Tag Archives: Bruce Dern

The Set of 400: #96 – My Favorite Alexandre Dumas Trivia

Today! Because the D is silent –

Django Unchained (2012)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x3)

Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio (x4), Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson (x8), Walton Goggins (x2), James Remar (x3), Dennis Christopher, Don Johnson, Franco Nero, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern (x2), M.C. Gainey (x2), Jonah Hill (x6), Zoe Bell, Lee Horsley, Robert Carradine (x2), Ted Neeley, James Parks, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarantino (x2), Lewis Smith (x2), Daniele Watts, Gary Grubbs (x2), Don Stroud, Laura Cayouette, Dana Gourrier, Ato Essandoh, Escalante Lundy

Back-to-back Samuel L! And we’ve finally reached my second favorite film from the vaunted year of 2012. Ah, 2012! Mitt Romney lost and we as a people won – not just in politics but at the theaters, as we were treated to quite the mighty group of films. Nearly scaling the lot here was Quentin Tarantino’s hyper-violent rescue/revenge “southern” Django Unchained, his 7th full length movie and highest grossing one by a considerable margin (as of this writing, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is still some months away). He makes the strident case to not categorize this movie as a “western,” as it is set primarily in antebellum Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, but come on, call it what you like, this is as western as a non-western can be.

I mean, really, considering it borrows half its title and many plot/character elements from Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film Django, I suppose if we’re aggressively splitting hairs here this is some manner of American spaghetti western/southern. Hell, Franco Nero has a cameo in the film! It’s different enough that it ascribes no actual credit to Django, going so far as being classified an original-as-opposed-to-adapted screenplay, but still similar enough that if your video store has enough sections, classifying it might prove tricky. Anyway, it’s a western. Mostly. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #288 – My Favorite Ice Bath

Today! Because I’m gonna get off this merry-go-round. I’m so sick of all sticky things –

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

Directed by Sydney Pollack

Starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Gig Young, Red Buttons, Susannah York (x2), Severn Darden, Bonnie Bedelia, Bruce Dern, Al Lewis, Michael Conrad, Art Metrano

Part of my favorite nonsensical sub-genre of films (movies with complete sentences as titles), They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is based on the very real practice of holding dance marathons during the Great Depression so that poor, hungry people could try to win money and prizes. These folks would have to remain on their feet virtually non-stop for days and weeks at a time, trying to outlast each other not unlike modern contests where people have to keep their hands on a car, or continuously ride a rollercoaster until everyone else quits. The difference, of course, was that these people were desperate, and often died from sheer exhaustion in striving to win. It’s a little talked about, shameful blip in history, with roots back in Roman times – straight-up peasant brutality used to entertain the better off.

Look at the great times these poor bastards are having!

So if that’s your idea of a fun movie, They Shoot Horses is 100% your jam. Gig Young won an Oscar as the fun-loving, heartless ringmaster of this nightmare carnival, but the on-screen suffering and deterioration of Fonda, Sarrazin, Buttons, and York is equally as impressive and shocking. Based on the effective Horace McCoy novel, the movie manages to round complete characters out of this depravity, improving on the source material by adding and/or enhancing the minor roles. The result is Sydney Pollack’s masterpiece (Out of Africa and Tootsie are both great, don’t get me wrong), holding down the odd distinction of being the most nominated movie in Oscar history that didn’t get a Best Picture nod, with nine! But, you know, thank God they saved that spot for Hello, Dolly! Continue reading

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