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!”

Tarantino and Postmodernism

The following essays was for my Cultural Studies course, therefore it is not of the same quality or style than that of my other writing.

In modern media, we often see pastiches of older works of art. Many artists are so heavily influenced by previous genres/styles that they literally recreate these styles in their own works. We seem to see this everywhere, from music to television to film. Sure, artists paying homage or in a more pejorative sense stealing from other artists is nothing new. With that being said, some artists have taken it to a new level, where their works are filled to the brim with references to other works. In particular, writer/director, Quentin Tarantino has made a name for himself as being a master of stylistic filmmaking in the past two decades and is held as one of the finest filmmakers around the world. To postmodernists theorists, Tarantino must be a menace for simply creating giant references, often references to other references, ultimately leaving us to question what is original or real anymore. Personally, I think his approaches are appropriate and a postmodernist analysis of his most popular film, Pulp Fiction (1994) would strongly differ from my viewing or reactions to it.
With Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino utilizes various techniques from previous filmmakers and makes countless references to films and other areas of pop culture. Frequently during dialogue, a character refers to a famous person, song, movie, etc. For example, the character Jules often calls characters by celebrity names; he refers to a British speaking character as “Ringo,” this is a reference to Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Many works make such minor references, but in Tarantino’s films, viewers are literally inundated with hundreds. But, this is only the beginning. The hip director lifts lines straight out of older films. For instance, in one scene, a mobster by the name of Marcellus Wallace plans to torture his enemy “… with a pair of pliers and a blow torch.” This quote is a paraphrase of a line in the film Charley Varrick (1973), in which the line is “They’re gonna strip you naked and go to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.” Tarantino also simulates various shots from his favorite films. In one scene, the character, Marcellus is crossing the street when he stops and realizes that the very man he is trying to track down is driving in the car in front of him. As he realizes this both men lock eyes. Though the circumstances are totally different, this shot is nearly identical to a shot in Alfred Hitchcock’s Horror classic, Psycho (1960).
This film is clearly an example of postmodernist culture because Quentin Tarantino rejects standard forms of filmmaking and pieces together elements from other works into his own creation. Most postmodernist thinkers would probably slam Tarantino for being just another entertainer that steals from others or presents his work to the public as if it’s original. I think Tarantino’s methods fall into the postmodernist category, but that does not mean that they are not worthy of praise. He throws various, often obscure, elements from numerous works into the mix and shapes them into his own story. Clearly, he is not the most original filmmaker, but the quality of his films are much higher than that of others, usually including those he references in the first place.

I used the follow source for information- http://www.tarantino.info/wiki/index.php/Pulp_Fiction_Movie_References_Guide

Chris

Question of the Week: Pulp Fiction


“Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest movies of all time and you know what, I have yet to seen another film top it”- Me

Going with the flow of Glen’s earlier post on Roy Orbison I decided to switch gears with a film. To the above statement, anyone agree, disagree, why? Better films? Thoughts on Tarantino and his style? etc. In my Cultural Studies class today we discussed high and low art/culture and it’s relation to Post-Modernism. In other words, is anything “real” anymore? Are Tarantino’s and others’ works merely unoriginal pieces filled with references, simply a giant reference. What do y’all think?

Chris