Django Unchained (2012)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Dear Quentin: never attempt an Australian accent ever again. I know you love our genre films from decades gone by, but, shit.

Anyway, you may or may not have noticed (or care) that’s it’s been westerns all round this month, cos that’s this month’s ICM forum challenge… as such I decided it was time to venture into a modern example of same. Of course, these days they don’t make ’em like they used to, and indeed Tarantino’s apparent inspiration was more in the line of the spaghetti western rather than the classical model—although I don’t think either variant used the word “nigger” to quite the extent this film does. The choice of language was one of the film’s sore points for many people (the violence being the other), although I suppose it has the dubious virtue of probably being in keeping with the period (just before the US civil war); the violence, of course, well that’s Quentin’s thing, isn’t it? Actually, the film’s real problems are the music (frequently incongruous at best), the godawful pacing—really, I see no good reason why this had to be 165 minutes long—and the sometimes confused tone. I mean, the scene with the proto-Klansmen bitching about being unable to see out their hoods is golden, but it’s in the wrong film, this isn’t the comedy that scene should’ve been in. Most of the other moments of comparative levity seemed ill-judged too. As I do believe I’ve said before, Tarantino kind of lost me with the first Kill Bill, and I don’t think he’s fully won me back yet; there’s a really good two-hour film in here if someone could convince him to tighten about 30-40 minutes out of it. That said, he apparently has said he did cut about 90 minutes from his first edit, and has said he could envisage it as a four-hour film or miniseries. And I actually could kind of see it as the latter; I know everyone says long-form TV is the way ahead for drama these days, and for once I can see that idea working in this case. Maybe one series of seven episodes or something to see more of Django and Schultz’s bounty hunting adventures as they go in search of Broomhilda. Maybe if Django Unchained were delivered in that form, the pacing issues at least could be resolved somewhat…

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