Matt The Snapper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Tarantino Rewatch #7:
Slavery is a real taboo subject. Especially in US history as it was unfortunately a social norm in the country up until the end of the Civil War. While the North eventually got rid of it, the South continued these heinous deeds on African Americans treating them as things rather than the people they rightfully are. The civil war did end slavery but it’s effects can still be felt even today with discrimination, racism and bigotry. I say all of this because much like Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino uses his twisted period pieces to give audiences what many would’ve wanted: Slaves standing up to their owners and shooting their asses to Kingdom Come.
There’s not denying that Django Unchained is quite possibly Tarantino’s most controversial film to date. This is mostly due to the amount of violence and racial slurs featured in the movie. Spike Lee himself has stated his personal distaste for the film. Which is fine, film is subjective; you’re entitled to any opinion you have on movies. For me personally, this is honestly my favorite Tarantino film outside of Pulp Fiction (funny how these two are the only films he actually won an Oscar for, in this case Best Original Screenplay). What Django Unchained does is take the horrific period of slavery in the South pre- Civil War and turn it into a tribute to Spaghetti Westerns with a revenge plot added in for good measure. You can tell that’s Tarantino loves his homages as one scene has Jamie Foxx having a conversation with the original Django himself Franco Nero.
Speaking of Jamie Foxx, he does a fantastic job playing Django Freeman. Though most of the film does have being a more stern man playing second banana, it all comes together once he truly comes out on his own becoming the badass bounty hunter that he was building up too. Playing off him is Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Shultz. He may not be as menacing as Has Landa, but he is still as phenomenal and interesting playing a German dentist turned bounty hunter that is basically the man with the plan who gets Django to team up with him to get money and free his wife from the plantation owner Calvin Candie at his Candyland (a dentist going to candyland and hating it, I see what you did there Tarantino).
Of course, we have to talk about our main antagonists Calvin Caddie and Stephen. Leonardo DiCaprio and Sam Jackson just are pitch perfect in this film. They play off each other real nice with Stephen being the more of the brains of the two as he is very suspicious of Django and Shultz and causes trouble for the two protagonists. I mean Sam Jackson is just plain fantastic as always. He’s just having a blast in every scene he’s in with some very impressive make up But DiCaprio? He’s just on a whole other level. He manages to be both playful and charming, as well as unhinged and terrifying. This dude manages to perform the essential Tarantino tension scene with such ease and dignity, that I’m still shocked that he has never won an Oscar before The Revenant. For God’s sakes, the dude accidentally cut his hand and managed to not only continue the scene, but made it better. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
The climax of course is just the best part. Django getting revenge on the entire plantation to get his wife back ending with blowing up the plantation house?! How can you not love that?! But there are many other great scenes. Shultz discussing to Django his plan through beer, Stephen’s introduction, Candie and Shultz dealing with white cake and handshakes, Candie’s blowup scene, and so much more.
Usually I would just conclude with a pretentious closing paragraph saying how great Django Unchained is, but I think I’ll end it by saying “Bye Miss Laura!”