Commenting on the critics with Simon Columb…
Germain Lussier, for /Film on 23rd March 2012, revealed a little Django Unchained information for the Tarantino fans among us…
“Here’s what Shamberg said when I asked when we may see some footage from Django Unchained: ‘I’ve seen some stuff and it’s amazing. We’re still shooting and my partner Stacey [Sher] is producing with Pilar Savone who worked for Quentin and Reggie Hudlin. I’m exec-producing and we’re like, maybe, half-way through. You have no idea. It’s the most amazing film cause, as you know, it’s a spaghetti western about slavery and Quentin’s vocabulary is such that it’s just pure entertainment, Leonardo’s the bad guy, it’s gonna be awesome.'”
Don’t get me wrong, I love Quentin Tarantino as much as the next 20-something male film obsessive, but there comes a time when I think that maybe his schtick is just getting old. His first three films – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown – all reference heist-films, gangster-cliches and blaxploitation films respectively… but they all felt (and maybe this is my lack of awareness) more story-first, film-references-second. The last three film projects – Kill Bill, Grindhouse and Inglourious Basterds – seem to choose a specific genre or time period and then a story to be wrapped around it. Don’t get me wrong – Inglourious Basterds was my favourite film of 2009 and the gloss of these three films are outstanding. Indeed, no-one makes a film like Tarantino – and no one edits a film like Sally Menke – but again, we are told about the new Tarantino film and, crucially, the genre he is reflecting upon: a “Spaghetti Western… about Slavery”.
We think back: a “War film… about Nazis”, a “Kung-Fu film… about Revenge”. I think the first three Tarantino films had much more complicated stories – indeed, that was part of their attraction – and I doubt they could be summarised in such a simple construct.
Ironically, Inglourious Basterds had a huge amount to owe to Spaghetti Westerns – specifically Sergio Leone’s extreme close-ups and the wide, dusty landscape shots… so we may see Django Unchained as merely another use of the research / love of the Spaghetti Westerns Tarantino completed years ago. I don’t think the film will necessarily be bad and I look forward to seeing Leonardo DiCaprio as an evil ‘Tarantino Villain’ – joining unforgettable characters such as Zed (Peter Greene), Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Bill (David Carradine) – but I worry that as I get older, I will begin to see a formula and a by-the-numbers style of filmmaking that will ruin what I believe Quentin is so good at.
If I am right, here are some easy-to-sell ideas that might make Tarantino a fortune ….
A “Sci-Fi film … about Pure Evil” (Ref. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Sunshine)
A “Horror film … about Puberty” (Ref. The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby)
A “Western film … about Capitalism” (Ref. Once Upon a Time in the West, The Searchers and The Wild Bunch)