As has been chronicled in the space before, I am lucky enough to attend the theatre regularly as part of my work. On Friday night we have support staff on hand so that we can go out. The preference is often a movie, especially when there isn't a hockey or soccer or basketball game to attend. This past Friday found is at Famous Players Prince George to bear witness to a masterpiece "Django Unchained". While I don't intend to ruin the movie for others, I do intend to make sure you know exactly what you are missing if you don't go and see it.
So, after seeing the previews for weeks, including a number of times on the big screen at the theatre I knew that I couldn't miss this one. It had so many positive things going for it, I really felt that it was going to be awesome.
Creative and Unique Direction: CHECK
Great Acting Cast: CHECK
Interesting and Controversial Subject Material: CHECK
The Best Genre on Film: CHECK
I was dying to include that checklist in some form, so there you go. If you don't know me well, you won't know that over the last few years I have developed an affinity for the Western movie. I believe that part of this new found love is the difficulty involved in finding a really well done Western film. It also seems like Hollywood is afraid of the genre for the very same reason, it's damn hard to make an entertaining Western film that can truly capture the audience. I have really been watching a lot of movies in the last few years, and even with my developing interest in the genre, I have only seen maybe 5 or 6 good Western movies, and even fewer that I would consider "great". Due to my love of lists, I will now include a ranking of Western movies I have seen. This is my personal preference, and does not include anything from the older eras of young Eastwood, Tom Selleck classics, John Wayne and so on. This isn't to say these aren't potentially great, it's just that you can't get a decent quality for them, and I have not seen enough of them. On to my list.
1. 3:10 To Yuma (2007)
2. Appaloosa (2008)
3. True Grit (2010)
4. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)
5. Lawless (2012)
6. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
7. Open Range (2003)
8. Maverick (1994)
9. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
10. Wyatt Earp (1994)
Well, I was barely able to make out a top 10 list even while reaching back more the 30 years for Josey Wales. Now there are a few others that I want to see but haven't had the chance. Also, looking back through the genre just now in order to make my list I found a few more that I hope to see soon. But, the task at hand is to determine just how great "Django Unchained" really is. I really like that Quentin Tarantino is going out and tackling genres that he has never touched before. There were elements of the traditional western mixed in, but the amount of humour and wit was an awesome touch. Also, you can't ignore that the bounty hunters running around killing "bad guys" was a fresh twist as well. Jamie Foxx is an extremely talented actor, as he won me over with his turn as Ray Charles in "Ray" which was one of my favorite movies of all time. He doesn't disappoint in Django as he goes from slave, to bounty hunter, to prisoner to hero seamlessly. I was unfamiliar with Christopher Waltz's work, but I must say he is a show stealer in this one. While blowing away countless bad guys, his character is constantly cracking witty jokes with a smile. The best scene of the movie has to be when Foxx and Waltz's characters are at dinner in Candie's house when they are attempting to rescue Broomhilda. The tension is great, Samuel L. Jackson's turn as the head slave with a sneaky suspicion works really well, and it leads to an absolutely unbelievable gun fight that you have to see. All in all, this was nearly 3 hours of great storytelling that I look forward to seeing again. This leads me to the ultimate question, where does "Django Unchained" rank on my list of favorite western movies. While "True Grit" was a solid movie made by my favorite directors the Coen Brothers, I would say that "Django" is a slight bit better. I know "Appaloosa" was panned by many, but I really loved the slow moving storytelling that Ed Harris employed in it. Now, "3:10 To Yuma" shall remained untouched at number 1 as it was just a perfect blend of everything the genre should be. "Django Unchained" will settle in at #2 at least for now as I continue my quest to view more "great" western movies.