Saturday, April 20, 2013

Django Unchained

After much delay, I saw Django Unchained.
First and foremost, this is Tarantino. This is Tarantino doing a Western, but it’s still Tarantino – it’s crass, it’s vulgar, it’s bloody, and above all it’s as offensive as he can manage. Depending on who’s counting, the N word is used 108 or 109 times. Now, this is a movie set in the South in the Civil War-era, and the main character is a freed slave, and nearly all of the plot deals with slavery. It is appropriate to use that word in that context. This being Tarantino, however, his (over)use of it is gratuitous.
Despite that, this is actually a very good movie. It has a solid plot – twisty but not too twisty; it reminded me of a very long game of Fiasco. Speaking of which, it is very long, mainly because there’s a lot of plot to get through. The acting is excellent. Christoph Waltz stands out as Dr Schultz. Leo DiCaprio is wonderfully hate-able, and Sam Jackson gets to drop his MF-bomb. The cinematography is quite good. Tarantino has always had style, but this time he had a significant budget, and it shows. The sets, locations, and costumes are utterly believable. There is a scene wherein the only source of light is supposed to be handheld candelabras, and I think he actually shot the damn thing by candlelight – or if he didn’t, it sure looks convincing.
This does not rank higher on my list for a couple reasons. One, this is a very strong year for movies I like (remember, the ranking is totally subjective). Two, while I appreciate what Tarantino does, it’s not really quite my style. I don’t mind violence in movies, but he’s so over-the-top, especially about the blood, that I’m reminded of B horror movies.
If you can handle extreme violence and racism, this movie is worth watching (in my opinion). I appreciate when a filmmaker has a vision, and then executes that vision well, and delivers an entertaining result.
This is my last review for the calendar year 2012. The next movie I see will be (temporarily at least) number one for 2013. I will make a new post on that subject soon.
I’m aware that there are movies not on this list that considered worth seeing. It’s possible that Oscar nominations will convince me to go see them, or catch them on video. However, keep in mind that I primarily watch movies to be entertained, not to be educated or challenged. If you, dear reader, don’t like my editorial choices, you’re quite welcome to start a list of your own.
1. Les Miserables
2. The Avengers
3. The Hobbit
4. Wreck it Ralph
5. The Amazing Spiderman
6. Brave
7. The Cabin in the Woods
8. Django Unchained
9. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
10. Looper
11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
12. The Secret World of Arrietty
13. Argo
14. Skyfall
15. Cloud Atlas
16. The Dark Knight Rises
17. Men in Black 3
18. The Man With the Iron Fists
19. Prometheus
20. Hunger Games
21. The Lorax
22. Snow White and the Huntsman
23. Total Recall
24. Bourne Legacy
25. Mirror, Mirror
26. Life of Pi
27. Dark Shadows
28. John Carter

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