Monday, August 12, 2019

Winding Down

I'm winding down this week.  Or at least trying to.  As of the end of play on Thursday, I'll be taking my long late Summer break from work.  So, as you can imagine, in the run up to this, I'm doing my best to keep as low a profile as possible - the last thing I want is stress and/or complications before I head into three weeks away from the office. (Or, to be accurate, three consecutive runs of four days off of work as only do Monday to Thursday these days).  All too often I've found my last week before taking leave overly fraught, with work doing its best to pile more and more 'urgent' stuff on me that just has to be done before I finish.  These days, of course, I'm under medical orders to avoid such stressful situations.  Anyway, as part of my winding down process I decided that, having enjoyed my Friday on the sofa watching a film, I'd repeat the process on Saturday.  Continuing the Western theme, the film this time was Tarantino's Django Unchained.  Now, I've had this film on the hard drive of my digital TV recorder for a couple of years, at least.  In fact, it was one of the first films I recorded from TV using my current Humax recorder.  Yet I had never actually watched it.  The main reason for this was that I really hadn't enjoyed either of Tarantino's previous films, Inglorious Basterds and Death Proof.  I felt them both to be far too slow moving and unengaging.  Consequently, despite having recorded Django Unchained, I just couldn't summon sufficient enthusiasm to actually watch it, fearing another near three hours of boredom.

Yet I didn't deleted it.  For some reason I kept it there, taking up valuable disc space.  Perhaps it was some residual affection for Tarantino's earlier films that made me reluctant to erase it, so there it stayed.  My interest in it was reawakened by a season of sixties films on Sony Movie Channel, which were selected and introduced by Tarantino.  These included some real eccentricities, some which hadn't seen the light of days in years.  Obviously, this season was part of the run up to the UK release of the director's latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Having seen the promotional trailers for this, I have to say that I was struck by how well Tarantino had captured the look and feel of late sixties Hollywood movies.  All of this left me feeling that, if I was to watch his latest effort, I really should 'limber up' for it by re-familiarising myself with Tarantino by watching the only one of his films I had readily available:  Django Unchained.  I have, to say, I was pleasantly surprised, it was far more enjoyable than his previous two pictures.  Although overlong, as most of his films are, it didn't drag in the way that I felt Inglorious Basterds and Death Proof had - it was far better paced, with the long dialogue scenes better balanced by action sequences.  Most crucially, the characters were far more engaging - I actually cared what happened to them.  Christoph Waltz, in particular, gave an excellent performance, to the point that it threatened to unbalance the film by overshadowing Jamie Foxx's titular character.  Indeed, the film lost a lot of its impetus, not to mention heart, after Waltz's character was killed.  The remaining half hour felt flatter that anything that had preceded it.  What was notable was the fact that, for once, Tarantino chose to follow a relatively straightforward, linear narrative, devoid of his usual tricks and tine-shifted sequences, resulting in a far more approachable film for the casual viewer.  It has left me feeling enthusiastic for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.



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