Saturday, May 4, 2013

Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Rating: R
My rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars


Hello blog-o-sphere! I told you I'd be back!

Just so happens I had 165 minutes to kill today, plus an entire bottle of Mountain Dew and a $5 Hot-N-Ready Little Caesar's Pizza. So I combined all of that into a "watch the movie no one wanted to see with you since you're by yourself" kind of thing.

So, following that little alone time sesh, here is a collective pile of my thoughts on the very fresh viewing of Django Unchained

Prelude:

I bought this movie just a few weeks ago (it hasn't been out on DVD and Blu-ray even a month yet). I've been allowing myself to splurge on a special edition Blu-ray of some kind every so often, and Django was my April. I got the Blu-ray combo pack special edition from Target. It came with a metal case, the DVD, the Blu-ray, a disc of bonus features, plus an iTunes digital copy and an Ultraviolet digital copy. So far it's been worth the little extra I've paid. I used the Blu-ray today, and it was stunning picture quality.

I'd also like to add to this newly discovered "prelude" section that I had heard a lot of good and bad things about this movie before watching, but I'm a huge Tarantino fan.

Synopsis:

Two years before the Civil War, as winter approaches, a dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz; Inglorious Basterds) is hunting for three particular wanted men, and seeks help by purchasing a slave who would know their faces, named Django (Jamie Foxx; Ray). Schultz enlists Django's help by including the promise of freedom. Django is freed, but chooses to remain in the employ of Schultz, and Schultz agrees to help his friend look for his estranged wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington; Fantastic Four), who is undoubtedly still enslaved somewhere closer to their South Carolina roots. Once found, Django and Schultz hatch an elaborate scheme to free Broomhilda from the ownership of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio; Inception).

My thoughts:

In short....I loved it!

Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for this role and it's easy to see why. His Dr. Schultz kept us guessing the entirety of the film. Part of me thinks that I was just so used to Waltz playing the villain (even in Tarantino's other films) that I kept waiting for some evil turn or twist to happen from him, but it never did. His character was brilliant from start to finish. Tarantino also deserves props for his contributions to creating Schultz's character. Most directors would have made him seem more like "the hero", but Waltz and Tarantino created him as just another flawed man, and the brilliance of it shines through (to me, at least).

I've always been a DiCaprio fan (though Titanic isn't my favorite film) but I have to say he delivered here too. His Calvin Candie was believable and strong throughout. The level of play was very high from everyone, but DiCaprio set the stage. Candie's head slave, Steven, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) was a perfect compliment to DiCaprio's collected Candie, and both played an integral part in the story as well.

The writing (of course) was superb as well. It was well deserving of it's Oscar win in that category as well. A  lot of people find Tarantino's constant use of profanity (and in this case, the "n" word) unnecessary, but I call shenanigans! Is it unnecessary because it didn't further the story, or because it made you uncomfortable to hear it? It DID (in most cases) do both of those things. Tarantino is good at using profanity, nudity, and violence to further his stories. In this case, he told a fictional story about a time when the slave trade was running rampant through the United States. Without the language, nudity, or violence, it's just a feel good story about a free slave who finds his wife, but with it, it becomes a real picture into somewhat recent human history. It SHOULD have made you uncomfortable. That was the intent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the cameo roles played by some of the more famous people, like when Miami Vice's Don Johnson appeared as plantation owner "Big Daddy", Jonah Hill as an enraged member of the Klu Klux Klan, and even Quentin Tarantino himself, in the employ of the slave trade. It made my film experience that much more enjoyable to have so many recognizable faces among it.

The biggest props of the film, though, have to go to Jamie Foxx. The last movie I saw him in before this was Horrible Bosses, and while that movie is hilarious, it doesn't equate to the cinematic accomplishment that Jamie Foxx was such an integral part of here. I had heard Will Smith turned down the role and (as much of a Will Smith fan I am) I couldn't be happier. Foxx's Django accomplished something strangely reminiscent of Tom Hardy's "Bane" in The Dark Knight Rises in that he says so much without saying much in the way of words. Django's character does speak more and more as the movie goes on, but he says way more with his face and his actions than his Tarantino-scripted lines can.

I realize that was in great detail, but the watch was very fresh so I had a lot to say. Plus, it's nearly a three hour film.

In Conclusion:

I realize that this film is unusually controversial compared to normal "Archives Report" material (and if you have a problem with How the Grinch Stole Christmas you need to just leave right now) but this is one of my favorite things about film. I love discussing it. In my personal opinion, the work of the writer/director required the severe language and violence to properly convey his message. The controversy over it just means he made his point. Forgetting that these dark times happened to our nation shouldn't happen. We should remember our mistakes, so we don't repeat them. As I'm sure you'll find out from me in the future in this very blog, I'm a big believer in the point and the message of a film, rather than nitpick at the means they used to reach it.

If you made it this far: Thank you! I really appreciate any support this blog can muster! I'd love to blog for a living one day! Please let me know your thoughts on the film, my blog, your upcoming summer vacation...anything. I'd really love to hear it!

Thanks again! Until next time! God Bless!

NAH