Movie Review: Django Unchained

Mr. Tarantino does make an entertaining film. Yes, I read the various papers and the hoopla about the gore, the use of the N word, and the depiction of slavery, yadda yadda yadda, but Quentin makes amusing entertainment. There is no doubt about this gentleman's talent. Now for the details.

Here's the story in a nutshell without any real spoilers. The time is two years before the American civil war. Christoph Waltz, who was absolutely fabulous in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, plays a bounty hunter amusingly disguised as a dentist. The bounty hunter is chasing a trio of men but doesn't know what they look like but finds a slave, Jamie Fox, who can identify them. Bounty hunter frees slave and enlists his help. Cue spaghetti western music.

I say spaghetti Western as first, Mr. Tarantino is fond of the supposed B movie genre, and second, the film takes its name from a 1966 Italian spaghetti Western called Django with the reputation of the most violent film made up to that point. Well, what's not to like? The results are fascinating, sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, but always entertaining.

The Gore
When a bullet enters the human body do we really see blood and flesh explode and splatter everywhere? I really don't know but certainly this type of depiction has cropped up in a number of films. Poetic licence? Hyperbole? Or accurate portrayal? I note that the premiere of the film was delayed due to the Connecticut school shooting on December 14, 2012. The film opened Christmas day, December 25, 2012.

The N Word
Oh boy, talk about a hot button topic. Today, unless you're black, you do not under any circumstances utter that word in public. Anybody remember Michael Richards from Seinfeld getting himself into hot water when he angrily used the word during a stand-up routine against some hecklers back in 2006? Quite embarrassing. (Laugh Factory Incident)

On the other hand, Chris Rock uses the word over and over and over again and uses it quite effectively within the context of his screamingly funny comedy routines. It is interesting to consider that Chris saying it is a sign of solidarity but a white guy saying it would flash back on hundreds of years of slavery, racial segregation, and suppression.

Slavery
Apparently the filmmaker Spike Lee has taken exception to the film. But he hasn't seen the film and he's said he has no intention of seeing the film. I find this odd as it reminds me of how certain things like films or books have been condemned or even banned over the years by people who haven't even had the pleasure. I hate it on principle?

Is Quentin's portrayal of this abomination of U.S. history accurate or not? Let's not forget that it is only a film. Nevertheless, as a topic of further discussion, we should not forget that at this point in time, the time of the slaves, one group of people, the whites, considered slaves, the blacks, to be property. They were not human beings; they were sub-human. They were animals, merely chattel. Yes, slaves have been around since the beginning of time but familiarity doesn't make it any more right.

Spike may take exception to Quentin's film but I walked away from the film feeling a tad upset at how anyone could possibly look upon another human being as mere chattel. What horrors were committed to slaves under this institutionalized human exploitation?

The Cast
Everyone is great. Jamie Fox and Christoph Waltz work well together. Waltz here is another terrific quirky character, as quirky as his character in Inglourious Basterds. Leonardo DiCaprio is a great bad man. Even Quentin does a funny cameo as an Australian. Yes, you heard me right: accent, good day mate and all. There are a number of other faces you will recognise but for me the big surprise was Samuel L. Jackson. I had to look twice. That's Jackson!?! Holy cow.

 

Final Word
I enjoyed it. But it is gory. In places, it is wincingly gory. Ugh. But as always, it is Quentin with his quirky but very entertaining style of storytelling. Love him or hate him, Mr. Tarantino is an original. There is no doubt about that. I think he is going to (almost) single-handedly resurrect the B movie from its relegated position as an inferior film. It's a pleasure we enjoy but refuse to admit to in good company. Yes, yes, there's Shakespeare but every once in a while you want to see a good blood splatter. I am recommending the film. It is not for the faint of heart but it is very entertaining.

 
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References

Rotten Tomatoes: Django Unchained: 89%
Bold, bloody, and stylistically daring, Django Unchained is another incendiary masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino.

Wikipedia: Django Unchained
Django Unchained is an American western film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. The film was released on December 25, 2012 in North America.

A recap of Tarantino
I've collected some information about the Tarantino filmography. If nothing else, it does underline a fairly impressive level of quality in his work. Even Death Proof of the Grindhouse double feature while a financial failure, did achieve some critical acclaim. That is to say that even at his worst, Quentin is better than a lot of filmmakers.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Budget: $1.2 million
Box Office: $14.6 million

Pulp Fiction (1994)
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Budget: $8.5 million
Box Office: $214 million

Jackie Brown (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Budget: $12 million
Box Office: $73 million

Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Budget: $55 million (shared with Volume 2)
Box Office: $181 million

Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Budget: $55 million (shared with Volume 1)
Box Office: $152 million

Death Proof (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Budget: $53 million (part of Grindhouse)
Box Office: $24 million (part of Grindhouse)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Budget: $70 million
Box Office: $320 million

Django Unchained (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Budget: $83 million
Box Office: to be determined

A personal story about Pulp Fiction
I saw this movie when it first came out in 1994 and found it one of the most entertaining and original films I had seen in a long time. Amusingly enough, I knew the MF word but probably heard it more times over the film's running time of 154 minutes than I had in my entire life. Ha ha.

At some point, I was extolling the virtues of Pulp Fiction to a married couple but for some inexplicably reason failed to mention this was adult entertainment. No, I mean really adult entertainment. They later told me they rented the movie and sat down with the entire family to watch my highly recommended suggestion. This couple at the time had children aged 6, 8 and 10. Oh boy, do you see the storm brewing on the horizon? I forget how many minutes exactly you get into the film before Samuel L. Jackson starts with a stream of profanities that would strip the chrome off of metal and cause little old ladies faint dead away within a radius of 100 feet (30m). My friend said he jumped up and ripped the video cassette out of the player and nobody has ever seen the rest of the film.

Let me summarize my oversight in explaining the film and its adult content by saying, "Oops!" The therapist says the three children are coming along just fine. 🙂

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