Am I bitter that I, unlike some other entertainment blogger types, am not at Cannes right now? Oh, please, why would that be something I'd be bitter about? Why would I be bitter about not getting first looks at highly anticipated new flicks from Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson and other brilliant directors whose last names are not Anderson? Why would I be bitter about not drinking free champagne and not eating free shrimp and not hobnobbing with Bill Murray while he's wearing a ridiculous plaid outfit? If that was something I was bitter about, wouldn't I take this time here to point out that it's been raining so hard at Cannes this week that a temporary theater roof collapsed, and that if I ever get to go to Cannes I'm going to make damn sure it's so blindingly sunny the yacht parties never, never end? Right? Think about it.
OK, with that out of the way, let's talk Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's antebellum Deep South revenge epic starring Jamie Foxx as a slave seeking said vengeance and Christoph Waltz as the bounty hunter assisting said sought vengeance. The flick's not yet done, but 10 minutes of it were screened at a Cannes event earlier this week, and the reactions (yeah, from those unlucky bastards currently in France) are in. What's the word?
Django was screened alongside sneak peeks of PTA's The Master and David O. Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook, all three from super-producer Harvey Weinstein. And the man was on hand to big 'em up: "These are some of the best films we have ever been associated with, if not the best." Cool. Thanks for the unbiased opinion, Harvey. No, but it's cool actually, because everyone else seemed to like it too.
The first look at Django began with a chain gang of slaves trudging through a Western landscape. Christoph Waltz, looking as if he turns in a performance even more baroque than the one that won him a best supporting Oscar for Inglourious Basterds, appears as a travelling dentist, who is actually a bounty hunter. He arranges for one of the slaves, Jamie Foxx, to be freed, and together they strike a pact to kill three brothers and free Django’s wife, played by Kerry Washington. And, oh yes, there were also scenes featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as a self-amused, cigar-wielding plantation owner. There also appears to be plenty of humor, lots of fast-draw gunplay and liberal use of the n-word throughout.
The big surprise? How funny this potentially controversial Western has turned out to be. In particular, Leonardo DiCaprio seems to be having the time of his life dropping N-bombs and smiling rotted teeth as plantation owner Calvin Candie, whom freed slave Jamie Foxx and bounty hunter Christoph Waltz must defeat in order to save Foxx's wife Kerry Washington. You'll get a periwinkle-suited Foxx shooting lumpy blood chunks out of racist hicks (and an innocent snowman in one scene), and you'll laugh! You'll get Don Johnson dressed as Colonel Sanders! And you'll get an instant catchphrase from a coolly underplaying Foxx, when he's asked his name: 'Django. The D is silent.'
And we may be in line for more surprises. Says Deadline:
None of these films are obviously easy to excerpt, and all look like works in progress, although Weinstein told me The Master is nearly finished. He said Django is in production for another month and may be adding a couple of 'surprise' co-stars. At one time, Sacha Baron Cohen was slated to participate but had to drop out, and Kurt Russell’s schedule also became problematic for the production as he was committed elsewhere and they fell behind.
Huffington Post rounded up some Twitter responses, like this representative/informative one from @Zaffi: "Django Unchained looks f'n badass ... 7 minute trailer ending with Jamie Foxx shooting his pistol to James Brown's 'Payback."
And the Guardian took us almost inside the building, charting out the play-by-play of the reveal:
Seven-thirty sharp became seven-thirty blunt, which morphed into 7.39 on the dot, and then Harvey Weinstein himself materialised in the middle of the room, strolling through towards the screening room with the fat man's rolling gait. He cordially called out to someone, pointing, and raising his voice only slightly: 'Hey, Jeff. That was kinda fun last night, wasn't it?'
Jeff breathed back sensually: 'Yeah.'
So there you have it: Django Unchained is hilarious, makes anachronistic soundtrack selections, features Jamie Foxx in a periwinkle suit, may feature more big names in small roles, and, also, Harvey Weinstein partied with Jeff this weekend.