January 2, 2013
My review, in bullet points:
- If you have six hours to spare, I think this would make a fabulous double feature with Lincoln. The topic of American slavery addressed by two of America’s most iconic directors? Hell yeah.
- I love how this movie just sort of takes a bunch of skeletons in the closet of the American psyche, drags them into the light, paints them in garish colors, and makes them dance around a little bit. Yeah, it’s like that.
- Every time a new Tarantino movie comes out, some people are surprised by how grossly violent it is. People, it’s long past time you stop being surprised by this.
- But the thing I love about Tarantino is he’s also capable of poignant, heartbreaking moments. (Like in Reservoir Dogs when Freddy fishes his wedding ring out of the coin jar.) When Schultz tells the story of Brunhilde and Siegfried to Django, when Django says goodbye to Shultz — utterly heartbreaking.
- There’s an interview with Tarantino on the 10th anniversary DVD of Reservoir Dogs where he talks about his approach to writing: he called it “fucking with genre conventions.” So, imagine how ridiculously happy I was when I learned he’d be tackling westerns. And the first convention he turns upside down is the one where westerns are supposed to be about rugged white men making their way heroically across the frontier. And the montage where Django and Shultz are riding across a gorgeous wintry landscape, beautifully shot in a classic epic western style — and Jim Croce is playing, and it’s so damn perfect.
- This is a movie that is literally about the value of human life. The cost of human life, and what slavery does to that calculation. Plus, it’s got the KKK scene we’ve all been waiting for ever since Birth of a Nation oozed out of Hollywood. Because Tarantino just goes there.
- I left the theater thinking about how much better a writer Tarantino is than I am. It made me a bit sad, but I think I know what I need to work on.