The Un-Chick Flick: Django Unchained

By Fil Chapa – chapa71@yahoo.com

When a film dealing with the hot button issue of illegal immigration first opened in the early 1980s, critics widely condemned Oliver Stones’ stereotypical depiction of immigrants and overuse of the F-word.  Scarface, still managed to somehow connect with audiences and went on to garner worldwide success.  Stone had officially established himself as a power player in the movie-making industry.

Fast forward, thirty years to Hollywood bad boy Quentin Tarantinos’ latest effort, Django Unchained.  Tarantino tells the story of a former slave turned antihero.  A spinoff of the old Django westerns dating back to the 1960s, Tarantino adds his own brand of Italian seasonings, complete with groovy musical montages, plenty of surprise cameos and good old-fashioned southern charm.  By southern charm I mean gratuitous violence and a ridiculous overuse of the N-word.

There is a fine line between honestly addressing the delicate issue of slavery and exploiting it for commercial purposes.  Tarantino not only crosses this line, he destroys it.  Mel Brooks’ achieved a similar feat with Blazing Saddles, also criticized for its’ use of racial stereotyping.  There were several moments when I found myself actually tensing up during violent scenes involving whipping of slaves.  I was exhausted when I left the theatre.  Although it was an interesting adventure, only those slightly twisted movie goers who enjoyed Resevoir Dogs will enjoy Django.

Still, Tarantino is a master storyteller, a rare commodity among modern film makers, who tend to lean heavily on special effects rather than natural dialogue and organic plot twists.

Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave with insider information that keeps him alive and eventually pairs him with a German bounty hunter.

Foxx’s cool demeanor and steely-eyed gaze serve him well on his quest to find his beloved wife.  Unfortunately, throughout the first half of the film his character was somewhat muted.  Probably necessary in order to slither his way through slave happy southern towns.

Christoph Waltz is a successful bounty hunter/dentist. Although he is a skilled assassin, his warm smile and quirkiness make him impossible not to like.  Leonardo DiCaprio is the demented plantation owner, Calvin Candie.  He oozes hate from every pore in his body.  His Mississippi twang and incredible passion was off the proverbial chain.  He was so amped up he must have had a few Red Bulls before a few of the more intense scenes.  Candies wicked sidekick Samuel L. Jackson adds just the right amount of sadistic humor.

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