However much of an arse Tarantino might be, there is absolutely no denying that he is an immensely gifted and entertaining filmmaker. I don’t care if Django Unchained was longer than it needed to be, I enjoyed all of it. A second didn’t go by when I wasn’t smiling, horrified or enchanted by Tarantino’s exploitation splendor (frequently all three), unleashing performances of magnetic captivation.
What’s not to like about a (southern) spaghetti western starring Christoph Walz playing a silver tongued bounty hunter, Jamie Foxx as vengeful slave, Leonardo Di Caprio as a gloriously malevolent plantation owner or Samuel L. Jackson looking older but nevertheless far more sinister than anything imagined? Like all good exploitation cinema, it taps into everything instinctively entertaining, constructing a film I would happily sit through for another hour. Much like Inglorious Basterds, its violence is simultaneously repulsive and cathartic tied together effortlessly with Tarantino’s trademark, effortless dry humour. For all its memorable violence, Django Unchained comes out with one of the funniest scenes I can remember in many a year when a masked raid try to kill Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Few filmmakers could get away with such absurd timing but when you’re as sharp as Tarantino, it’s delicious. A genius at work, right there. Oh, and let’s not forget that astonishing soundtrack which plays out like an awe-inspiring hammer blow.
Where Django ultimately ranks on my Tarantino hierarchy I’m still not sure because it faces some incredibly stiff competition. What I do now is that it’s a good ‘un.
Review by David Rank
Django Unchained is out now in the UK. Certificate 18 (UK). Running time 165 mins.
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