Sunday, December 23, 2012

Django Unchained

A German born gun for hire (Christoph Waltz), posturing as a travelling dentist, happens upon a slave transport in a wooded southern nightscape just a few years before the Civil War.  Seeking a guide to the plantation residence of his latest targets, he contracts the services of Django (Jamie Foxx), after dispatching the hostile slavers and freeing their chattel. Together, following the completion of their primary task and acting out of sympathy towards his recent acquaintance's tumults (and animosity towards the institution of slavery in general), the bounty hunter spends a winter training his friend in the ways of his craft, and seeks to free his imprisoned wife (Kerry Washington), held by a genial yet malevolent plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). "Django Unchained" is another postcard to film from Quentin Tarantino (perhaps a farewell to it), a tribute to Leone and the Spaghetti Western, and another rollicking, intelligent, revisionist splatterfest that will again leave you feeling bowled over and needing a few days to recover. It features four supreme performances: another great, finely tuned one from Waltz, an over-the-top, very fun performance from Leo, Samuel L. Jackson playing his treacherous, long serving house slave, and a very tricky, wonderfully acted, and somewhat thankless (due to the flash on display around him) role for Foxx. I wish Tarantino would have pulled the rug out, as it appeared he was going to do and which would have given a truer sense of the kinds of horrors endured under the system. Instead he opts for the more conventional kill everything in sight finale he's used so often before, which nonetheless achieves a showstopping effect that leaves a pit in your stomach which, as mentioned earlier, lingers for some time.