Tarantino returns with the ultra violent ‘DJANGO UNCHAINED’. A black exploitation Western, heavily influenced by the MGN ‘Django’ films and very strangely Mario Van Pebble’s ‘Posse’ from 1996 (or it could be me).
Walking into this film I was familiar with the comments in and from the press about the films themes on race and racism. And while it is a context that the film makes comments about, I personally never really found it as deep as perhaps some have read into. I found it more about the classic Western theme of redemption. With this acting as the driving theme and some issue about race only acting as small discussion points (a lot reminded me of ‘Once Upon Time In The West’ with how this theme is articulated).
With ‘Django Unchained’ you can tell this is a pet-project for Tarantino who has clearly has indulged with his love of the (Spaghetti) Western genre from the title credits to the (almost lifted from ‘The Seachers’) panoramic establishing shots. The thing with this though is the fact that when the films ends it never seems to come back on itself in its narrative (doesn’t feel like a full circle). To me it feels like he has to reference something else towards the end when really he should be concentrating in the ending the story, diminishing any real memorable impact. This is something which is not evident in all of Tarantino’s wrote (and directed) films. His endings to me are what make his work stand out for the crowd. This self indulgence also makes the film just a little too long (yes I know Tarantino hater’s always say this and I know it’s a Western) which is the first time I though this for his work.
Personally I would like to see Tarantino return to film’s like, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or even attempting to outgun ‘Pulp Fiction’, which is clear from some of his (at times) bloody excellent scripting work. Bring hope he could still have the ability to perhaps at very least give it a good go. That and it’s not as if he’s churning out films every year – so there is time to do something a little out of his cinematic indulgence comfort zone, which he seems to be happily in here . Regarding performances though it’s all Sam Jackson, he steals the show, it’s a shame he’s given little too do in the final act, and there is a terrific original soundtrack. Maybe I’m bashing the film too much here, don’t get me wrong I liked the first half a lot, but I just expected a little more. There are indeed memorable characters and such (Christophe Waltz for one, even if it’s just a retooled and wittier wrote role from his ‘Inglorious Basterds’ character). There’s also a good play on American myth about the Django character, what is very much needed in a Western.
Regarding modern Tarantino – ‘Inglorious Basterds’ is his best film, and this isn’t as much as a mess as his (another self-indulgent film) ‘Death Proof’ film. I will certainly rewatch ‘Django Unchained’ to perhaps see if I ‘get it’ a little more – it will certainly be interesting to see it played back-to-back with ‘Jackie Brown’ of all things, something which I believe ‘gets’ more of the black exploitation essence, what this doesn’t perhaps do as fulfilling