It has been a while since I have sharpened my literary tongue in attempt to criticize the extremely difficult end product of making a motion picture. But Quentin Tarantino’s latest tango with 70’s grind-house cinema was just too much for me to pass up. Django Unchained, a mix of Foxxy Brown Black-ploitation and Blazing Saddles slap-shtick, using the institution of slavery as its backdrop. In the movie, Tarantino does not disappoint his fans who have come to love his marriage of unabashed cruelty with senseless violence. I may not be an aficionado of motion picture scripts, but this movie could be inducted into the Guinness book of World Records touting the most promiscuous use of the N-word in a mainstream film.
But this is not why I felt compelled to document my thoughts about the film. More so was the empowering message which laced the entire film. Django, the films main character, portrayed by Jamie Foxx, was not a subservient outlier, but a powerful catalyst, the collaboration of the aforementioned with Dr. King Schultz who was played by Christoph Waltz. Dr. Schultz being an abolitionist bounty hunter; making a partnership that is almost irresistible to hate.
I do have to say that the movie’s story took longer to reach its climax than I had expected. The opening depicted two slave traders herding several chain-clad den Black slaves to auction, Django being included in this group. I was expecting a huge gun-infused blowout where Django single handedly frees his fellow slaves covertly and then takes the lives of his captures by taking their horses and dragging their bodies until they are lifeless. But sadly, I was disappointed. In all on my movie reviews I have shied away from revealing either the opening scene of the closing scene and I don’t intend to change for this review of Django, but I will say that this film’s opening does the trick.
The full influence of Tarantino isn’t exemplified in Django until the introduction of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin, a plantation owner and Dingo fighter (I will let you Google this one). There is another underlying plot that brings Django and his bounty-hunting companion to Calvin’s plantation, but low and behold, it has nothing to do with a bounty, nor Dingo fighting; making the story all that more intriguing.
Tarantino has made a career of shocking us. Remember his epic blowout in Pulp Fiction. In the same breath, he has titillated our mind’s eye with fantastical dialogue. This is not the case with Django. Maybe he didn’t have enough time to craft it. Maybe he thought that his target audience would be too busy texting on their cell phone to comprehend the rhetoric. Whatever the case, his prolific prose of the past was glaringly absent. This did not stop Tarantino bringing out the star power which was immense; Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington and even a throwback to Miami Vice with the cameo of Don Johnson, but there seemed to be a great number of strong characters, seeming over shadowing Django’s affect on the plot. With this being said, there were many opportunities for Oscar nods, one being found with Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of a sinister house slave . He has long been a fixture in Taratino’s film manifestos and his charter’s addition, an old house slave, should have had Academy Award dripping all over it. Though he did not make the cut, outside of Christoph Waltz’s Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, the film was able to pull in four additional nominations for Best Picture, Cinematography, Sound Editing and Writing. Though I liked the film, Tarantino’s bloody fall out is not left out. You may have to wait until the end, but it is there.
Here are some pertinent details that you may need the next time you appear on Jeopardy: Release Date: Dec 25, 2012; Rated: R; Length: 165 Minutes; Genre: Western; With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington.