7 posts categorized "Exploitation"

December 12, 2012

DJANGO UNCHAINED

COLE SMITHEY

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Django_unchainedBack With a Vengeance: 
Tarantino Pushes Homage and Allegory to 11

You know from Tarantino’s audacious choice of intro music — the haunting theme song from Sergio Corbucci’s iconic 1966 Spaghetti Western “Django,” that the maestro-of-all-things-tasty has many surprises in store for his delighted audience.

Campy, funny, shocking, and seeping with sardonic social commentary, “Django Unchained” is Quentin Tarantino’s finest film to date.

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The madness of slavery, i.e. racism, hangs thick in the air of the American South circa 1858. Tarantino says of his film’s representation of the pre-Civil War South: “It can’t be more nightmarish than it was in real life. It can’t be more surrealistic than it was in real life. It can’t me more outrageous than it was in real life.” Indeed, groans of audience empathy arrive at intervals with the agony we witness on-screen. Tarantino’s allegory regarding the use of torture couldn’t be more obvious.

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In typical revenge-plot fashion, Tarantino establishes the nimble bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (brilliantly played by Christoph Waltz) as the kind of man who can get himself out of any situation. The retired dentist “purchases” freedom from slavery for Django (Jamie Foxx) to assist Schultz in identifying a trio of brothers named Brittle whose heads carry a hefty reward.

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Django proves more than qualified for hunting down and killing slave-owners. Working together as a team, Dr. Schultz and Django craft a complex plan to free Django’s enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the evil clutches of Leonardo DiCaprio’s plantation owner Calvin Candie. “Candyland” is name of Mr. Candie’s plantation where he cultivates “Mandingo” slave warriors who fight to the death. DiCaprio’s centerpiece monologue — wherein the actor accidentally cut his hand and chooses to use the blood draining from his hand — is the stuff of cult movie legend.

DjangoUnchained

Tarantino’s plot acrobatics have never seemed silkier — or bloodier for that matter. Blood doesn’t just splatter — intestines explode from bodies. More than a pure Spaghetti Western homage, the overall piece is an exploitation cinema mutt. Every character name rings with a bell pulled from Tarantino’s vast cornucopia of movie inspirations. The big-kid auteur gives shout-outs to everything from Gordon Parks’s “Shaft” to martial arts action star Sonny Sheba. The effect is an onion-layered communal movie for film lovers to rally around. I dare say that all those involved in the making of “Django Unchained” had more fun making it than just about any other group of actors and filmmakers. The comic joys and dark delights are up there on the screen.

Django

As with all of Tarantino’s films, “Django Unchained” is filled with spellbinding dialogue and outstanding plot twists. One such sequence of steadily building suspense arrives after Schultz has freed Django. Our two heroes enter a bar where the white owner insists that they leave immediately for the obvious reason that they don’t allow black people. Schultz handily dispatches the man, and sends for the sheriff while he and Django take a seat with a couple of mugs of beer.

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Naturally the bigoted sheriff shows up with a chip on his shoulder that the good “doctor” is only too happy to permanently remove. Shultz sends for the town Marshall, who in turn shows up with a posse of gun-toting thugs. The scene culminates in a crescendo of character-revealing magic. It’s not too early to call “Django Unchained” an instant classic. Movie lovers rejoice; Q.T. is back in the house.

Rated R. 160 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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October 06, 2012

THE PAPERBOY — 2012 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

PaperboyOpenly anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynist, and racist, there’s something to offend nearly everyone in this wrongheaded ‘60s era sexploitation misadventure. Once assigned to Pedro Almodovar for directing duties, Pete Dexter’s pulp novel “Paris Trout” — about some of the dumbest fictional characters ever imagined — finds confused cinematic fulfillment in the hands of director/co-screenwriter Lee Daniels (“Precious”). Daniels draws from an incongruent batch of ‘70s films (“Deliverance” included) to create a fantasy hodgepodge whitesploitation drama calculated to shock, disgust, and arouse the viewer.

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Zac Ephron continues to bring the kiss of death to every film he appears in — this time as Jack Jansen, a twentysomething beefcake dilatant who returns to his small-town Florida roots after being thrown out of college for an act of vandalism; he drained the school’s swimming pool. Genius. It’s the summer of ’69. The eternally horny Jack likes to lay around his family home in his tidy whities to see what kind of rise he can get out of African American housekeeper Anita (Macy Gray). Anita does narration duties to instill the movie with an illogical bird’s-eye narrative perspective. Note to filmmakers everywhere — show, don’t tell. Evidently, Lee Daniels never studied the rules of screenwriting 101. It gets worse. Much worse. Anita informs the audience about the murder of the town’s sheriff.

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Enter Jack’s older brother Ward, a Miami reporter for the family newspaper. Ward brings with him his equally horny African-American colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo). Yardley speaks with a fake British accent that serves to draw more attention to the film’s purely fictional underpinnings. If you’re sensing a pattern, yes every character in the movie is starved for sex. Ward is the researcher; Yardley is the writer. The duo are in town to investigate questions surrounding the murder, allegedly by one Hillary Van Wetter, a swamp-living piece of white trash who has been keeping busy in prison writing love letters to Nicole Kidman’s Charlotte Bless — horny, natch. Ward, Jack, Yardley, and Charlotte team up to prove Hillary’s innocence that he might be freed to pursue a (cough) relationship with the supremely slutty Charlotte.

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The movie plays its salacious trump cards during a few waywardly erotic scenes. The first arrives on the group’s initial visit to Hillary in jail. Not minding an audience, Hillary instigates a simultaneous masturbation session with Charlotte who has conveniently worn a super-short skirt to the appointment. She tears open her pantyhose at the crotch to reveal her womanhood for Hillary to openly pleasure himself. Charlotte’s exhibitionism flames Jack’s imagination. Ward too has some difficulty keeping his hands off his own privates.

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A visit to the beach for Jack and Charlotte turns into an excuse for some gratuitous fetish play after Jack suffers multiple jellyfish stings. Charlotte fights off a trio of local girls for the right to pee on Jack’s wounds that cover his chest, back, and — you guessed it — his face. Plot leaps and character revelations come out of nowhere. Nothing is supported with any amount of logic.

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If newspaper articles could get people out of jail, it would open up a whole new media stream. Every character on display is an artificial construct of vaguely pornographic intent. “The Paperboy” wants to be a hardcore porn movie. Indeed, the film could conceivably have been made into an interesting example of Hollywood A-list actors creating a new genre of reverse crossover porn. As a curiosity, “The Paperboy” reaches for a cult status that it is sure to achieve.

Rated R. 106 mins.

1 Star

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

June 06, 2011

VIVA RIVA!

VivaRivaPoster "Viva Riva!" is the kind of fast-and-loose Third World C-movie you'd expect to watch on the 10" screen of an air-conditioned public bus rounding corners on the Karakoram Highway.

Writer/director Djo Tunda packs this Congo-situated exploitation flick with so much raunchy sex and bloody violence that you barely notice the expanding plot holes he bounces over as if using a pogo stick on the Moon. Riva is a smalltime freelance gangster who has just returned to Kinshasa with many barrels of gasoline to sell. Riva has a knack for finding trouble. He's also a poor judge of character, at least based on his overpowering attraction to Nora, the fickle but sexy girlfriend of a local kingpin named Azor. Note to self: avoid gangster molls, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Riva pays no attention to the dangers that surround him as he absconds with Nora. Angolan crime boss Cesar is hot on Riva's trail to get back the gas Riva stole from him.

Every aspect of "Viva Riva!" screams of the black market conditions under which the film was made. There's an undeniable raw energy here that takes no prisoners. If you like your exploitation movies dirty, cheap, and lacking in attention to such luxuries as narrative details, "Viva Riva!" is — well — a movie for you.

Rated R. 96 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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