Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained is half a good movie of classic Tarantinoesque quality, before descending slowly but surely into a racist, disrespectful blob of a film which left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Essentially a buddy movie set in Texas and Mississippi shortly before the American Civil War, Django Unchained tells the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who gets freed from his chains and owners by the highly eloquent German bounty-hunter and pistoleer Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Shultz' eyes are primarily on bounties and own gain, but he needs Django to point out three wanted slavers for him, and since Schultz also "despises slavery", the stage is set for two unlikely friends and heroes roaming the American south chasing despicable bad-guys and turning heads in the process.
The good thing is that Tarantino is back to his usual self in writing fun and elaborate dialogue and preposterous situations from which Dr. Schultz always finds a way out through fancy-talk and/or lightning quick hipfire. In his homage to classic westerns (more in the direction of Peckinpah than Sergio Leone), Tarantino gladly presents his minor characters as stereotypes and writes up larger than life villains in order to create the inevitable big showdowns. Leonardo DiCaprio's despisable born-and-bred slaver and misanthrope is our protagonists' biggest nemesis; the target for the eventual boss battle. And it is through him that Tarantino's fine balance between the 'cool' and the 'uncool' begins to wobble in my book. It becomes apparent that what we're witnessing is not simply a western story about a couple of unlikely heroes and friends, but rather a raid of vengeance on whites on behalf of all Afro-American slaves, much like what the Jews received from Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds.
In its process of vindicating the horrible racism and cruelty which the Afro-American slaves were once subjected to, the film goes way overboard itself - both on its anti-white masturbation - which one would have to be blind not to see - and in exaggerating and making cheap entertainment out of the situation of the slaves. The result is a film that I suspect will leave both black and white viewers with a bad aftertaste. You may well feel that you have been entertained by Django Unchained, but rather than make me feel for the black people of the 1860s USA, it just made me despise vengefulness even more.
And for those people who aren't able to recognize the exaggerations and agitation Tarantino offers here (younger viewers probably), I fear the film will be completely counter-productive; i.e. substantiate differences and stereotypes rather than being uniting and progressive. In his earlier days, Tarantino used violence to create effect and show us the fine line between the ugly and the beautiful; now his violence is more gory and less poetic, and the story around seems merely like a bad excuse for it all.