January 16, 2013
I have learned to take Quentin Tarantino films with a sense of fun. They may have so many offensive things about them, especially the gratuitous bloody violence and the excessively foul language. But they, this is what people want out of a Quentin Tarantino film! It would not be a Quentin Tarantino film without these mercenary things! And indeed, "Django Unchained" is a trove of them, 2 hours and 45 minutes of it!
Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave sometime before the Civil War broke out. He was rescued from his new owners by dentist/bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). As Schultz gives Django his freedom and makes him his partner, Django expressed his desire to find, rescue and reunite with his beautiful, German-speaking wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was now owned by the sadistic Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). All hell breaks loose in Candieland when Django unleashes all his suppressed anger to get his wife back!
People who are not used to Quentin Tarantino style (or maybe even those who are) would shirk their eyes away from the screen many times for every cracking whiplash across a slave's back, every explosive shotgun shot going through a body and every bloody punch in that graphic Mandingo fight. Eventually, in the final Grand Guignol scenes, maybe everyone in the audience will already be desensitized despite the interminable fountains of blood that will shoot out of countless bodies in what seemed to be thirty minutes of continuous gunfire. That is classic Tarantino for you!
The actors all attack their roles with outrageous glee. Well all, except probably the lead star Jamie Foxx, who plays it "cool" in stark contrast with the rest of the hyper cast. Christoph Waltz already won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role of Schultz, but honestly for me, this is practically the same type of acting I saw from him in both "Inglorious Basterds" and "Water for Elephants." Now, Leonardo DiCaprio, I think he was robbed of a nomination here. He was evil incarnate here, such a different Leo from what we are used to seeing him in. Special mention would have to go to Samuel L. Jackson, whom I did not immediately recognize as the conniving Stephen, the sinister head manservant of Candieland. Those piercing eyes of his baleful glare were something else!
It was a great idea to bring the spaghetti Western genre to the deep South. The music was so 70s with those jangly guitars, except for the occasional anachronistic incursion of rap music. The sense of dark humor was all over it, under all that bloodshed and gore. There was a scene with cameos of Jonah Hill, Don Johnson and their KKK masks which was outright hilarious. Funny but I realized that THIS is how Tarantino would tell a love story!
But if you ask me if this will win the Oscar for Best Picture, my answer would probably be NO. I do not see this type of film appeal to generally conservative Academy voters. But the fact that it even made it to the final 9 Best Picture nominees is already recognition enough for QT.