I sit in the darkening theater with the anticipation that the upcoming film is going to in some way better what I already know or expose a new curve of theme–love, death, karate, whatever–that’s never been exposed to me before. The newness is in the simple and mundane, or seemingly simple and mundane, because the Byzantine “everyday” with its new hopes and crumbling frame and dust that’s getting built up and washed away is anything but simple or mundane. It is, however, simple to overlook.
In the dark, sometimes the newness is horrible. Quentin Tarantino’s new “Django Unchained” has his familiar wit and humor amongst his bloody murders and self-conscious stylized scroll of words across the screen. And then there’s a slave getting whipped and a slave getting killed by dogs at the direction of the slave owner and slaves instructed to fight to the death as sport and a slave being removed from a sweatbox, a chamber that would heat in the sun causing, at minimum, dehydration and, at worse, whatever you can think of that isn’t quite yet death. Klansmen have a comical exchange about the size of the holes in their hoods and we all laughed in the theater and, then, oh yeah, remembered how that group would go on to kill so many in the name of white nationalism and other far-leaning motivations. And then it was a movie where the cinematic techniques have you talking with your wife about auteurship and perfectly framed scenes and an anachronistic soundtrack.
There were moments of humanism that have been budding through the mud since the ending credits and while attaching terms like postmodernism and post-postmodernism and transavantgarde may come, the film right now is a mix of moments, some horrible newness–visuals placed where only my imagination created dimension–and other simpler moments, grand moments that chronicle the familiar, the push of love, the unexpected roots of friendship.