Year in, year out, there are movies that people are dying to see. I for one can easily anticipate a movie on the basis of a director’s reputation - this alone can generate hype even before the trailer has been released.


One film that is generating the most buzz is unsurprisingly Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Last week I saw the release of the Django Unchained’s first teaser trailer (nowadays there seems to be an alarming rate of trailers for one movie, Prometheus anyone?). True to form, Tarantino will mesmerise audiences with his unabashed love for the Western aesthetic, anti-heroes, gaudy costumes and colourful villains.

One of Tarantino’s strengths is his knack to cast the right actor. In Django Unchained, Tarantino presents a cast of great, diverse talent: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson to name a few.

However, the piece of casting in Django Unchained that I would put my money on for a knockout performance is Leonardo DiCaprio. The actor will portray the movie’s custodian villain Calvin Candie, a charming Francophile yet sadistic plantation owner.

DiCaprio has grown in time (I stress the words ‘in time’) to be one of my favourite actors. This seems inevitable really, since DiCaprio has become one of Martin Scorsese’s prized disciples (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and a fifth collaboration is in the works – The Wolf of Wall Street). Even before the overrated pandemonium that was Titanic (a film whose ambitions were hindered by its mushy tone, something I just simply cannot abide), DiCaprio boasted an impressive CV of movies. This Boy’s Life, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries feature performances from DiCaprio that exceeded each movie’s expectations.

In the last decade, DiCaprio has established himself as, what industry people refer to, a “serious actor”. Think Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, Body of Lies, Revolutionary Road, Inception, J. Edgar and the Scorsese collaborations. Not a bad rap sheet.

However, as much as he is convincing in these roles, there is a lot of emotional intensity, maybe so much so he’s become a bit of a one trick pony. Sure you’ll get a great performance from DiCaprio, but looking at the aforementioned rap sheet, each movie’s hype somewhat outweighed his individual performance.

Enter Tarantino.

With DiCaprio cast as the villain in Django Unchained, there is hope that DiCaprio can spread his wings beyond his oeuvre of playing characters tortured by inner demons.

Frankly, he has entered the typecast of just simply being pissed off in every movie he’s been in since Gangs of New York. But working with Tarantino seems to offer a refreshing take on the actor’s range. The fact that DiCaprio isn’t the lead allows him the potential to steal every scene, thus providing a memorable performance.

I’ve always likened DiCaprio’s intensity range to that of Michael Douglas, a left-field comparison I admit. Douglas is perhaps an underrated flag bearer for onscreen intensity and one whose performances always amuse me. Yet, comedy is not something we’ve seen in DiCaprio’s repertoire, so with Django Unchained, you sense he will have some fun.

I have high hopes for DiCaprio’s villain turn - a chance to expand his acting canvas. And knowing Tarantino, the villains always have the best dialogue.

By Jordan Esekia





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