1. The ‘N-Word’: Yes, few would argue against the pejorative having been expunged from our modern lexicon, but I don’t think we can pretend that it never existed. I was annoyed when I found out the other day that it had been censored from modern editions of Mark Twain’s books. Similarly, it makes sense for characters to use it in a movie about slavery; having said that, I’m inclined to agree that the word does seem to be tossed around a bit too much in ‘Django Unchained’. Sure, Tarantino’s movies thrive on excess, but maybe he should’ve pulled back a touch on this one.
2. The Violence: Well, it’s a Tarantino movie – by this point you know what to expect. And there is something satisfying in seeing a bunch of proto-KKK goons get massacred, in the same way that there was when the Nazis got their comeuppance in ‘Inglourious Basterds’. I guess the minor problem I have is that, as great as the movie is, Tarantino’s done the revenge thing a few times now. Really, nothing’s ever going to top the vengeance scale of ‘Kill Bill’, and so ‘Django Unchained’, despite its almost three-hour length, feels a little scaled down by comparison. The last hour in particular is not that far removed from the Crazy 88.
3. The Cast: It’s difficult to remember now given his so-so musical career (‘Golddigger’ excepted), but hey, Jamie Foxx won an Academy Award once. He’s pretty good in this, particularly in the scenes where he’s posing as a black slaver, and he has to restrain himself while Leo’s character continuously preys upon the slaves on his plantation. Leo’s pretty good as well, bringing to life one of the cruellest, most odious characters that you’ll see in a while. Christoph Waltz steals the show though, essentially outtalking, outsmarting, and outshooting most of the South as a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. It doesn’t quite outshine his portrayal of Hans Landa in ‘Basterds’, but it’s damn close.
4. The Australian Accents: Quentin’s accent is bad, oh so bad, though it might well be intentionally bad. However, in a film about slavery, with so many liberties taken with American history, it’s hard for me to take issue that the Aussie accents aren’t right.
5. The Verdict: ‘Kill Bill’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ remain the big three of Tarantino’s flicks, but this probably fits pretty well into the next tier with ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Jackie Brown’ (with ‘Death Proof’, which isn’t bad by the way, bringing up the rear). It’s not the one that will win Q the Oscar though.