Today I hauled my parts, in a rush, to the theaters to see the latest of Quentin Tarantino’s films, Django Unchained , and it was … something. I’ve been excited to see it for some time and there I was ready, and late for some of the trailers, but that didn’t matter since I could see anyone of the trailers for any picture on imdb.com. Hell. Anyway, this film was labeled “the most anticipated film of 2012” believe it or not.
This was another outrageous film from Tarantino, filled with what seem like inappropriate selections for musical interjections, but they are somewhere along the line appropriate, and why? Because it’s a Quentin Tarantino film. There was a great deal of action, which is never really promised in Tarantino films. Now, that’s an argument I have to step aside and handle because the opinion on what is ‘action’ is always open to me. I consider the trite action, or the surface action, the stuff that you get to see on the commercials that will make you come to the theater to see the movie: the explosions, guns blazing, and all that shit. This movie had that. The other type of action, which is more person: dialogue, staring (Christoph Waltz specializes in this), etc. I like, or I should say, I prefer that type of action over the guns blazing and fire and jumping through hoops and all that.
I think many would say that ‘nigger’ was used too much in this movie, but it was certainly relevant in this one. The film takes place in the South, and believe it or not America, people talked like that down there, and probably still do. To me, people shouldn’t be surprised about that kind of dialogue. My mom was telling us that Jamie Foxx said he had gotten so sick of saying the word, or hearing it, that he had trouble finishing the film. Imagine that. You are so sick of a word, and the power it used to hold, that he was convinced within himself that he wouldn’t be able to finish the film he was starring in.
Christoph Waltz did a wonderful job with this one. He was his comedic self, playing a very particular fellow, and cold all a the same time. He was a similar character in Inglourious Basterds , the cold Hans Landa. His character was like a necessary abolitionist figure that spiced up the plot and he was certainly the humor in the film, along with Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio was a also humorous and far more intense in a role that I didn’t think he would succeed in. Now, granted I dont’ like the fellow, but he did a superb job playing slave owner, specialized, or with a particular interest in “Mandingo fighting”, which involved fighting slaves as one would fight dogs or chickens. This, I think was a great device to portray even further the time being shown to the audience. Black people were property, and treated thus. So, like I said, DiCaprio surprised the hell out of me, and played this fun, funny, ruthless and cruel man, that was of course a slave owner, because this is a movie we’re talking about. I don’t think Waltz will get another Oscar Nomination for this role, but DiCaprio might, and I think he should.
There is one word I will use to describe Jamie Foxx’s performance, and that’s ‘intent’. Everything about him can described in those words, his eyes, the conforming of his lips, his actions, and the overall purpose and his motives. He was bent on completing his mission. Some people will hate this film, but there will be some hailing it as Quentin Tarantino’s best. The after the film men’s room talk included all of that, mostly harsh criticism of his last film and this one. I think people leave the earlier stuff out of the conversation for some reason. I can never forget the greatness of Pulp Fiction.
Some articles and reviews are calling this a Tarantino ‘blaxploitation’ picture, but I that’s a gross error. I think this was an ‘exploitation’ flick. Not only is it for urban black audiences, but it’s for all Americans. People were laughing at the jokes, or what seemed like jokes during the film, the use of the word ‘nigger’, and maybe some were laughing at the word alone, and some were laughing at the actual joke and it’s totality, and some were feeling sheltered and wondering whether they should laugh or not. This film certainly is for all Americans because it shows a stark reality that not everyone is willing to recognize, sweeping it under the rug, or almost pretending they’re not a part of it. No, we weren’t around back then but our relatives were, and we’re all human, and humans did this slavery thing to other humans. The disgusting nature of slavery is undoubtedly shown in this film, and shows how inhumane it transformed both the oppressed and the oppressors.
Before you go, check out this bit on Mandingo Fighting I found on slate.