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Snowball's Chance in Hell: Django Unchained (2012)

Posted by Charles Reece, April 28, 2013 09:59am | Post a Comment
django unchained poster rich kelly

Along with Inglourious BasterdsDjango Unchained forms something of a diptych for Tarantino insofar as both are revenge fantasies set in two of history’s greatest atrocities: the Holocaust and American chattel slavery. In the interview he gave at the screening I saw last week, he certainly thinks of them that way. But before either film could begin to be written, one crucial difference in their respective historical situations delimited the possibilities of fantasy: one can fantasize about the end of the Holocaust by killing the highest members of the Nazi party, whereas there is no easily imagined personalized end to slavery through a few targeted acts of vengeance. Thus, the use of explosives against the Nazis seems a tactical act, a logical means of warfare. The use of bombs against slavery would border on what we call terrorism these days, or “irrationally” violent outbursts against a society (targeting civilians who can’t do anything to change the way things are, or think of the portrayal of the Watts riots, for example: why did they destroy property?). Slavery was a deeply structural violence, an ontological domination of a people that didn’t obtain in the instance of the Holocaust. Any heroic narrative set in the slave-built Southern economy is going to have a major hurdle to overcome: there is no real end in sight, the villain remains like the renewable heads of a hydra, nor is there a place to go where the hero’s limited victory will be recognized, much less celebrated (excepting the audience who might applaud at the film’s end). As Frantz Fanon famously wrote in Black Skin, White Masks:

The Jewishness of the Jew, however, can go unnoticed. He is not integrally what he is. We can but hope and wait. His acts and behavior are the determining factor. He is a white man, and apart from some debatable features, he can pass undetected. [...] Of course the Jews have been tormented — what am I saying? They have been hunted, exterminated, and cremated, but these are just minor episodes in the family history. The Jew is not liked as soon as he has been detected. But with me things take on a new face. I’m not given a second chance. I am overdetermined from the outside. I am a slave not to the “idea” others have of me, but to my appearance.

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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.

Win Tickets to Django Unchained Hollywood Premiere

Posted by Amoebite, December 11, 2012 08:28pm | Post a Comment

Win a pair of tickets to attend the Hollywood premiere of Django Unchained December 18th at the Arclight Cinerama Dome! Enter in-store at Amoeba Music Hollywood only. Winner will be notified Monday, 12/17.

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained Original Motion Picture Soundtrack comes out 12/18. Get a free limited-edition movie poster with purchase of the soundtrack at any Amoeba store (while they last).

 

Django Unchained contest

 

 

The Ruse of Analogy: One Plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil, 1968)

Posted by Charles Reece, April 8, 2012 08:02pm | Post a Comment
one plus one cinemarxism godard

[This essay originally appeared as part of The Hooded Utilitarian's roundtable on Jean-Luc Godard here.]

To begin with, a generalization: Godardians really don’t like Quentin Tarantino. But, fear not, this post isn’t going to be about the latter, only the reasons expressed by the Godardians for their contempt. Wasn’t it Jean-Luc Godard himself who argued against a clear distinction between the fictional film and the documentary? For him, being even more opposed to naïve realism than Andre Bazin, the camera always had a perspective, a position, or as Colin MacCabe puts it: “there is not reality and then the camera – there is reality seized at this moment and this way by the camera.” [p. 79] It was this foundational belief that led to Godard’s dismissal of the anti-aesthetic implicit within cinema vérité, that reality comes from letting the film roll. Yet, Jonathan Rosenbaum (and I might as well mention Daniel Mendelsohn and HU’s very own Caroline Small) condemns Inglourious Basterds for “mak[ing] the Holocaust harder, not easier to grasp as a historical reality,” because “anything that makes Fascism unreal is wrong.” Evidently, contrary to Godard, fascism is just there waiting to have a camera pointed at it. No truth could possibly come out of a fantasy involving Nazism.

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