Django Unchained

Django Unchained

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  1. Quentin Tarantino is at it again. Witty dialogue riddled with vulgarities (including a lot of racial slurs this time), gratuitous violence almost to the point of absurdity, and stylish directing… that’s Mr. Tarantino for you and it’s a riotous good time!

    Django Unchained is the story of a slave named Django (a barely recognizable, wonderful turn from Jamie Foxx) who gets bought and subsequently freed by a German dentist-turned-bounty-hunter named Dr. King Shultz (the always outstanding Christoph Waltz). This unlikely pair galavants around the antebellum south killing people they find on wanted posters. After a successful winter of bounty hunting, they embark on a journey to save Django’s German speaking wife (the gorgeous Kerry Washington) whom has been bought by brutal slave owner, Mandingo fighter, and wanna-be French connoisseur Calvin Candie (a scary-as-hell turn from heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio) whose long-time underling Stephen (the hilarious Samuel L. Jackson) is a lot more observant and intelligent than he appears. If you can’t tell, these characters are rather unique.

    While the surface of this film is a brutally violent, often hilarious tale of bounty hunting, it’s really a love story. Django is willing to do anything and risk everything for the love of his life. The innocence of his character also adds to the heart of this seemingly cold, empty film. Yes, he sort of loses that innocence by killing lots and lots of people, but he’s still endearing. And it’s a lot of fun to see him and Dr. King Shultz wipe out hordes of racist southerners (even though I’m from the south).

    While this film is wonderfully executed with beautiful cinematography (thanks to Robert Richardson who also shot Hugo, Shutter Island, and more) and filled with raucous fun, it feels a lot like Inglorious Basterds. Both films are about a minority group getting even with the majority. In Basterds the jews get back at the Nazis, personified by Hitler. In Django, the slaves (via Django himself) get back at slave owners, personified by Calvin Candie. I guess Terantino subscribes to the mantra:  “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    Overall, Django Unchained is an absolute blast. It’s Quentin Tarantino being Quentin Tarantino and that works. Yea, this film is a bit too long and dangerously close to Inglorious Basterds, but who cares? Basterds is good and Django is even better. I’m still not sure either of them are quite to the level of Pulp Fiction, but you can’t be perfect every time.

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