Review: DJANGO UNCHAINED
Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds – it’s hard to prove whether or not writer/director Quentin Tarantino has made a “bad” movie. Basterds saw rousing success with Oscar recognition, and Pulp Fiction is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time. Tarantino’s last outing, Inglourious Basterds, was a relentlessly violent and grandiose original take on World War II clashing fantasy and history.
Django Unchained, Tarantino’s latest, is a tribute to the Spaghetti Western that also places his own take on history. Instead of Nazi-killing Jews, the film’s core is a love story between two slaves. Like Basterds, one of Django Unchained’scentral themes is revenge. Bloody violent, brutally hilarious, brilliant dialogue, an anachronistic soundtrack, and Tarantino’s audacity allow Django Unchained to address American history in a way never seen before.
Django’s cast is littered with Academy Award winners and nominees. Oscar winner Jaime Foxx plays the role of the title character, Django, who we meet in the film’s opening as part of a chain gang of slaves. As good as Foxx is in the film, he is overshadowed by the outstanding performances of the supporting cast. Foxx’s Django is taken in by King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to lend a helping hand in the bounty hunting business by finding the Brittle Brothers. ”Kill white folks and they pay you for it. What’s not to like?” Django is a natural in the game, and he offers plenty of crowd-pleasing gun-slinging moments as the film’s events unfold. Foxx and Waltz make an outstanding on screen pair. Let’s not forget, Waltz earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as Colonel Hans Landa in 2009′s Inglourious Basterds. In his second Tarantino film, Waltz doesn’t miss a beat. Already nominated for a Golden Globe, Waltz dazzles viewers with his charm and wit. It will come as no surprise if Waltz is recognized by the Academy for his performance.
Starring in his first truly “villainous” role, Academy Award Nominee Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, a plantation owner with a taste for the dramatic. DiCaprio brings a gentleman-like calm to Candie, which makes outbursts of violence all the better. Candie owns Broomhilda, Django’s wife, which ultimately leads to Django and Schultz’s trip to the plantation known as Candyland. DiCaprio, like Waltz, has already been nominated for a Golden Globe. DiCaprio has never won an Academy Award, but has certainly given an Oscar worthy performance in a year full of stiff competition.
Django Unchained paints a harsh picture of the realities of the mid 1800s, but it is also, among other things, a comedy. The character that may provide the most laughs is that of Stephen, played by Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson plays Candie’s loyal house slave. Tarantino has explained that Jackson’s character is meant to bring to life some of the most loathed African-American stereotypes, and Jackson plays it wonderfully.
Rounding out the supporting cast is Kerry Washington, Don Johnson, and Walter Goggins—even Jonah Hill makes an appearance. Washington plays Broomhilda, Django’s wife. Broomhilda is presented as sort of a princess, waiting to be saved. Johnson plays Big Daddy, a flamboyant plantation owner who delivers a wonderful scene involving an exchange between him and Schultz. Goggins is Billy Crash, one of Candie’s “henchmen,” for lack of a better word. While only in the film for a few minutes, Jonah Hill and the “KKK” provide one of the more comedic scenes.
Robert Richardson’s sprawling cinematography captures beautiful images of antebellum south, taking the audience from crop filled plantations, to snow covered western landscapes. In typical Tarantino fashion, blood splatter is aplenty. As gory and violent as it may sound, there’s a certain beauty to the way Richardson and Tarantino execute the bloody results of gunshots. The soundtrack, released last week, is just as adventurous as the journey Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) and Django (Foxx) partake in over the 2 hr. 45 min. runtime. Featuring tracks anywhere from the likes of Luis Bacalov to hip-hop mogul Rick Ross, it is used perfectly throughout the film. There is a mash up of James Brown and 2Pac that is sure to get the blood flowing once bullets start flying.
Many viewers may be put off or offended by the ubiquitous use of the n-word, Tarantino has definitely accomplished the authenticity of the era. Back then there wasn’t any talk of “African-Americans”; even the politest of the polite used the word in regular conversation.
Overall, Django Unchained proves that Tarantino grows as a filmmaker with every film he puts out. As the last big film of 2012, Django Unchained sends us into the New Year with a rousing bang. Intelligent dialogue, surprising hilarity, explosive action, bloody violence, anachronistic songs, and great performances show us that Tarantino has done it yet again. In your face and politically incorrect, in a year full of great work by many great actors and directors, Quentin Tarantino may have given us the best Christmas present of all in the form of the year’s best film.
[All images and videos are copyright to the Weinstein Co.]
Posted on December 29, 2012, in Reviews and tagged Christoph Waltz, Django, Django Unchained, Film, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Movies, Quentin Tarantino, Reviews, Samuel L. Jackson. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.