Some of the scenes that Tarantino has created over the years are firmly etched in my memory. Be it the Kahuna burger scene in Pulp Fiction or the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs.
However sometimes his films feel like two or three world-class scenes with some other bits around them (see ‘Inglourious Basterds’)
It’s almost as if the power of the scenes pull me out of the movie in a weird sort of way.
In ‘Django Unchained’ I think he gets the balance just right. It has fine performances and cool scenes but also a pretty coherent story that pulls you in.
There are some great turns like Don Johnson as a white suited plantation owner and Samuel Jackson as an ‘Uncle Tom’ man servant, but at the center is Christopher Waltz as a bounty hunter.
Even though Jamie Foxx is our Siegfried-like hero, it’s Waltz that steals the show with his dandified diction and crisp unexpected violence.
Naturally the film has come in for some criticism for its depiction of slavery, though I would point out that much of what you see in the film actually happened for real. Making it fair game for a filmmaker to bring out into the open. If you find that makes you uncomfortable, here’s an idea: why not devote yourself to making sure it never happens again anywhere else in the world?
One final thought on the film is that he represents a true center of modern filmmaking. On the one hand you’ve got loud idiotic films like ‘The Avengers’ on the other painfully slow art house offerings like ‘The Master’ that tries to suggest slow pacing is a substitute for thought.
In the middle you have films like ‘Django Unchained’. Fast paced, sexy, Dirty Harry style revenge fantasies done with some wit, that put you firmly on the side of the morally right while allowing you to have a bit of fun into the bargain.
I wish there were more films being made like this today. If there were I would approach a visit to the cinema more in a spirit of expedition than trepidation.