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'Django Unchained' Update, Casting, Poster, Release Plans: Is Tarantino's Taboo-Buster a Holiday Movie?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 12, 2012 at 4:11PM

Well, the official stateside poster for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is out, and I like it. Why? In a simple, Saul Bass way, it tells you what the movie is about--slavery in the ante-bellum South. And it plays on the title.
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Django Unchained Poster detail

Well, the official stateside poster for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is out, and I like it. Why? In a simple, Saul Bass way, it tells you what the movie is about--slavery in the ante-bellum South. And it plays on the title.

As may know, the story follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave freed and trained as a bounty hunter by a sophisticated German (Christoph Waltz) who is appalled by Southern America's racist ways, and helps to prepare Django to face very nasty plantation owner Candie (DiCaprio) in order to rescue Django's beloved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). He also has to deal with Candie’s right hand man/head house slave (Samuel L. Jackson).

Typically, Tarantino has packed the sprawling cast with bit parts and cameos, for which tout Hollywood has been vying. Jonah Hill had hoped to land a small role; Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to drop out to pursue his own directing debut. Now the great Walton Goggins ("Justified") is joining Kurt Russell, Don Johnson, Anthony LaPaglia and others.

Django

Tarantino finished shooting in New Orleans and has moved on to other locations. Word is he will be finishing this movie at the very last minute to meet the Weinstein's December 25 release date (Sony is releasing the film abroad).

This means that the film will not have the benefit of the fall film festival circuit. A movie like this could use some careful handling and set-up from critics and media, to educate audiences on what to expect.

Which brings up a valid question. Is this a holiday movie? If Tarantino shoots it as written, the film will be courting an NC-17 rating. And it will be a provocative shocker bound to outrage many folks in the culture. African Americans will flock to this revenge actioner in droves. But how white moviegoers of a certain age will respond --including Liberal Academy members--is another matter. The younger you are the easier this taboo-busting movie will be to take.

While it's not sensationally expolitative like its predecessor "Mandingo," Tarantino's movie is designed to blow people's gaskets. He knows what he is doing. How critics and smart-house audiences will respond is anyone's guess.

Why not skip awards scrutiny altogether and go to Sundance? That seems a friendlier venue.

This article is related to: Quentin Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, The Weinstein Co., Weinsteins


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.