The most anticipated film of 2012 for me is Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained.’ I think people forget Quentin Tarantino’s epic rise. It was truly legendary. It’s easy to talk about Quentin Tarantino as a mainstream director now, but in the early nineties he was anything but.
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Reservoir Dogs was nothing more than a cult classic when it first hit theaters in 1992. It was a cinephile treasure. The film only grossed $2.8m and it opened in a meager 61 theaters. Pulp Fiction came next and more film fans jumped on the band wagon, but the film opened modestly and was looked down upon by average movie goers. It was consider trashy and abhorred. Inappropriate for fine Christian people and it was even boycotted by the church — you know the whole sodomizing thing and quotes from the bible before murders. It had a lot of people upset in ’94 and you have to remember, the country was much more conservative back then. “Jackie Brown” was next and it was considered a disappointment by many. The expectations after Pulp Fiction were enormous and the film opened 5th at the box office and only grossed $38m. It was considered a flop by most industry observers and the two hours and thirty-one minute running time didn’t help. The film was a semi financial success, but after Pulp Fiction it just didn’t seem as sweet. And for many, it was their first experience of this interesting video rental service guy turned filmmaker. In the end it was considered too ambitious for it’s own good. Or rather, too cute by half.
Of course now its a classic because in 2003 Tarantino truly went mainstream with Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I don’t need to say much about Kill Bill because its fairly recent work from Quentin Tarantino and everyone has seen it and we all recognize its place in film history. For better or worse, there has never been anything quite like it.
By now, the kids who grew up watching his films are adults and the youth were born into Tarantino’s legend. I imagine Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction as two of those movies that 8 and 9 year olds clandestinely watch after their parents go to bed at sleepovers. His films have become a forbidden fruit. I’m not sure I would want my ten year old watching those two films (If I had a ten year old).
Then ‘Inglorious Basterds’ sealed the deal. With Brad Pitt in the lead, the film went on to be a critical and box office success. It was Tarantino’s highest grossing film, making over $320m world wide. The film was also nominated for 8 Oscars and Chrisoph Waltz won for best supporting actor. Quentin Tarantino had arrived. His career had now come full circle and he has license to make any type or genre of film he so chooses.
And because he knows this, because Quentin Tarantino can literally get any film he writes made, you know he will take advantage of this power and create something like you have never seen before. After all, all his films are grounded in originality. It’s what makes Tarantino great. Like Woody Allen or Wes Anderson, or Jonathan Demme, you can watch one scene and guess who the director is. With Allen it’s the prose and natural intellectual dialogue, filled with comedic and tragic neurosis. Anderson’s films have that look of a picture book from childhood, and yet they feel so human. And Jonathan Demme has mastered the look-in-lens camera angle that made Hannibal Lector and Tom Hank’s Andrew Beckett so tangible. It’s like the characters in Demme’s films are talking directly at you. With Tarentino, it’s the patience of his dialog. He is one of the few writer directors in history that can make a five minute conversation or three minute monologue the most exciting thing in his movie. It’s like the action is secondary in his films. That is a truly unique gift be possess. Hell, it’s why Christoph Waltz won the Oscar. His monologue at the dairy farm at the beginning of Inglourious Basterds was legendary, bone chilling and fantastic. Acting students from around the world will memorize those lines for the rest of time. The tension he creates with simple dialogue is extraordinary. No one can do that like Quentin Tarantino.
If you haven’t heard Django Unchained is set in the Deep South, and follows Django (Foxx), a freed slave who treks across America with Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a German dentist turned bounty hunter. Together, they try to retrieve Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the charming but sadistic Francophile plantation owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) and his band of ruthless slavers. It has a fine cast and you can see them in the trailer below.
Trailer from Quentin Tarantino ‘Djando Unchained
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