Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Django Unchained" (2012) - Movie Review

I never learn to not watch the trailers because how much it destroys the true experience of seeing a film for the first time. At the same time I cannot help myself to not watch a trailer truly because of the itch I have to view few glimpses to prepare myself. Whether I would have enjoyed “Django Unchained” more than I did because of this would something one would never know but it drew me to the film with more curiosity and expectation. There is no denial in having that for any Quentin Tarantino film but here I saw Leonardo Dicaprio unlike any other films he has ever done. Not since his brilliant performance in “Whats Eating Gilbert Grape?”. Not that he has not done any good films but him as an actor has not differentiated beyond his standard mannerisms. Here he transforms in to this dubiously charming character whom we cannot stop to wince and wonder at the same time. 

Who would have thought that killed by a bullet can be splashingly violent as Tarantino makes it to be? Gunshot historically had the convenience of showing it fired than actually showing its damage on flesh in Hollywood. Few films of course have portrayed that for what it is but here Tarantino takes it up and close. Blood splatters all across and flesh explodes along with it to paint the kind of sick picture “Kill Bill Vol. 1” did. Nevertheless that is what Tarantino wants you to experience. The man has a weird fascination with violence but shows it for what it is. His honesty can be mistaken for judging him differently but he always shows it for what it is. His presentation both glorifies and sickens violence. “Django Unchained” is no different.

Django is played by Jamie Foxx with an attitude. He is the slave that gets freed by a generous, noble and a dangerous German bounty hunter by the name of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Dr. Schultz claims to be a dentist comes riding his stage coach with a huge tooth dangling on top of it and there is the evidence of the simplest objects Tarantino can use to maximize his point. We cannot stop giggling when it dangles and it offers a dimension to this oddball character of Dr. Schulz. Christoph Waltz who terrorized in this director’s previous venture of “Inglourious Basterds” becomes our favourite man out here, even more than Django as the movie unfurls.

In the times of slavery, Dr. Schultz despises it and rescues Django for his own personal gain. He is on the hunt for the Brittle brothers who also took Django’s wife Broomhida (Kerry Washington) and sold him. This becomes a sweet deal for Django as he gets to avenge and collect money in the process. The two form a great bond over these killings and Schultz offers to help Django get his wife back which leads to the thumping performance in the film. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The introduction of Candie is the most violent scene of the film that shows the Mandingo fight (Wiki tells me this never existed in the times but Tarantino uses it to portray the cruelty to the slaves in its most animal and gruesome form) which is betting on the fight of two slaves with their bare hands. Talk about death of humanity but here it skins its and pours hot oil and sprays salt and pepper over it. It only is followed by further despicable acts of Candie towards his Mandingo fighters.

The film surprisingly tones considerably on swearing for a Tarantino film but amplifies to the level of deafening one’s ears by the use of the “n” word (I expect the forgiveness of Louis C.K out here for not using the actual word). Yet it only reflects the time the movie was portrayed and the sickening characters that yells out like a punctuation. Is it inconvenient to hear it? Yes, but it is true to what is being presented and I am fine with that. It is like any swear word and Tarantino rightfully uses it to his film.

While I enjoyed “Django Unchained”, this is definitely not the stellar movie the director has come up with. Somehow the unpredictability of him vanished and the simple conversations turning into complicated arguments are buried. There are few instances of his writing at its prime and there are unique shots that adds the kind of beauty one would soak themselves in witnessing the beauty of a director’s love of certain angles and objects but Tarantino fails to impress us all the way through. What is left is a good film by a great director who seems to have been complacent with the idea rather than the execution. 

“Django Unchained” has the presence of Samuel L. Jackson coming as the overly theatrical and little bit annoying Stephen who is sheepishly loyal to Calvin Candie. His performance neither carry a sinister approach nor is it funny which falls to the feet of Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. Even DiCaprio’s delivery is at times crippled by some ordinary writings of Tarantino. As everyone, I have a high regard for the director and here he seem to have side stepped into mediocre for his standards. That does not take away the fact that “Django Unchained” is a good film. Just that it aspires to be great and it only aspires.


Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this review, especially the apology to Louis, Louis, Louis, Louiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssss. I honestly didn't know much about the film but I'm not surprised with your comments on the Terentino style of gunshots and blood splatter. That's his signature isn't it? Must watch this movie. Cheers on a good read!

Ashok said...

Thanks Niyati! While Tarantino splashes the screen with blood and flesh in all of his films, gunshots in these are visceral. Let me know what you thought of the film when you get a chance.