Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Django Unchained (2012)


I finally saw Django Unchained (it opened Christmas Day 2012). I enjoyed the movie. It was entertainment. It's a movie I could (and probably will) watch again. It was your typical man-seeks-vengeance, save-the-princess buddy movie with comedic and psuedo-superhero elements. What's not to love? Men on horses, men shooting guns, witty one-liners -- works for me.

Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in Django Unchained

No I haven't read Spike Lee's opinion on Django. But I do know he's not happy with the movie. I haven't listened to Quentin Tarantino's rebuttal or defense. Did they use the word "nigger" in the movie? Yes. The film takes place in pre-Civil War America. It's how people referred to Blacks back then.

I really liked Jamie Foxx in this role. Like really. I enjoy men in these sorts of roles anyway -- tough, shooting up the place, defending ladies -- I get to escape into a damsel-in-distress role when I watch. I also think Foxx did a good job portraying Django's suspicion of Schultz then growing to trust him and learn from him, his yearning for freedom, the joy of killing white folks for money, practicing restraint when he wanted to kill white folks, rescuing his wife, Brunhilda (Kerry Washington), and dressing himself. Visually, Jamie Foxx need not be "clean cut" ever again in another movie. The rugged look works for me. Yerp.

"I like the way you die, boy."

The best line in the movie was when Django doesn't flinch while one of Candie's Mandingo fighters is mauled by dogs while Schultz (Christoph Waltz) "looks a little green" as Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) points out. Django explains: He's just not used to Americans. Nuff said. If you want to say that Django is a "movie about slavery" then that's the point Tarantino is making -- the kind of slavery portrayed in that movie is American slavery, American savagery. As recently as the 1960's dogs were used on Blacks, let's not forget that.

Scene from Django Unchained

The way slavery turned Blacks against one another was also portrayed well in Django. Field niggers vs. House niggers. Light skinned vs. Dark skinned. Literate vs. Illiterate. That division still exists today. I'm so glad Tarantino put these lines of dialogue in someone's mouth, and it happened to be Candie, a slave master, who said it -- why don't they just rise up and kill the whites? I've always wondered that. I'm cooking your food, setting your bath, breastfeeding your babies? Someone gonna have an "accident" at least once a month. Just saying.

Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington in Django Unchained

Calvin Candie. Leonardo DiCaprio has done it again. That man selects amazing roles and performs them exquisitely. DiCaprio was believable as Calvin Candie. I almost liked him as he played host to Django and Schultz. I definitely liked him when he showed his "slave master" side because I feared him. He flipped the evil switch to the "on" position. And yes, even with tobacco stained teeth, in Django, he was eye Candie for me.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained

What I did hear a lot about before watching the film is that it was very violent, but being a Tarantino film, I should expect that. I didn't find it particularly violent. If you shoot someone at close range with a rifle, there will be blood. In a bare knuckle fight to the death, there will be blood. But I am a woman who watches shows like Spartacus and Boardwalk Empire for the violence so my tastes are certainly skewed. Before the advent of fighter jets and long-range missiles, most conflicts were face-to-face. We've lost sight of that in the modern era. But I digress. I loved the gunfight in Candie Land -- the slow motion, the camera angles, the blood splatter, the music. The scene (also seen in the trailer) when a man is shot while riding a horse and his blood splatters onto white heads of cotton -- cinematic beauty.

Now I'm ready to watch the original Django (1966) and of course, write my own.

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