Quentin Tarantino’s new flick, Django Unchained, released it’s first trailer the other day. Being a Tarantino fan I naturally rushed to the Internet to watch the trailer, but with more than a little trepidation – will Django Unchained the new Kill Bill, or the next Inglorious Basterds?
Here’s the trailer;
Quentin Tarantino is a hugely important writer/director to me. As a teenager in the 90’s I was developing my tastes and interests and Tarantino had a large part to play in my interest in cinema. The blackly comic situations appealled to my sense of humour, the razor sharp dialogue was immensely quotable, and the characters flawed and interesting. He was the catalyst of my love for Asian cinema, particularly the John Woo ‘Heroic Bloodshed’ films and Japanese Anime, after watching interviews with him where he cited these influences upon his own work. He literally changed the way I watch cinema and really invigorated my interest in film, which grew into today’s love for the art form.
Tarantino’s work at that time were all crime stories; full of capers & crime sprees, revenges & betrayals, mob wars & drug deals. Kill Bill to me was the culmination of all his preoccupations bundled into a duology of awesomeness that blew my mind. I loved the retro cult feel, the intelligent and well observed dialogue, the black comedy and (of course) some of the most legendary action set pieces printed to celluloid. QT was going from strength to strength.
Then Death Proof came along and I’ll admit, I was worried. There was that signature Tarantino razzle-dazzle dialogue but it had lost it’s pace and lost it’s rythym. It was disappointing, but then; everybody has a Crystal Skull or a Titanic, right? I excused it. The Grindhouse concept was a misstep and that was all.
When it came to Tarantino’s first move away from his norm; Inglorious Basterds, things initially looked promising. It had a great cast, it was a new retro genre for QT to sink his teeth into (perhaps exploitation slashers just wasn’t QT’s thing), and the film looked super intriguing in the trailer.
I was wrong. I hated almost all of it.
Beyond Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender, who held together two instantly classic QT scenes, everybody else’s performances were sub-par and almost Carry On-esque. Brad Pitt, the A-grade talent on the poster, is just joking around playing an absurd characature.The characters lacked any depth and many were stereotypes or ciphers.Tarantino appeared to have no grasp of war films at all, and the spaghetti-western undertones were misplaced. Finally, the outrageous revisionist ending was just utterly ridiculous. It was an epic fail, this auteur, who was so important to me, now had two fails back to back.
So, will Django Unchained be the new Kill Bill or the next Inglorious Basterds? The trailer doesn’t fill me with much confidence; it whiffs a bit of Basterds. Plus, I never really liked Jamie Foxx much so major points in the minus column there before we’ve started. Di Caprio looks much as Pitt did in Basterds; a big talent having a bit of a jolly playing fun in a Tarantino film.
On the other hand, there’s still room for hope. Christoph Waltz’s performance in Inglorious Basterds was about the only real saving grace (although I tip my hatto Fassbender also) and the return of Samuel L. Jackson (or is it now Nick Fury?) to a QT movie must surely be a good thing. The brief glimpses of action also hints at a return to QT signature style, complimented by the soundtrack over the trailer – reminiscent of Kill Bill’s bloody action.
So, quietly concerned but with a glimmer of hope. Here’s hoping my foreboding doubt is misplaced. We’ll see in the New Year.