(2012 – Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio)
If you sit until the end of a movie’s credits and immediately want to rewatch it, you know it has to be good.
Django Unchained is violent, haunting, hilarious, inappropriate, charming, and so flat out ridiculous that you can’t look away. Quentin Tarantino holds nothing back in this Western and roars his creative genius while doing it. Let’s face it, Tarantino deserves his own genre. Sure he borrows and steals left a right but damn he does it with class, style, and a sophistication that I don’t see anyone else doing. I think Django may be the least “Tarantino” in that it follows a very conventional structure. No multiple stories, no real unexpected deaths, all linear except for a handful of flashbacks. But that’s precisely why I feel this may be the most enjoyable Tarantino film ever.
Like Inglourious Basterds before it, Django is a fantastical story about a minority group getting the ultimate revenge on their respective oppressors. Jews with the Nazis. Slaves with white people. With Basterds, the multiple stories and long drawn out sequences didn’t really allow an emotional connection with any one character throughout the way I wanted. Django is great because having a lead setup one emotional journey for the viewers, but also having a story that’s grand in scale with overreaching themes is something one might not expect. The payoff at the end may be Tarantino’s best.
Quentin has a knack for walking that edge between reality and fantasy. There are things in this movie that will disgust you. That will shock you. That will seem unbelievable. But they all are in fact believable, it’s just that I’ve never seen these things on film before. Mostly because no one’s had the balls to approach slavery with this much tenacity and unfiltered boldness before. One moment you’re laughing your head off at the absurdity of these situations, and the next, you’re in horror from the stark truth that was slavery in America. It’s sad. Really sad. But all of the horror that these slaves go through lead up to a triumphant climax where Django becomes the ultimate badass. He gets a chance to complete his mission and take a stand for slaves everywhere.
Tarantino knows how to direct for style, the camera, and with writing. There’s no arguing that. But he needs as much credit for the acting in this film as anything. I believe this might have been the best acting he’s had in a film. Mostly because I never felt like the actors stumbled around his witty dialogue or emphasized key phrases to seem “cool” like in so many of his other films. Everything rolled off the tongue with ease. And most of that credit goes to Christoph Waltz. He single-handedly made this film charming. He stole every scene he was in and ended up a true hero. But that never took away from Jamie Foxx’s performance. He just so happened to have a more silent role the majority of the film. But the layers of anguish, vengeance, and perseverance were in his eyes the entire time. Leo was fantastic, but the last act in this film belonged to Samuel L. Jackson. He’s a man you can truly be afraid of. In fact, the acting may have been so good all around that the only weak link was Quentin Tarantino himself in his role.
The setup of this film is fantastic. “The fastest gun in the South” was the perfect line to describe this film. A Western/Slavery film. I loved the structure of this story, the arches for each character, and the finale-pause-finale at the end. I love looking at the end of the film and working my way back. How does a slave ride away from a plantation victorious in getting revenge for slaves everywhere? Django Unchained is how.
It demands your attention for every word, every blood spatter, and every N word thrown in. It may not have as much of a cultural impact as say Pulp Fiction, but I’ll be damned if you say Django Unchained isn’t as enjoyable in every way. I believe it’s Tarantino at his best.