Don’t Take Your Guns to Town

Article number three. This is it. I’ve made it big time. I’d like to thank my tens of viewers and, in a Christopher Waltz-style thank you speech, I’d like to pay homage to The Almighty Quentin Tarantino for letting me write this article about him, how kind of him. He must be a genuinely nice person.

(skip to 4m20s)

Those of you fortunate enough to know me will sense the extreme sarcasm in my tone.

Tarantino is a man who, as a director, has a highly reputable career. Having solely directed as few as 8 proper movies, the extensive cult status that surrounds him is fairly surprising to say the least. I don’t doubt that Tarantino is good at doing what he wants to do, I just believe that, contrary to what seemingly everyone on Facebook and Twitter think, he is not the god of cinema. Feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong.

Technically, Tarantino is a fantastic director. The camera angles and moods he wants to portray are done excellently. The questionable factor is whether his quirky, original style is actually unique, as Quent seems to obstinately grab themes here, there and everywhere from different genres.

A recent example of Tarantino’s works is the very highly acclaimed Django Unchained. Tarantino is said to have pushed boundaries with the extensive use of the ‘n-word’, a decision which is said to be wild and daring. His reason for doing so, and a significant reason people praised Django so much, was that it exposed the racism of America and widened our horizons. Wow, he really is so kind to let us in on the secrets of slavery, isn’t he?

However, this ‘powerful’ theme, that gives the film much of its credible reputation, is marred and almost ridiculed by the constant presence of weak, slapstick comedy in the film. Jonah Hill’s cameo during the Ku Klux Klan rally epitomises this, although some have argued this gives the audience a break from Tarantino’s intensity throughout the film, such weak, easy comedy is repeated throughout his works. For instance at the end of the film, in the dramatic, blood-ridden, Tarantino-generic shoot-off, a random white woman is shot and, upon impact, flies off at a right angle; at this point, at least when I saw it, the audience laughed. Now, again correct me if I’m wrong, but such laughter should not really be encouraged in the climax of a movie primarily about the terrors of racism, unless you’re all raging Nazis with no sense of decency whatsoever. Yes that’s right, if you enjoyed Django you’re a Nazi, I went there.

Inglorious Basterds is a story of Nazis vs. Jews, we have Crime vs. Religion in Pulp Fiction and Evil Leonardo Di Caprio vs. Slavery in Django. All of these massively important themes are weakened so much by Tarantino’s laziness and poor attempt at humour, something he tries so hard to hide with some detailes passages from the Bible to give the film more gravitas than it deserves.

People flying off at 90 degree angles is actually fairly in-keeping with Tarantino’s obnoxious ‘style’. My devout readers will, I’m sure, remember me referring to Django as a comic book film. This comic-book-like form reissues itself in each of Tarantino’s films to such an extent that he effectively names a film after it, Pulp Fiction, what is a comic-book if it isn’t pulp fiction?

However Tarantino’s comic-book style takes most prominence in his Kill Bill duo. From the idyllic, cartoony, Mickey Mouse-like house in the beginning of Volume 1 to the moment when someone tries to shoot Uma Thurman’s character through a box of cereal called ‘Kaboom’.

(skip to 7s)

This is reminiscent of any action sequence in a comic when words like ‘POW’ appear. It really makes you wonder whether Tarantino would have enjoyed directing the Batman TV series with Adam West years ago, although the mainstream popularity of the franchise would likely cause him to spontaneously combust.

Another thing I get from QT’s films is that he doesn’t really develop his own characters, all adding to the idea that his films are just movie collages. For instance, the iconic gangster actor Harvey Keitel shows up in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and Tarantino doesn’t need to build a character as Keitel carries the same persona in each film. Tarantino does this on purpose, so there is no need to engage the audience in the development of a character, enabling him to go straight in the deep end with it. The same applies to the use of Bruce Willis popping up in Pulp Fiction as an action hero and John Travolta as the laid back, cool guy who can dance, in the same film.

(skip to 30s)

One positive thing I can say about Tarantino’s films is that his soundtracks tend to be rather good. He takes great pride in this, as you can imagine, and has said that he writes each scene with a piece of music in mind, he is known for not having any original music in his films (up until Django when he thought the idea heightened its importance). But the music again seems to be an easy way to symbolise cinematic changes during the films. In Jackie Brown, QT doesn’t feel the need to develop more plot or have more of a build up to scenes, preferring to use a Johnny Cash song as a way to symbolise outlaw and someone fighting the system.

All these points would suggest that perhaps Quentin is just a cinematic magpie, borrowing things from other genres and mixing them all together to give the final product the impression of his own style. He does this to the extent he chops up chapters in the storylines to throw us off the scent, at one point in Kill Bill Vol. 1 this becomes so desperate that he puts in an anime sequence as a further layer to try and make some artistic statements from the flashbacks.

One thing I must say is that actors in His Lordship’s films tend to reappear, with Keitel appearing in three films, Samuel L. Jackson in three, Uma Thurman in three, Christopher Waltz in two (thought I’d show off my ability to count). This would surely mean that they enjoy acting under Tarantino’s dictatorial regimes, maybe his man management skills are very good. Although this has no relevance to how good his films are, it weakens the image of him being a dick.

It all makes you think, when is paying homage just plain copying and the cocktail mix just lazy cut and pasting? All he does is mix some gloss and violence, a sprinkling of stars and Christopher Waltz and it is looking original…why are we all fooled? Well, why are you all fooled?

Phew. Glad I got all that off my chest. At least now if you want a dose of cynicism and negativity you know where to come. Next week, is Spielberg just a bit shit? (lol jk).

P.S. Hope you liked my use of the word obstinately. I was proud of that one.


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