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15 January 2005

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» Tarantino. from Wax Banks
Over at FilmBrain, David Hudson talks up Tarantino, and Jackie Brown and Kill Bill specifically (Bill evidently got only two Golden Globe nominations, for Carradine and Thurman, which is laughable - but who gives a shit about the Golden Globes, [Read More]

Comments

Matt

I've made my opinion on Kill Bill more than clear -- and couldn't agree with you more on the JB/KB and Grier/Thurman comparisons. [Clearly, though, QT's reasons for working with the two actresses are very different: while he wanted to do for Grier what he did for Travolta, he wanted to deify Thurman in the way Godard used to do for Karina -- considering that they were never an item, however, I've always wondered whether his less-than-subtle attempts at imitating his heroes in life as well as in his films has ever worried Thurman. It'd sure worry me. I'd be flattered, sure, but still! But I digress. Back to the matter at hand: the movies...]

By the way, I just wanted to point out that, in the process of commenting here day in, day out, my love for I Heart Huckabees has grown expotentially -- in defending it, arguing for it, and clarifying my own opinions as to what it's about and what it does, it's pushed it's way further up my list to the point where it's giving Before Sunset a run for its money as my favourite picture of the year.

Discussion is good.

Peter

Well, I've been keeping up with the posts, and I started to go back and read the comments tonight, but after reading the first 100 or so, I realized it was a lost cause starting this late.

I think Kill Bill was the best film of the year. (My complete Best of 2004 list is here.) I'm completely shocked by the lack of attention it's recieved in the awards/year's best hulabaloo. While JB may have been "more mature," this is the movie that QT's been itching to make all of his life. He's always been a filmmaker who understands pulp (I know, I know) genre material better than anyone else working today. He's not just a movie nerd, he's always a visonary mind who can both execute and elevate all those tropes that make genre movies great. Kill Bill 2 took KB1s manic energy and added a deeply wearied soul, giving it the passion and the heart it needed to be Great, not just fun.

Look at the trailer fight scene: it's relentless and brutal, a take on both sword fights and nasty chic brawls that takes amazing advantage of its set. The characters may have the impossible skills their genre requires, but QT has the smarts to make them deal with it in a realistic world. Further, it offers the perfect confrontation between the two leading ladies, the grimy house revealing the shallow fakeness of Hannah's character as well as the genuine beauty of Thurman. Tarantino doesn't just cleverly combine bits from films he's seen, he gives them style, character and most of all, purpose.

The Incredibles (more about what I thought here, number 2 on my list for the year, I actually thought was a remarkably similar film to the KB flicks. Both were heavily referential, deconstructive works that exposed the inherent silliness of their pulpy (there's that word again) source materials while simultaneously elevating them into greatness. These movies didn't just ape genre conventions, they gave them life, figuring out why they exist and how the people in their worlds might actually have to deal with them. By turning their cliches back on their characters, they ceased to be cliches, instead turning into great devices to understand people, which, I hope, is what movies are really all about.

And provide a hell of a lot of entertainment while they're at it.

James Russell

Kill Bill part one was my biggest letdown of '03. The only reason the second part didn't let me down was because I already knew, on the basis of part one, not to expect much from it. A collage of influences/samples is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on what you do with that collage, and I'm not convinced Tarantino did anything especially interesting with his.

As for his stated intention to make a pastiche of a 1970s kung fu film right down to the bad dubbing, all I can say is, why not just watch a REAL 1970s kung fu film with bad dubbing?

dvd

Because then you don't get everything that Tarantino brings to the table. Which may or may not be much, depending on your point of view.

But this has been run into the ground; I think we've all agreed to disagree to varying degrees. And no doubt, Jackie Brown is a more mature film -- and nothing he does will ever reach the trasncendant levels of Pulp Fiction. I doubt I'll ever find much worth revisiting in Reservoir Dogs, though; I think it's aged quite poorly.

David Hudson

Peter, I hadn't thought before about assigning Kill Bill and The Incredibles to the same camp. I'm not sure I buy it, but they look kinda interesting sitting there together like that.

I'm no comics 'xpert at all, so besides the nod to Alan Moore's Watchmen (and outside of comics, the overall James Bond-ish look and tone), I may be missing out on several references in The Incredibles; and if they're there, they don't seem to be wearing them on its sleeve in the way that KB wears its allusions like a jangling charm bracelet.

Eddy Faust

David, I appreciate the interest in my KB views. And maybe DJ Shadow won’t be remembered like Dylan, but you’re talking to someone who (although likes some Dylan) prefers the Velvet Underground. In the States, Jackie Brown had the most lackluster response of any QT film. I personally liked JB a great deal, however I disagree with your notion that’s it’s QT’s most “mature” outing. It was certainly his most conventional; with the exception of switching the ethnicity of Jackie, the film was a rather straightforward adaptation of Elmore Leaonard’s “Rum Punch”. Yes, it was a very good adaptation and it showed a more restrained side of QT, but maybe it’s a little too easy to view restraint as maturity. We’ve had our share of taut, clever, crime thrillers in the JB vein, but we haven’t had many gonzo, madass collage-style, multi-genre epics. I feel KB is the proper follow-up to Pulp Fiction and its truer to QT’s overall vision than JB. Ahnd although Grier, like anyone directed by QT, gave a steller performance, I think it pales against Uma’s The Bride. Thurman just brought so much intensity and mystique to the role. And I agree totally with Matt’s point about QT using Thurman like Godard used Karina. Like most of us probably know, OT came right out and said he cast Uma in Pulp Fiction because she reminded him of Karina. That’s another thing about KB, most people just write about the kung-fu/spaghetti western influence, but QT is still a student of the French New Wave. He didn’t utilize Uma in the female heroine role common in Asian cinema; it was more in keeping with the direct subverting of the male hero archetype...like Godard did with Karina in Made In USA (in which Anna is in the Humphrey Bogart gumshoe role).Immediately, I think of Uma in Bruce Lee’s yellow jumpsuit.

Also, it should be noted, that regardless of what you think of QT and KB, the very fact that we can sustain such a lengthy debate on its merits...well, that says something for the film(s).

Peter

"I may be missing out on several references in The Incredibles; and if they're there, they don't seem to be wearing them on its sleeve in the way that KB wears its allusions like a jangling charm bracelet."

Yes, the Watchmen stuff is pretty transparent, but I wasn't referring to specific references in The Incredibles. Tarantino has a tendency not just to use genre standards, but to make a lot of very, very specific references to tiny moments in obscure films. Pixar, on the other hand, takes more generalized elements from their subject's genre (kids toys, monster lore, comic books) and then finds a way to expand on them. I'm not sure I can point out specific reference to any particular comic in the way you can find references in Tarantino's films, but both of them take forms that seem fairly stale and recombine the classic, cliched elements into something more than the sum of their parts.

The magnetism these films hold on me may just be a biproduct of my (early) youth. I was raised on Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and comic books. From about 6 until about 15 I read almost exclusively science fiction novels (my first "adult" novel was Asimov's Caves of Steel at age 7), so the milieu of the fantastic may just be where I feel most at home.

Still, I think both are pretty flawless efforts, and while their places on the very top of the year's best list is entirely arguable, they deserve some real credit for taking their typically thin material and using it to make two really moving, exciting films.

Kenn

Kill Bill will be the classic it was meant to be when Q edits them into one film and cuts about 15 to 20 minutes from the overall length.
I know the former is happening, but not too sure about the latter.

sac

JB is my favorite QT movie. Pulp Fiction has aged horribly, while Resvoir Dogs holds up nicely. The Kill Bills are fun, but nothing more, in my opinion. I can't see revisiting those flicks in 5 years.

So there, now that that's settled, is there anything else you'd like cleared up?

Filmbrain

Yeah, one more thing -- what's in the briefcase? (Natch.)

Eddy Faust

'Pulp Fiction has aged horribly.'

I checked her out a few months ago...and I thought she was still looking pretty hot.

Is it now the "hip thing" to say Jackie Brown is QT's best film? Steven Soderbergh could have easily directed JB and the only difference would have been an inferior soundtrack...which is fine if you like SS better than QT. Personally, I go with QT and the films that ARE QT: RD, PF and KB.

Isn't it nice that we can break everything down to 2 letters?

--EF

sac

You're right, it is the hip thing to say JB is QT's best flick and that's really the only reason I think that. God, when will I ever think for myself?

No actually, I and many others have thought that since the flick came out. As for Pulp Fiction, it dazzled me the first few times I saw it in '94. Then I saw it agina few years later and not so much. Saw it agin last year and the clever conceits QT piled on top of each other in that flick seem forced and dated now. A lot of that is not his fault, as the avalanche of imitators that followed Pulp Fiction have turned some of QT's innovations into cliche. Still, it deosn't matter where the blame lies. To me, the flick does not hold up, although it's still enjoyable to watch, which may be the only thing that matters.

Aaron

Personally, I'm with you EF. I've never been such a huge fan of JB, and I still love PF, thinking that it holds up pretty well. In SAC's defense though, I do know many people who have loved JB since it first came out, some who weren't even really QT fans ahead of time. I definitely need to revisit JB because I haven't seen it in seven or eight years. Maybe I wasn't mature enough for QT's "most mature" film at the time.

Meanwhile, anyone else see the preview for BC ("Be Cool" -- but I'm lovin' the initials thing)? With a dance sequence between UT and JT? Could FGG crib any more from QT?

Eddy Faust

Sac, for the record, I do think Jackie Brown is a good film...I just think it's QT's least engaging work. And yes, there were a lot of Pulp Fiction clones, but that's like not liking Nirvana because of Bush. The real deal still holds up.

Aaron, I've seen that big display for "Be Cool" they have in most theaters now...I hate feeling that I'm being played like a fiddle, but it's nice to see JT and UT together again. 1990s nostalgia is now here...they even have I Love the 1990s on VH1. Regardless of how shameless BC is working the PF angle, Uma is looking mighty fine on that display...I might catch an afternoon showing....

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