The biggest mistake about going to see Django Unchained on opening day was that more than half of the audience was at the theatre to see a Jamie Foxx movie, not a Quentin Tarantino film. This resulted in more than your usual sounds of shock and awe, as bodies literally exploded in almost-Looney Tunes fashion.
Yes, Tarantino is quite the bloodsport, but he’s good at making it seem necessary. If it weren’t for his incredible ability to contain a good, quality story around those guts, then he’d be written off as a shock jock, instead of as an indelibly talented auteur. Tarantino has been a Hollywood heavyweight/bad boy since his first major debut with Pulp Fiction, and Hollywood hasn’t been sure what to do with him or his films since. But, as any filmmaker, or person in general, with time comes maturity and Tarantino’s latest works have been utter masterpieces.
Inglorious Basterds, while gory, was a triumphant tale of revenge against the (arguably) evilest organization of all time. See Jew-killers get their scalps literally cut off was both disgusting and rewarding. Beyond just the moments that make you cheer, though, Tarantino also strikes chords in clever, long scenes where the dialogue and performances tell it all (like the incredible opening scene in Basterds).
Django is full of them, too. When Christoph Waltz (who is incredible here) and Foxx enter their first old west town together, the twist in finding out who Waltz really is is hilariously clever and engaging and sets up the rest of the movie and really allows you to sit back, relax, and just enjoy the ride.
Django is way funnier than any recent Tarantino flick, but the comedy doesn’t take away from the fierce performances. Foxx and Waltz are brilliant, as are Leonardo DiCaprio (appearing as a minor character in a film for the first time in 16 years) and Samuel L. Jackson.
There’s been controversy around the film’s use of the N word and, from some in the African-American community, it’s somewhat free vision of the time of slavery, but audiences should lighten up. It’s a movie. It’s the intent behind the storytelling. It’s not meant to make a statement on how bad slavery may have been (which would be unnecessary anyways, since slavery has been abolished for over 100 years now), and it’s not meant to be a slap in anyone’s ancestor’s faces. The movie is actually not about slavery at all. It’s about love and revenge in the name of love.
If you can make it past the very visual blood that’s at the heart of a good Tarantino movie, then Django is the perfect ride for you. I can’t remember the last time I sat in a movie theatre for almost 3 hours without looking at the time. One of the best times at the movies this year.
Runtime: 165 min.