Quentin Tarantino is back with a bang.  Well of course he is, it’s Tarantino.

His latest cinematic experience, Django Unchained, is set two years before the Civil War, in 1858 and follows the lives of Django (Jamie Foxx), a recently freed slave and bounty hunter Dr King Schlutz (Christoph Waltz) as they track down both the bad guys (whose bodies pay nicely) and Django’s long lost wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  While it contains over-the-top gore, hilarious one-liners and side stories, Django Unchained is also a film that shows that devastating and horrific side of human nature, and what appalling things we did to each other because it was accepted by society.

It also contains some truly horrendous acting by Tarantino himself, but that’s besides the point.

The Good:

  • I’m not a massive fan of gore, and films like Saw and Texas Chainsaw Massacre tend to bring up my lunch, but there’s something about Tarantino films that make the gore not only acceptable…but downright hilarious.  Sure, seeing ten people go down in a bloody mass in reality would be disgusting and down-right horrific, but on screen it’s so over-the-top that it’s literally laughable.  Which is the whole point of course.  Tarantino showcases this lovely directorial skill that he has time and time again in Django Unchained, from the small moments you barely notice, to the tension-relievers, to the massive gun scene that showcases Jamie Foxx is all his bloody, arse-kicking glory (being played out to a 2Pac/James Brown mix of course)
  • The look and feel: from the blood red opening credits, to the costumes, facial hair jaw-dropping mountain scenery, Django Unchained has it covered.  While it is cliche (and I assume accurate) seeing a Mid-Western town, complete with Saloon just puts me in a good mood.  Saying that though, the teeth in this film do not, special mention to Leonardo DiCaprio.  If you ever think twice about the importance of oral hygiene, just watch this film to put you back in your place.  Shudder
  • Jamie Foxx.  Personally, I thought he was the best actor in the whole film, even if Christoph Schultz has been nominated for an Oscar.  Foxx’s portrayal of Django, while at times ludicrous, was also perfectly nuanced in just the right scenes.  His subtle, yet constant, spiral into power is apparent yet never over-the-top; he showcases beautifully the effect that power can have on a man, and what steps they’ll take to keep it
  • The storyline.  As someone who has lived in Australia their whole lives, I can’t fully comprehend what it must feel like as an American to watch a film like this and feel such guilt over what their ancestors have done.  While Tarantino obviously appreciates blood and violence, the scenes that show almost nothing are the ones that are far worse…because they occurred.  Whipping, branding and other sorts of horrendous punishments occurred to slaves simply because they were born with different coloured skin.  And while this was a film about action and gore, it also reminds us of the terrible atrocities that are our own fault

The Bad:

  • Kerry Washington/Broomhilda:  It’s not that her acting was bad, or that the character wasn’t likeable, but it was more that she didn’t give enough and considering the fanfare and lengths to which Django goes to save her, I expected her to either have a bigger role, or at least a bigger presence when she was on the screen.  Perhaps Tarantino did this on purpose to reiterate how soul-crushing being owned by someone must have been, but even this aspect was lost on me as she failed to fight time and time again
  • The length of the film: it was too long.  Often films are long, but worthwhile and you walk out of the cinema believing that everything was there for a reason.  Django Unchained, unfortunately, was not one of these films.  It went for 2 and a half hours, and in all honesty, the last half an hour could have been cut and it still would have had essentially the same ending…minus Tarantino trying to do a really, REALLY atrocious Australian accent (just for the record, we don’t sound anything like that in reality)

Have you seen Django Unchained?  Were you a fan?  Do you like Quentin Tarantino films?  Let me know!

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