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Django Unchained

 

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If you’d read my earlier post, then I don’t think I have to brief you on this, but you haven’t which seems more likely: I am starting a countdown to the Oscars with a series of reviews of movies which I feel are strong Oscar Contenders. First on the list, is my idol, Quentin Taraninto’s Django Unchained.

Colourful Characters, non-linear narratives, gallons and gallons of blood and an anti-climatic ending is what you will and should expect from a Quentin Tarantino film. But ever since it became cliched to have funny character names and several storylines, writer/director Quentin Tarantino has made a few minute changes to his trademarks.

Right from Kill Bill to Inglourious Basterds it has been a elaborate revenge fantasy journey from QT. So it is safe to assume that we should expect nothing less that him. There were few who questioned him when he rewrote history in Inglourious Basterds and I am pretty sure no one is going to turn up this time around too, in the pre-civil war slavery era.

At its core is a slave marriage between Django (Jamie Foxx) and Hildi (Kerry Washington), torn asunder after the couple attempt to escape a spiteful plantation owner (Bruce Dern, blink and you miss him). Brutally whipped and sold to separate bidders , Django and his bride(with an outrageously long German name)  possess a love that cannot be shackled at the hands of slavery. Scores are settled early off in the film and getting his wife back is all that feature’s on Django’s agenda.

Django Unchained could also qualify as a buddy movie — an odd twist, considering that Corbucci’s original Django was a loner (as played by Franco Nero, who cameos in this film). Liberally reinventing a character bastardized in more than 30 unofficial sequels, Tarantino pairs this new black Django with a bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Posing as a dentist, Waltz’s charming figure first emerges in the dead of night driving an absurd-looking carriage with a giant tooth bobbing on top — the first indication of how funny the film is going to be.

Unlike the Basterds, Waltz is undeniably one of the good guys. And like the former in which he carried an eerie feel to most of his conversations, he sweets talk way into killing bad guys this time around.

Through some earlier scenes, Tarantino cleverly establishes a clear portrayal of the cruelty involved in slavery and thus enabling us, the audience to view Waltz’s character  as the good guy even though he kills for a living. Characterization plays a huge role in this revenge saga. Ironically, as a well-read and clearly more enlightened German, Schultz(Waltz) is disapproving of Americans’ claims to racial superiority, which positions him as the story’s moral conscience. When the time comes, he will accompany Django to Candyland, the plantation where Hildi now resides under the thumb of the unctuous Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

But the movie takes it’s own time to get there. With the first 90 minutes focusing heavily on Django’s education in killing white men and to become the fastest gun slinger in the South. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 19th century movie because Tarantino still employs his pop-culture references and stylish quotes to make a point.

True to its spaghetti-Western roots, the pic reveals most of its stoic hero’s unspoken motivations through garishly colored flashbacks. Filmmakers who choose to portray this shameful chapter of America’s past bear a certain responsibility not to sanitize it. But here, even as it lays the groundwork for “Django’s” vengeance, dwelling on such brutality can verge on exploitation. The film takes no problem into account and freely uses the N-word for laughs and alliterations.

Mexican standoffs and heavily worded dialogues are two things that Tarantino seems to have specialised in his long career. Some cheesy rap music and some amazing zoom-ins, these standoffs seem to become even more grittier than they actually are. Employing natural lighting on many occasions, Django is an amazingly shot movie that takes us back to the days when people actually wore boots with wheels on them.

Django Unchained is a bold movie just like QT’s every other. It deserves multiple viewings thanks to some delicious cinematic influences and despite some thematic elements, QT’s portrayal of the South is something that won’t be receiving much love from the critics, but who cares, it is too good for them anyways. After a long wait when revenge does come in Django Unchained, it is definitely going to remind you of a “Crazy 88″ battle involving guns. Troublesome it maybe, it wouldn’t be Tarantino otherwise!

 

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