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 Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained

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Donald McKinney

Posts : 24232
Join date : 2008-07-21

PostSubject: Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained   Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:00 pm

Quentin Tarantino said he plans to retire from making films once he turns 60, but the downside is he's got so many ideas for new films all the time. From a gangster film set in America, to a period gangster film set in London, to a medieval film, a Vietnam War film and even another kung fu film, this time entirely in Mandarin Chinese. But, after doing gangster films, kung fu films, an exploitation film and a World War II fantasy, but above all, Tarantino wanted to do a western. It's no secret that his favourite film is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), and he's had references to westerns in all of his films since Reservoir Dogs (1992), from the wide angle camera set ups, to the Mexican standoffs, and even lifting pieces of dialogue from such films, especially Spaghetti Westerns, which were made in mainland Europe, filmed in Spain or Italy, and made by directors such as Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Enzo G. Castellari, (who famously did The Inglorious Bastards (1978), which Tarantino famously referenced.) Tarantino finally began work on his western after the release and success of Inglourious Basterds (2009), which some critics saw as one of his finest films, for his latest venture, it was originally entitled The Angel, The Bad and The Wise, a cheeky reference to his favourite film, but by the time the script was finished in April 2011, it had become Django Unchained. A violent, provocative and gripping spaghetti western which tackles the taboo subject of America's history with slavery, but Tarantino makes it entertaining, shocking and also hilarious.

In 1858, somewhere in Texas, slave Django (Jamie Foxx) is being hauled across country by the Speck brothers (James Russo and James Remar), until one night, they come across Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a dentist who takes an interest in Django, after the Speck's refuse to sell Django, Schultz kills them. Later, Schultz explains to Django that he's a bounty hunter and he needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers (M.C. Gainey, Doc Duhame and Cooper Huckabee), who also took Django's wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). They find the brothers, under new identities on the plantation of Spencer 'Big Daddy' Bennett (Don Johnson). After killing the brothers, Schultz and Django get away, as a reward for finding the Brittle Brothers and killing them, Schultz grants Django his freedom and offers to help Django find Broomhilda. They go to Mississippi, and discover she was sold to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who owns Mississippi's biggest cotton plantation, Candieland. This is a brutal place where women are slaves, and men are trained to fight to the death in Mandingo fighting. Django and Schultz are able to make Candie's acquaintance, posing as experts on Mandingo fighting. They follow him down to Candieland to talk business. Django and Broomhilda are reunited, but Candie's head house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) smells a rat, noticing that Broomhilda is a bit too friendly around Schultz and Django...

Right from the old style opening credits, with the theme song from Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966) as well, you know what Tarantino is up to, from the fact, wide angle zooms by cinematographer Robert Richardson. It's clear this is a Spaghetti Western, with Tarantino making a richly satisfying stew from all the best moments of those revolutionist films along, as well as throwing in references from films like Shaft (1971) and even Army of Darkness (1992). It's not a western like more recent, serious fare like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) or True Grit (2010), as excellent as they were, Tarantino ensures that his vision of the old American West, is fun and exciting. Or should that be the American South, as Tarantino has referred to this film as a "Southern", as it's action takes place mostly in Mississippi. While Tarantino doesn't fiddle around with history like what he did with Inglourious Basterds, but he shows his own interpretation of what slavery was like in the days before the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in America. Women are treat brutally, men even more so, including a grisly scene where one slave called D'Artagnan (played by Ato Essandoh) is mauled apart by wild dogs because he can't do any more Mandingo fighting for Candie. Tarantino doesn't let up on the violence and blood when one shootout occurs, there's just so much blood, it puts the big battle with the Crazy 88's in Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003) to shame.

It's very well written, even if Tarantino copies most of the material from other films, he's able to create a colourful world, beautifully photographed, and every bit of blood that shows up on screen is vivid and gory. He and cameraman Richardson emulate the shots from old Spaghetti westerns and beyond in the film, it's shot the old fashioned way too, not digitally, not in 3D or in IMAX, but in good old fashioned 35mm film, and even then, it's still crystal clear, with grainy sequences reserved for the flashbacks, whose bleached colour look like one of Tarantino's beloved exploitation films from the 1970's that he likes to reference so much. There's even literary and legendary references throughout, with references to Alexander Dumas and Seigfried, as well as Django looking like Little Lord Fauntleroy at one point. Even QT can't resist with adding a modern twist to the characters, one slave Django encounters, Bettina (Miriam F. Glover) sounds like she's just walked off 116th Street in Harlem, circa 1971. But it works, even the music Tarantino chooses for the film works, as well as old, and one new from Ennio Morricone, as well as James Brown, Richie Havens, John Legend, Jerry Goldsmith, RZA and Johnny Cash. It's an eclectic selection of music, and it works within the context of the film. But the most striking thing about the film is how funny it is, the dialogue can be humourous, and even the violence becomes hilarious too, and one sequence with the Ku Klux Klan arguing about their hoods has a touch of Monty Python about it.

Tarantino has also selected an exquisite cast for the film, and he found the perfect lead in Jamie Foxx, who beautifully underplays Django, giving him the sparse rawness of The Man With No Name, tough and back to basics. But, Foxx and nearly everyone else is outshone by Christoph Waltz as Dr. Schultz, the kind-hearted bounty hunter who kills for a business, but doesn't want to have to resort to it, it's a likeable character which Waltz plays with relish, and this could lead to a sort of Scorsese/De Niro partnership for him and Tarantino. DiCaprio is a revelation as the charming but vicious Candie, oozing racism out of every pore and still looking elegant. After years of playing tortured souls, DiCaprio is clearly having the time of his life playing this nasty, horrible man with brown teeth, who can only be described as Caligula in America's Deep South. There's something un-PC about Samuel L. Jackson as slave Stephen, he has a touch of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom and even Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus about him, but he manages to be terrifying and nasty, and maybe even the true villain of the piece. The cast is nicely rounded out by Kerry Washington as Broomhilda, Don Johnson plays an equally nasty racist as Big Daddy, the original Django, Franco Nero turns up for a friendly cameo, whereas Bruce Dern isn't friendly, as is Walton Goggins as rancher Billy Crash, with cameos from Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Michael Parks, Robert Carradine and Jonah Hill!!

This is an amazingly entertaining western, unlike Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, which were based in fantasy. Tarantino ensures there's no deviations from history or high wire special effects. He does everything in camera, on screen, with no superimposed special effects, plus, unlike Tarantino's other films, this is his third film along with Jackie Brown (1997) and Death Proof (2007), that's told in a linear fashion, with no chapters or parts either. It is a tad overlong, at just 15 minutes shy of 3 hours, it's Tarantino's longest film to date, (unless you're one of those who counts both parts of Kill Bill as one film). But, it's epic length requires patience, and it could have done with a nip and tuck here and there. The story could have been told in 2 hours, and the final 15 minutes does seem a bit forced, which has QT cameoing with a cringeworthy Australian accent. But apart from these little niggles, it's a very entertaining film which shows there's still life in the old and tired western genre yet. While a lot of racially negative language is used, including the n-word, you become accustomed to it after it's said so many times during the course of the film, and it is a film about slavery. A part of America's history that's usually glossed over in films and even history books, but Tarantino shows the brutality that happened to slaves, and that it was wrong, and America and the rest of the world need to learn that they can't forget it never happened. This shows America in it's infancy, in all it's raw, nasty, confused and blood soaked glory.
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Gimli The Avenger

Posts : 26862
Join date : 2008-07-23
Location : Middle Earth

PostSubject: Re: Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained   Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:17 am

Ace review, Don.

We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.

Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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Donald McKinney

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Join date : 2008-07-21

PostSubject: Re: Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained   Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:05 pm

I'm in two minds whether to see it again at the cinema. Razz
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