Quentin Tarantino's latest - a double Oscar champ - is perhaps the single most audacious mainstream movie in years....
Anchor Bay / 165 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: April 16, 2013
Django Unchained got itself in a bit of trouble upon its Christmas release last year, but now that some time has passed and it’s got some Oscar gold in its arsenal, I think it’s fair to say that Quentin Tarantino’s latest opus of blood, guts, and throwbacks is one of the more unique pieces of mainstream filmmaking we’ve seen in years. Are there any other multiplex auteurs out there working with a canvas as big as Tarantino’s? Sure, guys like Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson have big followings, but would a studio give them $100 million to make whatever they wanted?
Make no mistake: Django Unchained may be about a former slave looking to find redemption, but it’s the Quentin Show. Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz all deliver exceptionally rich and often hilariously disarming performances, but the rhetoric and syntax of the story at hand here has QT stamped all over it. It’s basically an opportunity to crawl inside Quentin’s head for three hours and marvel at the ferocious postmodern concepts floating around in there.
Our story begins when Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) meets up with Django (Foxx) in a bloody late-night shootout that ends with the two agreeing to work together. Schultz has some business he needs to tend to – there are men who need to be killed – and once it’s established that Django is a crack shot, the pair set off to cause some trouble. But there’s more to it: Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) is still being held as a slave by the lecherous plantation maven Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), and Django convinces Schultz that their journeys need to eventually lead them to her.
Django Unchained is a brash, nasty, vivid piece of entertainment, one that will thrill as many of its viewers as it will offend. There are some who argue Tarantino has gone too far with this one, that his dramatic aims are too oblique, too grotesque to add up to anything worthwhile, but while it’s easy to acknowledge how some folks might not jive with Django’s brittle harshness, there are others who will be swept up by the filmmaker’s singular vision. And if you’ve been on QT’s wavelength before, don’t hesitate to cannonball right into the world of Django Unchained.