Django Unchained


Susan and I went to Cinema City in Herzliya tonight, to see the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. It’s close to three hours of enthralling, bloody, entertaining, and troubling cinema.

Jamie Foxx plays the part of Django, a slave, who is freed by Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to help him identify three wanted men. The good doctor is a bounty hunter, Soon Django is his willing partner in exchange for a promise from the doctor to help find Django’s slave wife and buy her freedom. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out like that…

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, the slave master owner of Django’s wife. Candie lives the ultimate plantation existence, surrounded by blacks to serve him, and fight each other to the death to entertain him. Samuel L Jackson plays the jester like role of Stephen, Candie’s top, long serving, slave. And Kerry Washington plays the part of Djanmgo’s wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft. (Her German name came from a former German owner, giving a useful link to Schultz, the German observer of the strange goings on in pre Civil War America. See also the trivia at the end of this post.)

This is the best Tarantino film I have seen, and I liked it better than Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, and all the rest. It’s quirky, but not too off the wall. It is action packed and makes the time fly past. The story is simple, but not simplistic, and has enough twists and surprises without making too many demands. And while some of the characterization is wafer thin, there’s enough meat on the others to draw you in.

On the downside, the violence is too graphic, almost as if Quarantino (who appears in the film in a minor role) wants to see how far he can push the boat out. There are a couple of scenes which are, in my opinion, over the top and unnecessary.

On the plus side, the film does a good job of displaying some of the warts and terrors of the institution of slavery. It should turn your stomach. There are a few troubling scenes which may set you thinking; even though the primary aim is entertainment, this film gives a wee bit more.

It’s well worth seeing. And I could watch it again.

Finally, this cracking piece of trivia is from IMDB:

Director Quentin Tarantino revealed at Comic-Con that Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington’s characters are meant to be the great great great grandparents of the character John Shaft from the Shaft movies. An overt reference to this connection can be found in Kerry Washington’s character’s full name: Broomhilda Von Shaft.



Float like a butterfly, skid like a fool

Backdrop 1: there are real rainstorms in winter in Israel. They are occasions with dark, threatening skies, thunder, lightning, and rain. Lots of rain. (We have had so much rain this winter, we no longer have a water shortage…) The effect on the roads, which are not built to handle more than the odd shower, is to fill them with huge puddles that often stretch across multiple lanes. And the back spray from cars in front of you often cuts your visibility to nothing. The effect on the drivers is not capable of being measured. In short, no change.

Backdrop 2: many mornings, on the way to work, there is a large white car which speeds past me. It’s always in the outside lane, and it’s always speeding. Not speeding as in 10 or 20 kph over the speed limit, but speeding as in doing twice the speed limit. Or faster. Since I am normally in the inside lane of the three lane motorway (highway), typically I only see the car’s rear end as it flashes past. (That’s why I am not sure of the car type; looks like a Mercedes coupe with a curved rear boot line, but it might be an Audi. Whatever; it’s a big, powerful, fast car.)

This morning: there was a winter storm.  This morning, in the dark before sunrise, the usual white car sped past me. It was going way too fast for the conditions.

A second later, it spun out of control right in front of me. (I assume he hit surface water at the wrong speed and angle and was aquaplaning.) The car went round and round, across a couple of lanes, and ended up pointing in the wrong direction. His headlights were blinding the (thankfully sparse) traffic, including me. He was lucky that. not only was there little traffic about, but what traffic there was managed to slow down – without losing control – and give him time and space to spin around without causing any damage.To put it another way: he was lucky – he could have been a metal and strawberry jam sandwich spread over Kvish Arba (Highway 4). After the car halted, he turned the car round and sped away. Not so fast this time…more like limped away.

I have never seen, live, a car spin out of control like that. It was a Hollywood type stunt; this was no loss of control and graceless collision. Instead, it was like small piece of a well choreographed dance, and I was getting to watch it for free.

I guess the driver must have been pretty badly shook up. I was, and I was just a witness. However, by the time the weekend is over, and it’s the start of the working week, next Sunday morning, I fully expect that white car to be speeding past me again like usual. Yes, I know, I am cynical. Especially when it comes to the drivers in Israel. I promise to tell you if the white car driver proves me wrong.

The fields run dry

This week’s session started with a vigorous debate about which game to play. Elad an I were keen on Acquire. Rochelle was neutral. Laurie did not want to play Acquire, but did want to play Santiago. Elad, however, did not want to play Santiago. (Children, children…) Unfortunately for him, I persuaded him to try it. Then Penny turned up to join in, and so we had five. That turns Santiago into a bit of a cut throat experience.


In short, Laurie cut our throats and won ahead of Rochelle, me, Elad and Penny.

We finished just as reinforcements turned up and split into two groups.

Susan, Laurie, Elad and Ella played the latest Quarriors game which Elad had proudly unpacked. It looked very nice. Susan demolished them with a fine win. Well done Susan!

At the other end of the table, Yehuda, Rochelle and I played Carcassonne. This is an easy tile placing game, which was a first time experience for Rochelle. She and I finished a few points behind Yehuda. It was a close game right up until the end, and I think Rochelle may be adding this to her list of favorites.


Yehuda, Rochelle and I finished up with a game of Coloretto which I sneaked a win in.

Another fun filled night.

[Cross posted from Ra’anana Boardgames Group.]

Playlist for the gym

One day, this may be of interest to people. Till then, enjoy the music that kept me company while I did a wee stint at the gym tonight:

  1. Silly Thing, Sex Pistols [video]
  2. Secret, Robin Zander [song]
  3. Anarchy in the UK, Sex Pistols [video]
  4. No More Mr Nice Guy, Alice Cooper [video]
  5. Billion Dollar Babies, Alice Cooper [video]
  6. School’s Out, Alice Cooper [video]
  7. Baba O’Riley, The Who [video]
  8. Making Up Numbers, The Pigeon Detectives [song]
  9. This is an Emergency, The Pigeon Detectives [movie trailer & video]
  10. Monster, The Automatic [video]
  11. Another Man’s Woman, Supertramp [song]
  12. Teenage Dirtbag, Wheatus [video]
  13. Bound for Magic Mountain, Eat Lights Become Lights [video]

More Chapman billies…

Once again, I had the pleasure of attending Lenny Wolfe’s Burns Supper. (See here for last year’s post.) I didn’t have my camera, so there is no picture coverage this year – sorry – but you can take my word for it that it was a good night.

I had the honor of doing the Toast to the Immortal Memory of Rabbie Burns. It was hard work putting the material together, but I was amply rewarded with what I felt was a warm reception. Probably the star speech of the night was the reply to the Toast to the Lassies by the former Marion Brodie. (Regrettably, I do not know her married name.) Very funny. Standout line:

My husband said he wanted more space. I locked him outside.

Shavuah Tov, everyone.

Bottom of the league

Rollonfriday is a legal web site that shies away from press releases, and tends not to follow the PR crap view the legal profession has about itself. It’s a good source of real news and opinion about what is going on in the legal business arena.

It runs an annual Firm of the Year competition, allowing employees to rate their own firm in key areas like pay, work-life balance, toilets(!), social life, and others.

The 2013 winners were Ince and Co.

The 2013 bottom firm were Irwin Mitchell.

I worked for a year at Irwin Mitchell. Ask me if I’m surprised.

Israel’s election and Obama

There was an electric atmosphere across Israel last night, from the moment the first exit poll suggested (accurately, it appears) that Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud – Yisrael Beitenu block would get the most votes and around 31 seats. But, the polls also showed the shock result that – out of nowhere – the center-left party of former journalist Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) would be the second biggest with around 19 seats. Labor look to be heading for 15 seats. So, Labor plus Yesh Atid received more votes than the Likud plus Yisrael Beitenu…

It’s mildly amusing to recall the woeful failure of the likes of the BBC and The Guardian to (a) impartially cover the election; and (b) accurately gauge the mood of the nation. Hint to both of them: you need to stop hanging out with Haaretz journalists. I should also say that I was disappointed by the Economist’s coverage. Its editorial of last week was a disgrace. Maybe their journalists are also spending too much time in the company of the wrong people.

I spent some time online, following the trends, and watched a bit of the TV coverage. The bottom line is that the serious talking and negotiating are going on now, in an attempt to form the next government. It looks like the right spectrum will have parity or a wafer thin majority of seats (60-61 out of the 120 total). However, it may be that Bibi will look at forming a ‘central’ block coalition as that is likely to be more durable. We shall see; meantime, it’s all to play for.

In among the noise and fury of last night, one of the best, lasting images was prompted by a couple of stars in the Twitterverse: they pointed out that over in Washington, Obama was rushing to his computer to google Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid! Obama’s pulse was probably going through the roof if he saw or heard any of the rumors that Labor were going to back Yair Lapid as the new Prime Minister. (Unlikely, but a juicy prospect nevertheless.)

I didn’t see Lapid’s speech, but you can get a flavor of it from this Times of Israel report. Note the mention of Dov Lipman; one to watch.