Django Unchained (USA, 2012)

MV5BMjIyNTQ5NjQ1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg1MDU4OA@@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_Directed by: Quentin Tarantino. Granted, I saw this in two installments on two separate airplane rides, on a screen smaller than the laptop I’m using right now, through my shitty dollar store earbud headphones, so perhaps I missed the underlying majesty and subtle spark of genius buried in this bloated, pointless, half-cooked bloodfest peppered with enjoyable lines and humourous performances here and there, BUT to me it just looked like some bloated, pointless, half-cooked bloodfest peppered with enjoyable lines and humourous performances here and there. Now, god knows I love Don Johnson as much as the next man (I never missed an episode of Nash Bridges—I even rented the Best of Don Johnson CD out of my local library—and enjoyed it!) but the sight of my old pal Don dressed as Colonel Sanders engaging in some whacky KKK shit just wasn’t enough to save this movie for me (and honestly, that stupid gag with Jonah Hill and the KKK masks was sub-Jonah Hill level comedy). Christoph was great, but he did basically the same thing as he did in Inglourious Basterds, except he’s the good guy here instead of the bad guy.  Again, not enough to save the movie. And it was really fun watching Leo chew up the scenery, doing his Intense Guy, Al Pacino In Training thing as a bad guy instead of as a good guy (he’s always the good guy, right?). Again, not enough. Jamie Foxx, considering he’s the goddamn protagonist, doesn’t get an awful lot to do here. Sure, he shoots more people than anyone else, and I guess in a Tarantino movie that’s pretty serious currency. But emotionally, I felt like the center of the movie was Christoph Waltz, the gentle German white man who gives the slave his freedom. This is why, once he’s dead, there’s nothing left to do but watch Django blow away bad guys for like 25 minutes and ride off with his lady. Great. Amazing. The whole burning-down-the-southern-plantation-house thing has been done before, if in the pages of the Preacher comic book if nowhere onscreen. BUT even without all of this, it’s just not a great movie, and the lack of characterization prevents it from being even a good movie I think. It’s a shame that we have to talk so much about Tarantino—his films don’t have that much to talk about (revenge, violence, cool music, unnecessarily verbose dialogue, stir, repeat)—but he’s such a towering figure in modern film that any opinion other than “what a great, unique, visionary filmmaker he is! Boy his farts smell so pleasant…and groundbreaking too!” is met with more scrutiny among film fans than the fucking 9/11 Commission. But I can dream. I can dream that either A) Tarantino pulls back a bit from his own ass and tries to touch base with something outside of the cartoon spaghetti Western/blaxploitation/samurai aesthetic, or B) he keeps losing touch with the fundamentals of compelling narrative filmmaking and the culture moves on without him. I’m guessing neither happens, but oh well. I’ll get over it.


4 responses to “Django Unchained (USA, 2012)

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