Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Django Unchained

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Just remember...the "D" is silent.

Django Unchained – 5 out of 5

I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino. Sure the guy is an insufferable ego maniac but when you have the talent to back up the enormous ego, I think you’re allowed to be a little full of yourself. Let’s face it, the guy is an artist. The man blends dialogue, music, editing, story, plot and amazing camera work together to create films that are, at the same time, an homage to the greats that came before him and inspired him as well as something that breaks new ground in the world of filmmaking and storytelling. Not to mention that without his help, Robert Rodriguez wouldn’t be able to make a somewhat decent film.

I think he's asking for his change purse that says "Bad Mother Fucker" on it.

Django Unchained is Tarantino’s latest face-smashingly awesome film to come out and it not only tells a great story but continues his track record of making incredible films that satisfy both a lust for bloody action but some of the best dialogue and scene structure that has ever be committed to film.

And did I mention that Tom Wopat is in it?!?

Django (Jaime Foxx) is a former slave freed by the German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who agrees to help Django find and free his wife (Kerry Washington) and teach him the ways of the West and the gun. However, the two men realize that getting Django’s wife back may not be as easy as kicking in the door and shooting every white motherfucker in the way when they find her in the clutches of a ruthless plantation owner; Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Django is so cool, he probably would say something pithy, put on his shades
and The Who would start to rock before any of the members of The Who ever
recorded a song or been born.

Everything about this movie is just plain impressive. The acting, the action, the words that are spewing out of every character…this movie is Tarantino firing on all cylinders and making a film that is dramatic, fun, interesting and action-packed.

Whenever I watch a Tarantino film, I’m always blown away by the performances he gets from his actors. Often he cast already established actors who have already proven to be incredible or he casts actors who haven’t been seen in some times and yet, somehow, he is able to get these actors to push past their boundaries and give performances unlike anything they have ever done.  I'm assuming that threats of violence or promises of candy is how he gets his actors to literally act the fuck out of their roles. This film doesn’t disappoint in that measure.

Or maybe Tarantino uses's probably alcohol.

Jaime Foxx and Christoph Waltz—both incredible actors (seriously, Waltz needs more roles because he’s awesome)—are great together and really play off each other extremely well. Foxx, an actor I use to be luke warm to but have started to really dig, is just captivating to watch as you see him evolve from a quiet, uncertain man just freed from his chains that have defined his existence to a confident man ready to slam some bullets into the skulls of anyone dumb enough to get in the way of his destiny.

Smoking and wearing his sunglasses at night?!?  There is no end to his

Waltz is right there with Foxx giving the performance of a lifetime as he really makes Dr. King a charismatic and endearing character that’s just plain a joy to watch. It’s really a testament to the man’s skills as he played a thoroughly evil character that you loved to despise but couldn’t stop watching in Inglourious Basterds and then, going into this film, he’s the exact opposite and comes off as an eccentric and caring bounty hunter that is excellent to watch. When you combine these two men together and form Voltron, they create a sort of on-screen crack that is dangerously addicting to watch to the point I wanted these men to get their own series or at least have several sequels that involved their adventures…of course, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that can’t happen.

And what a majestic beard he has in it.

A performance that, somehow, is better than the one he
gave in Critters 3.
 The great performances don’t stop at our two heroes as Quentin delivers to us a fantastic villain that’s smarmy and suave but, when the clouds come rolling in to block out the sun, he unleashes the devil. Leonardo DiCaprio is just plain hypnotic as the plantation owner Calvin Candie. It’s a role I’ve never seen DiCaprio ever play and he just takes the character and creates something that you absolutely loathe with your entire being as he is just despicably racist.  However, you can’t take your eyes off him as he is able to run the fine line of being a Southern gentleman who can amuse the audience and then become a frighteningly dangerous and diluted man. It was actually a big surprise to me when I learned that he wasn't nominated for best supporting actor with this film.

Here he is about to do a magic show or tarot card reading...I can't tell which.

"This hood smells like cat turds..."
 Tarantino fills the rest of the cast with great stars left and right. Even though most of them have minor appearances (like Jonah Hill’s cameo) or they are just bit players in the overall story (like Don Johnson as a extremely racist plantation owner and possible regional Colonel Sanders impersonator available for restaurant openings and/or birthdays) everyone who graces this story really feels like a part of the action and the set—all the while maintaining Tarantino’s slightly over-the-top feel.

"Let's make this quick, I'm due in the next county to cut the ribbon on a
new KFC."

I might as well mention it now because you can’t talk about a Tarantino film without mentioning dialogue but the N-bomb has a huge place in this film—to the point it bothered a lot of people. The word nig—ah, my white guilt prevents me from being able to say it—the N-bomb has quite the presence in the film. One could easily argue that it was liberally sprinkled into the lines in order to be shocking and edgy but Tarantino is not a morning show DJ who will just throw out naughty words to offend the censors in order to get listeners in and use their audience’s love of low-brow humor to help them ignore the lack of content they are listening to.  I believe that the use of this word (I still can't utter it) has a place in the story and the narrative as Django.

"I'm not racist, I own plenty of black people.  I can't wait till some shitty country
artist makes a bad song called 'Accidentally Racist' so this whole slavery thing can
finally be forgotten and forgiven."

Sadly, this word, as loathsome and hateful as it is, has its roots in our nation’s history. It was used to keep an entire race down and dehumanize them in the eyes of the slave owners and the use of the word…I still can’t say it…feels less gratuitous and more of a sign of the times that's taking place in the film. When you factor in the story and how it is a tale of a slave getting his shackles cast off and trying to be a free man, the use of the word seems more like it is just another barrier for him to kick down. Like the ignorant white men of the film feel that before they try to put the uppity slave down with bullets, they are going to put him down with labels. So the 110 times the word “nigger” is used feels almost necessary for Django’s journey of becoming a free man and seeking his revenge on those who have wronged him. It really felt like just another example of how Tarantino crafts dialogue that is more than just men discussing the hidden meanings of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and shows that even the use of a single word (a word with a lot of power and a lot of terrible history behind it) can be more than just two syllables.

I just hope this film doesn't make some white people think it's okay to just
use that word whenever they want.  White people like this first incarnation of Fox News viewers.

Finally, this movie really satisfies the action itch one craves from a Tarantino film. The man is a genius behind the camera and constructs some amazing sequences that involve long single takes and scene composition that tells more than what it is showing but he’s also really good at bringing you strangely satisfying, almost satiric violence. This film is no exception as from the minute Dr. King purchases Django’s freedom to the balls-out gun battle at the end, the blood and guts fly, fling and splatter all over the place. It’s easy to boil down all of Tarantino’s symbolism to just great action sequences but these shoot outs, with all their brain-blowing action, are just the icing on a really great cake. A cake filled with a rich story, a filling of terrific lines and visuals and even little bits of strawberries (in this case, the strawberries are a metaphor for strawberries).

Schultz is just upset because he was going to wear the same thing.

It seems Tarantino's ego is stored in his stomach.
 Django Unchained is just another notch in the belt of a man who, for all intensive purposes, doesn’t need more to brag about. But, like I said, I don’t mind Tarantino’s ego because his talent completely warrants it. Like all his previous films, Tarantino started with a great story, added non-stop tremendous performances and utilized dynamic camera work that kept the action intense, the drama flowing and the plot moving. This film is just another example of how Tarantino really understands how films are meant to be experienced as he crafted a movie with such an involving story, great dialogue and countless scenes of epic interactions between the characters that the nearly three hour running length seems to fly by like no time had passed and left me wanting to see more of Django’s adventures.

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