Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Video review: "Django Unchained."

Quentin Tarantino has always been a filmmaker who believed in making his films as entertaining as possible, though in recent years it seemed like the person he was most trying to entertain was himself.

His latest, the quasi-Western “Django Unchained,” is his most accessible film since “Pulp Fiction,” a purely delightful frolic that’s equal parts gleeful revenge fantasy, anti-slavery jeremiad and comedy of manners.

Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a beaten-down slave who’s given a second chance at life when he’s rescued by King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a courtly little German who impersonates a traveling dentist but is actually a bounty killer.

(“Bounty hunter” is not really accurate, since Schultz only pursues men wanted dead or alive, and always opts for the former.)

Schultz enlists his help, in return for tutoring the slave as his protégé. They have lots of freewheeling adventures, mostly involving gunning down Neanderthal white villains while trading quips. One sequence has them going up against nascent KKK thugs, who debate the efficacy of riding a horse while wearing a sack with tiny eyeholes.

Eventually they get down to the real business at hand: rescuing Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from a bucolic plantation named Candieland.

The owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), is a symbol of genteel Southern rot, his elegantly coiffed exterior hiding an inner moral decay mirrored by his head house slave, Steven (Samuel L. Jackson), who views the uppity Django as upending the proper order of things.

Hysterically funny one moment and bursting with blood-soaked violence the next, “Django Unchained” is a giddy absurdist romp.

Alas, video extras are a mite on the sparse side. There are four featurettes focusing on the costumes, stunts, production design and soundtrack of the film, plus a promo for a Tarantino Blu-ray collection.



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