Mini Classic Film Reviews: Tarantino Style

Full Title: Reservoir Dogs
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1992
Comments: Reservoir Dogs is where it all began. With Dogs, writer/director Quentin Tarantino forever engraved his name in th echelon of badass cinema. Here we have our introduction to the dish de Tarantino, a dish best served cold: classic dialogue that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot (everything from astute interpretations of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” to the subtleties in what a white “bitch” will put up with and what a black “bitch” will not), gruesome and excessive violence, a non-chronological storyline, and coolest of all a bumpin’ soundtrack with classic 70s hits. Tarantino uses these various elements to ameliorate an otherwise stale genre of film. Instead of focusing merely on the plot, he instead pulls back and utilizes the perceived frivolous dialogue as key character development and even foreshadowing. For example, in the opening scene when it comes time for the gangsters to cough up a tip, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) refuses because he does not believe in it, while Mr. White (Harvey Kietel) passionately argues that waitresses rely on these tips to survive. Pink admits that he thinks it is absurd that the government taxes their tips, but he still will not pay extra i.e. go against his own self-interests. White, on the other hand, is willing to help another person out when they need it. Later in the film we see this same situation: Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is dying and White displays incredible compassion for his comrade, and insists that he receives medical attention immediately. Pink does not want Orange to die and somewhat sympathizes for him, but makes it clear that he will not put his neck on the line for someone else. This is top notch story telling from Tarantino and Dogs definitely showcases some of his greatest creations.
Grade: A+

Full Title: Pulp Fiction
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1994
Comments: Without a doubt, this is Tarantino’s Magnum Opus. His finest film and one of the finest ever made. It baffles me when people say they have not seen this. Just scene after scene of witty, pop culture drenched dialogue, stylized violence, caustic humor, and above all memorable characters. Probably the best work for all involved- made Samuel L. “foot fucking master” Jackson the star he is today.
Grade: A+ (My Favorite Film)

Full Title: Inglourious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2009
Comments: The following is a review I did upon the film’s release, one of my first film reviews for KLYAM:
First, I’ll offer you a brief rundown of the main characters
Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)- Basterd, Jewish American Hillbilly crazy for revenge and leader of the renegade soldiers known as the Basterds. Provides much of the film’s comic relief. He orders his men to bring him 100 Nazi scalps each.
Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” (Christoph Waltz)- The film’s chief nemesis. He is one of the highest ranking Nazis and though he is pure evil, he often displays a romantic, jovial, and courteous demeanor.
Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent)- A French Jewish girl, who narrowly escaped the massacre of her family at the hands of the Nazis and while on the run became the proprietor of an exquisite French Cinema.
Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger)- A famous movie star in Goebbels’ Nazi Germany film industry, whilst also a spy for the British/Allies. Like always, Kruger is extremely sexy!
Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl)- The Nazi’s model sniper, killed hundreds of enemy soldiers in just a few short days. After gaining fame for his military “heroism” he became the biggest star of Nazi propaganda films.
Staff Sergeant Donny Donnowitz aka “The Bear Jew“( Eli Roth) A Bostonian Basterd that takes pride in beating his Nazi victims with a baseball bat. The crowd cheered when this guy made his killings!

Final Thoughts: An instant classic! Comparable to the Kill Bill series and certainly better than Tarantino’s last flick, Death Proof (which was good). It’s a violent, gory, hilarious, alternate version of history. This is unique because, unlike most War films it isn’t a Drama. Tarantino doesn’t make Drama films. Period. This is straight up revenge! An action packed revenge movie in the style of a Spaghetti Western with elements of the French New Wave era, like most Tarantino works. The soldiers in this film, the Basterds, aren’t portrayed as people with emotions, families, or lives outside of war, like most movies of the genre. Instead, they are fierce Guerrilas only concerned with one thing… KILLING NAZIS! On the other side of the fence, we see Nazi soldiers who do have emotions, love for the cinema, sons waiting at home to play catch with,etc. I’ve never seen a film show this side of the enemy. Remarkably we still cheer for the Americans and boo the Nazis; after all it’s a REVENGE movie! In short, Quentin is our generation’s chief raconteur; you can tell he cares about his characters and therefore we care about them.

Go See Inglourious Basterds Now!!!

P.S. For you Tarantino nuts out there (like me), he makes tremendously effective uses of his trademark “Corpse View” shot.

Grade: A

” Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!”

Summer 2009 Blockbuster Comparison

The following essay was for my Cultural Studies class, therefore it’s not of the same quality as my other material. Read it anyway lol.

Inglourious Transformers
I see a few newly released films each year and sadly most are of average quality. Last Summer, I saw two movies in particular that stood out; one was quite exceptional and the other was pure garbage with some mild entertainment. The former was Quentin Tarantino’s war film, Inglourious Basterds and the latter was Michael Bay’s Science Fiction film, Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen. Both pictures are similar in some ways and at the same time, there is a world of difference between them. In terms of culture, Inglourious Basterds is of much higher art than it’s counterpart, Transformers because director Quentin Tarantino has far more “cultural capital” than his rival, Michael Bay.
Both Inglourious Basterds and Transformers are action films in their own unique ways, but Basterds does not rely solely on special effects and fun filled mayhem to dazzle it’s audience. There are various similarities between the two movies and it should be noted that each obtained well beyond it’s fair share of box office/commercial success. Both had gun shots, explosions, “good guys, “bad guys,” gorgeous females in leading roles, and a healthy chunk of humor. Without seeing both features, a cultural theorist may rush to rule both films as equally “mass art,” merely manufactured products to be gobbled up by millions of dumb Americans as Matthew Arnold would contend. Of course major corporations financed both films and as I previously mentioned each profited quite well at the box office, but it seems clear that there is much more to IB than simply “action” that makes up most of Transformers. IB focuses on World War II and particularly the fall of the Third Reich at the hands of the “Basterds,” a band of Jewish American soldiers. Of course this is not historically accurate at all, but it still gives the film more depth than a light hearted flick about robots. IB also features various references to older, spaghetti western films and obscure war films as well as other aspects of both American and European culture. Tarantino’s cultural capital certainly adds to the “higher quality” of the film.
As I previously explained, both movies can fall under the action genre, but the styles of action displayed in each film makes one high art/culture and the other low art/culture. In Inglourious Basterds, scenes are built up with suspense and clever dialogue. This suspense then erupts into bloody battles and shoot outs and so on. In contrast, in Transformers, the action is not stylized and is mostly non-stop, relying on special effects and very little suspense. The film utilizes most of the conventional techniques Hollywood blockbuster/popcorn movies usually employ, but no substance to balance out the mindless mess. The old phrase, ” a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down” comes to mind. In this case, there is no medicine and moviegoers are being inundated with pounds and pounds of sugar, mentally consuming as much junk as they purchase in movie snacks. Clearly, if Arnold was alive today he would use Transformers as a chief example of low/mass art.
In short, although both films, Inglourious Basterds and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen can be seen as action movies and worthy of commercial success, Basterds definitely is of higher art/culture than Transformers. Writer/Director, Quentin Tarantino effectively used his cultural capital of historical and cinematic knowledge to make a greater film. The action was entertaining, but carefully balanced with extraordinary acting, memorable dialogue, and superb character development. Michael Bay, on the other hand, merely made a big special effects movie, he knew people would rush to the theaters to see, enjoy, and never ponder over anything meaningful to the human experience.


Film Review: Inglourious Basterds!!!

: Inglourious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger, and Mike Myers
Length: 153 Minutes
Rating: R
Year: 2009
IMDb Rating: 8.7/10 (#35 in the Top 250, very impressive)
My Rating: A

Here’s why
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