Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★½

Likely Tarantino's least visually acute film with a couple (surprisingly) wonky music cues. Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) feels out of place and uncomfortable from his first word through the end of the film (although I'm usually not a huge fan anyway). Nor am I particularly impressed with the acting of Christopher Waltz unlike most others. And while his speech in the saloon concerning abhorring slavery but feeling guilty about using it against Django temporarily is about the greatest indictment of white privilege I've seen, after a few times of speaking to Django patronizingly, this interesting and surprising thread gets dropped for the introduction of the real villains.

But Jamie Foxx delivers maybe my favorite performance of the last ten years or longer here (the only rival I can think off the top of my head is Laura Linney in You Can Count On Me). Foxx plays the eponymous Django like a diet soda filled to the brim with mentos, like baking soda + dish soap + vinegar, like a bucking bronco, like a caged bull; he is set to burst at any moment. For all this film's missteps, Foxx carries its near three hours of length with a sizzling intensity that I rarely see committed to screen. Perhaps if he had played Nolan's Batman, I might have been more invested in those films.

In fact, I'd call Django Unchained a superhero origin story before I'd call it a Western (as Tarantino already has pointed out, it doesn't in fact take place in the West). There's a sacrificed mentor, a noble goal, a lot of spilled villain's blood, and impossible feats of both gunplay and wits. Unlike Kill Bill, which I personally just see as a revenge tale, Django Unchained has just enough self-righteousness and vigilantism to walk that tightrope between straight vengeance and play with a hint of nobility (or maybe I just find slavery to be such a sick, sad part of our history that I have no sympathy for anyone in this film).

I'd love to see a couple sequels although that doesn't seem like Tarantino's style. I usually enjoy the second or third best in a superhero movie series.

Rembrandt Q liked these reviews