Topic: Django Unchained Review

Django Unchained Review
by: Robert Lalonde

Western is a genre long dead. Don't get me wrong Hollywood has tried countless times since Unforgiven (Open Range, Legends of the Fall, Hi-Lo Country, Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, Ride With The Devil, Dead Man etc.) to revive the dying genre. It seemed like it was going to turn into a niche market, and something we would only see maybe once every 3 years if we were lucky. Then in 2004 HBO unleashed "Deadwood"; which opened back the rawness of the genre and brought an entirely new audience into the 'Wild West'.Things were looking up for the dying genre.

Then in 2005 John Hillcoat made a film that completely surpassed anything that had been done in the genre since Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch". "The Proposition" brought an entirely new outlook onto the genre. It had a realism that Westerns had been lacking for decades at that point; and many hailed this moment as a resurgence of 'The Western". In retrospect it still took another 2 years for things to pick up. In 2007; Four films completely unlike, but very similar in tone; tore open a new kind of "Wild West". There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, The Assassination of Jessie James by The Coward Robert Ford and 3:10 To Yuma. These four films all showed Hollywood and the world, Westerns were not dead, and the market was bigger than ever. It looked amazing for the future of the "West". But sadly it died off again and went virtually unseen for 5 years.

Then in 2012, Quentin Tarantino came 'guns a blazin' and unleashed what is the most violent western since "The Wild Bunch", the funniest western since "Maverick" or City Slickers" and I would argue even Blazing Saddles" and the most visually stunning western since There Will Be Blood or even Unforgiven. This is a film that has everything; and everything in extremes. From the language to the violence to the sharply brilliant musical choices (Like Jim Croce's "I Got a Name" from Jeff Bridge's "Last American Hero" or The "Requiem" [Prologue] from "Battle Royale") Quentin from frame one came out in true epic style. This is a mature Tarantino working within film and even references within the film, the regular movie goer is maybe going to like and have a good time with, but not fully realize how sheerly brilliant a film Quentin has made.

I made a statement in 2009 about how after No Country ripped away There Will Be Bloods Oscar and Slumdog did the same to Milk or even Curious Case; that I felt a film of near perfection would now take a decade to even come around again. I was excited in 2012 when I was witness to Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" that I had seen the closest thing to perfection on screen in 20 years. Then Pablo Larrain came out with "NO" and I was completely floored. I had not seen a film with that much raw passion and perfection since Bertolucci's "The Last Empire". 2012 was quite literally "The year real film came back". The 70's directors era was seeing a resurgence and I was never more proud to be in the greatest industry and art form of all time. But with those 2 films; Django was looking further away from reaching the level I was hyping it up to be. It's no secret Tarantino is my single favorite filmmaker of all time and DiCaprio my favorite actor of all time, But Could Quentin make a film on the level of Pulp or even Basterds without Lawrence Bender and Sally Menke? As far as I'm concerned Sally was just as much of Tarantino's greatness as Tarantino himself. I went in to Django excited but prepared for the worst. Boy was I wrong because I didn't hype the film enough.

Now you can tell Fred Raskin studied under Sally. It's not quite the same but it really is the closest you can get. The Standoff/shootout was masterfully cut and the Don Johnson sequence conveys this tension that was palpable. Even as Waltz and Foxx go from town to town in there carnage, Fred keeps things tight and on edge but with a slight slip of light-heartness that helps to play into the amazing comedic value of Quentin's screenplay. There has always been humor in Tarantino's films but his love and growing up with the likes of "Abbott and Costello" and "The Three Stooges" shines brightly here. It's a darkly funny film and even the music choices play into this. There are some spotty cuts though and the make-up in certain areas could have been done better, but besides that I can't complain about a lot in the film. Of course it should be longer and the entire brilliant screenplay should have made it onto screen but rumors of an extended cut are out there. Some will complain that it's too long, but it's not long enough because even more could be delved into (like the mining company employee's).

As for the acting, I don't know where to begin. This is the single best assortment of actors in a film this year and frankly prob even in the last 5 years. Everyone is near flawless here from Kerry Washington to Don Johnson to Jamie Foxx and even the brilliant cameos (or 2 or 3) add even more to the film. It was an acting masterclass, and that's without Christolph Waltz or Leonardo DiCaprio that both provide top 2 performances of there career and top 20 of all time. Waltz may have topped his Basterds performance here. His timing is so spot on its scary. It's like watching Brando in his prime. and DiCaprio's Candie is one of the best villains I have ever seen on screen. This performance will solidify why he is my favorite actor and anyone who had doubts about his acting were just plain wrong. I honestly don't even know where to start without giving things away or without seeing it at least twice more because every single character has so much going on it's just a joy to watch. Even Don Johnson's radiant performance with subtle 'Miami Vice" references everywhere from the costume to the dialogue just shows how truly great this film is.

I really didn't think I would see perfection on the screen this year, especially not 3 times; but Quentin did not disappoint at the last minute. I think this could finally be the film that revitalizes the Western genre like Quentin has done for so many actors in the past. I can not recommend the film enough. And as I could go into all the Spaghetti- Western references and the resurgence to that I feel for the most part people are just not going to know the like of "Gods Gun" or "Face to Face" or "Keoma" or "El Puro" etc. so I decided to keep the review at just westerns. But this is the best Spaghetti-Western since "Duck, You Sucker!". This may have even surpassed "Pulp Fiction" as Quentin's best film, but I can easily say this is the best film of the year.

Last edited by robertthunder (2012-12-18 00:53:46)

Re: Django Unchained Review

^^
High praise, and I tend to agree with your opinions on films.  I've been intrigued by the trailers and ads I've seen.  Had me thinking of Clint Eastwood + Shaft = Django, style/attitude wise.  Thanks for the review, I've added it to my list.
big_smile

Re: Django Unchained Review

What a great review this is.
Makes me wanna see it even more than before I read it which is cool.

Tarentino is my screenwriting/director god. And I don't believe in god so yeah, he's THAT awesome. There's absolutely no film he's done that I dislike.

So yeah, I'm waiting impatiently for the DVD release.

Re: Django Unchained Review

Nice review,  you should send it in to Meh smile

Re: Django Unchained Review

Indeed, wicked review!

Absolutely can't wait to see it in theaters.

Re: Django Unchained Review

Looking forward to this one, not so much for Dicaprio, Foxx or Waltz, but for Samuel L. Jackson (who I've read steals the show) and Don Johnson, who I don't think has ever been given full props as an actor.

Re: Django Unchained Review

meh! sorry to spoil the party but i am no Tarantino Fan. i cannot see all the fuss over his films. sorry to go over old ground but the only one of his films i really like is " Inglorious Basterds", the rest i can take or leave mostly leave, and i absolutely fucking hate " death Proof" pile of crap! however i do respect the man's knowledge and love of film and i know he is a big spaghetti western fan as i am so i will hold fire here but i haven't been that impressed by the trailer so far, looks too jokey. prefer the more serious and violent spaghetti's but i hope it does revive the genre. am i turning into a grumpy old git or what? you decide smile

Re: Django Unchained Review

Love QT. He's pretty cool and I've liked most of his films. Looking forward to this one big_smile

Re: Django Unchained Review

wolfman1959 wrote:

meh! sorry to spoil the party but i am no Tarantino Fan. i cannot see all the fuss over his films. sorry to go over old ground but the only one of his films i really like is " Inglorious Basterds", the rest i can take or leave mostly leave, and i absolutely fucking hate " death Proof" pile of crap! however i do respect the man's knowledge and love of film and i know he is a big spaghetti western fan as i am so i will hold fire here but i haven't been that impressed by the trailer so far, looks too jokey. prefer the more serious and violent spaghetti's but i hope it does revive the genre. am i turning into a grumpy old git or what? you decide smile

If you liked Basterds I think your going to love Django. It does have a shit load of humor in it though, even more than I was expecting and I read the screenplay. It is darkly funny though but it is not short of violence. This is THE or at least top 3 of the most violent westerns ever (and it maybe even feels more so because of the comedic factor) I should dig up my 15 page essay on Tarantino and why he is the Andy Warhol of the post 70's cinema (when I taught film I always had 1 that despised QT. The funny thing is they were always a horror fanatic and I had to show them that piece because they always had a better understanding after that).

Re: Django Unchained Review

Hate is a strong word, Robert. i don't hate the man, i don't know him. he certainly knows and is enthusastic about film, so he can't be that bad. I don't see why he is so highly regarded as a film maker as he is, it's a personal opinion but i don't think his film's are that good.he is not without talent but very very self indulgent. i've said this before but of hi s films Reservoir Dogs is ok, kill Bill VOL 1 is ok, Pulp Fiction is very over rated and average, i've already said what i think of Death Proof and that has a place inthe top 30 of the worst films i have ever seen.  i do think Inglorious Basterds is a good film, not a great one mind but is his best so far but far from perfect. i would love Django Unchained to be a very good film, and it has potential but until i see it i'm not going to get my hopes up.

Re: Django Unchained Review

This is a really really really good movie! Jamie Fox is hot tongue  Tarantino is a genius.  And Samuel L Jackson is Samuel L Jackson - Great big_smile

Re: Django Unchained Review

Great film.  Even Vampy liked it.  We both had problems with the background of the film, but....
8/10

Re: Django Unchained Review

DLANGO UNCHAINED is an all-time personal favorite.  I feel that Tarantino blows hot and cold, but most of the time is quite good.  I've never seen him be actually BAD by my standards.  The man himself seems on the abrasive side, but I don't think we should let that color our assessments of his filmmaking talent.

Re: Django Unchained Review

I loved every second of it.  For a while there it replaced Jackie Brown as my favorite QT flick, but now it's settled into a really close second place.  There's not a bad performance in the movie, the story moves along and has some pretty unexpected turns, and the finale would make Peckinpah green with envy.

Incidentally, did anyone else notice James Remar plays two different roles in the movie? smile