Tarantino’s Dynamite “Django Unchained” and the Critics [Spoiler Alert]

… 75 percent of everyone polled said it isn’t Congress’ or the president’s role to pressure Hollywood to make less-violent movies and TV shows. [...] Meanwhile, 68 percent of liberals say the NRA bears more blame than Hollywood, but 74 percent of conservatives blame Hollywood more than gun-ownership advocates. However, 60 percent of all respondents agree that mental illness is the single biggest cause of mass killings. [Hollywood Reporter]


WASHINGTON – Spike Lee is acting like a punk, but he’s got a lot of company stirring up mind numbing hysteria. Blaxploitation just can’t get no respect anymore. And blaming films like “Django Unchained” for violence in American society certainly won’t solve the mental health crisis that is at the heart of massacres like Sandy Hook. Hey, but if it makes the nags on the left and right feel better to pick a convenient target, gang up on Hollywood, which just happens to be the most lucrative and creative American export we’ve got, beyond making war.

There’s a reason Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” is making people flock to see it. Not only is it Tarantino’s best film, but it’s the most eviscerating narrative through filmmaking on Spaghetti Westerns meets Blaxploitation and the U.S. history of slavery ever to be created. Everyone gets what’s coming to him or her, with heroes willing to do anything, including lay down their lives, to do right against pure evil. There’s retribution laced throughout the spectacularly entertaining and gruesomely violent ride, complete with a love story at its heart, all of which John Legend tried to capture in the song he wrote for the film.

“I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it. The only thing I can say is it’s disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film.” – Spike Lee via Twitter

That Spike Lee made his judgment without seeing the movie sounds like a fit of pique out of professional jealousy, because he couldn’t have gotten the big budget financing to make a similar film, a frequent gripe of his. This is mostly due to his earnest myopia that has kept him from producing entertaining films of late. Or maybe it’s just sour grapes over the crash and burn of “Red Hook Summer.”

Oh, my, as a white chick, is that even okay for me to write?

Given all the politically correct historical caterwauling, on top of the gun nut versus anti gun battle over violence that actually stems from mental illness and access to firearms, it seems a whole class of culture warriors is bellyaching without bothering to even understand the actual scope of Tarantino’s film vision.

That’s really the whole reel. You either get Tarantino’s fearless genius or you don’t. Many critics are simply using him to hijack the film for their own agenda. That it’s helping to make the film a bigger success is a fitting irony.

GROSS: You sound annoyed that I’m…
(LAUGHTER)
TARANTINO: Yeah, I am.
GROSS: I know you’ve been asked this a lot.
TARANTINO: Yeah, I’m really annoyed. I think it’s disrespectful. I think it’s disrespectful to their memory, actually.
GROSS: With whose memory?
TARANTINO: The memory of the people who died to talk about movies. I think it’s totally disrespectful to their memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health.

via Movieline

That Ennio Morricone, who wrote the music for over 500 films including beloved spaghetti Westerns, is presenting Quentin Tarantino with a lifetime achievement award last Friday in Rome, just before the European debut of “Django Unchained,” sets a wider backdrop for what’s happening in the U.S., as moviegoers flock to the film. Peter Bogdanovich calls Tarantino “the single most influential director of his generation,” which “Django Unchained” clinches.

The film is not only brilliantly constructed from beginning to end, but entertaining and horrifying, never once disrespecting slavery, as the unfolding plot obliterates the history of westerns and civil war slavery whitewashing, while using both as a springboard on which to construct a stunning display of satisfying storytelling.

Jelani Cobb’s piece on the movie is a sad example of the New Yorker’s pervasive intellectual arrogance and could only happen in the We Take Ourselves Very Seriously New Yorker.

If either Spike Lee, Cobb or Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress cared about anything but their own agenda, which is cloaked in cloying earnestness and ignores the filmmaking and the actual story the film tells, they might have been spared how silly they sound. If they’d only taken a clue from the casting, which is inspired.

Why don’t critics digest the reason why Franco Nero was cast? The information has been out there for ages, since 1966, to be exact. Franco Nero starred in Sergio Corbucci’s original “Django.” Tarantino even resurrects the theme song! In fact, the music of the film further cements his narrative.

In fact, Tarantino has brought together tracks from the godfather of spaghetti western music composers, Ennio Morricone (“The Braying Mule” and “Sister Sara’s Theme,” both from his score from “Two Mules for Sister Sara”), rapper Rick Ross (“100 Black Coffins”), jazz musician Anthony Hamilton (“Freedom,” with Elayna Boynton), R&B-pop singer John Legend (“Who Did That To You?”) and ‘70s folk-rocker Jim Croce (“I Got a Name”).

Here’s what Tarantino says about the film‘s main theme, “Django,” composed by Luis Bacalov.

“It’s sung,” he says with a chuckle, “in quasi-Elvis style, by Rocky Roberts. Now this was the actual title track to the original 1966 movie ‘Django.’”… I’ve always loved this song–I think it’s fantastic. Not only that, ‘Django’ was so popular around the world, I’ve heard Japanese versions of the song, Italian versions of the song, I’ve heard Greek versions of this song, because it was played all over…”

Get it yet?

Then you’re already way ahead of most of the critics and culture nags. … . …

[Continued here, though I've never done this at TMV, but the controversial issues covered in this review require it.]

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.