Thursday, 17 January 2013

Django Unchained Review

There's no denying that Quentin Tarantino has a very unique style of film making.  He has a way of taking some pretty serious subject matter and making it entertaining and humourous without diminishing its seriousness.  He also creates a world that very much resembles our own but everything has a touch of cartoon in it.  And then he wraps it in a cartoonishly violent and foul-mouthed bow.  He did this in Inglorious Basterds and he does it again in Django Unchained.  Over the almost three hours of this movie, you find yourself engrossed in the dialogue and enjoying the film.  However, you also, throughout the whole picture, appreciate the absolute evil of slavery.

Django Unchained falls somewhere between Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds for me on the Tarantino scale.  Pulp Fiction was a groundbreaking film that took "cool" dialogue and anti-heroes to a whole new level.  Basterds tried to capture all of that but was too comical in its delivery both verbal and visual.  Django is more subdued in the visual delivery from the actors but it doesn't take away from the impact of their lines.  The problem is that I always get the sense that, even though it is just his style, Tarantino is always trying to recapture the iconic "tasty burger" and "get medieval" lines from Pulp Fiction with things like "and I want my scalps" from Basterds and "the D is silent" from Django.  Maybe it's just his thing to write these lines and it's a sad side effect that they'll likely never get back to Pulp Fiction's level.  At least I can watch Pulp Fiction over and over.

Jamie Foxx does a brilliant job in transforming Django from an uneducated slave to an almost superhero of the south.  You can really see the development and it is paced very well.  I must say I was a bit disappointed in Christoph Waltz. I know he's an Austrian, playing a German whose second language is English.  But his delivery was over deliberate and over pronounced to the point that it was difficult to listen to.  The rest of the cast is strong (with the exception of some of the one-scene characters including Tarantino himself).  Samuel L Jackson does what he does best: swear a blue streak and talk sass.  Leonardo Di Caprio was good as long as his demeanor was calm.  When the character had to get angry, he became much less convincing.

Overall, this is a very entertaining movie.  I do appreciate suspending reality in movies for the artistic and dramatic effect.  If I want true history, I can read it or watch a documentary.  (Unless you are trying to tell a true story.  Then stay as close as possible.  But Django is never intended to be a true story.)  It isn't Tarantino's best.  But it isn't his worst.  See it.

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