Some one asked me this morning ‘what was Django like then?’ All I could muster was ‘it was alright’. Very insightful! Not being a fan of blood and guts on screen, I am not a big lover of Tarantino’s work. Don’t get me wrong, Pulp Fiction is fantastic and I love Death Proof, but I am not a die hard fan like some. However I had read some absolutely raving reviews for Django Unchained since the end of 2012 when it came out in the states, so decided early that it would be one to watch for sure.
A quick synopsis of the story looks like this, Django (Jamie Foxx) is freed from some slave traders by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to help him find and kill some criminals with a bounty on their head. Django does a great job so Schultz suggests that they team up and collect bounties together. Schultz learns of Django’s wife who is imprisoned as a slave in Mississippi and they hatch a plan to rescue her. Literally this is the plot, no twists or turns, no big reveal – yet it takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to tell.
I was worried about the prospect of too much blood and gore in this movie having read that it isn’t ‘for the fainthearted’. I understand where this stems from, but for someone who is VERY squeamish, I actually found most of these aspects laughable. People get shot and blood seems to explode out of them, at some points they make very strange sound effects as if Rolf Harris is shaking a piece of cardboard behind them, and some are blasted away – flying a few meters backwards from a single pistol shot. All good fun to watch mind you, and the way no body died quietly was great. Men writhed around on the floor screaming which I found much more entertaining and surprisingly realistic (until the shoot out at the end, which was ridiculous). There were a few disturbing violent scenes, such as a man being torn apart by dogs, and general slave whippery – all of which I had to watch through my fingers. These did add to the sinister and evil portrayal of slavery at this time, but I don’t think all of the violence in this film is necessary for historical context as I have read in places. I guess it is just Tarantino’s ‘style’.
I will give credit to the writing of the film. The dialogue was witty and made me laugh on several occasions. In particular the scene with the lynch mob. The eye holes on their hoods were uneven and no body could see – this leads to them arguing among themselves about who cuts the masks and whether or not to wear them at all. It is very funny, and a random appearance from Jonah Hill made me laugh. Also any exchanges involving Schultz were cleverly written and brilliantly delivered by Christoph Waltz.
In fact Waltz’ character really was the shining light in Django Unchained. Without him I don’t know if I would have made it through the whole thing. I grew to love Dr. King Schultz for his honesty and compassion. But also his violent and detached side. He has some fantastic lines to listen out for, his general manner and delivery was fascinating and engaging. Scene’s without Waltz were lacking his presence and the film would not be half as good without him.
Another fantastic character was Calvin Candie, Leonardo DiCaprio was perfect for this role. He played the owner of a large plantation who dabbled in ‘Dingo fights’ where slaves fight to the death. This is when the film got interesting, and Candie’s role really added to the story. DiCaprio plays an evil, sadistic authority figure exceptionally well and he doesn’t disappoint in Django.
Samuel L Jackson, an old pal of Tarantino’s, played a sneaky old man who thinks he is above his position in the Candie house. Total traitor to the human race in my eyes and always out for himself. I disliked the character immensely and I guess this shows Jackson did a great job with the role.
Jamie Foxx, well I nearly forgot to talk about him even though he is the lead, woops! Foxx plays the slave turned free man Django – slightly dim-witted but incredibly fast on the draw and has his brilliant moments. His beautiful blue outfit for instance when he gets to chose his own clothes but gets the fashion all wrong. The highlight for me were the blue bows on his boots. To be honest, I am not sure Foxx was the right choice for this role. Yes he does look hard faced, but I feel his character could have been so much more. I couldn’t see much personality, and I didn’t believe in the love for his wife which is the whole reason for the story…
I did enjoy the music in this film. I liked the rap music which some have slated, although it obviously didn’t match the time period which is something I think is quite important if you are going to be truly immersed in a story. I really liked the ‘Django’ music though and it has been in my head since I came out of the cinema.
Despite some fantastic performances, I felt this film was lacking something. A certain seriousness that Tarantino usually has in his films was not there, the sinister aspects bordered on comedy, and the cinematic scenes are few and far between, plus an over use of the spaghetti western ‘zoom to the face’ shot (that’s its technical term I am sure). Tom made a good point, he said it was almost like Tarantino was parradying himself, or he had made a film just because he wanted to make a film. This was confirmed for me when the man himself appears as a shoddy accented Australian who can’t act for buttons. Thank goodness for the dynamite.
Over all then, if Django Unchained was just 2 hours long, I think this film would have been a winner for me. If only for Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio! Unfortunately though it dragged, and Foxx didn’t have me wholly convinced. It is worth a watch, as there are some brilliant parts. But take a lot of snacks and maybe a cushion for your butt if watching this in a cinema.
Tagged: blog, blogger, christoph waltz, cinema, critic, django unchained, film, films, jamie foxx, jonah hill in django unchained, leonardo dicaprio, movie, movies, new blogger, quentin tarantino, review, samuel l jackson