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Wick's Review

Created Jan 05, 2013 01:28AM PST • Edited Feb 02, 2019 09:37PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Django Unchained is an absurdly good movie that goes where few filmmakers would dare tread, and succeeds so completely that only Tarantino could pull it off. What he’s pulled off is a Tarantinic take on the first of the two racial decimations to occur in the heart of Western Civilization, three years after addressing the other.

    IOW, Django Unchained does to Afro-American Slavery what Inglorious Basterds did to the Holocaust – recreates it in the form of exuberant revenge fantasy. Further, Django is to Basterds what Roots is to Holocaust, Tarantino’s movies being highly surreal takes on those earlier literal recreations.

    The movie provides a leering look at slavery’s parade of horribles. Pornographic in its particularities, it brings to mind Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto in its compulsion to catalog every heinous act. Never mind that some of the atrocities existed more in the movies than in the actual antebellum South.

    Tarantino has always been more a cinematic history buff than a literal one.

    To that end, he fashions Django Unchained as a Spaghetti Western that takes more than a few cues and even a song from the original Django, a legendarily violent genre specimen from the mid-Sixties.

    For fans of Quentin the Violent Genius, his stellar cast – including Samuel L. Jackson’s Oscar-worthy performance – and even for real history buffs looking for a novel and rather outrĂ© experience, Django Unchained is an off-the-hook experience.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Jamie Foxx & Christoph Waltz make a terrific pair of avenging buddies. As Django, Foxx delivers a consummate leading man performance – physical, brooding, charismatic. Waltz plays a superficially similar role to his Jew Hunter from Inglorious Basterds, albeit here he’s on the side of the angels, sort of.

    Plantation owners Leonardo DiCaprio and Don Johnson are well cast as men of absurd privilege who revel in their positions.

    Kerry Washington is beautiful and strong as Foxx’s indomitable wife, while Samuel L. Jackson gives perhaps the performance of his career as a Chief House Slave. From his opening glare when he spies a black man on a horse, through his machinations behind the throne of his master, he creates a villain of unique pathos. A Shakespearean performance of this magnitude deserves to be recognized by Oscar.

    A bevy of notable actors cameo.

    • Walton Goggins as a plantation enforcer.
    • James Remar, always great as a villain.
    • Franco Nero – the original Django – briefly interacts with Foxx’s Django.
    • Don Stroud as a stout Sheriff.
    • Bruce Dern as a sick Southern man.
    • Jonah Hill as a dim baghead.
    • Quentin Tarantino himself as a slave transporter.
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Tarantino has the uncanny ability to make films that are abject genre pictures, yet thoroughly contemporary, not to mention brutally serious yet often darkly funny – even generating the occasional LOL. Genius and craftsmanship is what it is.

    From a craftsmanship POV, Django Unchained never wastes a word or scene in almost three hours, routinely setting hooks and then paying them off later, often in surprising and absurdly satisfying ways.

    From a genius POV, he melds a Spaghetti Western with a trawl through the American Confederacy in ways that work perfectly on screen.

    The film’s only – slight – ding is that it didn’t have the audience cheering as the bad guys got their comeuppance. Interviewed by Terri Gross on Fresh Air this week, Tarantino said he wouldn’t feel he’d done his job if the audience didn’t cheer at the end. Well, my New Year’s Day audience at the Winchester 22 didn’t, even though we were were all clearly dazzled, thought provoked and sated. By comparison, my Inglorious Basterds review notes at least one audience member letting out an involuntary “Yeah!”

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.3

    Prepare your loins for visceral violence, some of it cinematically fun, some of it gut wrenching. Also be prepared for lots of N-bombs. About these, they seem appropriate in a movie like Django Unchained, whereas they are sinfully gratuitious in a movie like Smokin’ Aces.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Savage 4.1
  17. Rudeness Nasty 4.2
  18. Surreal 2.5

    Tarantino’s inclusion of Mandingo fights apparently comes more from Mandingo than actual history.

    Movie reality aside, he paints plantation society in the Deep South as resembling feudal Europe more than Lincoln’s America. This brings to mind two other outstanding movies from 2012, each released just a month or so before Django Unchained.

    • A Royal Affair showed somewhat similar atrocities occurring between white Europeans in feudal Denmark not a century before the America shown in Django Unchained. De facto slavery, that.
    • Lincoln came along shortly after Django Unchained’s period, finally ridding America of the crime of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation and the ‘Right to Rise’ from a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal provides a new lens into the Great Emancipator’s thinking about the matter.
  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0
  20. Biological Surreal 2.4
  21. Physical Surreal 2.1

Forum

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Jan 26, 2013 5:13PM
Wick

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
About Samuel L. Jackson “he and his stare are memorable indeed.” I’m with ya Bri.