Tag Archive: samuel l. jackson


Totally not as awful as I expected, which they should put on the poster.

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django unchained cast

Dir. Quentin Tarantino
(2012, R, 165 minutes)

The controversy surrounding Django Unchained was not encouraging. Reactionary backlash can be misleading – no, Zero Dark Thirty is not an endorsement of torture – but when Quentin Tarantino, a frequently brilliant auteur who sometimes is also an indulgent cinema-geek who makes more movie references than movies, intends to make free use of the N-word to tell a story about slavery designed after old spaghetti westerns, we have good reason to be concerned. Has this white director, who has a tendency to wink through the camera, earned the right to wink about the historical sale and ownership of black people?

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Dir. Joss Whedon
(2012, PG-13, 143 min)

The challenge of any superhero movie is suspending disbelief. That’s usually a fair bargain, but The Avengers requires multiple suspensions of multiple disbeliefs, and the collision of a handful of superhero worlds – each with its own system of techno-mystical logic – can draw undue attention to their absurdity. A man (Mark Ruffalo) who turns into a giant green monster because of exposure to gamma radiation is all well and good, but when he sits around chatting with the Norse god of thunder and a World War II-era super-soldier freeze-dried since the 1940s, well, don’t they all start to look a little silly?

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Dir. Tommy Lee Jones
(2011, Not Rated, 91 min)

Cormac McCarthy has a way with words. The Sunset Limited is composed of good words that in this case are not the building blocks of a great film but nevertheless get under your skin. What distinguishes it, as well as the few other McCarthy works I’m familiar with – No Country for Old Men and The Road – is a prevailing pessimism about the human condition, but a pessimism that is somehow not cynical. It’s compassionate at its core. The two unnamed characters in this film, which McCarthy adapted from his own play, are aboard opposite trains of thought: one is a misanthrope who wants to kill himself, and the other is an optimist who believes in eternal life through God. That they are known only as White and Black is a reference to their respective races, but not just. They represent starkly opposed worldviews. Can they be reconciled? Well that’s the question, isn’t it.

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Dir. Rodrigo García
(2010, R, 127 min)
★ ★ ½

Mother and Child is a film about adoption that never lets us forget it’s about adoption. It’s the subject of scenes even when it doesn’t make sense for it to be, as when the owner of a high-powered law firm asks his new associate why she never searched for her birth mother, or when, at a family picnic, another character’s step-daughter asks out of nowhere why she’s never searched for the daughter she gave up. We’re not watching characters who have experienced adoption. We’re watching characters written entirely around adoption.

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