Django Unchained (2012)

Quentin Tarantino directs Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio in this western where a slave is freed and teams up with a bounty hunter to win back his beloved from a plantation.

Probably Tarantino’s funniest film and truest genre experience. Six shooters, horses, hats. Period accurate but in a vaudeville, seventies exploitation perspective of what is true and what has happened and what fantasy we want. There are three brilliant performances here. Waltz is superlative as the white saviour… the polar opposite of his Hans Landa in morals but exactly on point in verbosity and calm under pressure. DiCaprio plays stupendously against type as the villainous Calvin Candie -a dolt who feels justifiably superior in his wanton cruelty. And Samuel L Jackson is damn near magical as The Big House overseer Stephen. His momentary shifts between playacting, conniving, assessing and controlling is a comic performance par excellence. He should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, should have won that Oscar. Which brings us to Django’s one flaw… Foxx’s lead is a bit too blank. He feels perceptibly like an absence of cool whenever the focus is on him. Once two of those lower billed, yet stellar, players bite the dust the film still has a reel left in it. The ensuing violence is gloopy fun, but the scenes have none of the verbal vim that the better actors bring to the first two hours. It is a small hurdle that trips Django Unchained up from reaching perfection.

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