365 films in 2013 | 25 | Four Rooms (1995, Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino)
Each director tackles a different hotel room on New Year’s Eve, connected by Ted, the bellhop. Tim Roth tries his best but physical comedy really isn’t his forte. The opening animated titles are reminiscent of The Pink Panther but Peter Sellers he ain’t. How do you grade a movie where half is abysmal and half is quite fun, approaching very good? Guess whose segments are awful (that’d be the directors we’ve heard little from since). If there’s anything Rodriguez understands the most it’s kids, and if there’s anything Tarantino understands the most it’s bloated Hollywood egos (hey-oh! but seriously, I do like most of his films), and their segments wisely stick to this familiar territory. It’s not enough to make up for the painfully unfunny first half, but it is a lesson in how important directors and writers are for actors - Roth’s performance markedly improves in their segments. Most of Tarantino’s is told in a single Steadicam take, which is cool.
365 films in 2013 | 24 | Django Unchained (2012, Quentin Tarantino)
Tarantino brings us a very bloody revenge fantasy not dissimilar from Inglourious Basterds. Obviously not the most nuanced depiction of the US’s troubled racial history you’re going to get, but I’d rather watch this than Lincoln, that’s for sure. I like how as the film progresses Django, who starts out almost as Schultz’s sidekick, becomes his own hero, and the film becomes more surreal. The middle hour sags a bit but the final hour more than makes up (and it never feels like a three hour film). Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington all give good performances, and my god the cameos! Tarantino’s, as usual, is the worst part, but Don Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Jonah Hill, Tom Savini, and so on, are pretty cool.