Django Unchained: Random Thoughts

I recently rewatched Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, 2012’s Django Unchained. I saw it in the theater when it came out, but I hadn’t seen it again since then. I’m a big Tarantino fan, but I wasn’t blown away by this movie. It’s far from Tarantino’s best, but it’s still quite an enjoyable movie. (I intend on adding the Tarantino movies to my ongoing movie/TV caricature series. I’ve already started on a Michael Madsen caricature for Reservoir Dogs, and I think “The D is silent” will be the scene I’ll illustrate for this one.)

I don’t really want to get into an in-depth review. Instead, I’d rather just share some of my random thoughts about the film in a stream of consciousness post. It’s all spoilers, so don’t read this if you haven’t seen the film.

  • The opening scene set in the woods (in which Christoph Waltz is trying to find Django) is an excellent introduction to the character of Dr. King Schultz. It simultaneously sets him up as a smooth talker, a quick draw, and a master of strategy.
  • The following scene in which Dr. Schultz kills the sheriff to collect the bounty from the marshal is also classic Tarantino. Neither Django nor the audience knows what’s going on and at this point it’s possible that Schultz has lost his mind. The reveal of the sheriff being his bounty is awesome. “You owe me $200.”
  • Why would Django decide to dress like Austin Powers? It’s funny, yes, but it doesn’t make much sense.
  • The scene in which Big Daddy’s posse is talking about not being able to see out of the eye holes of their hoods is hilarious. I remember this scene getting big laughs in the theater, and I laughed again while watching at home. The editing is strange though. In one scene, they’re riding down the hill to attack King and Django. The next scene cuts to the eye hole scene, then it cuts back to the posse at the dental wagon. Why not just play it in chronological order? The rest of the movie is in chronological order, after all.
  • Kerry Washington is very beautiful (See photo).
  • Why wait so long to rescue her, though? She could have been killed, or she could have run away and they’d never find her.
  • The final plan to (finally) rescue her doesn’t make sense. It would make more sense for Dr. Schultz to go alone specifically to buy her. He can say the reason is because he wants a German-speaking slave. Calvin Candie doesn’t care about her, she’s property to him. And the fact that she ran away might make him eager to sell her. The ruse about mandingo fighting just got them into trouble.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio is delightfully terrifying as Calvin Candie. One issue that I have, though, is how does he know about the dimples on the inside of the skull of his former slave? It’s obvious that he’s cracking it open for the first time at the dinner table.
  • Casting James Remar in two roles was confusing. (He’s Ace Speck in the opening forest scene and Butch in the Candieland setting.) Why do it?
  • Samuel L. Jackson is phenomenal as Stephen. In my opinion, his performance is the best of several strong performances. His wail at Calvin’s death would almost be heartbreaking if his character wasn’t such a sycophant.
  • Dr. Schultz should have just shaken Calvin’s damn hand, haha.
  • Quentin Tarantino is a great director, but a horrible actor. What made him think that he could pull off an Australian accent? His performance was so bad it took me out of the movie.
  • Tarantino definitely delivers on the graphic violence. Good God this film is violent. The scene with the dogs is very hard to watch.

I know I mostly posted my gripes. I did enjoy this film, but I think it’s one of Tarantino’s lesser works. It’s also about a half hour too long.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

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