Django Unchained (2012)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Movies these days are not events. We see a flick and for 90 or so minutes we're entertained. But for some of us who grew up on Quentin Tarantino films, it's a little bit different. I saw Pulp Fiction in the theater. And then all his successive films were must see in the theater.
So when Django Unchained came calling, I was buzzed and hyped. And I know why.
Because nobody can craft a film like he can.
Django Unchained whisks you into a world where HIS characters, his conversations, his heroes and villains are like no other. He can give you a blood bath in one scene and a serious satirical take on the horrible history of this country. I posted a 5 Movies You Need To See Before You Watch Django Unchained. It's a good list but nothing can compare to the movie itself. It's a fantastic homage to the spaghetti westerns we've all seen though I wouldn't call myself an expert. Insano Steve luckily was and appreciated the cliches. Extreme closeups, nice exterior shots, men on horseback riding into the sunset. We get them all in Django and in a world of CGI -fests, seeing a movie BE a movie pre-technology is refreshing.
Some said a spoof on slavery is blasphemy or that tackling a revenge thriller with slavery somehow insults the past (ahem Spike). But here's the thing. The mass of jabronis won't see Lincoln or some history biopic about the past. Something has to hook them. When you want to talk about something serious, something important about the past or how the world is, you need to roll it up in some fuckin awesome salsa (see Serbian Film). That's what Django does. It shows the horror of slavery but puts some hot sauce in it. And in a way it works.
Masses of people saw Django. In the theater I was in some black people were so distraught they walked out. I'm not sure what they thought they were going to see but fuck, I mean it's Tarantino slavery revenge epic, what did you think this was? In another ironic twist, outside the theater a black girl was being arrested by a seemingly all white NYPD. I thought Django would ride into the middle of Times Square to exact some revenge-o-mundo.
I won't rehash plot here as you probably know the story by now. What I will say is the the scenes of slavery are pretty horrific (though they are tame in comparison to Goodbye Uncle Tom's). It's a backdrop to Jamie Foxx who as Django clearly vibes of revenge incarnate. As King Schultz (Christoph Waltz in a stellar performance) guiding our bounty hunter to be, they become the awesome duo bring back memories of Jules and Vincent. In one scene during dinner, Django so close to his wife tenses up as Calvin Candie spews out his racist dialogue and window shops his "property". It's suspenseful, full of anguish for both the character and viewer that both are in pain. It's scenes like this that are pure Tarantino.
What the younglings don't understand is that QT intentionally writes these scenes out. Like the aftermath in Reservoir Dogs, QT doesn't have you go straight to Candyland. No No. He has Django and Schultz ride up with Candie and crafts scenes of horror so you understand the disgusting plight of how the black man was treated in the 1800s. And so Calvin Candie becomes an evil you have never seen. Leonardo DiCaprio is unbelievably magnificent giving off a wickedness one can expect from every performance. Seeing DiCaprio play a villain is such a change of pace, I can see why he wanted to be part of this film.
Also, like in Inglorious Basterds, villains come in many forms. Who we perceive as the ultimate villain is just a red herring to seeing the person we really should hate. With IB, it was Hitler as the face of evil but by the end we see it's Hans Landa being the focus. In Django Unchained, Candie is plastered all over the trailer and poster but we begin to see Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) is the man that has more to lose than Candie. Even Candie begins to adapt, recognizing Django as a unique and "intriguing" free man, being even open to allowing him to question his motives. But Stephen, as a house slave does not want the status quo to change. In a hilarious scene he questions who fuck this [insert N word here] is riding this horse. He has power and does not want to share it. Who is more evil in this twisted world?
Add in the ridiculous cameos (yeah we saw you Mr. Hill) and hilarious wardrobe selection by our freed Django and the goofy one liners, it all ads up to a magnificent, breathtaking film that is a cult classic for the masses and critics alike.
Django Unchained is loads of fun. Quentin Tarantino is the original master of the revenge epic (sorry Chan Wook Park)and he is the genius we deserve and the one we need right now. When a QT film releases, it's an event. What we need to appreciate is that these events may be a long time coming but we need to see them for what they are.
An original movie wrapped up in an amalgamation of genres, with a side of satire with some damn hot sriracha sauce. Now that's fuckin yummy.
Check out the trailer below.