Movie Review: Django Unchained [2012]

Django Unchained [2012]

Django Unchained [2012]
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Action/Drama/Western
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 165 minutes

Django Unchained is an homage to many genres — the Spaghetti Western, Blaxploitation, revenge flicks — but at its core it is a Quentin Tarantino film. And no one makes movies like QT.

Set in 1858, three years before the Civil War, the film tells the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) — the “D” is silent. While being transported across the vast state of Texas with a group of other slaves, Django becomes a free man after they run into Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter. Schultz hires Django to aid him in finding and identifying the Brittle brothers, a trio of wanted fugitives. Their partnership works out rather well, and they end up working together throughout the winter, raking in good money by collecting bounties.

Django Unchained [2012]

We learn that Django had been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), shortly before meeting Dr. Schultz. After their successful season of bounty hunting, the two men discover that Broomhilda is now the property of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a very wealthy businessman known for his brutal “Candie Land” plantation. With a target now in sight, the unlikely duo head to Mississippi to bring her back alive.

If you are familiar with Tarantino at all, you will have a good idea of what to expect here. Violence is plentiful, the soundtrack is eclectic, and there are winks/homages to countless other films (even Franco Nero, the star of the 1966 film, Django, has a small role here). The man has no fear when it comes to directing, and he does things his own way. Want to include a bass-heavy Rick Ross song while Django walks across the screen? Sure, why the hell not? Some may question the use of modern rap during an 1850s film, but somehow it works surprisingly well. Tarantino’s soundtracks have always been favorites of mine, and Django Unchained does not disappoint in this regard.

Django Unchained [2012]

Of course, there has been a great amount of controversy with the film, most of which stems from its gratuitous usage of the “n-word” (most notably from Spike Lee, who refuses to even watch it). At times, it is uncomfortable watching all of these white actors rattling off racial slurs, but we must remember that this was what it was like during that time period. This isn’t a light subject matter, and quite frankly it would have been a mistake to stray away from this language.

It’s somewhat ironic that in a film named Django Unchained about a character named Django, that the actor portraying him has been receiving the fewest accolades. That’s unfortunate because Jamie Foxx really does a stellar job here. Django comes a long way during the film, and much of the character’s growth can be attributed to Foxx. Of course, it’s easy to be overshadowed when the rest of the cast is as good as it is. Christoph Waltz is the perfect complement to Django’s fiery character, and the two actors play off each other quite well.

Django Unchained [2012]

Leonardo DiCaprio is just as fantastic as the brutal, yet oddly charismatic, plantation owner. It is Samuel L. Jackson, however, who steals every scene he is in as Candie’s loyal head slave, Stephen. Jackson stated that he wanted to make Stephen the most hated black character in the history of cinema, and he makes a damn good case for that title. And, of course, because this is a Tarantino flick, there are a ridiculous amount of noteworthy cameos, with everyone from Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, James Parks, Jonah Hill and even QT himself making an appearance.

Even with its lengthy running time (nearly three hours!), Django Unchained never fails to entertain. Once again, Quentin Tarantino has proven to be a master at recreating history as only he can.

9/10

Movie Review: Carnage [2011]

Carnage [2011]

Carnage [2011]
Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Runtime: 80 Minutes

Two eleven year old boys are arguing in the park. We don’t know what about, but does it matter? That’s what kids do. One of the children, Zachary, strikes the other, Ethan, across the face with a large stick. Now we have a messy situation on our hands, complete with a missing tooth and some serious dentalwork needing to be done. This incident brings the parents of the two children together to discuss treatment and punishment options.

And so begins Carnage.

Zachary’s parents, Alan and Nancy Cowan (Waltz & Winslet), visit the home of Ethan’s parents, Michael and Penelope Longstreet (Reilly & Foster), with the intention of quickly dealing with the problem. Somehow this quick visit turns into an elongated stay, and the entire movie takes place in this stationary apartment.

Carnage [2011]

With this decision, much of the film’s weight is placed on the shoulders of its stars. Thankfully, this is an absolutely all-star veteran cast. Foster, Reilly, Winslet and Waltz are all terrific, and they do their part to make sure this dialogue-heavy film is not hampered by the one-shot location.

Each character has their own quirks, and they all have a certain sense of pride. When little remarks here and there are interpreted as sly insults, the discussion grows heated, and it doesn’t take long for everyone to start ragging on each other. In this regard, “Carnage” is an apt title for the film, as there are some heavy blows dealt to the egos of all involved.

Carnage is a fun, brief film that really picks up once the bottle of scotch comes out. There are moments I could have done without, such as Alan’s frequent phone calls and Nancy’s moments where she gets sick, but for the most part this is an entertaining ride with a tight script.

7.5/10