Thursday Night Movie Club
Django Unchained
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Release Date: 25 December 2012

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Jamie Foxx
Christoph Waltz
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerry Washington
Samuel L. Jackson
Walton Goggins
Dennis Christopher
James Remar
David Steen
Dana Michelle Gourrier
Nichole Galicia
Laura Cayouette
Ato Essandoh
Sammi Rotibi
Don Johnson
Franco Nero
Don Stroud
Dr. King Schultz
Calvin Candie
Billy Crash
Leonide Moguy
Butch Pooch / Ace Speck
Mr. Stonesipher
Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
Big Daddy
Amerigo Vessepi
Sheriff Bill Sharp
Django Unchained movie poster Django Unchained movie poster Django Unchained movie poster
Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django UnchainedDjango Unchained is the latest film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino. Yes, Quentin Tarantino! This film is not a serious look at a historical period of American history ala Steven Spielberg or Kathryn Bigelow. This is Quentin Tarantino's "spaghetti western".

The posters for Django scream spaghetti western. The title sequence and theme song are enough to make this point clear. Just in case someone is not paying attention, one of the songs was co-written by Ennio Morricone, director Sergio Leone's long-time composer. The final point: there is a guest appearance by Franco Nero who starred in a spaghetti western named "Django".

Django Unchained is a fantastic, oddball, film. The story evolves into crazier, funnier, and more brutal situations. Surprises come as every sentence is spoken. The film is told from Django's perspective. Translation: the audience is just as confused as Django. Sit back, keep an open mind and allow Tarantino to tell the story, his way.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django UnchainedDjango Unchained tells the story of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), in pre-Civil War times. He is part of a chain gang of slaves being moved to a new owner. Help arrives in the most unlikely fashion. A former dentist turned bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is searching specifically for Django. He is on the trail of the Briddle Brothers. Shultz's problem is that he does not know what the Briddle Brothers look like. Django does.

Shultz is insufferably polite, to the point of disguised sarchasm. He introduces himself and his horse to Ace Speck (James Remar), one of the men transporting Django. Speck cannot be bothered by this intrusion yet the good doctor continues to show all manner of courtesy and respect. Shultz quietly goes about interviewing the line of slaves searching for Django to the point where he completely ignores Speck. All of Shultz's polite attempts to purchase Django legally fall on deaf ears. When the negotiations break down, mayhem ensues. The carnage is bloddy. Heads explode with a burst of blood and brains.

Django is freed. The film then diverts into a wildly funny sequence, of which their are plenty throughout the film. Dr. Shultz, still calm and collected, tells the still-bound slaves their options. They and either help Speck's wounded partner by carrying him to the nearest town or they can kill the man, free themselves from their chains and make their way north. The slaves slowly walk towards the man while Django and Shultz ride into the darkness. The scene is quite funny, if you have a slightly off-center sense of humor.

Kerry Washington as Broomhilda in Django UnchainedShulz and Django form a partnership as bounty hunters. During one of their quiet moments, they begin talking about Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Shultz has emigrated from Germany. He tells Django the German folk story of "Broomhilda". She is a princess who was imprisoned and eventually rescued by her true love. Shultz feels obligated to help Django rescue his Broomhilda.

The plot development by Tarrantino gives him the chance to populate his film with a slew of B-movie actors: Lee Horsely, Don Stroud, Michael Parks, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, among a long list of actors, all make wonderful, if short, appearances.

Don Johnson as Big Daddy in Django UnchainedBest of the bunch is Don Johnson as Big Daddy, a Southern plantation owner who looks every bit like Col. Sanders of KFC fame. Big Daddy cannot stomach the idea of a free black man, let alone one who rides a horse and is treated with respect. Johnson begins the scene being polite to Shultz but gets more and more angered and frustrated as Waltz's Shutlz politely counters every one of Big Daddy's objections until Big Daddy has no choice but to accept Django.

The most mad-capped hilarious sequence follows Big Daddy rounding up the boys from the local plantations to ride after Django and Shultz to teach them a lesson. Depicting a precurser to the Ku Klux Klan, the men ride hard but they all have trouble seeing where they are going. The frustrated men start blaming each other and questioning why they have to wear the hoods since it is night time. Jonah Hill is hysterical.

The scene is very funny although many people will find this to be objectionable. Be forewarned: Django Unchained was written and directed by Quentin Tarrantino. Anyone hear of a film called "Blazing Saddles"?

Action photo from Django UnchainedTarrantino comes up with a generic idea and begins populating his idea with off-beat characters and even more off-beat situations. He is then able to take a close look at a serious topic where the humor counteracts the seriousness of the subject matter: in this case, Slavery.

Bringing the film to a head is the appearance of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Candie is a man who sees slaves as commodities to be bought, sold and bet upon in brutal fighting competitions. He is a charmer whose blood boils as two slaves mercilessly pummel each other. Candie gleefully cheers on his "champion" like a modern-day fan at a football game. He rewards his victor with a bottle of beer.

Candie comes from old money. He has always had money. Now that he has inherited the family estate, he has the power. Everyone, including his employees, jump at his every command. Candie is not a man to be crossed. His wrath is severe. He calmly discusses business with Shultz while a runaway slave is torn limb from limb by a pack of Rotweilers, all without batting an eye. A lesson must be given. Punishment must be exacted. To the devil to anyone who disagrees with him.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django UnchainedLeonardo DiCaprio is an excellent Candie. Physically, DiCaprio is not an imposing figure. DiCaprio's rendering of Candie is that of a spoiled kid who reigns supreme in his domain. His sheer ruthlessness makes Candie the most respected and feared plantation owner.

Once Candie realizes Shultz and Django are "playing" him inorder to purchase Broomhilda, DiCaprio starts a long diatribe on the differences between the brains of whites and blacks. DiCaprio is captivating. He dominates the scene. You cannot take your eyes off him. The more he says, the more curious Django, Shultz and the audience become. This is masterful/accomplished acting. DiCaprio dives into Calvin Candie's persona taking us all along for the ride.

Django Unchained is Jamie Foxx's film. Starring as Django, Foxx is the character that links together all of the subplots in the film. Jamie Foxx has a quiet presence and an internal fire burning within him. He has seen and personally experienced brutality and degradation. He is scared physically and mentally. What separates Django from every other character in the film is Django is driven by Love. He has a simple dream: be happy. Dispite the racism, Django is a charcter to root for him to succeed.

Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington in Django UnchainedLeading the pack of supporting actors is Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, Candie's head Negro. Stephen keeps the slaves in line. Any indiscretion by a slave shines a dark light on Stephen. He won't stand for insuburdination. Stephen is a man who was probably born on the plantation. The only life he knows is servitude towards the Candie family. Stephen sold his soul a long time ago. He no longer sees himself as a mere slave. He is much better than those others. Jackson is great. He kids and laughs with Candie until he crosses the line. Stephen is allowed some freedoms, but he is still on Candie's leash. Eventually, Django shows Stephen that he made a mistake.

In Django Unchained, Quentin Tarrantino has crafted a great western movie. Like Sergio Leone, this film is not for everyone. If you like your humor wry, with plenty of mustard, this is a must see. The film is clever, witty, brutal, violent, funny and tender. Tarantino, knowingly or not, takes a page out of the Three Stooges. To seal the purchase of Broomhilda, Calvin Candie insists that "in my country, a handshake is mandatory". Shultz calmly replies, "We aren't in my country!" Wonderful!