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‘Django Unchained’ a daring work of cinema

Movie review
By: By Frank Miller Special to Gold Country News Service
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“Django Unchained”

Director: Quentin Tarantino        

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio

Rating:  HHHHH (out of 5 stars)

While the ‘D’ may be silent in the title character’s name, Quentin Tarantino’s latest opus is a vociferously shocking, violent and rowdy interpretation of slavery in the United States.

Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a former slave freed by a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), to help track down the malicious Brittle brothers.

In exchange for his help, Schultz agrees to help Django free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from a sadistic plantation owner known as Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Along the way, Schultz trains Django how to be a bounty hunter and assists his transformation from submissive property to gun-toting badass.

Tarantino, never one to shy away from controversy, has created an unflinching film that shines a damning light on a shameful era in our nation’s history.  However, further cementing his mastery, Tarantino has still managed to create possibly his funniest film, never missing an opportunity for levity or fist-pumping bravado.

Each of the actors delivers some of their best work to date. Foxx and DiCaprio have a sizzling chemistry and their scenes together ignite the film. Waltz, quickly becoming Tarantino’s go-to guy, encompasses generations of white guilt in one effortless performance.

The film runs close to three hours long, but any time the movie seems to be getting long in the tooth, it quickly snaps you back like the crack of a whip. By no means is this film intended for the impatient or weak-willed.

“Django Unchained” can be viewed as a companion film to Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” a movie that examined a slice of history through his own idiosyncratic lens.

It’s a daring work of cinema that challenges what you expect in a western, while still giving you doses of what makes the genre so enduring in the first place. Despite being many things at once, “Django Unchained”is ultimately full-tilt entertainment on a grand scale that only Tarantino knows how to devise.

Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.