Tuesday, 22 January 2013

'Django Unchained' is a wonderful western

Django Unchained is the new Quentin Tarantino film released by Columbia Pictures and The Weinstein Company. Released in the US on December 25th, 2012, it has just been released in the UK on January 18th.

Set in 1858, the film tells the story of a slave Django (Jamie Foxx) who has been freed from a chain gang by a bounty hunter Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to help him locate the Brittle brothers. Django agrees to help him but he also wants to find his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is also a slave but was sold off separately.

As you would expect from any Tarantino film, Django Unchained is very violent. The timing of the film's release was extremely unfortunate (the "Sandy Hook massacre" had taken just taken place on December 14th), therefore Django Unchained attracted even more negative publicity. However, the film has been well received by most critics

Django Unchained is the best Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction. It is trashy at times but very entertaining. Using the original spaghetti western Django, Mandingo and The Great Silence as inspiration, Tarantino has produced yet another unique "genre" film.

The casting is notable. Leonardo DeCaprio plays the evil Calvin J Candle with relish and Samuel L Jackson is terrific as the loyal house slave Stephen. There are many notable cameos from very famous faces of yesteryear, such as Don Johnson (of Miami Vice), Tom Wopat (from The Dukes of Hazard), Russ Tamblyn (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story), Bruce Dern (The John Wayne film The Cowboys, Silent Running), Don Stroud (Coogan's Bluff), Ted Neeley (Jesus Christ Superstar), Amber Tamblyn (The Ring), Robert Carradine (The Cowboys, Mean Streets), Lee Horsley (Matt Houston), Jonah Hill (Knocked Up) and most notably Franco Nero from the original Django film from 1966.

I still think that Jamie Foxx is an under-rated leading man who has been under-utilised since his Oscar winning performance in "Ray". However, the acting honours must go to Christoph Waltz who steals every scene in the movie.

It was a pleasure for me to watch such an enjoyable film. Tarantino's use of dialogue, stylish direction and love for trashy cinematic genres has clearly not deserted him but it was also important to experience such a film that has an angry statement on the disgusting slave trade that blights American history. A terrific western and one which I look forward to see again.

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