violence. While generally this is par for the course with Tarantino, this time around the violence is predominantly directed towards the black characters and involves numerous examples of degradation and abuse. There are a few scenes that are very uncomfortable to watch and stayed with us long after leaving the theatre. The characters also use the “N word” quite liberally. As in, over a 100 times. We’re not passing judgement one way or the other, but it’s fair warning before heading into the theatre. 

No Jack Dawson here, ma’am.
With two decades of films under his belt, Leonardo DiCaprio is a familiar presence on the silver screen. His recent work has served to sever ties to the “heartthrob” label that’s been tied to Leo since Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. With Django‘s Calvin Candie, Leo is playing his most  villainous candidate to date. A Southern plantation owner, Calvin Candie is indulgent and despicable. His hobbies include pitting slaves against each other in fights to the death (a practice known as mandingo fighting). A real charmer, for sure. 

Welcome to Rick Ross’ Wild West.
Django Unchained is Tarantino’s stab at a Spaghetti Western, and the soundtrack involves several themes from spaghetti western music king-pin Ennio Morricone. What sets the soundtrack apart though, are the contributions from hip hop and R&B legends such as John Legend, 2Pac and James Brown. The set also includes a new track by Rick Ross called “100 Black Coffins”, which rumour has it may be up for an Academy Award nom for Best Song. In any case, the soundtrack is well worth a listen!

Thanks again goes to Alliance Films for inviting us to the screening. All images in the post are courtesy of Alliance Films. 

Rave: Award season films

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – when superheroes have left the silver screen and studios’ award season bait films flood the theatres. It seems every week there’s a new trailer we’re watching on repeat, and we’re having trouble deciding which movie we’ll be seeing come Christmas Day. Thankfully the weather is getting chilly, so we’re not opposed to spending day after day at the movies. 

Argo (now playing)

The latest directorial effort from Ben Affleck confirms his status as a respected director. The film tells the true story of a joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six American diplomats out of Iran during the revolution in 1980. But, as this is a Hollywood film, don’t expect it to be based entirely in fact: the story is slightly exaggerated and the role of Canada is downplayed considerably. Still, odds are high that this film may earn Affleck his second Oscar. 

Lincoln (now playing)

It’s an unspoken rule that whenever the notoriously reclusive Daniel Day-Lewis stars in a film, Academy Awards follow. In Lincoln, Steven Spielberg directs Day-Lewis as the legendary president during his final few months in office. The dramatic film is set during the Civil War, when the president fights to abolish slavery and end the war. Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tommy Lee Jones also star.  

Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)

Silver Linings Playbook won the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and for good reason! Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this charming comedy romance (please, do not mistake this for a “rom-com”) about two outsiders struggling to rebuild their lives. The two actors’ performances alone make this film worth seeing, but we’d be remiss to neglect mentioning Robert DeNiro’s scene-stealing role as Cooper’s father.  

Anna Karenina (November 30)

Keira Knightley re-teams with director Joe Wright to take on Leo Tolstoy’s tragic novel. What sets this adaptation apart from the rest is it’s unique staging – Wright shoots the film entirely on a single soundstage. The sumptuous costumes and beautiful designs make this visually stunning film a must. We’re intrigued to see the love triangle play out on-screen between Knightley’s Anna, Jude Law’s Karenin and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky. 

Zero Dark Thirty (January 11)

This film hasn’t been receiving the same level of popular hype as some of the others on this list, but the insider buzz is steadily rising. Not surprising, as Zero Dark Thirty reunites The Hurt Locker‘s director-writer team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and features critical darling, Jessica Chastain. This film tells the story of the decade-long manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man, Osama Bin Laden. However, the biggest draw for us may be Coach Taylor (aka. Kyle Chandler) listed in the credits. 

Django Unchained (December 25)

Early word on this new flick from Quentin Tarantino is “holy crap, get ready for some violence!”. If you thought Inglourious Basterds was bad, well, brace yourself. Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as former slave, Django who is helping a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) search out his bounty. Django’s ultimate goal is to locate his long-missing wife (Kerry Washington). Leonardo DiCaprio plays the brutal Calvin Candie, proprietor of the infamous “Candyland” plantation.

Les Miserables (December 25)

If this trailer doesn’t give you goosebumps, then you have no soul. Award-winning director, Tom Hooper brings the sweeping, epic musical to the big screen for the best Christmas present we could ever ask for. The all-star cast includes Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Watch this behind-the-scenes vignette, which discusses how the actors all sang while filming (as opposed to mouthing the words and laying vocal tracks in a studio). Oh, and make sure you have some Kleenex handy.