Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Dur: 154 mins
When the lights are burning bright and you think they are stars – turns out it is merely electricity lighting up the sky. Tarantino has faded into a mere imitation of the real deal. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Quentin’s latest feature.
It is hard to say whether it is a damning indictment on the conservative nature of the current breed of filmmakers in America, or whether the studios have squeezed the last drop of freedom and risk out of the process. Whatever it is that has created a dull landscape of grey, 21 years after his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs (1992), a Quentin Tarantino release is still something worth getting excited about. It may be down to the fact that his zippy dialogue and florid displays of bloody violence carry such exuberance that 2/3 hours in his company is a holiday into the extreme recesses of our imagination. It might even be a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, here we are.
Opting to chart the slave trade period and career on a blood soaked 154 minute journey into the land of fact and fiction, Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave freed from captivity by Christoph Waltz’s Dr Shultz. Together, they set about trying to save Django’s wife from the grasp of a brutal Mississippi plantation owner, Calvin Candle (played by Leonardo Di Caprio).
All performances are expertly delivered, in their ramped-up-to-‘eleven’-kind-of-way, but the characterisation is blandly one-dimensional. Tarantino in 1D, if you will. The trademark approach to the soundtrack is all in place, as is the stylistic use of colour and language. If an abiding memory is left to colour, this picture is painted red. Very red. It harks back to the impression of Pulp Fiction, but do not be mislead; this film is not of the same calibre.
It is a film that is arresting on the eyes and you may marvel at the cartoon, superhero-esque painting of the violence. With more thought on the substance – the meat on the bone of the characterisation, rather than the meat on the bone of the characters – this would have been a more satisfying film. It is not forgettable. It is better than that. It has enough verve and spirit to render itself a pleasing few hours of escapism. Is it the most significant entry into the canon of a passionate filmmaker? No. As with so many of Tarantino’s recent films, it could do with some strict and judicial editing. For a man who seems to constantly be jumping up and down screaming, ‘look at me, look at me!’, he needs to brought aside, like teacher to student, and told to calm down and concentrate. He’s a promising pupil, this Tarantino fella. Just needs to focus a bit for next term. As things stand, it is less ‘Django Unchained’ and more ‘Tarantino Unhinged’.
If you like this, try this: Pulp Fiction (1994) – Remind yourself what was once a more measured and balanced Quentin, with this stone cold classic. You have most likely already seen it. Never mind. See it again.
You can find the trailer for Django Unchained here: