Django

Culture Warrior

A genre nearly as old as filmmaking itself, the western thrived throughout the years of the studio system but has zigzagged across rough terrain for the past forty or so years. For the last fifteen-ish years, the struggling, commercially unfriendly genre was either manifested in a neoclassical nostalgic form limited in potential mass appeal (Appaloosa, Open Range) or in reimagined approaches that ran the gamut between contrived pap and inspired deconstructions (anything from Wild Wild West to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). But last December, True Grit – a bona fide western remake that relied on the opportunities available in the genre’s conventions rather than bells, whistles, or ironic tongues in their respective cheeks – became a smash hit. Did this film reinvigorate a genre that was on life support, as the supposed revitalization of the musical is thought to have done a decade ago, or are westerns surviving by moving along a different route altogether? Three westerns released so far this year – Gore Verbinski’s Rango, Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, and, as of this weekend, Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens – suggest mixed directions for the dusty ol’ genre.

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A lot of speculation has gone into figuring out who will play the lead role of the slave turned bounty hunter Django in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming spaghetti western homage Django Unchained. Many people were pretty certain that Tarantino was dealing with Sony because he was trying to get Sony poster boy Will Smith to sign on to star. Then there was some rumbling that The Wire star Stringer Bell Idris Elba would be stepping into the role due to some comments that he twittered on his twitterer. There has been so much talk about who is playing the lead role in this film that speculation about the other characters has become something of an afterthought. Until now, because one man just heated things up in the race to fill out the rest of Tarantino’s cast, and that man’s name is Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Deadline Carbondale, DiCaprio is being courted to play the villainous role of Calvin Candie, and negotiations with him are reportedly going much better than those with the once supposed near-lock Smith. Candie is the owner of an establishment where female slaves are used as prostitutes and males as gladiators to battle to the death. The story of the film deals mostly with the ex-slave Django hooking up with a German Bounty hunter in order to learn to be a badass and then free his wife from the clutches of the evil Candie. With DiCaprio being looked at as a likely candidate to fill the Candie role, […]

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