Sunday, February 10, 2013

Django 'Unhinged'

Quentin Tarintino’s latest offering is Django Unchained, the story of a slave [Jamie Foxx] who is freed by Dr. King Schultz [Christoph Waltz] a bounty hunter, himself on the trail of a group of thugs whom only Django Freeman can identify. Schultz offers Django both freedom and money in return for his assistance but also trains him in his art of bounty hunting - skills that Django wishes to use to free his wife Broomhilda Von Shaft [Kerry Washington] from her own slavemasters at Candieland, a famously reprehensible slave plantation.

If you had no problem with the Inglorious Basterds shooting Adolf Hitler in the face with machine guns then the anachronistic events of Django [which is certainly even more loosely based on its period in history] won’t even faze you. I mentally accepted this element before taking my seat and I enjoyed the movie’s offering as a result. The violence quotient on screen was somewhat typical of Tarantino’s direction and many scenes left torrents of blood everywhere. Actually, some scenes were, I’m surprised to say - a little too over-the top even for Tarintino – I guess you can actually go too far with violence when it physically distracts you from telling the story. The movie is easily at least half an hour too long and the final half-hour drags the movie into the territory where you start looking at your watch. There is an incredible shoot out scene about -30:00 from the end and if the movie’s final “explosive” scene was tacked on there instead we’d have a more cohesive and satisfactory presentation [without an ‘Australian’ Tarintino! – don’t ask].

Then there is of course the script. Tarintino is an excellent writer, he’s proved it many times but what he does here, while thematically brilliant, falls short in execution. When a small child discovers a new curse-word, depending on the reaction of its supervisors, it may continue to populate it’s speech with said word. While Django’s script is great for the most part [practically everything written for Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio is gold], it’s really as if little Quentin had just discovered the n-word and he obviously got the reaction that drove the infantile portion of his mind to repeat the word over 100 times in the script. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to claim that the constant use of the n-word is appropriate for the time, citing a desire to stay true to historical accuracy, then don’t say it about a movie set in 1858 where the protagonists are using Sharps Model 1874 Buffalo rifles and Dynamite which was invented in 1867!! Using the n-word in the manner he did is totally understandable and even expected from him at this stage but using it in the sheer amounts he did per minute was excessive and attention-seeking and deserves admonishing rather than a Golden Globe win or the Oscar nomination.

Foxx may be an Oscar winner in his own right but even as the title character, he’s nothing more than a rank amateur when acting alongside Waltz. The German actor steals the show and deserved the admiration of not only the audience but every award that he’s eligible for, he’s that good. Blood Diamond, Inception and The Departed mean that DiCaprio is no longer considered to be a fucking twerp and his turn as the eccentric slave-owner Calvin Candie is excellent but unlike Waltz his performance isn’t worthy of award. Of Samuel L. Jackson’s character Steven, I can only ask “What the fuck?” There are some interesting appearances by Don Johnson, Walton Goggins and Tom Wopat but sadly a criminal under use of Bruce Dern as well as an audience-insulting [mis]use of James Remar playing two different characters.

Final Verdict: While it should never have been considered for most of the accolades it’s earned; Django Unchained this generation’s answer to Blazing Saddles in so far as it should be taken just as seriously but just as thoroughly enjoyed.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

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