At long last, I get to view Quentin Tarantino’s ode to Italian spaghetti westerns, Django Unchained.
It runs a tad long – 2 hrs. & 30 mins. to my own reckoning – and I had to miss out on my old school org’s event for this, but it was a well worthwhile stretch.
It has got to be the funniest Western made since Blazing Saddles.
It is unapologetically bloody (especially at the last third) and profane (with 110 instances of the n-word being dropped) but it has enough grit to make a season of Deadwood look like a Disney Channel production in comparison.
On its second week, sad to say, it was still (barely) running, but the screening at Power Plant Mall Cinema in Rockwell Plaza, Makati was nearly packed, notwithstanding the self-imposed blackout in observance of Earth Hour (Ah – the irony!!!)
In the film, Christoph Waltz plays King Schultz, a German-born bounty hunter who travels the lawless frontier under the guise of a dentist/lawyer. After buying off a barely literate slave named Django (Jaime Foxx), he trains him to be a partner in the trade as he finds out he was searching for his wife – a house slave adopted by a German émigré. Their winding trail leads to Candyland, a cotton plantation run by the ruthless Francophile Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio, equal parts loopy and hammy). Along the way, Django gets to wear Little Lord Fauntleroy threads.
…make them bitchin‘ Little Lord Fauntleroy threads.
Love the priceless reaction of Daugherty’s townsfolk when they first saw Foxx on his horse, let alone call out the sheriff (played by Tom “Luke Duke” Wopat) alongside the sesquipedally loquacious Schultz. Very Blazing Saddles indeed…only thing missing is the Gucci saddle bag.
Along the way, they meet up with plantation owner “Big Daddy” Bennett – played by Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett meets Col. Sanders – as well as some Ku Klux Klan types – who are portrayed as the backwoods buffoons that they really are. After all, what organisation would get someone like Jonah Hill into their lineup – and fuss among themselves about holing their hoods???
Eventually Schultz gets into Candie’s good side – particularly when they present Django as a leading practitioner of Mandingo slave-fighting. One spirited demonstration had Candie’s fighter, d’Artagnan, up against one managed by an Italian (played, apparently enough, by the original Django himself, Franco Nero…only thing missing is the coffin) By the way, the etymology of Candie’s fighter’s name foreshadows a Pulp Fiction-esque exchange of literary trivia regarding The Three Musketeers’ creator’s ethnicity.
True enough to its inspiration, blood unapologetically runs freely throughout the movie, whether it be Candie threatening to hammer away at the skull of Django’s wife, or Django himself massacring nearly all of Candyland’s residents (including Stephen, Candie’s own house slave, played by Tarantino repertory player Samuel L. Jackson against type, as a craven traitor to his own race)
Django theme (English vocals by Rocky Roberts)
The music – par for the course in a Tarantino film – is equally well-chosen, a mixture of Ennio Morricone classics, Luis Bacalov’s Django theme (for a minute I thought that was Elvis Presley himself on vocals) and stunning contributions from John Legend and rapper Rick Ross.