Liz Smith: Django UnChained

THE MOVIE ‘Django Unchained’ has something to offend everyone,” as almost every critic of this dynamite film experience has written and said.

The following isn’t haut movie analysis, just a visceral reaction.

The Quentin Tarantino movie may be the funniest movie ever made for psychotic sadists and us just plain folks. “The Texas Chainsaw” massacre meets the genteel Old South.

Add to this that most of the direction and acting is great and in spite of the gore and deafening crack of whiplashes and multi-bullets being fired nonstop, it is beautifully made. And, violence aside, it is wonderful to look at.

And my favorite moment in its comic unbelievable savagery (it is about the American experience with African slavery) happens near the end when director screenwriter Quentin Tarantino does an explosive acting scene himself. (More! More acting, Quentin, you are a natural.)

YOU will love our idol and idealist leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, as an over-the-top “South-run” gentleman of bloody tastes and many totally excessive breeches of conduct, which he carries off with rotting teeth and his unusual horrifying style. (Who can forget this actor’s sweet youthful beginning as Gilbert Grape? And he hasn’t made a career mis-step yet.) I just love Leonardo whom I have never been so fortunate as to meet. He has risen above his contemporaries because he keeps completely to his own self, his private style and minding his own business. Such a big talent!

THEN there is the Oscar winner from “Inglourious Basterds,” one Christoph Waltz, as a rational reasonable conman whose humanist gentlemanly rational belies most of the rest of the ignorant benighted characters we encounter. These latter are busy wasting their muscular expensive male slaves in idiotic “contests” of brawl and strength and casual inhumanity.

And, for instance, the punishment for breaking eggs is severe. And it takes a slave to devise the punishment for another slave. (Samuel L. Jackson is just remarkable in this unusual unexpected characterization of a “house” slave consumed by his master’s malevolence.)

BUT it is the incredibly sexy and smart Jamie Foxx as Django who outdoes everything and everyone. He is the young Clint Eastwood … any one of the implacable James Bonds and the sardonic Bruce “Diehard” Willis and the once adorable Mel “LethalWeapon” Gibson, plus the ghost of John Wayne. Foxx has these all rolled into one.

Wait for the moment when poor white trash fools are untying Foxx’s hands and he kills them with his bonds still on!

As for the overuse of the N word, I think the average slaveholder before and after the Civil War was too obsessed with gentry social climbing and pseudo-aristocratic money concerns about assets to have used quite so much vocal vulgarity. (There are no Ashley Wilkes or Rhett Butlers in “Django.”)

But the excessive horrible N word echoes Tarantino’s overuse and overkill of violence as if they were/are one and the same. Maybe they are.

THIS movie is stunning as it is meant to be. But thinking realistically, I read only this week that after the Emancipation Proclamation set slaves suddenly free, there was absolutely no social underpinning to help or place them. And they succumbed in the millions to death, disease and starvation.

So the end of the movie with Jamie Foxx and his liberated lady “Broomhilda,” played by Kerry Washington, still in Mississippi even before the Emancipation Proclamation and with hundreds of murders to their credit, might not have had it so easy riding to the north and safety out of slavery.

But I guess we can’t count out our hero Mr. Foxx, super cowboy, with a horse to outdo Ann Romney’s own two-stepping thoroughbreds. I am told the real-life actor Foxx has fine horses such as the one in the movie. He ranches somewhere in Texas.

Maybe Quentin Tarantino will write a sequel where former slaves Foxx and Washington travel North to safety and his six guns keep them in good health. This would match the positive show-off ending.

No matter the serious horrifying reality of slavery, still going on all over the world, ‘Django Unchained’ is a western shoot ‘em up classic of willful hilarity in the way it is presented. And maybe it will make a good impact through its excesses of action and violence that will convince us of its important theme and make its important mark at the Oscars! If you are a true movie-goer, you don’t want to miss it and if you object to seeing starving dogs tearing a slave to pieces, you can always go to the restroom during that part. That’s what I did.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 1/9/13

One comment so far.

  1. avatar Dorothyt says:

    I think that review is going to come back and bite you in the ass, Liz.  Some things you can review from a lofty apartment.  Not this movie.  Put your boots on the ground and really look aroiund this country some time.  Nothing funny about this movie……at all.