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From the man who brought us…the Gimp, along with countless other cultural touchstones including Mr. Pink, Clarence Worley, Vincent Vega, Beatrix Kiddo and Operation Kino comes the latest in a long line of mash-ups, send-ups and homages to the great films of yesteryear. The Master of Disaster and the Grindhouse Champion of the World Quentin Tarantino is about to unleash another of his ambitious, dialogue-heavy masterpieces on the bloodthirsty public this Christmas day with the release of his spaghetti-western Django Unchained.

Django Unchained follows Jamie Foxx as the eponymous lead Django on a blood-drenched odyssey to hunt and kill the ruthless Brittle Brothers. Rescued from slavery by a bounty hunter played by Christopher Waltz (who chewed up the scenery as SS Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino’s last outing Inglorious Basterds), Django offers his services in exchange for freedom and assistance in rescuing his wife Broomhilda from a wealthy plantation owner.

Even though Tarantino has often cited The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Rio Bravo and The Wild Bunch as some of his favorite films of all time, he waited to produce his first Western. Following the success of Reservoir Dogs and the home run of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino used his carte blanche to produce the blaxploitation flic Jackie Brown followed by pious tributes to his other loves, kung fu (Kill Bill), grindhouse (Death Proof) and war movies (Inglorious Basterds). Though all of his films contain quintessential features of the Western, codes of honor, hired guns, purposeful violence and revenge, he’s neglected to produce one himself until now. Was he less interested in the aesthetic? It’s possible given that dusty salt pans are far less appealing than snow falling on Japanese gardens. And an 88 person bloodbath is probably way more fun to shoot than the classic 10 paces and draw. It’s also possible that he was mastering plot elements and elaborating on details in a story that may have been kicking around since his days as a video store clerk. The titular inspiration comes from the 1960 film Django directed by Sergio Corbucci which happens to have an ear-severing scene that led to it being banned in some countries. There’s a long trail of classic Westerns depicting some of the cruelest, most sadistic psychopaths in cinema and directors like Corbucci and Sergio Leone left a legacy of morally-ambiguous antiheroes and epic soundtracks that cast a long shadow over the genre. On Christmas day we’ll see if Django Unchained lives up to its name.

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