Review: ‘Django Unchained’ (Western Tarantino Style)

After taking on crime drama, pulp novelization, blaxploitation, samurai swordplay, grindhouse, and even war films, Quentin Tarantino set his sights on another classic genre to give it his unique sense of spin: the Western.

Just before the American Civil War, former dentist Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) acquires the assistance of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx). The deal is simple: if Django can identify three men on the run from the law, he will be set free upon their death or capture and a few dollars in his pocket. As it turns out, however, Django has a natural skill for bounty hunting. After the two become good friends, Dr. Shultz agrees to help Django find and free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), but to do so, they’ll have to spirit her away from a ruthless plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Southerner who does not like to lose.

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has never shied away from controversial subject matter. In fact, he seems to seek it out, intent in making films however he sees fit and to provoke a reaction that “safe” filmmakers actively avoid. Django is a buddy flick and revenge film driven by love and fueled by farce, a dangerous mix that proves entertaining all the way around. As usual, it’s a character piece, but that doesn’t mean the plot doesn’t have its twists and turns. After deadly serious films like Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, there is an underlying silliness to Django that threatens to undermine the entire film but happily never derails it.

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Review: ‘Titanic’ 3D (maritime disaster via love interupted)

Forget that we know how it all ends; it’s the drama of dealing with eventuality that tells the real story here.

In April of 1912, White Star Line launched the R.M.S Titanic on its maiden voyage to New York City. “The Ship of Dreams” was a floating palace for the wealthy elite, reportedly “unsinkable” by incorporating the latest in shipbuilding technology. After winning a pair of third-class tickets for himself and a friend in a poker game, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) looks forward to returning to his native America but finds himself drawn to a first-class passenger named Rose (Kate Winslet). After a chance meeting on the ship’s fantail with Rose threatening to hurl herself into the ocean, an unlikely romance begins, but Rose is already promised to ‘Cal’ Hockley (Billy Zane), a high-society gentleman that doesn’t like to lose. On April 15th, an iceberg in the North Atlantic tests the character of everyone on board, from the ship’s captain to the poorest passenger.

When someone mentions James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic, groans of Celine Dion, Leonardo DiCaprio, and throwaway teen romances often follow (for many diehard fans, of course, these are the selling points). Rewatching a freshly minted, fully restored, and 3D converted edition of Titanic reveals all, however; the film is an accomplishment of filmmaking and a masterpiece on practically every level. On the question of being worth the extra charge for 3D, the answers is wholeheartedly yes; the digital transfer is so pristine that you can count the pores between the stubble on Bill Paxton’s face, and the 3D conversion looks so good that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t shot this way. If you’ve never seen Titanic, this is the way to experience it.

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