Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★

Tarantino's career of appropriating the content of cultural histories in increasing scope continues. Having moved on from liberally borrowing from genre - read as: martial arts/grindhouse - films into a more presumptive mode of attempting to redress historical wrongs against non-Caucasian racial and ethnic groups through his film making, DJANGO UNCHAINED marks the second film of this type after INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. I find the two problematic in a similarly essential manner.

While there is pleasure to be found in Tarantino's abilities both as a director and as a writer - the stylism of his dialogue continues to be singular - the gesture of these films strikes me as well-intentioned, perhaps, but guilty of enacting the same wrongs he seeks to correct on a certain level. There's something off-putting about addressing these obviously racialized historical atrocities through the lens of a white director and writer; the lack of agency experienced by the afflicted groups, historically, is re-iterated rather than expunged when their means of reacquiring their power is only given through the lens of a white film maker. Tarantino may go so far as to self-awarely, and explosively, implicate himself as being culpable in DJANGO UNCHAINED, however, this self-awareness does not absolve the film of its deeper problems.

In this context, I can't help but conceive of Tarantino's stylistic gifts and way of coaxing the best from his actors - Waltz, as ever, seems to fit Tarantino's laid back but wrought loquaciousness perfectly - as superficial window dressings that work to obfuscate, or perhaps more problematically, make more palatable, the manner in which his films offer agential redress with one hand, while withholding it in the other.

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