Movie Review: "Django Unchained", Tarantino, like always, is off the chain.
on 2012-12-21 14:30
Movie Review: "Django Unchained" -
No one has done a better job of encouraging a healthy dose of bloodlust over the years than Quentin Tarantino, taking his "Inglorious Basterds" storyline a step further with "Django Unchained". While “Django” breaks no new ground for the director, it showcases everything that I love about him. Delicious dialogue, quirky and instantly rootable characters, over-the-top violence, and nostalgia for his favorite genres, here focusing on the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.
The cinematography by Robert Richardson looks a lot like Leone's work and in addition to Jim Croce, Rick Ross, and Luis Bacalav, Tarantino has managed to get musical accompaniment by Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone.
A delightfully eccentric Christoph Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz, a former German dentist turned bounty hunter who hates slavery but sees particular advantage in using Django (Jamie Foxx) to help him track down Django’s former owners (he feels guilty about it). The two men bond over the German story of “Siegfried”, where the title character must brave a ring of fire to recapture his love, Broomhilda, which also happens to be the name of the bride (Kerry Washington) Django is trying to get back. This is about as touching a comparison as Tarantino has ever made I think.
Foxx’s performance is the best we’ve seen from him since “Ray”. He plays a man who’s forced to endure tremendous cruelty and heartache, and desperate enough to have to combat the unspeakable hardships with his own unspeakable acts in order to get back the only good thing he has left. Ditto for Kerry Washington, playing a woman reduced to a trembling, fearful mess.
Tarantino rewards whippings, brandings, and various other atrocities with bloody death as Django decides to take up with Schultz for more payback. In addition to the violence, Tarantino has made a comedy that at certain points reminds you of the great “Blazing Saddles”, like a scene where a large group of good ole KKK boys complain about the inconvenient sheets they must wear.
The film truly gets into the ugly dark side of slavery once we get to the plantation of Calvin Candie, played with a genial sense of southern hospitality masking unfathomable cruelty by Leonardo DiCaprio, the man holding Broomhilda. Candie’s trade is Mandingo fighting (think dogfighting, but with slaves), leaving Django and Schultz to masquerade as traders looking for a fighter in order to save her. Candie’s breakdown between the difference between the skulls of blacks and whites and his toying of a failed runaway slave will give you chills.
And as much as Candie is a monster, its hard to tell who is more despicable, him or his house-man Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), a freed black man who tortures and treats his own people with nothing but disgust while doing everything but bootlicking to get on Candie’s good side. Jackson’s work here is as daring as it gets, from the first scene where he goes into a rant about seeing an “uppity nigger on a horse”, he incites a passionate hatred that only gets more detestable as we see more of him.
Tarantino doesn’t shy away from using the N-word (never less than nailing the time period) or the barrage of blood and bullets, but the best part is just listening to these characters talk his dialogue. It’s nearly 3 hours long but "Django" does a perfect job of setting up and then handing out punishments. This will go down as one of the year’s best achievements.
Final Score- 9 out of 10