Christmas is one of the most popular times to see a movie these days. If you need a break from holiday decorations and Christmas movies that you've seen over the past month, and you're not exactly an NBA fan, you use the movie gift card that you got from Mom or your aunt.
I've gone to a movie theater on Christmas twice in my life, most recently when Pulp Fiction was running in 1994. Today was the third time, because I wanted to see Django Unchained.
Surprisingly, so did a lot of other people. The first showing for the film at the Cinemark Downtown 7 was nearly full, and people really enjoyed the film. Just like other Tarantino films, it has black hunor, intense scenes and off-the-wall dialogue. It also has a lot of blood. Django was a spaghetti western, heavy on the marinara, if you get our drift.
It's also a very good drama because Tarantino adds just enough to make you think. More on that in a minute.
The movie stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave who is bought and freed by a bounty hunter played wonderfully by Christoph Waltz. He brings Dr. King Schultz, a German immigrant ex-dentist and now bounty hunter, to life. I really wanted to know how he switched jobs in the 1850's. King needs Django to help find some bad guys for the reward. Django does that, then needs King's help to find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who's been sold off to another plantation.
We see the natural development of a professional partnership between Django and King, all the way to where they find the plantation in Mississippi where Broomhilda's kept. It's run by a guy named Candie, played with a lot of charm and nastiness by Leonardo DiCaprio. He's helped by Steven, a house servant played by Samuel L. Jackson. It's safe to say he sides with Candie, not just because he's the master. In fact, who exactly is the master depends on the situation. That's apparent in a couple of key scenes.
The movie also shows how committed Django is to getting Broomhilda back. He even has visions of her. However, he also has to play a part that tears him up inside. He is a free black, and uses that to act superior to the slaves he meets at Candie's plantation. He has to blind himself to how is fellow men are being treated, and hide his eyes so that we don't know what he's really thinking. King is unable to hide his eyes to how Candie disposes of one of his slaves. It makes him take action that threatens to ruin everything.
It's amazing how Tarantino can give us enough comedy relief to relax us, then turn up the intensity when Django and King tries to negotiate a purchase of a slave, while we know they want to get Broomhilda out of there.
There is one scene that borders on being a Saturday Night Live sketch. It's where Don Johnson, as Big Daddy/Evil Harlan Sanders, leads a group of guys against King and Django after they killed three brothers with prices on their heads. It's funny, but you wonder if this should have been in another movie. This is especially true when you see who's under one of those hoods.
Django Unchained may not be a movie that's perfect for the holidays, and but it a great western, especially for the performances of Waltz, Foxx, DiCaprio and Jackson.