Django Unchained

I can’t think of the last time I saw a move with this much controversy around it, which ranges from Spike Lee’s criticism of the movie making light of the horrors of slavery to conservatives predictably freaking the fuck out about the bit in the movie (and Jamie Foxx later joking about it) where Django points out that getting paid to kill white people sounds like an awesome way to make a living because ow my precious persecution complex. Oh, and people complaining about the use of the N-word in a movie set shortly before the civil war and involving slavery, when obviously no one ever talked like that back then. Though I find Amanda Marcotte’s take on how damn meta the film is very interesting indeed, which goes right along with a lot of what Inglorious Basterds had to say.

But anyway. At this point, the discussion about Django and its meaning beyond a movie is fascinating and way, way beyond me. I don’t feel like I have anything useful I could contribute as an average white female nerd who loves action-y movies, but I sure want to keep reading what other people who have different viewpoints from me have to say.

Now, beyond the socio-political tangle of Django, how is it as a movie?
Well, I loved Inglorious Basterds to an almost ridiculous degree. It was the first Blu-ray I ever bought, before I even grabbed a copy of Thor to replace my regular DVD. I think it’s safe to say that if you loved Inglorious Basterds, you will love Django as well. It’s got a lot of the same things going for it – underdog revenge fantasy where a shitload of people get messily killed and you feel pretty good about cheering for each and every bit of cartoonish blood spatter because damn, those are some awful people getting shot and shot and shot.
Jamie Foxx turns in an incredible performance as the title character. He just radiates indescribable amounts of badass in every second he’s on the screen. Christoph Waltz does an excellent job of being just bent enough that you can almost forget at times that Dr. King Schultz is marvelously insane until he really starts talking. And Leonardo DiCaprio, my god. I don’t even know where to begin. He was so utterly disturbing. Though of course, he couldn’t have managed the depths of gross he reached without Samuel L. Jackson as the head house slave. Their relationship was one of the most messed-up things in an entire movie full of utterly messed-up things. But any time a film hits the really awful relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed when it’s more subtle than a man being torn apart by dogs, it should make you just squirm.
The movie is beautifully shot – some of the locations up in Wyoming are just stunning – but I wouldn’t expect any less from Quentin Tarantino. It’s got that same mixture of discomfort and mayhem and humor that you’d expect as well. And unlike other movies of his (Kill Bill springs instantly to mind) this one doesn’t ever drag or feel as long as its nearly three hour time, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
But I’ll say this – it’s worth the price of admission alone for the scene with the proto-Klan bickering about their newly-made masks.

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