Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movie review: Django Unchained

Spike Lee, apparently, is offended by Quentin Tarantino's new flick, Django Unchained.

"American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."  Thus he tweeted.

Lee says he hasn't and won't see the flick, and it's probably just as well.  There is a lot in it to offend if one is so inclined.  It's not so much the racial slurs littered throughout the dialog.  "Nigger" and "pick-a-ninny" may be vile and out-of-vogue, but they're also historically accurate.  It's more the tongue-in-cheek blaxploitation/spaghetti western tone of the flick that offends, methinks.

Lee has a fair point.  There are some subjects that today are too painful to be treated with even a hint of irreverence.  How would the public react, for example, to a campy film about Auschwitz?

But, on the other hand, Tarantino doesn't exactly pull any punches in depicting slavery as brutal and obscene.  Django Unchained is a tale of cold vengeance, full of Tarantino's trademark graphic, over-the-top violence, tight dialog, and twisted humor.  It's the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave who partners up with bounty hunter Dr. Schultz (Christopher Waltz) to obtain the freedom of his wife.  The two locate Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), on a plantation known as Candieland, the master of which is a young Southern aristocrat named Calvin Candie (Leo DiCaprio).  The story unfolds --"erupts" might be a better word --from there.

Taking into account Spike Lee's concerns, I still have to say, Django Unchained is highly entertaining.  It's tense, uncomfortable, brutal, and hilarious by turns.  And there's real cathartic value to watching Django and Dr. Schultz inflict brutal vengeance on racists and Confederates. 

Tarantino inoculated himself from criticism by consulting with (and winning the benediction of) acting great Sidney Portier, and I suppose that's good enough for me to enjoy the movie guilt-free.  By the way, Tarantino has a real knack for stirring up interest in his work, wouldn't you say? Kind of makes you wonder...

Christopher Waltz had a good quote about the movie and it's cultural importance.  And I quote:  “In a way, slavery is an unresolved issue, a topic that hasn’t been universally addressed. You would think that the victory of the North over the South would have ended the discussion, but it’s never been properly dealt with.”  Read more: New York Daily News

Django Unchained is a good flick. Definitely worth the admission.

No comments: