Django Unchained – Film Review

Django Unchained

Finally crafting the Western we know has been coming since 1992 Quentin Tarantino is as unchained as his titular character, unleashing a 3-hour behemoth with more racism, more violence, and more Spaghetti music than we could ever have imagined.

Django first appeared on our screens in 1966 as a white drifter with piercing blue eyes and a machine gun. Since then the character has become an eponymous figure in the Western film, unofficially featuring in thirty-one ‘sequels’. Now Jamie Foxx takes the form of a different Django but with eyes just as piercing, pistol-slinging skills just as unrivalled and a heart just as vengeful.

Unchained sees slave Django become a free man by the hand of slavery-hating German immigrant dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr King Schultz, played with insane suavity by the charismatic Christoph Waltz. After Schultz Pretty Woman‘s Django into an excellent bounty hunter the pair’s unlikely and extremely frowned upon partnership develops from associate to kinship so much so that when Django sets out to retrieve his wife from the cordial but brutal plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) Schultz agrees to help him on his potentially suicidal mission.

After closing Inglourious Basterds with the tongue in cheek “This might just be my masterpiece,” Tarantino was clearly very happy with where the film had taken him as an artist. He had once again adopted and owned a new aesthetic style, seizing every bit of WWII iconography and paraphernalia possible and piecing together a genre film of unparalleled quality.

Django Unchained 3

Somehow outdoing himself once more Django Unchained is a Western film Best Of, borrowing iconic visuals, musical tones and characters left and right, once more blurring the line between homage and rip-off, but with Tarantino’s staple wit providing the gold that separates his film from all others when sifting the proverbial gold pan of the genre.

Of course, aesthetic glories and a genius script are nothing without an equally impressive cast. Luckily, another staple of a Tarantino film is impeccable casting. In a film with such bold themes only bold actors could thrive. Foxx and Waltz’s chemistry is compelling, funny and genuine as the pair riff through racism and work with graceful charisma. Perhaps most impressive is DiCaprio’s turn as the villainous Candie, whose immersion into the despicable character is a feat that cannot have been easy. Kerry Washington is sadly underused as Django’s wife, Broomhilda but in her short screen time she captivates the audience as much as Samuel L Jackson makes us simultaneously squirm and laugh.

Django Unchained is as funny as it is blunt; as violent as it is beautiful; as statement-making as it is simply a love letter from Tarantino to the genre. Some have challenged Django Unchained as much as some have praised it, and I can’t tell you what to make of it on some fronts but I can tell you that I sincerely hope it picks up that golden statuette next month.

Anti-white bigotry. Exploitative black racism. Masterpiece. There is something for everyone in Django Unchained.

Inception – Review

It will hardly come as a shock for me to say that I really enjoyed Inception. The only criticism that comes to mind was that the dialogue was a little… efficient. Take that Nolan!

What we have with this film is the very rare melding of a blockbuster action film with a thought-provoking high concept piece. The movie really does require you to be paying attention and think hard to follow the many layers of plot but certainly doesn’t skimp on the action set pieces. My favourite moments of action all involved Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a corridor of questionable stability, adrenaline flowed as freely as gravity as we were treated to a uniquely beautiful bit of fighting.

The presence of Gordon-Levitt, along with Ellen Page, shows that this really is more than just a blockbuster as the cast have been chosen on more factors than just box-office draw and it really pays off. Page serves as the audience for the film and without that aspect I’d have had no clue as to what was happening. While Inception is happy to lay down the rules of the film, it doesn’t necessarily wait for you to catch up before plowing on in. I love a film with no mercy.

In among the car chases, shoot outs, dream sharing and general confusion is the story of one man’s tragic love for his wife and the trouble that brings. DiCaprio is on top from as he forces the focus of Inception away from being about people doing a job and towards an internal struggle shown as much through his expressions as through the subconscious come to life. This probably makes little sense, but then you should really see the film yourself.

The powerful score adds to the careful plotting, skillful direction and engrossing acting to make a truly affecting film. I can’t wait to see it again. Never again will so much importance be put on one tiny object. Speaking of which, once you’ve read the film read this, it has made me rethink the entire film.

Inception – Trailer

I finally slightly understand what is going to happen in Inception thanks to the new trailer that is everywhere online. Everywhere online including right here!

The trailer mainly focuses on Leonardo DiCaprio’s character but we do get some exciting glimpses at Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphyand most excitingly Joseph Gordon- Levitt. With the release date way over in July excitement levels may be ramped up quite high over here by the time the film comes out.

Shutter Island – Review

Shutter Island is most definitely a thriller rather than a horror as there are relatively few scares as we follow Leonardo DiCaprio’s attempts to uncover the secrets of the insane asylum on Shutter Island. Though beautifully shot the film was flawed throughout, from the over ominous score at the start to the frankly disappointing ending.

There were times I couldn’t tell if the slightly disjointed editing and direction were deliberate effects or mere sloppiness but most reviews seem to regard them as purposeful devices, this is a Scorsese film after all and he is to be respected. Scorsese’s career aside the film is clearly well shot but the main weak point is the pacing. This is a film of average length that feels dragged out and overlong with dialogue heavy scenes following one after the other. Most events are described in detail by characters rather than portrayed onscreen which is to be expected from a noirish thriller yet becomes tiresome after some time.

Shutter Island succeeds in creating a general air of unease and DiCaprio carries much of the film admirably as we follow his investigation from start to finish. The supporting cast provide their ambiguous dialogue well but none offer a performance that stands out. It could be that the ending I found so disappointing was in fact a double bluff and I simply missed the subtleties of the script but there is no denying the film crawled along too slowly for me to become fully engrossed.

If you do go and see it make sure you are fully awake or take plenty of caffeine with you.