Thursday, February 28, 2013
DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
Written & Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Cinematography By: Robert Richardson
Editor: Fred Raskin
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Walter Goggins, Don Johnson, Jonah Hill, Dennis Christopher, Zoe Bell, James Remar, Franco Nero, James Russo, Tom Wopat, Michael Bowen, Tom Savini, M.C. Gainey, Robert Carradine,John Jarratt, Bruce Dern, Michael Parks, Quentin Tatrantino, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn
Former dentist, Dr. King Schultz, buys the freedom of a slave, Django, and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django's wife who is under the hands of Calvin Candie, a ruthless plantation owner.
This is a homage to western films, (With an obvious admiration for the spaghetti kind) though Tarantino considers this film more of a southern as it takes place almost exclusively in the south and actually involves slavery more as a motif. The film of course is historically inaccurate as the film is not trying to rewrite or tell a historical story like his last film. It just seems more to be a revenge film that is set during a time period and uses known history of practices of the time to help fill out the story.
It seems with each film they become more and more an homage to his favorite genres. Using public knowledge of slavery he already has the audience informed of the time period and the mindset of most of the characters. So he doesn’t have to waste time setting it up nor make us seek a deeper understanding of the villains.
Tarantino’s films seem to be becoming much more well researched with detail and conversations of the period. He seems to take particular joy in whichever time period his films take place in to bring up little tid-bits of trivia. I will admit though he has a certain cinematic anarchic glee in his films. They are becoming more and more mature in their inception.
Would have liked to have seen Will Smith in the role making up for WILD WILD WEST and such an iconic and powerful character before the film wasn’t sure Jamie Foxx could pull it off, but he does and does it well. Giving his first strong performance in awhile. As after RAY the question was though he started out as a comedian what types of film would he headline straight dramas or pure comedy. He tried a drama and a thriller then sort of maintained more supporting roles. Here his character grows slowly from the beginning and it’s nice to see the progression.
The film Is more comedic than Quentin Tarantino’s work has been in the past. Of course it is darkly comedic. Though I must say Once Christoph Waltz and leonardo DiCaprio leave the Scenes they are missed and the film goes off the charts. As it Seems Mr. Waltz is the heart opf the film. So the rest of the film sort of moves along as crazy as a zombie film as it has lost it’s heart it’s not dead. It’s still lively but it’s all over the place with very little purpose. It has it’s sights set on a goal but doesn’t get there quickly.
The film Starts off as a buddy comedy of sorts fueled by revenge then quickly. They get to Candieland the film becomes darker more grotesque. The roles change too Django Becomes the more reserved expert. The Doctor more the foil and oddly emotional before he was only doing a means to an end. A foreigner with theories and opinions, but focused on money. Now he saw depravity with his own two eyes and is outraged but has a part to play. Now it is real for him to see. Django has seen this and worse is it’s all normal to him. Everything get’s twisted, embraces it’s vicious violence tends to hint at being simple and gets lost in the landscape.
The ultra-violence, Lack of strong female characters in fact the casual violence when it comes to women. I know it tries to be realistic to it’s time period towards the end it becomes more cartoonish. Zoe bell appears in the film as more of a cameo, but quickly disappears. Kerry Washington is here as the innocent Damsel in distress.
The film builds tension by making scenes seem mundane then raising the stakes as it goes along which tarantino obviously enjoys, but he lets it go on sometimes for too long as while it is intense. It grows to be overblown at times and could be cut down. I admire the gesture but can go on for too long to get this point across. I would say it’s the Brian DePalma influence who is one of his favorite filmmakers.
While it builds to a reason. The story feels far-fetched. Now while Tarantino has his detractors and of course watching his films you can point to scenes and films which he has been inspired by or paying homage to (others might say stole or remade.) I believe he is a good writer.
I just believe at times it feels he is more interested in making his films come off to look and be cool then believable. I realize he wants his films to be more genre films and feel more like movies then anything close to reality.
The film is too long yet it doesn’t feel too long, but at times does feel long. It could be trimmed by about 20 minutes. In it’s aspiration to become an epic.
He will always be a target by those who once praised him. His arrogance and confidence also get’s on peoples nerves, but he he’s back it up with his work which is always of interest.
Looking at the trailer wasn’t that excited to see it will admit to reading the script beforehand that truly makes the film epic and adds quite a few details and gives more of an overview to the character of Candide and Broomhilda and how she came to work on the farm and truly shows the evil depths of Leonardo DiCaprio and adds to what in the film feels like loose ends. If these scenes were included we would have gotten a full overview, but with the film already at two hours and forty eight minutes and that is when he cut it down adding the cut stuff would truly make this film close to a four hour epic. Which would be fun, but too full maybe we can expect the rumored longer cut on DVD. Unfortunately Sally Menke Tarantino’s usual editor is missed as she was a true collaborator who helped shape his work. Though you feel like you are already watching the exteneded cut.
While Tarantino exposed the world to Christoph Waltz obviously this film and here he is almost co-lead was written for him. And he gives a charming gentlemanly performance similar to his performance in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS only this time as a hero.
The scene where he revels himself in the beginning feels like a western scene a modern look at one.
This film has a better soundtrack then his last few films, though here he uses more modern music.
Will Smith, Idris Elba, Chris Tucker, Terrence Howard, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Tyrese Gibson were all considered for the role of Django. Quentin Tarantino actually wrote the role with Smith in mind, and Smith's agents and manager wanted him to accept it, but Smith ultimately decided to pass. Tarantino then offered the part to Jamie Foxx, who accepted. Kevin Costner was cast as Ace Woody, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Quentin Tarantino wrote a role for Michael Kenneth Williams, but Williams had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts with Boardwalk Empire. Sacha Baron Cohen was cast as Scotty and Kurt Russell was cast as Ace Woody but both dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. After the actors left the project, the minor roles that were going to be played by Michael Kenneth Williams, Sacha Baron Cohen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were removed from the film.
King's and Django's horses are named Fritz and Tony. These are the names of the horses of (respectively) silent western stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix.
Franco Nero, making his cameo in the film, is seen wearing white gloves. This may be a reference to the original Django film where at the end Nero's character has his hands smashed by the Mexicans for being a thief. However; this should not be seen as him being the same character in both movies, as Django takes place in an unspecified time after Django Unchained and U.S. Civil War.
Django's blue costume is based on the famous painting "The Blue Boy". This painting inspired F.W. Murnau's film "The Boy in Blue". F.W. Murnau is best known for creating the "Unchained" camera technique. Director Quentin Tarantino revealed at Comic-Con that Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington's characters are meant to be the great great great grandparents of the character John Shaft from the Shaft movies. An overt reference to this connection can be found in Kerry Washington's character's full name: Broomhilda Von Shaft.
Leonardo DiCaprio is so unhinged at first looks lost in the character then truly makes it his. Not letting the costume do the acting. So malicious evil, but kind of likeable. Not so much upset at a black man sitting at his table, but of being conned.
The film gets the audience involved but not necessarily each time in the way that it should. Though it’s acts are obvious.
It also allows the film to use the N Word liberally which he has been attacked for in the past for his characters uttering
As always the cinematography of Ralph Richardson is rich, luminous and at times trippy. Tarantino has always been an inspiration to me one of the director’s who was a hero to me when I was younger as it seems that when I was just discovering cinema as a major interest he was making his rise and seemed like someone like me out of the system and worked his way up there. Then when he became a celebrity with one film that defined the 90’s independent film scene. PULP FICTION. I was even more amazed, but then audience discovered him. He was no longer my secret, with success his ego grew, but I can’t help except to admit I still admire him. I always went to read the scripts to his work as I have always managed to read his scripts early from JACKIE BROWN on.
The film is a crowd pleaser more than any of his previous work as it is his most cute and dry characters and situations not as layered. Feels like a movie never feels real. Though he get’s what he aims for.
Thanks to well known history and uses it to his advantage. Including dynamics he doesn’t have to explain as tarantino makes more movies he gets more detailed. After all this is a revenge film dressed up in history crowd pleasing. Though in the past most of his strength has been in writing strong female lead characters. He gives it m rest here to let it be the boys club kind of like RESEVOIR DOGS. Empowered them enough. Which might be why more women went to see this film than usual for a Quentin Tarantino film. Though of course he follows his indulgence and the film feels scattered at times.
Samuel l Jackson gives a good villainous performance that is shocking and makes you wonder if he is not the true villain coming from out of nowhere. His character even reminds me of Uncle Ruckus from THE BOONDOCKS and Dave Chappelle’s blind Klansmen on Chappelle’s show. Mr. Jackson manages to create a new memorable and shocking role in a career that has lacked one for awhile which is something we expect from him. Just when you get used to him. Here comes a performance that is his usual dependable but leads to something that makes it spectacular.
Some might see the film as racist and disrespectful to be using a horrible and embarrassing history and trying to empower a victim of it by creating a ultimate revenge scenario and at the same time trivializing that time in history to a degree. Showing the horrors not completely, but enough to set the scenes. Constantly for no reason.
An obvious love and appreciation for film and all it’sglory every aspect especially directors and actors.
It’s a revenge film through and through which seems to be becoming a defining theme in his later work.