Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★★½

Quentin Tarantino famously calls this a Southern. Hard to really evaluate that since few, if any other films can really claim to trace lineage from Django Unchained, itself a rich fusion of the spaghetti western, revenge story and blaxploitation films. Whatever it is, make more of that. 

Folks will probably consider this part of a Revenge Trilogy, along with Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill, although like a lot of other cases this is more of a double feature with Basterds. Django Unchained trades in the reflection on filmmaking for a concerted attempt to make American audiences uncomfortable, an impulse that’s tricky to wield if you’re not comfortable in your craft. Both films are a string of dopamine hits, high-calorie violence visited on the most deserving targets imaginable. 

From everything I’ve read, I wouldn’t necessarily call Tarantino an actor’s director. But his cast always seems to be willing to just go balls out for him, and Django Unchained features four virtuoso performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio. This is one of those movies where in almost every frame there is someone just commanding the action around them, and the way that Tarantino fits all of these guys into the same movie is brilliant. For a guy that loves his 2 hour+ runtimes there are very few slow or wasted moments in his movies. Economical storytelling is an art that more directors need. 

Plenty of other stuff written already to cover most of the rest. Let’s see that Django/Zorro movie soon.

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