Self Film-Solation | Film 1 | Django Unchained
So, when I decided to do this Django Unchained was probably one the first films that came to mind. Ever since it came out in 2012, I have been meaning to watch it and just never got around to it. I don’t particularly know why but if I had to say, it would be that it’s nearly 3 hours long and I honestly don’t know when I’ve had that much free time in which I didn’t just sleep.
I am a big fan of Tarantino, but I’ve found his more recent work a little self-indulgent, overly long and frankly just not as good as his earlier work. I wasn’t keen on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood so I was really hoping that Django could exorcise my Quentin demons.
I have to say, on the whole, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was everything you’d expect from a Tarantino film. It was well acted, with a great soundtrack and brilliantly written dialogue. For me what it had above other more recent QT films was a likeability factor to its characters that made me want to see them succeed. DiCaprio, Foxx and Waltz are all on excellent form. I think this was the first time I’d seen Leo play a villain since Man in the Iron Mask (a classic). If I had any quibbles with it then I’d split them into two categories which are the problems with the film itself and a problem with Tarantino’s style.
Let’s start with the latter. I have two issues and I’ll bet you know what they are. Firstly, why does he insist on casting himself? The man cannot act. All it does is take you out the film the way it would if you kept noticing goofs or obvious errors. Its just so damn distracting.
Secondly, and I’m going tread carefully here to not open a can of worms, but I’m not sure how to feel about Tarantino’s use of the N-word. It’s a well-documented argument and I doubt this white British middle-class man will offer any fresh insight. However, it seems to be that there is not enough justification to use the word as much as this (over 100 times). I get it, at the time the word would have been used a lot but also people would have had far fewer teeth so how far does the historical context go in justifying the use? Not enough for me. It just feels like QT likes to use it to prove that he can.
The only real thing I didn’t like about the film itself was the last 30 minutes. It feels like after DiCaprio and Waltz are killed off the film loses some of its momentum a little before limping on and finishing. I very much enjoyed the burning down of Candyland in the last few minutes. But between these two points I just found the film a little meandering and slow. I’d like to have perhaps a bit more satisfaction at the end. Killing King Schultz didn’t offer a great deal to the story for me and I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity in terms of an emotional beat. Schultz was such a likeable character and I feel like either his death needed to be more emotionally impactful or he needed to be by Django’s side at the end.
One additional thing I did like was that dear old Quentin didn’t take it upon himself to randomly change history. Not that I’m any kind of purist. It worked great in Basterds (Once upon a time in Hollywood not so much, but I’ll say no more about the more recent film). Overall, I very much enjoyed it as a piece of entertaining escapist cinema and would certainly watch it again.
Originally published on Tumblr on 20th March 2020