Episode 19 – Quentin Tarantino


 We’re gonna get medieval on your asses!

This month, Mike and Casey pile into a booth at Jack Rabbit Slim’s to debate the merits of tipping our server with Sci-Fest L.A.‘s Matt Goodman and writer and artist Roslyn Townsend. Our topic of discussion: Quentin fucking Tarantino.

We dig into the writer-director’s visual style, his penchant for creating violent films with compelling characters, and his talent for resurrecting dead careers. From Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, and from Kill Bill to Django Unchained, Tarantino and his movies are awash with copious profanity, critical praise and controversy.

“Misirlou” from Pulp Fiction  by Dick Dale and the Del Tones

Previously titled: “Let’s Do a Bunch of Coke and Make a Movie”

4 thoughts on “Episode 19 – Quentin Tarantino

  1. Those of us who are GENUINELY old just had to laugh at Casey talking about being older. Otherwise it was a great, engaging show… and I’m not much of a fan of Tarantino. Though I appreciate him a little more now.

  2. Definitely agree with Casey’s high point; Jackie Brown is a fantastic film at so many levels.
    Otherwise, I’m a bit surprised that none of you mentioned, in the low points or anywhere else, one of Tarantino’s writing quirks that I find really annoying, i.e., his infamous (over-)use of the n-word whenever he can. And I’m not talking about the most recent controversies that emerged with Django Unchained (which I have yet to see). I mean at places where it’s overused to the point of being gratuitous, as in True Romance (which I generally liked) or when it serves absolutely no function, as in that segment you mentioned in Four Rooms (which I thought was a mess) when that one character said a car had to be “n-red” (I mean seriously, WTF does that even mean?).

  3. Interesting topic, though I find I’m more at odds with the panel than usual. I enjoy many Tarantino films; but, I think he is highly over-rated. I don’t find his dialogue all that clever, in many of his films. I think that gimmick works better in some than others. I’m of a similar age to Tarantino (just a couple of years younger) so I have a lot of the same pop culture experiences, minus the wallowing in exploitation films (though I have an extensive history with them). To me, he’s a clever repackager of other people’s ideas and not particularly original. I liken him to a Roy Thomas, at Marvel Comics. Thomas was the leader of the second generation of writers at Marvel and succeeded Stan Lee as editor-in-chief. In many ways, he was a much better writer than Lee; but, he never created anything as memorable as Lee and Jack Kirby, or Lee and Steve Ditko. Part of it was that he didn’t work (regularly) with the creative geniuses that Lee did, with the aforementioned Kirby and Ditko. Anyway, Tarantino takes all of his influences and favorites (scenes, films, songs, etc..), throws them in a pot and cooks up a movie. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think he has improved as a storyteller, as he has matured. I also think his writing and dialogue works better in his own films, where he can match the visuals. When I watch his films, though, I can sit there and say, oh, that came from here, that from there, and those pieces from somewhere else. He’s certainly better at that than Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.

    Tarantino obviously idolizes Sam Fuller; but, Fuller lived much of the life that you see in his films. Tarantino hasn’t. He has to borrow those experiences.

    Like I say, I enjoy many of his films; but, not all and not all of the more acclaimed ones. Resevoir Dogs does nothing for me and I think his influences on it were much better films, like John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow, and the films of Jean-Pierre Melville. Pulp Fiction is mostly enjoyable, with some shaky spots. Jackie Brown is really uneven, for me. The stuff with Pam Grier and Robert Forster is the best; but, a lot of the rest leaves me cold. His portion of Four Rooms is pointless junk (mining Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and I pretty much feel that way about Death Proof (though the entire Grindhouse, except the fake trailers, is terrible, in my book). Kill Bill won me back. I enjoy the heck out of it. It’s two films; part 1 is a kung-fu film, seen through a 70s pop culture lens. Part 2 is a spaghetti western. Inglorius Basterds felt overly self-indulgent and lacking in real story. Also, outside fo Christopher Waltz, I didn’t think much of the acting (well, Rod Taylor; but, he’s barely in it and unrecognizeable). I haven’t seen Django Unchained, so, I can’t say much about it.

    I agree that he is a visual filmmaker and his dialogue is memorable; but in ways often at odds with storytelling. They are character pieces; but they don’t necessarily serve the story. Some succeed in that more than others. I also agree with previous comments that he has a troubling attachment to the “N-word.” It’s one thing in a context of a character like Jules. It’s another when he is using it himself, in another of his bad acting performances. It also gets thrown out more than even context would say is necessary. I also agree that he is a master at casting his films. It’s hard to imagine people other than the actors he used, in those film roles.

    Since I haven’t seen Django Unchained, I would say high point is Kill Bill (more part 1; but I’ll take part 2 over Inglorius Basterds); low point is Death Proof. It does nothing for me, doesn’t have much of a story and Zoe Bell is not mch of an actress. If it weren’t for Kurt Russell, it would be unwatchable; at least, for me. Your mileage may vary. Even Four Rooms has more to redeem it, though not by much.

    Finally, to correct Mike a bit, a squib is not just an exploding blood packet. A squib is the explosive charge that bursts the blood packet, as well as any small explosive charge that simulates a bullet strike or similar effect.

  4. Pingback: Catching up with crime comics – Ed Brubaker edition | Gotham Calling

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