In such a high-octane, minute-by-minute playback age, we are always anticipating the next big thing. Before one big blockbuster makes its mark, audiences are clamoring for more, more, more. When the next big thing is Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, the world sits up and listens with rapt attention. The trailer for Django Unchained hit the web last week, and in terms of classic Tarantino style, it does not disappoint.
If we know anything by now, it’s that Mr. Brown doesn’t shy away from violence. Tarantino is still heavily influenced by kung fu, grind house, and spaghetti Westerns, from the minimalist Reservoir Dogs to his most recent bloody rewrite of some key events of WWII in Inglorious Basterds. Though his focus shifts and ebbs with each film, the non-linear writing and stark comedy remain ever faithful to his particular sensibilities.
His latest venture, Django Unchained, stems from the 1966 Italian Western by Sergio Corbucci, Django -- featuring the original gunslinger as an enigmatic nomad toting his machine gun in a coffin. Corbucci is just one of the Spaghetti Western greats Tarantino draws his inspiration from. The wisecracking filmmaker has nodded to the director often associated with the genre, Sergio Leone (Fistful of Dollars; For A Few Dollars More; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), in Kill Bill Vol. 1, 2 and Inglorious Basterds. Django Unchained takes hold of the spaghetti Western, revs it up a few notches, and adds a whole lotta’ funk.
The trailer opens with a crooning Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave.” A row of slaves make their way through sweeping desert landscapes, with not so much a march as a shuffle. Backs whipped, hands and feet chained, these are bleak men. And then, from the darkness, a now familiar German accent rings out - “Good cold evening, gentlemen. Amongst your inventory I’ve been led to believe there’s a specimen I mean to acquire.” Yes, the charismatic “Jew hunter” from Tarantino’s last epic, Christoph Waltz, marks his return.
Perched atop a stagecoach decorated with a giant tooth, Waltz rescues Django (Jamie Foxx) from a grizzled slave driver who spits out, “Last chance, fancy pants.” Yep, this is Tarantino, all right. The pace picks up from there (accompanied by James Brown’s “The Payback”) as Django is unchained and sheds his tattered rags for a plush green jacket and cowboy hat.
The German explains that he’s a bounty hunter after a gang of brothers that no one, save Django, has ever seen. The Brittle brothers nabbed his wife and sold them to lush plantation owner Calvin Candle. Here we are privy to perhaps the best shot of Leonardo DiCaprio ever seen, a ridiculous zoom (a la Leone) to focus on a smug smirk. Finally, DiCaprio has seen the light and shed the biopic gloom -- at least for now.
What follows is a series of clips that serve to demonstrate that Tarantino has not lost his touch - a majestic spatter of blood against a field of white cotton, DiCaprio writhing in the dirt, and Django in a royal blue suit, stoically whipping a slave owner. “How do you like the bounty hunting business?” the German asks. “Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What’s not to like?”
Jamie Foxx has not headlined a film since 2009’s The Soloist, and Django Unchained heralds a solid re-entry into a potential award-winner. Django seems quieter than Foxx’s usual roles, and, along with Waltz and DiCaprio, could easily maneuver his way to another Oscar. Six months in advance, one trailer has set the internet ablaze with gleeful anticipation. Tarantino, you had our curiosity -- but now you have our attention. Is it Christmas yet?
For Fans Of: Inglorious Basterds, Fistful of Dollars, Quentin Tarantino
Why We're Excited: Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx returns, Spaghetti Westerns and gun fights.