By Chris Shaw
“The Cowboy Poet”
For those of you readers who aren’t aware, this “Cowboy” is quite the movie maven, particularly when it comes to blazing flamboyant Westerns more hoary critics long ago dubbed “oaters,” (equines and stagecoaches were usually involved). Add to my faves chart any Italian western by Sergio Leone PLUS any crazy groundbreaking flick by Quentin Tarantino!
Now comes Tarantino’s latest quizzically smashing work, “Django Unchained.” How
to describe the plot, or even the makings of this florid, torrid tale in boundless Magna-Vision? Take a touch of “Two Rode Together,” another of “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia,” put in a pinch of “Mandingo,” and the kitchen sink too, padded with the aura of my favorite, “Unforgiven,” and whew. One begins to grasp the breadth and depth of “Django.”
As our nation approaches the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves, it’s easy to see that romanticized stories over the decades often gussied up the “quaint” aspects of plantation life at the expense of the real deal: Slaves were intimidated, tortured and worse at the whim of “the master.” Tarantino pulls no punches as he unspools the sojourn of a German-born bounty hunter with impeccable aplomb (Christoph Walz) who teams up with a wronged freeman (Jamie Foxx) with explosive results.
Their final collision with a sneeringly vicious yet suave cotton lord (Leo DiCaprio) blows the lid off all the supposed niceties of a less-than-perfect world order circa 1858. Special kudos to the star turn of Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, whose “house rules” as he’s observed them all his life have been far from kosher.
Often accused of being ‘over the top,” Tarantino, who earned his reputation with such pics as “Kill Bill” I and II, “Pulp Fiction” and “From Dusk till Dawn,” has topped ‘em all this time with “Django Unchained,” which I easily dub this director’s Great American Epic Numero Uno!