OK the blog title may be a bit exaggerated but, watching Django Unchained, I found myself going through the same motions as when watching Inglourious Basterds. It feels like something has happened to Quentin Tarantino in the past decade. However I don’t think it’s a case of him “losing his hard-on” as he would say, but a case where the people around him are not willing to advise him or criticise him in fear of tampering with his ‘genius’. I don’t believe in geniuses, I believe that talented people are always in danger of egotism and need to keep their feet on the ground to continue being talented.
Django Unchained tells the story of a freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christophe Waltz). Admittedly there are great moments in it and lots of unique Tarantino-isms in the dialogue, but one of the major problems lays in the dialogue. This was the same problem for me with Inglourious Basterds. In short, both movies run too long and the dialogue is drawn out in numerous places. My theory is that Tarantino adores writing dialogue, something he’s always said, but in his earlier films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction his scripts were edited and tightened up appropriately. Take the word ‘appropriately’ as you will. Now, cut to circa 2004 and there is a noticeable difference in dialogue in Kill Bill 2. Scenes drag out for the sake of it and so the finished result becomes diluted. For this reason, I feel Tarantino has not made a great film since (and including) Kill Bill 2; and Django Unchained is no exception.
The other major problem with Django is Tarantino’s insistence to crowbar his obvious current interests into this film, regardless of whether they’re believable or not. Yes, it’s a Tarantino movie and there is definitely a case to be said for leaving reality outside the cinema but, really, we’re supposed to swallow the character of a slave woman in the 1800s called Bromhilda van Shaft?! Do you know why Christoph Waltz’s character finds that so unbelievable when he hears it? Because it is unbelievable, in fact it’s just plain stupid. I’m not the biggest fan of Christoph Waltz and felt he is mis-cast in this film in any case. Don’t then invent ridiculous story plots in order to make his presence credible. For me, the most enjoyable actors to watch throughout Django Unchained were definitely DiCaprio and (a very different looking) Samuel L. Jackson but, overall, I was disappointed with this eagerly-awaited ‘Southern’. Quentin, you had my curiosity….but now you’ve lost my attention.
Check out the trailer here, it’s better than the movie…