Friday, January 18, 2013


Rated : R

Stars: Jamie Foxx,  Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel  L. Jackson, Kerry Washington
Director:  Quentin Tarantino

Genre: Western, Action/Adventure, Dark Comedy
Quentin Tarantino isn't normally my cup of blood. After a while all that splatter has a numbing effect, and you find your mind wandering to thoughts like: Who gets to clean up all this mess? But Django Unchained grabbed me from the outset with the haunting strains of  its spaghetti western score from Ennio Morricone (he's only the greatest film composer of all time, mind you).  Add to that a discernible plot that I could see developing and I was ready to hang on for the ride.  

Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave in the deep south before the Civil War who meets his liberator in the personage of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) . Schultz poses as a traveling dentist, but he's really a bounty hunter looking for a couple of bad hombres named the Brittle Brothers. Django, having had previous dealings with said scum, teams with the good doctor to ferret them out, and that takes them to the plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) 

Django has another reason to be there, and that's to find his long lost wife, Broomhilda, (Kerry Washington) whom he suspects is one of Candie's cadre of slaves. There the partners meet  the uppity Stephen, (Samuel L. Jackson)  who is something of an indentured butler and  advisor to Candie. Stephen doesn't like what he sees in Django--no no--and that's ATTITUDE he doesn't think a black man should have in these here times--freeman or not. Jackson's portrayal of the cantankerous and ultimately treacherous Stephen should have gotten him an Oscar nod for best supporting butler, or something, along with the four other nominations Django Unchained received. And it demonstrates that racism can and does exist within one's own skin shade as well.    

The prevailing opinion seems to be that DiCaprio was similarly slighted, and he does give a powerful performance, even though its a tongue-in-cheek stereotype of a pompous southern plantation owner. 

Waltz does get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and he earned it with his prissy Dr. Schultz. 

Django Unchained contains one of the funniest film scenes I've ever seen...just get ready to spew your soda when the Ku Klux Klan makes it appearance, cuz it ain't what you think it's gonna be! 

You should also be prepared for the "N" word, which is used 110 times. The first time it's a bit jolting, and it's like, okay, so we've bypassed any political correctness considerations and we're going for true realism--because let's face it, that's the term that was in common usage in that era. And Tarantino is nothing if not gutsy. By the twentieth time it popped up, I was flashing back to Dustin Hoffman in Lenny .  Lenny Bruce tried to show people that no word has more power than we are willing to give it,  and what really matters is not the word itself, but the  INTENT behind the word. That, of course,  was  too subtle for the dumbed-down, one-size-fits-all America of today.    

Grade:  B +