What makes this even more frustrating is that the film is bursting with ideas, more than enough to enthrall any movie geek, from Tarantino’s homage to spaghetti westerns (red-lettered main titles, Ennio Morricone music, a cameo for Franco Nero, who starred in the 1966 movie Django, and snap-zoom shots recalling a long-abandoned style of cinematography) to scenes filmed in the Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California, site of so many vintage Westerns. Even sharp-eyed film buffs may have trouble spotting all the veteran actors who appear in fleeting cameo roles.
It’s a shame, because there is so much to enjoy—even revel in—in Django Unchained. Its irreverent take on the Old South and its customs, its audacious look at slavery and even the Ku Klux Klan, will long be remembered, but the film is weakened by indulgence and overlength. These shortcomings don’t seem to bother some critics and viewers, judging by early reaction to the film. I wish they didn’t bother me as much as they do…but I can’t help thinking how much better and stronger the film could have been. (It may not help that the writer-director was finishing it right up to its release deadline, with no chance to step back and re-examine his work.) Quentin Tarantino is a uniquely talented man with a passion for movies that shines through everything he does. Django Unchained confirms all of that—along with his inability to edit himself.
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