Django Unchained (2012)

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Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington

Oscar Nominations: Cinematography, Sound Editing, Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Best Screenplay (written for the screen), Motion Picture.

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is a characteristically violent Spaghetti Western about a slave freed by a bounty hunter and their ensuing partnership to kill and find freedom.  The film is also, characteristically, too long, riveting and hilarious.  I think Django is best summed up by Leonard Maltin who wrote: “If you had pulled me out of the theater one hour into Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I would have raved. The first portion of the movie is utterly exuberant, full of life and the love of moviemaking,” and Tom Long who wrote that “Christoph Waltz alone is worth the price of admission.”

What I liked: Christoph Waltz is exceptional as the bounty hunter with a flare for dramatic and overstated language that provides 90% of the movie’s humour.  Jamie Foxx is perfectly understated as Django, who quietly evolves and provides the moral center of the film.  Typical of Tarantino there are some fine cameos and the score is a character unto itself.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays the villain with his unrelenting dedication and while he’s too recognizable to instill fear, he is still captivating.  It is also a testament to Tarantino that the outrageous violence served both the film’s humour and the severity of its subject.

What I didn’t like: I imagine fans of Samuel L. Jackson’s participation in Tarantino films will enjoy his overdramatic character.  I, on the other hand, found him anachronistic and undeveloped which pulled me out of the story.  There is also a significant change in tone when Waltz is not on camera which disappointed.  Tighter editing might have trimmed this film to perfection.  Finally, can we all recognize that Tarantino is a brilliant filmmaker but significantly less talented as an actor?

My rating: Let award season begin.

IMDB: 8.8

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%