django unchained


finally saw django unchained. a mixed bag. the first hour really dragged for me, almost took me out of the film completely. i thought the early scenes were uber-theatrical, lighting was wild, but i stuck with it anyways--and was glad i did as the revenge tale unfolded.

as intrigued as i was by inglorious basterds--a spaghetti western-ish remake and revision of nazi german history--i was equally intrigued by tarantino's remake of django. it was bold, irreverent, ahistorical, and cinematic in an exciting way that i found necessary, albeit uncritical.

but what really bothered me was that most of the black characters, apart from django and stephen, had no agency or voice--like so many cogs in an antebellum wheel. it is a certain way of portraying slaves that is common, though historically inaccurate, and i don't think tarantino's choice to characterize them this way was neutralized by the fact that django had complete control over his destiny.

i don't believe, as some have said, that stephen is a more reviled villain than the slaver candie. it's the house/field negro phenomenon, moreso than the character himself, that evokes a double hatred for him in the viewer. how could anything stephen does come close to wiping real blood on actress kerry washington's face? it was offensive and derogatory, and i think tarantino should have called the take before it got that far.

if i may set the bloodied hand aside, however, i found dicaprio's performance to be masterful, on par with christoph waltz. i'm not sure where foxx's, jackson's, and washington's performances landed for me in the spectrum, given that their hands were so often tied by historical fate, but the worst performance by far was tarantino himself (why not stop casting yourself, enh?).

and even though i'm really not a shoot 'em up girl, the final explosion was truly magnificent movie magic. --AL.

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  1. Interesting - I had mixed feelings towards the film as well. I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as critics made it out to be. I left the screen feeling underwhelmed and sadly, didn't find Django as compelling a character as he could have been. There were some stand out points - e.g. the KKK horseback argument about the size of eyeholes in their white hoods and I think Tarantino captured the horrors of slavery pretty well but still.....something didn't connect for me.

    Did you see "12 Years a Slave"? If so, what did you think? Completely different type of movie but I thought it a much better film.


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