Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Dennis Christopher, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Don Johnson, and Jonah Hill
Happy New Year, everyone. I know that I haven't been posting for awhile. I had to deal with a death in the family. I know that life goes on and you have to move on. I wanted to get that out of the way before I start my review, which will contain coarse language where I delve into the "controversy" of the subject matter and language. Be forewarned.
Tarantino is one of my top five favorite directors of all time. His way of filmmaking is alike anyone. Before you say anything, yes, he gets ideas from other movies and pop culture references, but he makes his films in such way that are fresh and new. His last effort, Inglourious Basterds was one of my top ten films of 2009. My anticipation of his latest feature was at a fevered pitch. This movie is Tarantino's take on the spaghetti western of Sergio Leone, but setting it in the pre-Civil War South circa 1860.
Django (Foxx) is walking across the plains of Texas with other slaves that were recently purchased at auction. The action stops where Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a bounty hunter masquering as a traveling dentist, rides up to try to find a particular slave that knows a trio of wanted men. The only person that knows who they look like is Django. Schutlz buys his freedom in order for Django to travel with him to collect a bounty. There is also another reason why Django wants to stay with Schutlz. He wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Washington) who was sold separately because they tried to run away.
Before the film came out, the film swirled with controversy because the frequent use of the word "nigger" throughout the movie. People have to take into account that the movie is set in the Deep South in the late 1850s, nothing was PC back then. The slave owners or white townsfolk can't say, 'look at that African American there." No. Slaves were considered property to their owners like livestock. Nobody cared about what the right word was. They referred to a black person, "boy", "negro" and most of the time, "nigger." Nobody says anything when rappers say "nigga" is their lyrics or when two black people say "nigga" in passing. You cannot have it both ways.
I have to say that I was disappointed in the way that Spike Lee criticized the movie for "disrespecting his ancestors" even though he had never seen a single frame of the film when he made that statement. Coming from a man that dealt like racism like Do the Right Thing or Bamboozled, it's the pot calling the kettle black. Slavery is a touchy subject that few will address. It is a part of the African American experience. I came from strong willed people who survived being ripped from their homeland, packed into slave ships like sardines, living under hazardous conditions, suffering beating, rapes and other awful things to survive. We need to have a dialogue about our dark past.
Now that is out of the way, I want to talk about the film on its own merits. I thought was going to pull an IB and not be what it was advertised in the TV spots. Nope. It was exactly what the ad were saying, which wax disappointing. That doesn't matter that the movie was awful. It was enjoyable to watch. Blood spurting out of wounds that hasn't been seen since Kill Bill: Vol. 1. The violence is over the top, because the movie's plot was never happen in real life. Bring on the blood splattered walls.
I have to give a special shout-out to Leo, because his portrayal of Calvin Candie was nuanced and subtle, but he turn on a dime on you. Sam Jackson was the comedy relief in such a heavy subject. His presence in the movie was what the movie the needed. I like everyone else. Nothing remarkable about them. Django was good when he was kicking ass or outsmarting whitey, but he seemed to fall shout of being a well rounded character.