Well, the official stateside poster for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is out, and I like it. Why? In a simple, Saul Bass way, it tells you what the movie is about–slavery in the ante-bellum South. And it plays on the title.
As may know, the story follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave freed and trained as a bounty hunter by a sophisticated German (Christoph Waltz) who is appalled by Southern America's racist ways, and helps to prepare Django to face very nasty plantation owner Candie (DiCaprio) in order to rescue Django's beloved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). He also has to deal with Candie’s right hand man/head house slave (Samuel L. Jackson).
Typically, Tarantino has packed the sprawling cast with bit parts and cameos, for which tout Hollywood has been vying. Jonah Hill had hoped to land a small role; Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to drop out to pursue his own directing debut. Now the great Walton Goggins ("Justified") is joining Kurt Russell, Don Johnson, Anthony LaPaglia and others.
Tarantino finished shooting in New Orleans and has moved on to other locations. Word is he will be finishing this movie at the very last minute to meet the Weinstein's December 25 release date (Sony is releasing the film abroad).
This means that the film will not have the benefit of the fall film festival circuit. A movie like this could use some careful handling and set-up from critics and media, to educate audiences on what to expect.
Which brings up a valid question. Is this a holiday movie? If Tarantino shoots it as written, the film will be courting an NC-17 rating. And it will be a provocative shocker bound to outrage many folks in the culture. African Americans will flock to this revenge actioner in droves. But how white moviegoers of a certain age will respond –including Liberal Academy members–is another matter. The younger you are the easier this taboo-busting movie will be to take.
While it's not sensationally expolitative like its predecessor "Mandingo," Tarantino's movie is designed to blow people's gaskets. He knows what he is doing. How critics and smart-house audiences will respond is anyone's guess.
Why not skip awards scrutiny altogether and go to Sundance? That seems a friendlier venue.
The official synopsis for "Django Unchained" is here:
Set in the South two years before the Civil War, DJANGO UNCHAINED stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South's most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django andSchultz's search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of "Candyland," an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…
Written and directed by Academy Award®-winner Quentin Tarantino, DJANGO UNCHAINED is produced by Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone. The executive producers are Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Michael Shamberg, Shannon McIntosh, and James Skotchdopole. DJANGO UNCHAINED will be released in the U.S. on December 25, 2012, and internationally by Sony Pictures.