Thursday, 21 May 2009

Icon #10 Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino is a dude.  Of that I am pretty sure.  He makes movies, when he's really in the proverbial groove, that ooze cool.

Part of the Tarantino thing, is that he's one of us.  He's a fanboy.  He worked in a video store for Christs' sake, and lived for watching movies.  He's no film school wannabe, he's just a raw talent. Or at least he was in 1992 when Reservoir Dogs came out.  One early attempt at making True Romance had been lost in a fire, but slowly interest had grown in his screen play for Dogs.  The rest is history.

I remember the histrionics that surrounded the release of Reservoir Dogs, and I remember not caring.  Here was a film that united the geeks and the cool kids.  Packed full of references to other films and with an awesome soundtrack.  Believable if heightened violence that you knew your Mum would hate and people walking out of cinemas because they couldn't handle it.  Great dialogue.  The types of conversations that people actually have, in like, real life.  The Madonna segment still remains a classic piece of film making.  Yes the torture scene is horrific.  And yes having Stealers Wheel playing over the top only adds to the horror, but that is the genius of it.  A brilliant, dark  movie.

Getting Harvey Keitel involved was also a stroke of luck/piece of genius casting.  He helped to lend the film some big star status and is something of a muse for Tarantino.

Next came Pulp Fiction.  In my top ten without a doubt.  It made Tarvolta cool again, Bruce Willis got to be at his best, tender and hard as nails and  Samuel L Jackson got the part that would define the rest of his career.  Funny, violent, and glorious.  It's like Dogs but with money behind it.  And it's a film you have to think about because the time frames jump all over the place, it is in no way linear, and all the better for it.  Again the dialogue felt real, and normal.  You believed it because Tarantino creates a world that looks so complete and well formed.  Yes it's offensive, but lets face it, people are pretty offensive.  It is a film for my generation, we just ate it up.

Since then Tarantino has been a bit scatter shot.  Four Rooms (where he directed a segment) bombed, and Jackie Brown whilst a great film, felt like a watered down version of what had gone before.  Kill Bill followed, a film in two parts.  Part One in 2003 and part two in 2004.  Whilst both films did well, critical reception was mixed, partly because the two films differed so much from one another.  Basically if you like 'the action' part one will be your bag, if you like 'the dialogue' you'll prefer part 2.

Grindhouse I haven't seen.

I guess sometimes a Director captures the zeitgeist.  Spielberg did it in the 1980's and Tarantino did it in the 1990's.  He's an Icon because of those first two films and the association with True Romance (his screenplay, he didn't direct).  Next comes Inglorious Basterds (spelt right, I swear) his take on World War II.  'Promising return to form' doesn't really do the trailers justice.  This looks the business.  I genuinely hope so because when 'one of us' makes it, you want them to continue to defy convention and make films that, frankly piss of the Daily Mail readers, because they don't get 'it'.  

That he also gets as much credit as a writer as a director is a big part of the mans appeal.  Natural Born Killers, From Dusk Till Dawn and the previously mentioned True Romance are all fantastic films that seep Tarantino from every pour despite being directed by others.

Doing Tarantino justice isn't easy but if one thing sums him up it's this.  In Empire magazine this month he gets 9/10 questions right about his own films.  Higher than any other director.  Total geek about his own movies.  Awesome.

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself 'What happens if the manager won't give you the diamonds?'

Tonight's post is dedicated to @maverick99's back (AT).