Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published January 23rd 2013
There's no mistaking a Quentin Tarantino film. Like the man himself, there is such an unbridled energy about his work, and Django Unchained is no exception.
All the things we love in a Tarantino film are here - dialogue that zings, performances played to the hilt, inspired musical choices and plenty of filmic references from the ultimate video store geek. The sheer gusto makes the considerable 165 minutes fly by.
Although Django Unchained deals with that most shameful period in American history, black slavery, Tarantino brings his usual irreverence and humour to the project. The story centres on Django, a slave bought and freed by a German dentist who engages his services to help him in his more lucrative pursuits as a bounty hunter. This paves the way for Tarantino to do what he does best - let the blood run free and the body count rise. The violence is handled with such cartoonish abandon though, that it never comes across as being particularly repellant.
One of the fun things about Tarantino films is that he often has eccentric reasons for hand picking his cast, sometimes choosing actors whom he remembers fondly from cheap exploitation films or an old TV series. I should imagine Dennis Christopher got cast for playing a film geek/serial killer in the 80's schlocker Fade to Black, Tom Wopat could only have been included because Tarantino was a big Dukes of Hazzard fan, and our own John Jarratt appears because the director loved his work in Wolf Creek. Tarantino himself appears alongside Jarratt and bravely attempts a broad Australian accent.
The biggest, juiciest roles belong to Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, the latter giving a performance that's almost as good as his Oscar winning turn in Inglourious Basterds. It's also worth mentioning Samuel L. Jackson, who apart from being quite unrecognisable, makes almost every line he has sound hilarious.
This is deliciously gleeful, no holds barred (literally in one scene) entertainment, and possibly the first spaghetti western/comedy/romance/blaxploitation film ever made. Tarantino fans will not be disappointed.