What would American slaves have called a Quarter Pounder with cheese? The first footage from Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained doesn’t answer that question. But in many ways, the ten minutes of brief scenes – first unveiled Monday to a gathering of journalists at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes – suggested that the movie, which the Weinstein Company will release Dec. 25, will be quintessential Tarantino.
TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein introduced the eagerly awaited footage – along with snippets of film from two of the company’s fall releases, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook – to start a campaign that can be expected to build steadily from now through awards season.
“These are some of the best films we have ever been associated with, if not the best,” the showman testified.
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 film, on which TWC is partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment, is still shooting, and Weinstein hinted that there still could be some “surprise” additions to the cast.
The footage for The Master – which has been said to be inspired by the career of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – was more enigmatic, offering few, exact indications of precisely what Anderson is up to in his first film since 2007’s There Will Be Blood. Instead, the clips showed a series of tense, foreboding exchanges among Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays the title character, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
The preview of The Silver Linings Playbook suggested a more conventionally accessible movie. Based on the novel by Matthew Quick, the film stars Bradley Cooper, as a man trying to re-establish his life after four years in a mental institution, along with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.