Amoeblog

Unleashing My Essay and a Few Others on Django Unchained

Posted by Charles Reece, January 8, 2013 07:44am | Post a Comment
Samuel Jackson Stephen Django Unchained

My essay, "Snowball's Chance in Hell," on Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is up. I had some problems with the film:

So, instead of a critical reflection of Django’s narrative, complicating his own generically derived existence as black performativity (cf. blaxploitation), Stephen is treated as little more than a blackface projection for white fantasy. As Tarantino has stated over and over in interviews, he clearly wants his audience to take sides, cheer at the ending — not, I conclude, reflect on the problematic that the house negro presents. Django is the oppressed that white folk would like to be in such a situation, fighting for freedom (just as they would now, of course), with Stephen’s freely working for subjugation the negation that gives such freedom meaning — as if chattel slavery and its concomitant subjugation of black identity were a choice made by the subjugated!

Ishmael Reed
really didn't like the film:

Throughout the movie,Tarantino reminds us that the Foxx character is unique. Comic book white racists, when reacting to Django, say things like “I ain’t never seen a n—– like you.”Or “I ain’t never seen a n—– on horseback.” In case you didn’t get the message it’s said twice in the movie that Django is “one in ten thousand” blacks. It might have been Django producer Reginald Hudlin who introduced Tarantino to the “Talented Tenth” concept originated by W.E.B DuBois. I wish that Hudlin had written the movie. As it stands, Foxx is chained to this stupid screenplay.

No Feet in Django Unchained: Tarantino on Stern

Posted by Charles Reece, December 24, 2012 12:26am | Post a Comment

My critique is coming soon, but in the meantime here's Howard Stern's recent interview
with Quentin Tarantino about his new film (among other subjects), Django Unchained.

Negative Zone, Mon Amour: Stan Lee Wrote a Screenplay with Alain Resnais

Posted by Charles Reece, December 2, 2012 09:37pm | Post a Comment
fantastic four issue 42 page 15 jack kirby
From Fantastic Four #42, p. 15. Art by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

I knew Federico Fellini was a fan of 60s Marvel Comics, but was surprised to learn from Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story that not only was Alain Resnais a big fan, he also had plans on making a film with Stan Lee. Fellini was a former cartoonist and I can easily imagine the Marvel Method guiding an Italian production: film a bunch of scenes, then have actors overdub whatever lines Lee wrote after seeing the completed visuals. Resnais, on the other hand, seems snootier and a lot more abstract in his work. Nevertheless, what he and Lee came up was this (as described by The Man himself): "The Monster Maker is a realistic fantasy about a frustrated movie producer who overcomes his frustrations through trying to solve the problems of pollution [...]. There will be lots of symbolism -- and garbage." [quoted in Howe, p. 114] Sounds like they were breaking even with their combined cultural capital. And it's certainly true that both men shared a love for portentous dialogue. Man, I'd love to read this script.

The Late, Great Larry Hagman

Posted by Charles Reece, November 24, 2012 09:32am | Post a Comment

One of the more fascinating shows about gender politics from the 60s, I Dream of Jeannie. In this episode, Tony (Larry Hagman) basically prevents Roger from raping Dr. Bellows' wife by molesting her himself in a closet. And he blames it all on Jeannie, making her stay in the bottle! J.R. isn't the biggest cretin Hagman ever played. He died yesterday.

AFI 2012 - The ABCs of Death (2012)

Posted by Charles Reece, November 18, 2012 10:41pm | Post a Comment
abcs of death poster

Lets just say this film is NOT for the morally conscious.
-- Timo Tjahjanto on his "L is for Libido"

The ABCs of Death
is a collection of humorous horror shorts from around the world, each based on a letter of the alphabet -- so you know going in that, percentage-wise, some of it won't be very good. However, there are a truly inspired few that make enduring the whole worthwhile. What you'll learn, if you didn't already know, is that Americans aren't very good at making horror these days, Asians are the best, with the French and Mexicans falling somewhere in between.

The best of the bunch is undoubtedly from Indonesia, Timo Tjahjanto's "L is for Libido."  Two men are chained to chairs, forced to masturbate to whatever's put before them on a stage. The last one to ejaculate gets gruesomely eliminated, while the winner goes on to the next round, with something even more heinous being put before him and his new opponent. Without giving any of the shock value away, I'll just say that the forced fetish spectacle was sufficiently evil to get the asshole sitting next to me who couldn't stop playing with his cell phone (a video arcade was coming from his seat) to finally pay attention and leave in disgust. A good horror film can't be ignored. Despite Tjahjanto's claim of amorality, there's actually quite a bit going on here. I'm thinking about the assumption of passivity in gaze theory, both on the part of the spectacle and on the part of the spectator. What's being shown in front of the camera is under its controlling gaze (typically, this is thought to be women, objectified and fetishized), while giving the viewer the false impression of being in control of that gaze, when in fact the gaze has been ("always already") structured for him (men tend to be assumed to be in the role of the scopophiliac). The short manifests this theory as horror: the men are actually subjugated to a spectacle beyond their control. But it's unlikely to win many feminist converts, because it's played for laughs (of the gallows humor variety). The problem in gaze theory is that the spectator isn't passive, a mere product of interpellation, which is made comically apparent through sanguine literality. Intentional or not, Tjahjanto has created a perverse satire of Laura Mulvey's theory.

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