Friday, January 18, 2013

In the Theater with...Django Unchained

Yes, the "D" is silent. Got it. That said, here are a few thoughts about Django Unchained.

1. Is there a white person on earth who loves the n-word more than Quentin Tarantino? Not even the most vile sower of racial hatred could possibly have as avid an affinity for this troublesome word and its strange career. Was he obsessed with Richard Pryor comedy albums as a child?

2. Christoph Waltz is great, and has just enough of an accent to sound interesting without making American audiences uncomfortable that they might not understand what he's saying (despite a character early on demanding that he "speak English!" when his vocabulary proves too erudite for everyday slave-trafficking Americans of 1858).

3. The squib budget on this film must have been astronomical. I suspect the cast entertained themselves during down time with blood-filled whoopie cushions.

4. I admire Tarantino's restraint as a writer in not making Leonardo DiCaprio's character a slave to his lust for his male slaves. I really thought that's what was coming at one point, and it would have created a black hole of emotionally-weighted stereotypes that would have swallowed the film. Whew.

5. The scene with the riders with flour sacks on their heads seemed like a conscious tribute to the style and spirit of Blazing Saddles. I hope it was.

6. At the end of the film, it appears that Samuel L. Jackson's apparently frail, 76-year old character might not be so frail after all. I was imagining a fight between he and Jamie Foxx a la Yoda's sudden explosive energy in Attack of the Clones. Sadly, it was not to be.

7. Speaking of which, Jamie Foxx shots a lot of people in this movie, and it all looks realisticly gory. The moment in which the one female is shot, however, features a theory of physics usually confined to Road Runner cartoons.

8. Biggest disappointment: Kerry Washington as Django's wife is given almost nothing to do. She looks scared, nervous, worried, excited, then scared again. The most physically dynamic thing she does on screen, literally, is fall on the floor. Despite the fact that her future is being determined by a complex scheme to which she is theoretically a party, she has absolutely no role in moving it forward. There just aren't enough good roles out there depicting strong, enslaved black women. Wake up, Hollywood.

Overall I enjoyed it, despite the shower of racial obscenity, the ineffectual German-speaking wives, and the fact that Tarantino cast himself and Jonah Hill in roles that do nothing but distract you from the film. I give it 3 and a half Emancipation Proclamations.

And now, let's refresh ourselves with a song.

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