Movies: Django Unchained

The first Tarantino movie I saw was Pulp Fiction in 1995. I had no idea what to expect when I walked into that cinema and it’s fair to say I had no immediate idea what I’d just seen when I walked out with my jaw on the floor.

Django Unchained is no Pulp Fiction, but it’s still pretty damn good.

Tarantino’s made enough films now for people to know the formula, but not so many that the formula has become tired.
Django Unchained
A distinct plot with a first class script, excessive stylised blunt-force violence, a killer soundtrack and more often than not, something big and unexpected. Django Unchained has all that, though because it’s another new genre for Tarantino it’s a little bit ….. different.

The performances in this film are exceptional. Jamie Foxx is great as Django and Leonardo Di Caprio – the boy actor now definitely a man – just keeps getting better. Samuel L. Jackson is wonderfully annoying as Di Caprio’s house negro but it’s Cristoph Waltz who steals the film.

Tarantino’s movies always surprise in one way or another and for me, it was Waltz as Django’s owner/mentor/liberator/partner who sets this film apart. His manner is perfect and his lines are written and delivered with panache.

Stylised sensationalism is the name of the game in any Tarantino movie and Django delivers in spades with big scenes, big laughs (the klan scene is a masterpiece of satire and Django’s valet outfit is hilarious) and of course, big deaths. The blood doesn’t always flow as freely as in the Kill Bill films, but when it comes, it comes in volume. The fine line between entertainment and offence has footprints on both sides, but while it’s sometimes hard to watch, it’s rarely (if ever) out of place. Tarantino uses violence for entertainment, but he doesn’t glorify it.

I may be reaching a little too far here, but I also appreciated the small glimpse into the slavery era, too. It’s something we know about in theory, but rarely consider in detail. I don’t consider this a real depiction by any means, but I’m sure that some of the more distasteful moments were just the tip of the iceberg.

Django Unchained isn’t my favourite Tarantino film but then a Tarantino film is a bit like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s still really, really good.

3.5 stars (out of 5)

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  1. I personally refuse to see Tarantino movies because of his over the top, gratuitous violence. Now we have a renegade cop emulating Django in California. This man has a disturbed Left-leaning mindset similar to famed Uni-bomber.

    Most sad is that this is the 3rd disturbed US Veteran with a gun incident in the past week.
    We had the abducted boy to a bunker in Alabama, the murder of Chris Kyle, Navy Seal, in Texas and now this. The underlying problem with gun-violence in the mental health issue. I am concerned with Films and Video games de-sensitizing people as we push the envelope.

  2. Largely agree with your assessment Swade, although my rating would be 4 out of 5. Fantastic acting performances indeed, a well-written and well-told script, and after Basterds this is another fascinating alternative history in which a wronged people takes revenge. Regarding this being a new genre: yes and no. Basically all Tarantino films are westerns, Django is just a more explicit one.

    A few side notes though: Death Proof really WAS a poor film, and I almost refuse to acknowledge its existence as a Tarantino film. Also, Tarantino’s best film to date is still Jackie Brown.

    1. I’d have easily given it a 4 if it surprised me more somehow. I missed that ‘pop’ that Tarantino usually delivers, either with the plot or the styling.

      Have to admit, I haven’t seen Death Proof. Sounds like that’s not a bad thing. Jackie Brown was good, for sure, but I’m still a big, big fan of Pulp and the Kill Bills. Might be an Uma thing.