Grappling with the Conundrum of ‘Django Unchained’

My Thursday column:

I don't mean to step on Chez Pazienza's toes as the unofficial The Daily Banter Movie Guy, but I wanted to take some time with the new Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained; partly because racial issues and the American Civil War are two areas that I discuss quite frequently, and primarily because it took me several days to fully grapple with my reaction to the movie.

Let's start with the obligatory qualifier: I'm a huge Tarantino fan. Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds are two of my favorite films, and True Romance is one of my favorite screenplays. But more that any particular favorites list, I just really dig the fact that he has so much fun making movies, and it absolutely shows on screen. Even though he's been making movies for more than two decades, he's managed to retain the enthusiasm of a first timer -- only with lots of really big toys to play with. This can lead to self-indulgence, and Tarantino is absolutely self-indulgent, but in a good way because he rarely fumbles the creative latitude he's earned and therefore he rarely disappoints. Say what you will about him (derivative, too-wordy, etc...) but he's no slouch and he knows how to craft a movie.

Over the last several months, we've been treated to a lot of great movies. As Chez and I have discussed on our podcast, it's difficult to recall a period of several months that featured so many great movies week after week. But I can say without hesitation that of all the movies I've seen recently, Django Unchained initially confounded me... [continue reading]