Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's new spaghetti western slave drama, is a glorious, bloody, often brilliant, and sometimes long winded trek through the pre-Civil War South. Even those left cold by the Reservoir Dogs writer/director's previous attempt at historical pulp fiction, Inglorious Basterds, should be able to find (blood soaked) things to like here. This is essentially Kill Uncle Tom, with Tarantino clearly having a grand old time making a movie that only he could. Even without any toe close-ups, you could not mistake this for anyone else's work.
The plot of Django is deceptively simple in the way the plot of Kill Bill is simple. In this case: with the help of a white bounty hunter/dentist (Christoph Waltz), a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) goes on a quest to save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from a Mississippi plantation called Candie Land run by one Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Though the story is told linearly, Tarantino's script is chock full of explosive motherfucking surprises.
Things you think will take up the bulk of the movie's two hours and forty-five minutes go by in a flash and things you think will be throwaways are anything but. And all the while there is a waterfall of quotable foul language that would make a sailor blush, insane amounts of gore that almost go beyond cartoon, a typically-great-for-Tarantino soundtrack (our guest to the screening we saw turned to us afterwards and said "wonder how he found so many songs with the name 'Django' in it?") and clever, absorbing cinematography from Robert Richardson that clearly evokes the spaghetti westerns that inspired Tarantino.
Though everyone in Django is on their game—Jamie Foxx carries the movie away on a horse, and it turns out Leo and his inability to grow real facial hair makes for a good villain—but Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz are the real gems here. After stealing Basterds out from under his many costars, Waltz proves in Django that the combination of a German accent, high energy action and Tarantino's stylized banter is endlessly entertaining. And then there is Jackson, who manages to bring real pathos to an unsympathetic house slave who looks shockingly like Uncle Ben rather than Sgt. Nick Fury.
Between this and those starving singing Frenchmen, Christmas is going to a bloody mess at the movies this year!