“Django Unchained”– movie review
Release date: December 25, 2012
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson
Quentin Tarantino is the quintessential definition of the modern day film auteur. Going back to “Reservoir Dogs” has compiled a brilliant resume of films that while you may not ever know what QT is going to do, you can definitely recognize that distinct Tarantino flare for the shockingly ridiculous. “Django Unchained” is Tarantino’s ode to spaghetti westerns, following a slave on a quest for revenge against the white man. Buckle your seat belts.
Set somewhere in Texas in the late 1850’s, just before the Civil War, “Django Unchained” introduces the hero, Django (Jamie Foxx), as a slave in possession of the Speck brothers when they are approached by Dr. King Schultz, played with delicious enthusiasm by Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”). Dr. Schultz wants to buy Django — the D is silent — offering the slave his freedom if he helps track down and identify members of the Brittle Brothers gang so that Schultz, a former dentist turned bounty hunter.
Together, Schultz and Django form a partnership and embark on a violent journey that goes beyond simply finding the Brittle Brothers. Django becomes an apprentice of the good doctor, learning the bounty hunting trade and becoming friends along the way. But it’s all fueled by Django’s personal quest to find his wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft, she of the lineage that would someday produce Detective John Shaft — no, that’s not a plot point, more of an interesting side note. Django and Broomhilda were sold at auction separately and Schultz helps the free man track her down to the Candie Land Plantation, owned by the ruthless white man, Calvin Candie — Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that’s quite of a departure for Leo.
As the titular character, Jamie Foxx is more than capable of carrying the film — although it may have been interesting to see QT’s original choice, Will Smith, in the role. Foxx doesn’t hold back though but the role — very well written by QT — doesn’t require him to step too far out of his comfort zone — and the supporting cast spins a maddening web of chaos around Foxx, allowing him to do his thing. Waltz is brilliant as Dr. King Schultz. Don Johnson has a hilarious role as a Colonel Sanders dressed plantation owner who may be able to help find the Brittle Brothers.
Always a staple of Tarantino’s films, Samuel L. Jackson has a scene stealing role as a character that is easily up for consideration as one of the most vile African American characters ever on screen. He plays Candie’s house slave, Stephen, a slave who has become so subservient to his white owner that he completely sells out his own race. Of course, it’s all done with a verbal flare that can only f-bomb master, Samuel L. Jackson can bring.
Tarantino never fails to inspire giddiness or shock laughter out of his audience. Once he again he creates characters that not only feel real, even in their over the top portrayals. In one scene he had have you cringing and then moments later have you in tears laughing so hard at something that might even make you feel a little guilty for laughing. “Django Unchained” is Tarantino’s spaghetti-western, a throwback to the Italian cowboys movies from the 60’s but he seamlessly blends that old style of filmmaking with his retro cool pop culture schtick. It’s unnerving at times but a wild, even if overly long, ride. Yeah, it’s QT, so it’s long, but he wrote a great script that does not hold back. It’s worth it.
“Django Unchained” is a relentless, brutal but thoroughly entertaining flick from one of the best film auteurs in the medium today. It goes without saying his movies are not for everyone but fans of his broad career, which has transcended across the gangster genre, to vampires and samurais — this flick, the ultimate western…err…he likes to call it a “southern” — the ultimate southern revenge flick is a hell of a lot of fun. Rumor is that Tarantino might want to tackle the Jane Austen novel, “Northanger Abbey”, for his next go-round. Good night.
- “Jack Reacher”
- “Les Miserables”
- “This is 40”
- “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
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