Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Django In Air Conditioning

I finally saw "Django Unchained" and sadly, I was a little disappointed. Mostly because it just didn't seem to be a spaghetti western. For me, spaghetti westerns are defined by Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone. The overwhelming aesthetic that permeates those movies is hot dusty sweat. They were filmed in the dusty heat of Spain and that look seared itself into my feelings about spaghetti westerns. Django has none of that. The first half of the movie is set in the cold snowy mountains and the second half in the lush green South in Spring (where the temp never seems to rise above 72 degrees Fahrenheit). No one sweats in this movie. How can this be a spaghetti western?

More disappointing is that there are no great scenes. Some great moments, some great lines, but they just didn't congeal into a coherent whole. I can ignore the plot holes and ridiculousness (Hollywood is filled with those), but I need the scenes to have that characteristic Tarantino structure and tension. In "Inglorious Basterds", the movie starts with an insanely tense scene between the Nazi Hans Landa and the farmer LaPadite, then there is a funny and brutal sequence in the basement bar with a German movie star co-conspirator, the Basterds, and a Gestapo officer, then there's the dinner table scene between Goebbels, Landa and Shosanna Dreyfus - that was tension incarnate! There's not a single scene that lives up to any of those in Django.

Then there's the music. Spaghetti westerns have operatic scores. But Django jumps from pop song to pop song faster than a wedding singer. It was jarring and incoherent. Just didn't work.

That said, it had enough juice to keep me entertained. It's a good movie, and Jamie Foxx has proved himself to be irresistible as an actor, but this was just not the masterpiece I was hoping for.

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