Friday, January 4, 2013

The Django Unchained Roundtable

Quentin, Jason, and Jake sat down to discuss their reactions to Quentin Tarantino's new movie, Django Unchained.

Quentin Walsh: We should probably start with a disclaimer. We are huge Tarantino fans.

Jake McAlister: He is a god.

Jason Walsh: I don't know if I'd go that far, but he is certainly one of the most talented storytellers working in film today.

Quentin: And he and I share a name.

Jake: Is it true that you tell the kids at school you were named after him?

Quentin: No, Dakota does that. I was born the same year that Pulp Fiction came out. She says it's better than telling people I was named after a neurotic intellectual from Mississippi who went to Harvard and threw himself off a bridge because he was obsessed with his sister's virginity.

Jason: Did you know there's a plaque on that bridge to commemorate his death?

Jake: You mean there's an actual plaque on an actual bridge to commemorate the suicide of a fictional character?

Jason: Yes. Over the Charles River.

Jake: That's just weird.

Quentin: No weirder than fictional characters reviewing movies.

Jake: What are you saying?

Quentin: <grins>

Jake: We should give a spoilers warning.

Quentin: Good idea. There is no way to talk about this movie without getting specific. So here it is...


So, what's the movie about?

Jason: What Tarantino's movies are always about. Revenge.

Quentin: Jake, do you want to give us a brief rundown?

Jake: Two years before the Civil War, a slave named Django (the D is silent) is freed by a bounty hunter because the bounty hunter is looking for three men, and Django knows what they look like. After that, it's basically a story about the search for Django's wife. It does get a little revenge-y because there are a lot of wrongs to right.

Jason: Boy, is that show suffering from the sophomore slump, or what?

Quentin: Overall impressions? Of the movie. Not Revenge.

Jason: I'm going first, because once Jake starts talking we won't get a word in edgewise.

Jake: Hey, if I can't get my film geek on over a Tarantino movie, then really, what's the point?

Jason: I didn't find it as accomplished as some of the others. Namely, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.

Quentin: Which part?

Jason: Of Kill Bill, you mean?

Quentin: Yeah.

Jason: It's one movie. I don't recognize it as two parts.

Jake: You'd better start. 'Cause the rumor is he's coming out with a third one.

Jason: Are you kidding me?

Jake: That's what it says on IMDb.

Jason: Doesn't he know when to stop?

Quentin: Apparently not. What was your problem, Jason?

Jason: It wasn't really a problem. The movie is funny, smart, well-written, and well-acted. It just wasn't as tight. There wasn't the Tarantino tension that made his other films so riveting.

Jake: I disagree.

Jason: Of course you do.

Jake: I love watching a master at work. Can we talk about the dinner party scene with Leo?

Jason: Are you going to go off about dramatic irony again?

Jake: It's the centerpiece of everything he does.

Quentin: Have at it, Jake. Give us a working definition though, in case some people aren't familiar with the term.

Jason: <snoring sounds>

Jake: <laughter> Isn't it fantastic the way my boyfriend is so supportive?

Jason: Sorry. But in all fairness, I have heard this speech about six times, so...

Jake: Dramatic irony is a storytelling device, in which the author gives the audience a piece of information that he withholds from at least one of the characters. Best example of dramatic irony is...Jason?

Jason: Horror movies.

Quentin: Horror movies?

Jake: Horror movies. The cheerleader comes home to a dark, empty house late at night. Why is that scary? Because the camera has shown us that the killer is in the kitchen, with a very long knife in his hand. We know that, but the cheerleader doesn't. So when she heads for the kitchen door, we scream out, “Don't do it! There's a psychopath with a knife in there! Run! Run!” And that's awesome, because it shifts the tension from the screen to the audience.

Quentin: So what does that have to do with Tarantino?

Jake: The dinner party scene. It works because we know Django and the bounty hunter are playing characters. But Leo doesn't know that.

Quentin: Oh, I get it. We know more than Leo does.

Jake: Yes. And that creates tension, because two people in the scene are lying. The lie is like the table. And what's the greatest moment in any scene?

Jason: Upending the table.

Jake: Absolutely. But before that, Tarantino gives the information we have to Leo, when Sam Jackson takes him into the study and schools him.

Quentin: But Django and the bounty hunter don't know that.

Jake: No, they don't. It gets very, “I know who you are, but you don't know that I know you know.” That kind of thing. The tension builds, then, kaboom. The table turns over and it all explodes.

Quentin: And what a glorious explosion.

Jake: Awesome.

Jason: It was too much.

Quentin: Not at all. The reason I love his movies is because he is still a teenage boy who likes to see things blow up.

Jason: Let's talk about the big performances. Was Leo gay?

Quentin: What?

Jake: I thought so too. The mannerisms, the weird southern thing with his sister, his excitement at watching two muscular black men wrestle around on the floor. It all screamed homo to me.

Quentin: You two are crazy. What did you think of Jamie Foxx.

Jason: Brilliant.

Jake: And you know how much he hates Jamie Foxx.

Jason: I really do. His off-screen persona is insufferable. But there's no trace of that in the performance. The tone was perfect.

Jake: Still, Christoph Waltz is the male Uma Thurman. He's the muse here. It's like the words just fit into his mouth.

Jason: Like Olivia Munn and Aaron Sorkin.

Quentin: The Newsroom? She was good. Quite a step up from G4 to HBO.

Jake: What was her character's name?

Jason: Sloan Sabbith. Love her.

Quentin: Did you hear Brad laughing during that first plantation scene with Big Daddy?

Jason: Yes. What was so funny?

Quentin: I asked him about it later, and he kind of smiled that condescending smile of his, and said, “Quentin, there's so much you can't appreciate about Tarantino's movies. That was Don Johnson playing Big Daddy.”

Jason: I don't even know who that is.

Quentin: I didn't either. He was one of the Miami Vice dudes.

Jake: You mean the movie with Colin Farrell?

Quentin: It was originally a TV show, like a hundred years ago or something. Anyway, favorite scene?

Jake: So easy.

Jason: Years from now, it's the scene the movie will be remembered for.

Quentin: We're talking, of course, about the scene when the KKK morons want to take off their hoods because they can't see out of the holes to ride.

Jake: And then throw Jonah Hill in there.

Jason: And the bickering among the men over who's to blame for the dysfunctional hoods.

Jake: It's what critics mean when they call his films subversive. It's the funniest goddamned scene, because the racists are just a bunch of bumbling idiots. This was the closest Tarantino has ever gotten to going all out Monty Python on our asses.

Quentin: I could watch that scene over and over and probably never get tired of it.

Jason: He's still a force to be reckoned with. Every writer in Hollywood wishes they had written that scene.

Jake: Did you see Spike Lee went off about the movie on Twitter? And he hasn't even seen it.

Jason: Please. If I had Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson in my movie, I would not be worried. What? Spike Lee is going to tell Jamie Foxx that he's not black enough? Seriously? I'd like to see that.

Cade walks in from the kitchen.

Cade Walsh: What are you losers doing?

Quentin: A review of Django Unchained. For Brad's blog.

Cade: Brad has a blog?

Quentin: Do you want to add something or are you just passing through?

Cade: It's a game of D&D.

Quentin: The movie?

Cade: Yeah.

Jake: Dungeons & Dragons?

Cade: Yeah. On a road somewhere, the hero meets a wizard, and together they go on a quest to save the princess. But first they have to defeat all the evil ogres along with way. Isn't that what the movie is about?


Quentin: Out of the mouths of babes.

Every Pop Culture Reference from Tarantino Movies

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