Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Django Unchained review

As a big Quentin Tarantino fan, I couldn't wait to see his new film Django Unchained. What else is there to do on Christmas Day? The film is somewhat similar to Inglourious Basterds in the sense that it is a Spaghetti Western take on a specific subject, in this case slavery. Some people seem offended that Tarantino would take on slavery. Tarantino bought the rights to the 1966 film Django just so he could use the title. His script is not based on that film though he does use the Django theme sung by Rocky Roberts as the theme for Django Unchained. Dr. King Schultz (Christophe Waltz) is a bounty hunter masquerading as a dentist. He discovers a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) and takes him on as his partner. He does this because of his distaste for slavery. Django was separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) when both were sold and the end goal is to go to Mississippi and reunite them. Most of the first half of the film shows the reaction to a black man who is not a slave. They find Broomhilda as a slave of Calvin Candie (Leonardo Dicaprio). The plan is for the two to feign interest in buying a slave for a lot of money and turn him into a fighter and get Broomhilda out of there. But the suspicion of Candie's number one slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) results in a lot of blood and gore. The violence in these scenes is so cartoonish that I don't understand how anyone could be offended by it. I guess no one has ever seen Sam Peckinpah's 1969 western The Wild Bunch. The violence was clearly a tribute to Peckinpah. I guess some of the people who don't like the film expected a serious film about slavery. But it's not a serious film. It's a satire clearly designed to upset the easily offended. So I thought the film was hilarious. Foxx plays Django fairly straight because if he tries to ham it up too much, it won't work. Waltz is excellent just as he was in Inglourious Basterds. Dicaprio and Jackson's characters are played more broadly and Jackson's character is supposed to be a clear portrait of what is known as an Uncle Tom. It was also great to see Walton Goggins of the TV series Justified in a supporting role. There are also several cool cameos including Tarantino himself, Franco Nero who starred in the original Django, Don Johnson, Tom Wopat of Dukes Of Hazzard, Don Stroud, Russ Tamblyn and his daughter Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Jonah Hill, Michael Parks and blood and gore guru Tom Savini who dies in his own fake blood. I have been asked about the music in the film as some have complained Tatantino uses contemporary music in a period film. Again people need to lighten up. For one thing, Tarantino rarely uses original music in his films. In this film, he uses a lot of Ennio Morricone snippets from Two Mules For Sister Sara and a Jerry Goldsmith piece from the 80s film Under Fire. He also uses vintage pop by Jim Croce and Richie Havens and songs written for the film by Anthony Hamilton, Rick Ross and John Legend. I guess the rap songs are disconcerting to some people. I enjoyed Django Unchained as the comic fantasy that I think it is intended to be. But I wouldn't recommend it to uptight people. Check out the trailer.

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