Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
I thoroughly enjoyed Django Unchained. I don’t consider it a masterpiece .. for me his masterpieces are Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction ( still haven’t seen Jackie Brown yet ), but an enjoyably sick popcorn movie. With Tarantino, you can count on UltraViolence, twisted motives, sick humor, and blood galore. Also, extremely politically incorrect dialogue. I don’t really know how he gets away with the latter. The only other director I know that got away with this is Mel Brooks, and I was cringing a lot the last time I re-watched Blazing Saddles.
In recent years I’ve found that Tarantino has settled into a formula. He likes creating homage’s, and he’s quite good at it. If you like his style, he’s like McDonalds. He’ll reliably deliver on what you expect. I think Inglorious Bastards was a bit of a deviation, as I saw some growth there, but it still was thematically the same as his other modern works.
I had a big grin right from the start when I saw the grainy Columbia logo, followed by the Leoneesque credits. I was immediately craving a big plate of spaghetti. What followed didn’t disappoint, and delivered a nice bowl of comeuppance for desert.
His soundtrack wasn’t quite as great as his previous works, but close most of the time. I couldn’t help but think the rap tune in the last quarter was somewhat out of place.
Christoph Waltz was great, although he was basically playing Hans Landa again, except a ‘good’ Hans Landa this time. After Bastards I was yearning for more Landa, and this was a fix. I think this enough though. Leonardo DiCaprio pulled it off as the penultimate villain. I don’t think I’ve liked him as much since his performance in Gilbert Grape. Jamie Foxx had to shoulder the backbone character, and I think he brought it off marvellously. All the cameos were great, but I particularly smiled at Don Johnson’s character. Tarantino could always get a smile out of me, and perhaps some chuckles, but the KKK style ‘bags’ scene had me laughing out loud in the theatre. Again, very politically incorrect, and my laughter was uncomfortable. I think Tarantino took a page from Brooks here. As others have noted, the female characters were quite underused. I was intrigued by the masked female Candyland gunslinger. No lines, but you knew she was there.
What I did notice this time is something my Wife pointed out in Inglorious Bastards. The extremely slow second act. In the case of Inglorious Bastards, in the tavern scene, I felt it was justified as I thought it necessary to build tension. Tarantino seems to have copied this structure in Django, except this time I felt the whole Candyland segment was just way too long. He came out guns-a-blazing in the first act, then put the brakes on excessively hard and long. Of course, then in the third act ( does Django have 2 third acts? ) It’s no holds barred again.
I would be happy if Tarantino just kept to this formulae. I know I could expect this type of film every few years and enjoy it. I’d be happier if he reached new plateaus. I’d be sad if he simply quit, as he’s said he’s going to do, reportedly that because he doesn’t want to make ‘old man’ films. Well, all I can think of here is William Freidkin and Killer Joe. You’re as young as you feel, and from seeing Mr Tarantino interviewed, I don’t think he’ll ever grow up.