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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

IMHO: Django Unchained

Posted by on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 4:32 PM

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I finally saw Django Unchained, which is, according to our buddy Erik Henriksen, "the world's first western blaxploitation revenge buddy comedy" (read his more thorough summation here). For background, I'm not a wholesale Tarantino nut, but I loved the old-timey movie-serial fantasy and justified/stylized violence of Inglourious Basterds, easily my favorite of his films. And the first hour of Django gets an honorary spot on my list of favorite westerns/sons of westerns (alongside Dead Man, Unforgiven, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, John Ford's Stagecoach, the Coen Brothers' True Grit, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, um, Blazing Saddles... what else? I know I'm forgetting some).

The next two hours of Django are not as amazing, but still completely engrossing, and still a great if increasingly cartoonish portrayal of the American South during slavery. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that what happens to the spotless white grandeur of the movie's Southern mansion is horribly, vengefully beautiful. You just want to sit Scarlett O'Hara down and make her watch it SO BAD. Jamie Foxx is pretty damn good (arguably only until his character descends into total caricature, though that's kind of enjoyable too), but Christoph Waltz, in a role that's the moral opposite of his character in Inglourious, is just marvelous. If you're on the fence, it's worth seeing, and seeing on the big screen because BLOOD SPLATTER (of awful people, so it's okay!).

 

Comments (15) RSS

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bugwitch 1
Blood Spatter*

Splatter would be a sound.

Just a friendly reminder from a forensic scientist/Entomologist...it makes me hate CSI too...

Great otherwise! Love Django!

Posted by bugwitch on February 12, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 2
Good news! Manti Te'o just called and his girl friend, Lennay Kekua, is gonna set me up with her sister for Valentine's Day! She'll email me. Then we'll chat on Facebook. Still haven't set up meeting place yet. Maybe we can go see Django...in separate cities...and text each other about it...mmm...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on February 12, 2013 at 5:14 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
Other than the Tarantinoesque shootout violence, which we get in Inglorious Basterds, what's cartoonish about the portrayal of the American South during slavery?
Posted by seatackled on February 12, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
pdonahue 4
I keep wondering how this played in the former confederate union states. In fact, how do all you expats from the south take the big FU Tarantino gave to Dixie and the teabaggers who keep dragging out more statues and flags of dead Klansmen?
The only thing cartoonish was the ridiculous southern manhood that was constantly on display, I especially loved Don Johnson playing "big daddy", and of course enjoying the revenge fantasy of him getting his head blown off, guilty pleasures.....
Posted by pdonahue on February 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 5
You forgot The Wild Bunch. Which pretty much says the same thing as Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid minus the artificial sweetener.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM · Report this
Puty 6
Christoph Waltz' character is the most charismatic fella I've seen in a movie in a long time (maybe ever).
Posted by Puty on February 12, 2013 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 7
You also forgot "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", the only Western made about Western Washington, made in British Columbia using draft resisters as extras.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on February 13, 2013 at 12:33 AM · Report this
8
ncfom is way better than all of the cartoons you just lumped it in with.
Posted by carsten coolage on February 13, 2013 at 8:08 AM · Report this
Posted by pdonahue on February 13, 2013 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Bauhaus I 10
And I think it was brave of Leo to play the shit-villain. Character actors and stage actors LOVE playing the bad guy because it's usually a meatier part. But Hollywood leading men risk popularity (their bread and butter), I think, when they do it. I'm not sure DiCaprio was an excellent choice, but I do admire his desire to stretch. We all pull for him since his tour-de-force in Gilbert Grape.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM · Report this
11
@1: Merriam Webster (def. 2) and I must respectfully disagree with you:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar…

@3: As @4 points out, there's the Don Johnson character, the Leonardo DiCaprio character, the Samuel Jackson character...

@5: Can it be that I haven't seen The Wild Bunch??? Maybe my mind just needs jostling... putting it on Netflix now!

@7: McCabe and Mrs. Miller—I know everyone loves it, but doesn't it have a really weird, distracting '70s look and feel to the filmmaking? And I remember it being so long and slow...
Posted by Bethany Jean Clement on February 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Bauhaus I 12
McCabe and Mrs. Miller's cinematography and lighting? All intentional. Vilmos Zsigmond talks about it in that great cinematography doc Visions of Light.

Almost always left the theater after an Altman film a little bummed out. But as Roger Ebert says: A film is not about what it's about. It's about how it is about it. And no good film is depressing, but every bad film is.

So leaving the theater a little bummed over its story is the legitimate reaction to well-made film. It's better than leaving the theater feeling nothing.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
seatackled 13
@11

Hmm. They're melodramatic villains played up big, but are they inaccurate portrayals of racist slave-owners? If they're cartoonish, then doesn't that make most of Tarantino's characters cartoonish? In Inglorious Basterds, for instance, all of the Basterds and most of the Nazis are cartoons--I would say the only main characters who aren't are the French woman, her African lover, and the Nazi trying to nail her. So I guess I'm wondering in what way Django is more cartoonish than Basterds, which I infer is your position?

Anyway, I think I would consider something like the Tom Cruise character in the MI movies to be cartoonish--the way he swings from one jutting rock to another as he's climbing to the top of a mountain or the way he rides an explosion forward. But it's just not the actions that are cartoonish, it's the character itself. So in that sense, I don't think Django comes anywhere close. But maybe you're working with a different definition.
Posted by seatackled on February 13, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
14
@12: I don't mind a movie bumming me out, not at all. If I can recall, I was more bored by M. & M., but I read Ebert on it earlier today, and obvs. I am a philistine... Netflixing that documentary now, thanks!

@13: Oh, Basterds is chock-full of cartoonish characters too, no doubt (and Tarantino in general). I don't mean that as an insult. But I did feel like Django's character was developing for a while in the movie and then just switched to full-on cartoon, with fewer good lines or jokes. ("The 'D' is silent, hillbilly" [blasts hillbilly into smithereens] is an obvious exception). In general, while Django is nice and long, the end of the movie felt oddly rushed to me, like loose ends were suddenly being tied up in less-than-creative ways (or maybe lots of stuff had to be left on the cutting-room floor?).
Posted by Bethany Jean Clement on February 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
seatackled 15
@14

Thanks for clarifying. I thought you meant that Django was more cartoonish than Basterds (which I also thought was a better film). None of us ever saw the pre-war South, of course, but I think I found that even if the South and the portrayal of white manhood were exaggerated, they felt accurate. Don Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio were both fantastic in playing what may have appeared as caricatures, but when you think of people like Haley Barbour and Lindsay Graham, the movie characters were different only in their open use of racial epithets.

What I didn't like about Django, even though the plot of rescuing the princess was laid out by the Walz character early on, was that it was also simply a story of how to rescue the threatened, passive princess. There were no strong female characters in the film, and unless you want to count Candie's sister getting mad at him at the dinner table when he exposed Hilda's back, I don't think women were show to be assertive in any way.

Anyway, I saw it just a week before you did, and I'm obviously fascinated by it, too.
Posted by seatackled on February 13, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this

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