A sharp shock of a film in an Awards season very full of movies so noble they become immobile. It's wildly unlikely to get much love from the Academy, and that's fine-bluntly, it's too good for them. With its bloody stew of history and hysteria, action taken from movies and atrocities taken from fact, Django isn't just a movie only America could make-it's also a movie only America needs to.
Django Unchained also has the pure, almost meaningless excitement which I found sorely lacking in Tarantino's previous film, Inglourious Basterds, with its misfiring spaghetti-Nazi trope and boring plot. I can only say Django delivers, wholesale, that particular narcotic and delirious pleasure that Tarantino still knows how to confect in the cinema, something to do with the manipulation of surfaces. It's as unwholesome, deplorable and delicious as a forbidden cigarette.
Vibrating with the geekery of a filmmaker off the chain, the movie plays like no other this year. Tarantino, steeped in even the smallest Leonean gesture (what's with the weird terrain shifts?), knows how to satisfy fans of scuzzy Italian horse operas and badass superviolence in equal measure.
While the rush toward a conventional climax is confusing, and more than a little disappointing, there's an undeniable pleasure that emerges in seeing Tarantino juggle the dynamite of his ideas, even when they prematurely pop off in his face.
It's not particularly funny or moving and it's terribly self-indulgent. Flamboyance and cartoonishness rule, there's hardly a moment of genuine emotion, and most overtures in that direction are superficial. As a picture ostensibly about love, revenge and the ugliness of slavery, Django Unchained has almost zero subtext and is a largely soulless bloodbath, in which the history of pain and retribution is coupled carelessly with a cool soundtrack and some verbose dialogue. Though it might just entertain the sh.t out of the less discerning.