Django Unchained [Blu-Ray] Quentin Tarantino

Django Unchained [Blu-Ray] Quentin Tarantino
7
Say what you will about Quentin Tarantino, but the man knows what he likes, is passionate about what he loves (to an obsessive degree) and believes wholeheartedly that you'll feel the same way. The kicker is: he's usually right. Twenty-plus years into a filmmaking career that has had an indelible impact upon popular culture (try to imagine the last two decades of the film/TV medium without the influence of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs or Kill Bill), the now 50-year-old Tarantino continues his recent trend of period recreations/reinterpretations, as opposed to his earlier incorporations/mash-ups/deconstructions, to great effect. Following up WWII revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds, Quentin again sticks to a specific period with Django Unchained, placing it in 1858, two years before the Civil War, when slavery was still very much an American reality. Quentin has long been a master of telling seemingly simple tales in complex, intriguing ways, and he's again up to his old tricks, with the titular Django (Oscar winner Jamie Foxx) being freed from bondage by a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, who scored a best supporting actor Oscar for this role), then embarking upon a mission to rescue Django's enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from a charming, yet ruthless Mississippi plantation owner. However, while no doubt a "spaghetti western" and bloody, brutal revenge yarn, with the body count, period violence (whipping, branding, a slave being fed to the dogs) and language to match, the fascinating thing about Django Unchained is that it can be viewed as a buddy comedy/road trip film, as well as a coming-of-age parable. For the first two-thirds, it's all Django and Waltz's Dr. Schultz travelling the land, hunting and killing white law breakers, collecting bounties, sharing tales, bonding and battling an early version of the KKK, with the good Doctor instructing Django in the art of bounty hunting, life and how to be free. However, as in most heteronormative relationships, three is a crowd and by the time the two bounty hunters infiltrate Candyland and attempt to bamboozle Monsieur Candie (a devilish Leonardo DiCaprio) for Broomhilda, the writing is on the wall for our "mystic honkey." This is where the coming-of-age/growing up aspects emerge — people are often forced to sacrifice friends, especially the "best friend" class, for love and sexual relationships as they mature. However, while Django's climatic revenge is brutal, the gunplay impressive (especially the initial Candyland shootout) and the n-word falls like rain, there are some strange tonal issues, such as an odd double head nod between the two compatriots early in the film, Django's initial wardrobe after being freed and the occasional overstated sound effect and mannerism, as if to add a splash of colourful levity to the dark and darker subject matter. As well, despite Quentin being infamous for his strong female protagonists (the Bride, Shosanna), Broomhilda is basically Princess Peach in need of rescue, albeit a Princess Peach who's been whipped, branded and subjected to the hotbox. Unfortunately, since this is the initial DVD/BR/Digital package, with a better, juicer edition no doubt down the line, the extras aren't particularly deep. There's a special on the horse stunts (Quentin is very proud of the fact that none were injured), ads for the soundtrack and Quentin's Blu-Ray XX Collection, as well as a featurette on deceased production designer J. Michael Riva and the costumes. As usual, there's no commentary from Tarantino (an unfortunate norm even for the deluxe versions of his work) and no mention whatsoever of the minor n-word/white director controversy the media attempted to engender during Django's initial release. There's also nothing on Foxx and DiCaprio's great performances, Waltz's more than deserved Oscar win or Samuel L. Jackson's scene-stealing turn as crotchety, devious head house slave Steven. Despite the extras' lack of depth, this is one road trip/buddy movie worth saddling up for, all the way to its bloody finale. (eOne)