This is the second part of a three part series here at The Rock dedicated to previewing the Best Picture category at the 85th Academy Awards. We will be reviewing three nominated movies in each part leading up to the Oscars. If you missed Part 1, click here. Part 3 will be posted this Friday. Hope you enjoy!
It’s difficult to review a movie where one of the primary focuses is on slavery. Clearly the use of the slavery theme in “Django” has been a sensitive subject. It all depends on what you take out of it. What I took after watching this film twice was that Tarantino was trying to show not just the horrors of slavery, but also how absolutely absurd it is that slavery was even a thing. I don’t think it was anything more or less than that.
That being said, I can certainly see how some are offended by what they see in “Django”. It isn’t easy to make light of an issue like slavery, but Tarantino is able to do so without taking away from the seriousness of the subject matter.
What people should be thinking after seeing this movie is how incredible the actual story is. Tarantino goes away from his typical style of narrative and brings a much more linear type of story telling. The film has the usual Tarantino violence and his dialogue is as good as ever. Every time I heard Christoph Waltz speak, I was impressed by how great the character was. Also, the fact that Tarantino can put a Johnny Cash song and a Tupac song in the same film is equally, if not more, impressive.
Life of Pi:
Richard Parker might be one of the greatest names for an animal in a movie of all time. It’s right up there with Hooch and Mr. Bigglesworth. What I didn’t realize was how Richard Parker, a tiger, was going to be used in the movie.
Going into it, I thought that Pi would get stuck on the boat with the tiger, but then it would be miraculously tame and all would be well. Instead Richard Parker, for the most part, acted exactly how you’d expect a tiger to act if you were stuck on a boat with him—it would try to eat you.
The relationship between Pi and Richard Parker ends up being the focal point of the film. Although Richard Parker just sees Pi as its next meal, Pi is able to survive with it and sees Richard Parker as a friend, even though the feeling wasn’t mutual.
What’s lost is the initial theme of religion in the beginning of the film. It’s always apparent throughout, but the spectacular scenery and the relationship between Richard Parker and Pi overshadow it. At the end of the movie, the message is explained to the viewer, but I would’ve liked to be able to figure it out for myself. That would have made a more effective movie and perhaps made Life of Pi into a contender.
It’s difficult to make a movie suspenseful when, for the most part, the audience already knows the outcome. That’s where Ben Affleck’s Argo fails for me. I didn’t feel any of the tension that I was supposed to feel. This is why I’m not surprised that Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director, while at the same time I’m more and more surprised after seeing Argo win all of the other award shows.
It’s difficult to buy into a movie’s suspense where the moment meant for the most tension is when the audience doesn’t know whether or not two movie producers are going to be able to walk across a movie set in time to answer a phone. Had I not already known that everything was going to work out, I’m sure I would have been on the edge of my seat, wishing that cell phones had been invented back then so that this whole problem could’ve been avoided. But that wasn’t the case. Instead I received a thriller without much thrill.
Unfortunately, this is the exact type of movie that will win the Oscar. A movie that’s safe and doesn’t take many risks is right up the Academy’s alley. If this movie didn’t have a name like Affleck attached to it, it might still have gotten the nomination, but I’d bet good money that it wouldn’t be in the running, let alone leading the pack.