Friday, December 28, 2012

Django Unchained

       Quentin Tarantino is a craftsman. He knows exactly what he wants and never compromises. The man has made only eight films in twenty years. There is no mistaking a "Tarantino" film, regardless of the genre. And now he takes his camera to the wild west and south for a mash up of spaghetti western meets black explotation. "Django" clocks in at almost three hours and there is entertainment in every frame. If you are easily offended by over the top violence and foul language (especially liberal use of a particular "N" word), this is not the movie for you but if you are a fan of Mr. Tarantino's work, you will certainly not be disappointed.

          Mr. Tarantino has found the perfect muse for his dialog in Christoph Waltz. While Jamie Foxx may play the title character, the film truly belongs to Mr. Waltz's character, Dr. King Schultz. He is brilliantly written and Mr. Waltz is Oscar caliber in the role. Mr. Foxx is also excellent but Django is a man of action, not words and you appreciate him in an entirely different way. When Dr. Schultz frees Django and the two men become partners in the bounty hunting business, a true "bromance" is formed. Both actors play off each other so well and so naturally, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

           Heroes have to have their villains to balance any good story and who would expect Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson to sign up as two of the most vile characters to ever appear on screen? Both are so good at being bad, its scary. It's a toss up for which is the more despicable of the two.

           As a well documented student of film, Mr. Tarantino fills the screen with lots of movie references, some more subtle than others, and pulls character actors out of his bag of tricks that haven't appeared on screen in years. Victoria Thomas, the casting director, must have had a blast filling parts with with the likes of Don Stroud and Russ Tamblyn. James Remar is so good, Mr. Tarantino uses him twice. Robert Richarson's cinematography is wonderful and I believe he captures on film exactly what Mr. Tarantino has visualized in his head. Complimenting the visuals is a perfectly eclectic choice of songs and score. A sequence I especially liked is a montage set to Jim Croce's "I've Got A Name". 

           Early in the film, there is a scene with hooded riders that while amusing, comes off like an outtake from "Blazing Saddles", complete with stunt casting. It's an unnecessary cheap laugh. I forgive the stumble, however, because what follows is such a rich blend of smart movie-making on both sides of the camera.  Mr. Tarantino can take all the time between films he likes as long as the end product is worth the wait.

            "Django Unchained" was worth the wait.

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