“I felt like it was Dawn Unchained as I was able to escape my mother and the rest of Laredo Texas for the 3 hours I spent at the movie theater to watch the latest offering from that god among men, Quentin Tarantino. I’ve loved his films for quite a while, and just sitting there watching this one reminded me of so many of the reasons why I think he is the most incredible filmmaker today.
I’m really liking this new direction he’s taking of historical with a twist. First rewriting WWII in Inglorious Basterds and now creating a freed slave cowboy in Django. If you know what you’re looking for, this movie is very Tarantino: the anachronisms, the expertly chosen music, the dialog, the blood that somehow toes the line between gratuitous and artful, the underworld underdog overcoming opression. He’s so unpredictable, that even with as many movies as I’ve seen which usually lets me see twists from a mile away I was breathless with my heart pounding because I had no idea what was next. For some, this may seem like just a Western, albeit a bit more violent and visceral, but the story is still groundbreaking on some levels. I’d seen Kerry Washington comment that while normally should would not have been interested in playing a damsel in distress (an archetype that is practically nonexistent in Tarantino’s ouvre), the fact of the matter is that there were no fairy tales for the slaves back then. No princess being rescued. Being able to bring that to life was important to her. And it’s true, I can’t really think of any similar characters in that era.
Something else that’s indirectly great about Tarantino is that he has enough sway now to draw a truly phenomenal team of actors to work with him, and in that respect Django surely didn’t disappoint. Of course, long time collaborator Samuel L Jackson was back in a supporting role. Oooooh dear God did I hate him, his character that is, not Samuel L. I can’t remember the last time I felt so strongly repulsed by a character and their actions than I was by this uncle tom. The film also brought in more recent collaborator Christoph Waltz. Remember him? He won a freaking Oscar for his role as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, thus propelling him to stardom? Well, this time around Tarantino wrote a role specifically for him, so naturally it was one that he fit well. Not as dark as Landa, but a sufficient one that got to showcase a different side of him as an actor. Speaking of Hans Landa, word on the street is that the role was originally intended for one Leonardo Dicpario. Well, Leo finally got his turn as the villain Calvin Candie. I saw it pointed out somewhere that this is the first time that he’s played a truly evil and sinister character. Took me a second to think thru his filmography, but it’s true. While he’s been conflicted or bad-ish before, he’s never been so completely on this end of the spectrum. Holy \m/ you could just see how much fun he was having. If only one cast member manages an Academy Award nomination, I throw my support behind Mr Dicaprio. So deliciously devilish and captivating, he held both my curiosity and my attention throughout. And of course, there’s our Django, Jamie Foxx. Tarantino said he chose Foxx because he just got the role, and embodied it completely, to the point where that’s even his own horse he rides throughout the film. I was certainly a fan. He had this combination of badass and charisma that you need in a good cowboy. You need someone you want to cheer for, and that’s certainly what he filled.
Lest I go on gushing a bit too much, there were a few minor flaws. It irked me a little bit how “”too perfect”” it was that Django teamed up with a German man and they were rescuing his wife who happened to speak German, so they could base their con around that. My bigger annoyance, and this is more a pet peeve than anything, I really dislike it when a movie has a sorta false ending. It’s not always intentional. But sometimes the film builds and builds and it gets to what you think is the end, but then it goes on for another half hour (I’m looking at you Return of the King). No matter what happens during that last bit, you were already mentally prepared for the film to end, so you can’t be bothered much to care. There was some of that going on. After a big scene that seemed to have wrapped most things up, the screen went black for a second. I’d thought Tarantino went all Sopranos on us, and I was frustrated yet satisfied. But no, it continued. And yes, the result was even more satisfying, it just bothered me having to wait for it. But if that’s all I have to complain about, then that’s really not a big deal
Django Unchained – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/