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I only had one thought on my mind for this Christmas: see Django
Unchained. Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, a Western set two years
before the Civil War, concerns a former slave named Django (Jamie
Foxx). He is freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz)
in order to help him with a bounty. Quite quickly, Shultz takes Django
under his wing and trains him as his partner. But he made him a
promise: that he would rescue his wife from a plantation owned by the
ruthless Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). And rescuing her is not
going to be all that easy.
What pains me the most about Django Unchained, as a die-hard Tarantino fan, is just how sloppy it all seems. I enjoyed every minute of it, but I could never shake the feeling of how messy and thrown together it all feels. Portions of the film feel episodic (the search for the Brittle Brothers, mentioned heavily in the trailers, begins and ends practically within minutes), and some scenes just seem to play out just for the fun of it. Another scene from the trailers involving a lynch mob with bags covering their faces seems added for comedic purposes, and has no real point of actually existing. More than any of his films before it, Django feels like Tarantino simply making a movie for sheer pleasure and with no outside motivations or controllers.
The film threatens to go totally off the rails at any given moment, and lacks any real sense of direction or focus. It may sound ridiculous, but the loss of editor Sally Menke confirms a sneaking suspicion I always had about Tarantino he needed a steady right hand to help encourage him as to what was needed and what was not. I do not want to criticize Django's editor Fred Raskin, but it is obvious he is no Menke and that works against the film heavily. It lacks the polish we have come to expect, and is practically stripped of the glossy/cool texture so prevalent in Tarantino's work up until now.
But then maybe that was his intention all along, and perhaps Tarantino is airing out his frustrations with life and film in general. Django is deliberately shot on film (or at least from the print I saw), and looks very gritty and messy at all times. It is significantly more brutally violent than anything he has worked on before (the borderline cartoonish Kill Bill included), and has a very go for broke attitude about itself. The film seems to revel in how brilliantly it can splatter all the blood and gore (done through the use of squibs and no digital!), and how uncomfortably numbing it can make the violence. I know he does not care what people think of his films, but this movie especially seems like an emphatically raised middle finger to the establishment. And for all of my complaints about how messy it all feels, I was never once bored or felt like the movie was dragging itself out. The staggering 165-minute running time shockingly flies by faster than you might ever imagine.
Acting wise, Tarantino stacks the deck with a number of recognizable character actors young and old for roles that vary in size. Most have very few lines, if any at all, and seem to just stand by, just as content as the audience is to watch the action unfold. It is a little off-putting, especially with how important some of these characters are initially made out to be. Washington as Broomhilda von Shaft (one of the most subtle references he's ever dropped) does well as the helpless victim and frequent dreamlike object but she never really gets to show off any of her acting prowess outside of her facial reactions. They are increasingly effective, especially during horrific flashback scenes. But her work here feels ridiculously stunted in comparison to the other leads. Samuel L. Jackson, much like Tarantino himself, seems to just be having fun in his role as Candie's adviser Stephen. He plays on every ridiculous stereotype he ever has been associated with and then amps it up to a near ludicrous state. He is frequently hilarious, but the role seems to border on parody more than anything else.
Surprisingly, Foxx takes a very long time settling into the leading role. It may just be the character, but it is quite clear from the on- set that he is not very comfortable in Django's shoes, and leads credence to why Will Smith, amongst so many others, dropped out of the picture so quickly. But once he finds his footing, he does a fantastic job walking the thin line between empathetic and sadistic. It is not an easy character to play, but Foxx makes it his own, bringing a sense of style and grace that are virtually absent from the rest of the film. And of course, he gets all the best lines.
Waltz and DiCaprio are the clear standouts however, nailing every nuance of their sadly underwritten characters. While Waltz plays the straight man, DiCaprio is delightfully unhinged and vicious. Both are playing directly against type, yet are strangely comfortable in the roles. Watching them act circles around the rest of the cast, Foxx included, is the true highlight of the film. I just wish they were both given additional emphasis and more to do.
For all of its numerous faults, I had a blast watching Django Unchained. It is hilarious, it is a lot of fun, and is wildly enjoyable. I genuinely think it could have been a lot better if there was more focus and direction, but this is very clearly a picture Tarantino wanted to make on his own terms. And for that, I applaud him for the effort. It is not his best work, but certainly not his worst.
Absolutely loved every minute of this movie. Usually I'm not too crazy about Tarantino's movies, but this one is definitely the best one I've seen in a long time. The actors were picked perfectly. The overall experience of a movie is amazing. When we first went to watch it, I was a bit skeptical and thought I'd end up leaving an hour into the movie (it's a 3 hr movie), but it grabbed my attention from the very beginning and I didn't even wanna get up to go to the bathroom, afraid to miss something. I'm usually very particular about the movies, nothing can hardly satisfy me, but this one is definitely in the top 5. Soundtrack was perfect. When I got home, I've done some more research on it and loved it even more! Overall, I would highly recommend this film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Merry Christmas to all you Tarantino fans out there. I hope you made a
Tarantino checklist so here we go.
Witty dialogue, check. Excessive profanity especially use the word 'nigger', check. Excessive violence including testicles getting blown off, check. Soulful musical score, check. Sometimes non-linear narrative, check. Shots of women's feet, check. Very great character driven plot, check. An actual spaghetti western, even though it takes place in the American South, check.
There are four standout characters played by the top billed actors.
Jamie Foxx plays Django, a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter. Even though he is the titular character, he gets downplayed when in the presence of the other actors. Still he delivers a solid performance, in fact hes very convincing. We all know Jamie Foxx as this golden voice RnB singer and comedian with a very clean cut image. He was able to pull off the whole transitioning from a timid slave to a menacing bounty hunter. Not only that he had the whole look down too, with all the facial scarring and the messy hair.
Christoph Waltz plays Dr. King Schulz, a German dentist turned bounty hunter who frees Django so he could help pursue his previous owners who are targets. Waltz is a very charismatic actor, and thats how he does this role. Presents every line with finesse.
Leonardo Dicaprio is in his best yet. He plays a plantation owner, Calvin Candie, and is the owner of Django's wife. This is a very different role. We've seen Leonardo in gritty roles before but never did he play this lecherous antagonist. We were all used to Leo being this teen idol, who looked like a member of Hanson. Here he's this Southerner with discoloured teeth and a scruffy beard.
Finally Samuel L. Jackson who plays Steve, a house slave who you could say is the secret antagonist here. For all the screen time that he has he dominates. Sam usually plays boisterous roles as a tough guy, but it was very interesting seeing him play a devious and manipulative old man.
The only gripe here was that this film was a little too long exceeding the three act structure, but its an epic western film so I'll excuse Tarantino for that. Yet again he made another great film with a lot of flair and carried well by the four big hitter actors. Well done Mr. Tarantino.
At first I didn't want to see this movie because of some political remarks made by Jamie Foxx and Samuel Jackson, two of my previously favorite actors, but Quintin Tarentino is a great director, so I broke down and saw it. Glad I did. This was absolutely one of the best movies of the year. Although Jamie Foxx has top billing, this film would not have been anywhere as good without Christoph Waltz. He stole every scene he was in. Brilliant acting and great comedic delivery. Leo was great too. Lots of blood, something expected in most of Quintins movies, but a great story. Also expect to hear the N word about 2000 times. Cristoph Waltz should get the Oscar for his performance. Should get nominated for best picture. This is absolutely a must see.
Quentin Tarantino's 8th film "Django Unchained" is one hell of a movie. A brutal, bloody, terrifying, hilarious and awe-inspiring western disguised as a buddy movie that is so great that if John Wayne and Sergio Leone were alive now, they would've approve of this movie. It's designed to shock you, polarize you, test you and maybe even surprise you. But let me clear on this: If you are not a fan of bloody violence and the running length of 165 minutes, see a shorter movie. But if you love to see what Tarantino can do with movies like this, then you're in for a treat. Set during slavery in 1858, the movie follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is found by a bounty hunter disguised as a dentist named Dr. King Schultz (The always reliable Christoph Waltz) who hires him as a bounty hunter and a free man to find the Brittle Brothers. After finding them and hunting them down at a plantation run by Big Daddy (a remarkable Don Johnson), they relax for the winter only for them to go on a mission to find and rescue Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is owned by Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) a man who runs a plantation known as Candieland. He even has a renegade slave as a servant named Stephen (A nearly recognizable Samuel L. Jackson, hidden in makeup and some prosthetics), who will have a part to play in the last half of the movie. I think Quentin Tarantino has outdone himself once again. Being in the filmmaking game for 20 years now, you can't deny and even reject his style in what he is bringing to the screen (He also has a cameo in here as well). His dialogue is like reading a book that grabs you and makes you want to know what happens next. The look and scope of the film is magnificent, thanks to a brilliant Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson and the late production designer J. Michael Riva. The performances in this film are brilliant. Having won an Oscar for "Ray", Jamie Foxx continues with his breathtaking performances that wows us. Here as Django, he is certainly fearless, baring his soul (and body) playing a man who is free from slavery, but can't be free by the rules and limitations of slavery. Christoph Waltz looks like he was born to be a part of Tarantino's entourage after his Oscar-winning performance for "Inglorious Basterds". Here, once again he brings humor and vulnerability to Dr. King Schultz. Never before have I ever seen an actor go that far and doesn't go over-the-top like Leonardo DiCaprio. As Calvin Candie, DiCaprio is certainly Oscar-worthy as a man who runs a tight ship by running a place where male slaves fight to the death and female slaves are being prostitutes and he seems to be the kind of guy to like even though he is a villain and he speaks Tarantino's dialogue like a pro. When he has a scene in which he reveals three dimples from a skull that belongs to his father, he is literally terrifying. Kerry Washington is superb as Broomhilda and Samuel L. Jackson is the real scene-stealer. The supporting cast is great from Walton Goggins, Jonah Hill, Michael Bacall, Michael Parks, James Remar, Robert Carradine to a small cameo by Franco Nero. "Django Unchained" has a lot of things to say about slavery and how cruel it is. But at the same time, it provides the fact that if Tarantino rearranged history by shooting Adolf Hitler to a pulp while everything blows up at a movie theater, he can do it again by having a former slave whipping a man who used to beat him and his wife. Now, that's entertainment. This movie really is off the chain. It's not only one of the most captivating films of the year, it's one of the best films of the year. Go see it, it will be worth your time. Keep in mind though, there are characters, especially Django, Stephen, Candie and Schultz that uses the N-word numerous times in this movie. That seems relevant to the time period, don't ya think?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know there is a law against talking about internal logic with regard
to QT-movies. But I'm quite a bit fed up with sloppy, dyslexic screen
writing and I'm feeling kind of outlawish, so here I go: Initially
Schultz (Christoph Waltz) asks for Django's help, because Django is an
acquaintance of three fugitives, the bounty hunter Schultz is after. A
"Dead or Alive"-handbill with its sketchy description and drawing is
not very reliable and shooting the wrong guy can easily happen and it
will just as easily get yourself hanged. Therefore the recruiting of
Django does make perfect sense. Looking for another wanted man Schultz
enters the next town, where he's never been, meets him, who is now the
sheriff of this town and whom he's never seen, and kills him after a
few seconds, without even talking to him. This is the moment "Django
Unchained" stops making sense.
Schultz is a cold blooded serial killer who murders people because some sheet of paper tells him that he's got the right to do so. He is a hypocrite, he gets mad at someone who also executes his state approved right to kill, but with sadistic pleasure. Murder is fine as long as the state tells you so and you do it for business, not for fun. In the original Spaghetti Western a guy like that would have always been the villain, many of the heroes were "Wanted Men" themselves. In "Django Unchained" he is the only human and sympathetic figure and without any doubt the main character. In many ways the spirit of "Django Unchained" is the exact opposite of that found in the movies Tarantino tried to emulate.
The story of the bland eponymous Django's development from slave in chains and rags to sharp dressed gunslinger with sunglasses is above all ridiculous and boring. So after Schultz's exit this excessively overlong movie becomes even more of an ordeal, although you get to see the explosion of a queer, ugly old geezer, who really deserved to die. He is played by QT himself and that's only something to look forward to and no spoiler, because naturally it has little plot relevance.
"Django Unchained" is about hating a whole ethnic group, just like "Inglourious Basterds", where Tarantino made sure to avoid the impression that there could be a German (a "Nazi") who wasn't devilishly evil. The nice young Zoller turns out to be a wannabe rapist and the clever detective Landa (Waltz) turns into a monster, strangling a helpless woman to death. After all Tarantino wanted his viewers to enjoy the butchering of hundreds of Germans in a cinema hall. In "Django Unchained" the murderous Schultz is the only decent white guy. All the others are preoccupied with torturing and humiliating blacks, so there is no need to dehumanize them any further. Will some savior please rise and rid the world of this evil?
"Django Unchained" tells the sentimental education of this savior, Django, that ends with the exit of his teacher. Now the Hate is strong with this one. He uses it for the righteous cause, to kill white people. All of them. The murders of the self-righteous are always cool and justified, right? Hypocrisy is the new religion. Tarantino is one of its high priests, "Django Unchained" is a High Mass. Enjoy!
"Once Upon a Time in the West", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" - those are masterworks. "Django Unchained" is the work of a slave, designed to debase its audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw Django Unchained with the expectation of any Tarantino fan. But I
left shaking my head in disappointment. This is not a bad film, but I'm
not saying it's a good one.
The length of the film is one of the main flaws. There are many scenes that do not serve a purpose to its characters and story. Which leads to its pacing problem. These irrelevant scenes exist in the film that often slows it down. It is very unbalanced.
Mostly, it's the characters and performances. Many are giving praise to Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Waltz, first of all, is in similar territory when he was in Inglorious Basterds. He and his character served their purpose and Waltz was just fine in the role, but nothing to highly praise. DiCaprio as Calvin Candie was nothing worth noting. Either its in the performance or the script, I never really invested in him. It's as if Tarantino wanted to write a great movie villain and that's what DiCaprio took as his only direction. There is a scene where he gets the evil monologue, but it comes very forced with ultimately ends up destroying the character.
Jamie Foxx, first of all, was the right choice for Django, but I believe that Tarantino did not trust his protagonist. It takes a long while to get invested in him, but at that point, why bother? BUT, the standout for me was Samuel L. Jackson. He takes his character Stephen is able to go beyond the material that is given. There is fun in his performance which is what the film should be.
I am well aware that I will be in the minority, when it comes to disliking the film. How people will try to tell me that there was more to the story than meets the eye, how it's a great revenge tale, how the characters were great and well written etc. But this is not a good Quentin Tarantino film.
The film is too long, with characters that hold the most minimal of interests. I will be really dishearten to see this film receive awards and praise. Maybe it's the love of Quentin that will jade people. I know it will. But after coming out of a strong year for film, Django falls flat.
The movie lacks the confidence of character(s) and story in a hyper active world. It loses it's identity somewhere along the line and the little scenes of greatness cannot save it. Most of all it does not have the joy of film that often add life to Tarantino films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Modern exploitation guru Quentin Tarantino serves up historical revenge
once again. His last film, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, had the German Nazis
getting theirs, and now, with a good German on board (in fact he's the
villain from the last film) we're out to set things right in the
American Deep South, two years shy of the Civil War
Although the first half takes place on the road from Texas to Mississippi as bounty hunting dentist Dr. King Schultz recruits a slave named Django to help him find three outlaw brothers (Django alone knows their appearance). These are the more spirited and deliciously cutthroat segments as our heroes partner up and, as Django puts it, "Kill white people for money." Christoph Waltz (Schultz) and Jamie Foxx (Django) are a good team, and while making mince meat out of their targets, the bloodshed is something to marvel.
But Tarantino throws in awkward bouts of humor, derailing the intensity of the moment. One particular scene where a group of rednecks complain about not seeing through masked eyeholes (including a very distracting cameo by Jonah Hill) feels like Mel Brooks clumsily intruding Sergio Leone.
After Django helps Schultz with his job, it's time for the doctor to aid his more-than-capable partner rescue Django's wife Broomhilda, who resides at "Candyland," an infamous Antebellum plantation run by the sinister though much too youthful Calvin Candie.
While Leonardo DiCaprio has more than capable acting skills, and savors the gloriously tyrannical racist dialog, there could have/should have been a backstory on why the owner of a plantation looks fresh out of finishing school.
For a man who's supposed to have a lifetime of seething venom oozing from his veins, those desperately piercing blue eyes seem more confused and frustrated than cold and calculating, making Tarantino's purposely overboard racism more of a crutch than weapon for the DiCaprio character (perhaps Don Johnson, who played a wily brothel owner in a previous scene, could have taken this role he had the age going for him and with that, soulless eyes that look like he's seen and been through pretty much everything).
But Leo's not alone. He's helped along by the most wicked of Uncle Tom's played by Samuel Jackson, whose spitefully cantankerous Stephen figures things out before his boss. This is a nice role for the QT stock actor, who has sleepwalked through many roles post PULP FICTION and JACKIE BROWN. Although his feeble mannerisms often slow down the performance.
The main problem with UNCHAINED is how long Tarantino stretches scenes with dialog. While the actors, especially Waltz and DiCaprio, have a blast with colorful monologues, you'll often forget there are other characters on board and most of the speeches fail to serve the plot. That being: the duo pretending to buy Mandingo slave fighters when they really want the girl.
With all the deals and discussions going on, the much-anticipated reunion of Django and Broomhilda is lost in the mix. Not even Django's surreptitious trigger finger (whenever she's treated badly) adds worthy suspense, which, during this overlong stint at Candyland, is very much needed.
But there's not all downtime at the mansion: a particular Candie lecture involving a slave's skull does successfully perk things up, providing DiCaprio a good five minutes of sheer unapologetic villainy. Then, after a shocking twist, it's Django alone who must save his girl.
Jamie Foxx, having played a quietly brooding second fiddle to Waltz so far, makes up for lost time with heated gusto. This third and final act involving a group of Australians being duped by Django, who's learned the art of waxing poetic, is replete with the bare-knuckle action we've anticipated all along: although the large chunks of bloody guts flying off each gunshot victim seems like Tarantino doing an imitation of himself.
There are some really neat montage sequences and beautiful locations, but some of the music, especially that of the rap nature, seems too modern for the time portrayed. And the editing feels somewhat limp without QT's longtime collaborator Sally Menke, who died a few years back: Particular flashbacks and hallucinations are often confusing and awkward.
A pretty good ride, much better than Quentin's last two films (BASTERDS and DEATH PROOF), yet there needed a much tighter/sharper vehicle for our title hero to deserve the fanfare of the literally explosive finale.
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I rarely bother to give reviews after watching a movie. But holy crap this was a good movie. I'm pretty sure it is the best movie i've seen all year. and yes i saw dark knight rises, avengers, flight, Argo, hobbit, etc... Tarantino delivers and then some.. Every actor is on point. Awesome performances, great story, it will definitely take you on a ride full of surprises. I would recommend everyone to go watch this film, it is truly a great film.. unless you're a little kid.. don't go watch this movie if you're a little kid. I've seen all of Tarantinos movies and I have to say this has been my favorite. It is just awesome in every way. I'm usually very harsh on movies. I mean ill watch just about anything, but for me to think a movie was actually "good", takes a whole lot. DiCaprio was like i've never seen him before, and being one of my favorite actors, it was a little weird at first. But he does an outstanding job at selling his role within seconds of his first appearance. Waltz delivered as i knew he would. and Jaime Foxx, well he did not fall behind. Last but not least Jackson was hilarious and also did an amazing job... Go watch the movie, it is worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll get to the heart of the matter. "Reservoir Dogs" was spot on. It
was a realistic (in terms of the outcome) yet highly stylized gangster
film. It said to the viewer, "I know you are expecting X, Y, and Z, but
isn't it time you 'grew up' already? Do you want to see the same movie
over and over again?" 'Bad guys' do bad things and usually
self-destruct in one way or another at a young age. We saw that no
matter how hard one might try, you cannot polish a turd, as they say.
Despite the cute dialogue, these guys are bad, do bad things, and the results are bad. If that heist would have 'succeeded,' they just would have gotten themselves killed or jailed some other way. it was a 'wake up call,' an inversion, or perhaps the best way to think of it is that it wasn't what it seemed to be. It was just a bunch of 'simulacra' thrown together to resemble a feature-length film. It succeeded brilliantly, but Tarantino had nowhere to go after that, other than to stylize and fabricate as much as possible, creating ludicrous, absurd movies that had no point. If you saw one you didn't need to see another.
"Django Unchained" is more of a postscript. It's not as ridiculous or as historically inaccurate as it could have been, but even it if had been, what would it have mattered? He's been there and done that, and apparently can't figure out what to do now other than to repeat the past. He is in the "Woody Allen Zone" at this point (just substitute the "white," rich, self-absorbed complainers for retro and homicidal, yet more "diverse" and colorful characters in Tarantino's last several films), in my opinion, meaning that he's "mailing it in" for the money. The movie is too long and very quickly the viewer can predict the kinds of things that will transpire. I don't play violent video games (or any video games at all), but after watching this I was thinking that it would be much more interesting in every way to just do that; after perhaps twenty minutes (or less) I'd get my fill of this sort of thing and could use the other two hours and change to do something "productive."
The following is my highly speculative, "inside the mind" history (or is it an anti-history) of Tarantino's "MO:" After "Reservoir Dogs," he had one last idea, essentially the end of the "Hollywood Blockbuster" disguised as a Hollywood Blockbuster (an anti-Hollywood Blockbuster?). It would be a highly stylized, very violent move that would appear to have several compelling "back stories." The reality is that it had none, and once the viewer figures this out, he or she should tell himself/herself that there is no reason to watch such films any longer, other than as some sort of "cheap chill," basically "violence porn." That blockbuster, of course, was "Pulp Fiction."
The title "gave away" the director's thoughts: "stop watching my films if you are an intelligent, empathetic person." Of course you may have watched one or two more because you couldn't be sure, but at this point his movies are some sort of "post-modern," anti-film, non-story. Watch them, expecting something different, and as they say, the joke is on you. Instead, I suggest you consider taking a course on the history of film, film criticism, or something along those lines. Seeing "Django" is like being the "best" guest at a "dinner for schmucks." So, I guess the most interesting question now is, what do we make of a reviewer who realizes what is occurring yet still feels compelled to watch these anti-films in order to tell others not to be the butt of a joke? Is this an anti-review? A "pulp" review?
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