By David Combest
January 16, 2013
It is important to realize that Quentin Tarantino’s body of work is cut into two different parts. The first part is the old or classic Tarantino; this would be the creator of “Pulp Fiction,” “True Romance,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Jackie Brown,” etc. Although I do not call Tarantino an artist by any means I must admit he knew his niche when it came to his almost pulp comic book like films (not to mention he “borrows” a lot of ideas from other movies).
The classic Quentin film was like a pulp comic coming off the pages and being played out on the silver screen. The new or current Tarantino is a product of reinvention after the film Death Proof, which is the head stone of the classic Tarantino. With the success of his extremely violent and fictional World War II account in “Inglorious Basterds,” the current Tarantino has made a new niche for himself in the extremely violent genre. Don’t get me wrong Tarantino has always been violent there is no doubt about it, but with his older films having a pulp novel feel it was almost mix of graphic& cartoon like violence that was not too over the top.
“Django Unchained,” Tarantino’s Post-Basterds film is even more violent (which I didn’t think was possible) than its predecessor. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave who is bought by a charming German bounty hunter by the name of Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who opposes slavery but needs Django in order to track down his bounty, Schultz’s bounty is Django’s former owners therefore Schultz need Django to identify Shultz’s bounty. The film continues on as Shultz and Django hunt other bounties. Django tells Shultz he has a wife who was sold to a plantation, later they find out the plantation is a large one by the name of Candyland.
Django and Schultz come up with a plan to get Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). The film pretty much plays off that theme, the plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) soon finds out about the duo’s plan due to the deductions Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) Candie’s head slave has made. That’s when the blood bath begins, by which I mean the walls are literally painted in blood.
The saving grace of the film is within the performances of the actors themselves. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson bring as much emotion as they can to other wise one-dimensional characters. Their skilled performances and talent are so well crafted you forgive the holes in the plot. The writing of Django Unchained is lacking, as if Tarantino simply gave the actors a gist of what the story line is and then left the rest up to them.
What separates “Django” from the older Tarantino is that the characters are not quirky cool (like in Pulp Fiction or True Romance) where the dialogue is smooth and somewhat surreal along with the film’s atmosphere. In Django it’s choppy and somewhat lazy. In short, it looks like Tarantino has become focused on showing as much violence as he can. He doesn’t seem to care whether or not his story has a flow to it but simply how much blood he can pump into the movie
Tarantino’s movies originally included stories of life struggle, but not they have become too harsh. His movies moved away from smooth characters and surreal environments to shoty writing and gore. For a mindless action film check out Django Unchained but if you’re looking for content or even classic Tarantino you won’t find it here.