B on Tarantino: Why ‘Django’ is My Most-Hyped of 2012 (Besides TDKR)

Attention: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell. Sacha Baron Cohen.

Say hello to my little friend. Quentin Tarantino, that is.

If that grouping of people doesn’t get you excited for Christmas Day, I don’t know what will. Alright, so maybe you like the idea of faith and family and presents and tradition. But one of my holiday traditions is going to see a movie with my family. And so for the rest of you, Django Unchained just gives you one more reason to be excited for Christmas 2012.

Django Unchained is the upcoming film from acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, whose short but impressive track record includes Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2, and Inglourious Basterds. Even Tarantino’s two least-acclaimed films, Jackie Brown and Death Proof, his segment of the Grindhouse double feature, have been entertaining as hell. He doesn’t really have a blemish yet on his directorial filmography, which is amazing considering he’s been making films for over 20 years.

And that is why I’m so excited for his newest project, Django Unchained. Starring Jamie Foxx as Django, the film follows the titular freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Washington), from the evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). Django teams up with Dr. Schultz (Waltz), who mentors him in the art of bounty hunting.

Along with The Dark Knight Rises, this is easily at the top of my “most anticipated of 2012” list, which I haven’t officially made yet, but given that we’re a full month into the new year, I should probably get around to that. Other ones I’m looking forward to include the obvious ones: The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Prometheus, Skyfall; some other fairly well known flicks: This is 40 (Apatow’s Knocked Up spinoff), The Great Gatsby, World War Z; and then some of the more obscure ones: Nero Fiddled (Woody Allen’s newest), Gambit (written by the Coen bros.), Cogan’s TradeThe Burial (Terrence Malick’s new film), and Wettest County.

So what sets Django Unchained apart from all of those?

The film represents Tarantino’s foray into the western genre, although, given the film’s setting, Tarantino has referred to Django as being a “southern.” I have immense faith that Tarantino can rejuvenate the western genre and put his own wicked, witty, dialogue-driven spin on it. I’m imagining something like a 3:10 to Yuma-meets-Reservoir Dogs. Woah.

Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was better than 1994’s Best Picture winner and top-grossing film Forrest Gump, even if only slightly. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and I’m sure others of you would disagree.

And Inglourious Basterds was the best movie of 2009. It was better than that year’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker. And it was better than that year’s top-grossing film, Avatar, too.

In 2012, Tarantino could potentially pull off the same feat, that is, being better than both the year’s Best Picture winner (unless it — unlikely — wins itself) and also the year’s top-grossing film, which is likely to be The Dark Knight Rises. Settle, guys. I said could.

Besides the all-star cast, Django sits right up near the top as one of my most anticipated films of the year simply because it’s being made by Quentin Tarantino, one of my favorite filmmakers. Go back and watch Reservoir Dogs, or Pulp Fiction, or Jackie Brown. Now throw in Inglourious Basterds.

The first 3 are crime dramas with somewhat similar plot types: the interweaving of multiple stories, centered around one or more big crimes that somehow bring the characters together. Tarantino loves to touch on the “it’s a small world” idea. But then you put in Inglourious Basterds and it’s a  World War II spaghetti-western, dialogue-driven like his previous works but filled with action, Hitler, and some mighty good black humor.

Tarantino is among the best at his craft, and in a time when Hollywood turns out all sorts of horrible drivel, it’s refreshing to know that a top-notch director with a new idea is stepping up to the plate to take a swing. Tarantino is among the most original minds in the game today, and it is shown by his expertise in both writing and directing numerous successful, acclaimed films.

There’s no questioning that The Dark Knight Rises is likely one of the most anticipated movies ever, but any other year, Django Unchained would easily top my list. In 2012, it’s neck-and-neck with TDKR.

It’ll be interesting to see what Tarantino does with Django, to find out exactly where it will fall on the Tarantino spectrum. But don’t be surprised when you file into the theater to see Django Unchained and come out thinking its one of the best movies all year.

Django Unchained hits theaters Christmas Day of this year.



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