Sunday, December 30, 2012

Django Unchained

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Running Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Rating: R

People tend to either love or hate Quentin Tarantino: there is no in-between. Personally, I think he is a genius. Just when you think he couldn’t possibly create any more mind-boggling ridiculous plots, he proves to be beyond capable. In a matter of words, “Django Unchained” is a hyper-stylized Western, meets “Roots.” A powerful, exaggerated and at times horrifying story backed by a superb cast proves that Tarantino is still a master of his craft.

In true Tarantino fashion, the opening credits play in their entirety before the film begins. We’re introduced to bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, a language-heavy man who couldn’t have been played by anyone but Christoph Waltz. (He is quickly becoming one of my favorites.) Dr. Schultz needs the help of a slave to identify his next target: enter Django. We see two sides of this tortured man. Foxx portrays him as both a badass and a coward, when appropriate. Dr. Schultz buys Django’s freedom, and the two become partners. Throughout their killing sprees, Tarantino’s absurdity is still present, especially in the scene featuring a cameo from Jonah Hill. However, I’m not sure if the language and humor is quite as good as it once was.

The film is essentially broken into two parts, and I preferred the second. After a profitable winter bounty hunting, Dr. Schultz agrees to help Django find his wife, whom they believe is a slave at “Candyland.” Interesting name, considering the brutality that occurs there. I had to look away on two occasions: it’s hard to imagine that people were truly so heartless. Kerry Washington plays Broomhilda, Django’s estranged wife. She is such a beaut, and I would have liked a little more one-on-one time to bond with her. Instead, we get a terrifying introduction to her life at Candyland.

When we first meet Calvin Candie, played by Leo my love, Tarantino uses a close-up zoom shot, a la “Kill Bill.” His blue eyes are striking, and the attention to detail regarding his smoke-stained teeth is remarkable. This character is unlike any I’ve ever seen Leo portray, and it’s the best I’ve seen him in a while. His Golden Globe nomination is much-deserved. Samuel L. Jackson is unrecognizable as Stephen, Calvin’s butler. The evil he conveys with his eyes is terrifying, though his head couldn’t be up Calvin's ass any further.

In true Tarantino fashion, the film did tend to linger a bit, but it couldn’t end without a gory bloodbath and classic tunes. Such is expected. “Pulp Fiction” is still my favorite of his masterpieces, but “Django” seems to be pulling much more controversy, and rightfully so. Much to Spike Lee’s chagrin, this movie had the audience roaring, and is racking up nominations. Tarantino fans will love it.

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