Django Unchained (2012)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
“Django” is an unchained melody of sheer force. Quintessential Quentin Tarantino. But more than gallons of fake blood and dozens of pistols, this is something different. Boldly original, this is quality Quentin Tarantino. And as a self-proclaimed Tarantino hater, that’s saying something.
From the very first scene, where Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a smooth-talking, no bull shit bounty hunter, takes slave Django (Jamie Foxx) under his wing, I knew this would be something special. As the saga continues and the plot grows thicker, we discover that Django has a wife (Kerry Washington) separated by the harsh realities of slavery, but by now he had lost all hope of saving her again. Not so, says King. After a unforgiving winter of bounty hunting for monetary rewards, King and Django devise a plan to rescue the woman from her master, the owner of one of the South’s largest plantations, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Tarantino takes his time letting his slow-burning spaghetti western marinate, but once he tells you what’s really driving Django you won’t want to miss it. His unique brand of dry humor and abundance of violence make “Django” the man’s movie of 2012. It’s a two and a half-hour bloodbath that ends in the gun fight to end all gun fights. With Tarantino at the helm, you expect no less. Plus, you won’t want to miss the auteur’s most ironic cameo yet.
This isn’t your father’s depiction of slavery. This is graphic oppression, Tarantino style. Q gives audiences a severe taste of the realities (or embellishments) of slavery, a stirring picture that will leave you cringing with goosebumps. That’s what he wants. Slavery has never felt so real, at least not to anyone without personal ties. The beautiful Antebellum American South is contrasted by the brutal truths of bondage. Tarantino trash talks his slavery predecessors who, he says, wimp out of showing the terrible violence associated with post-Civil War America. I don’t think he cares that he went a little over the top, he’s f***ing Quentin Tarantino.
An inspired Kerry Washington will make sure you leave “Django” with a picture of slavery impressed in your mind, but she is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this unmatched ensemble (one of the greatest collaborations of the year). In 2010, after winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Inglorious Basterds,” Oscar said auf wiedersehen (“until next time”) to Christoph Waltz. Well, I think it’s “next time” now. Waltz already picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role (the Globes also predicted his win in 2010), which might even rival that role in Tarantino’s “Basterds.” Leonardo DiCaprio never fails to impress me. Of course he’s had a long and illustrious career as the boy that never ages (he’s 38!), but he strikes an impressive chord as the coldblooded plantation owner. He’s rough, loud, calloused…in one scene, he slammed his fist so hard on a table that it started to bleed. This seasoned stud played straight through it. Samuel L. Jackson, in his fourth Tarantino film, undergoes dramatic changes to create an elder servant of Candie. He brings a good batch of humor and a fair amount of make-up. Jamie Foxx bears everything for the role that may come to define him. Move over, Ray Charles. Foxx gives an impassioned performance that you can’t help but root for. He’s a suave and stubborn Django that’s not afraid to get angry. Jamie Foxx is Django.
Quentin Tarantino lassos up an ideal cast of stars and puts them in a picturesque post-Civil War scene to make “Django Unchained” an undeniable success.
“Django Unchained” is on Blu-ray and DVD.