Story: It has been two months since I last posted a film review on this site. I just stopped writing, in the middle of the Oscar season. I had my reasons and I can come up with good excuses, but I also have something better. The Big Fat Review. Because the fact that I stopped writing about films, does not mean that I stopped watching them.
Life of Pi was astonishing. Mind-blowingly beautiful. I felt a bit uncomfortable at first with the entire religion subtext, but Oscar winning director Ang Lee solved this problem beautifully in the last act. Central to this film is not, in my opinion, that this is a story that will make you believe in God. Life of Pi is a film that makes you understand why people, when confronted with circumstances wildly beyond their control, choose to believe in God. Curiously, the visual effects company that won the Life of Pi its second Oscar has gone bankrupt.
There is no director in the history of movies who can get away with a philosophical discussion in the middle of a dinosaur-movie for kids, and who also directs a political debate in a historical drama as if it were a nail biting action scene. Lincoln is a classic example of ‘pompous Spielberg’, following such films as Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Amistad and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This does not mean that the film is not good. Because it quite clearly is. Daniel Day-Lewis is astonishing as Lincoln, but his thunderous performance does draw too much attention away from equally fantastic turns by Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Curiously, while Lincoln was about the political fight for the abolition of slavery, it did not bother showing or pointing out what a terrible injustice and crime it was. That specific historical lesson is told by Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained, his long-awaited ‘Southern’. I have my issues with Tarantino, and these issues played up again during Django Unchained. I can do without the sadism. I don’t need to see a man being torn apart by dogs. It is enough for me if this cruelty is suggested. Tarantino films are almost always way too long. And too talky. And every character in it speaks like Quentin. But, and herein lies the great difference with the reprehensible Inglourious Basterds, I believe that Django Unchained has a clear moral centre. The sadism is inflicted by the bad guys, and is there to highlight the immorality of slavery. It does help that the fantastic Christoph Waltz is this time one of the good guys. While Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio all put in good performances, they are blown away by mr. Waltz.
The Big Fat Review will continue this weekend, with discussions of Silver Linings Playbook, Robot & Frank, Pitch Perfect, Arbitrage and Zero Dark Thirty.