Tarantino’s Top Twenty of Twenty Ten


Being my favorite director, annually I check in on Quentin to see which films he cites as the “Best of 2010.” In the link above, he lists his twenty favorites from the past year. Most films on here I have yet to see, but of the twenty I have seen Toy Story 3 (1 on his list, 3 on mine) The Social Network (2, 1), Get Him to the Greek (13, not on my list- I’d like to hear his explanation for this one), and The Fighter (14, in the 2-4 range). I knew he would love SN, being an excellent screenwriter himself, I’m sure above all he really appreciated Aaron Sorkin’s script. Here is the list:

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Animal Kingdom
4. I Am Love
5. Tangled
6. True Grit
7. The Town
8. Greenberg
9. Cyrus
10. Enter the Void
11. Kick-Ass
12. Knight and Day
13. Get Him to the Greek
14. The Fighter
15. The King’s Speech
16. The Kids Are All Right
17. How to Train Your Dragon
18. Robin Hood
19. Amer
20. Jackass 3D

Film Review: Machete

Full Title: Machete
Directors: Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez
Year: 2010
Comments: When I grow up, I want to be MACHETE! (pronounced muh shet tay not muh shetty). As a big fan of the fake Machete trailer in Grindhouse (2007) as well as director Robert Rodriguez’s work in general, this film was near the top of my list of highly anticipated, Must Sees of Twenty-Ten, and fortunately my expectations were satisfied. The plot involves a badass Mexican named Machete (Danny Trejo), who is instructed to off a racist, anti-immigration propaganda spewing Senator (Robert De Niro) for $150,000. Machete, an illegal immigrant himself, needs the money and accepts. As he is about to fire, he is shot at and he soon realizes the whole assassination was a set up to boost sympathy votes for the Senator and his anti-immigration policies. Now, Machete is on the run and the target of everyone from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents (Jessica Alba) to covert businessmen (Jeff Fahey). Machete also features Steven Seagal (he actually does a decent job!) as an evil druglord/nemesis of Machete, Michelle Rodriguez (looking fabulous as usual) as Shé, the leader of an underground network to support illegal immigrants, Cheech Marin as a renegade reverend/brother of Machete, and Lindsey Lohan also makes a few appearances, some without her clothes! Which, brings me to my next point, Machete is filled to the brim with buckets of blood- decapitations, intestines ripped out and used as ropes, you know all that good old family fun. Plus plenty of nudity, sex and other lurid imagery. This Mexploitation flick delivers a dish best served cold; in other words it’s a straight up gruesome, guy-action movie of that wonderfully, black/absurdist humor tinged Rodriguez/Tarantino, trashy, Grindhouse revival variety. Pheww that was a mouthful… Machete never fails to excite and entertain its audience because like most Rodriguez flicks it contains over the top, stylized violence mixed with a solid story, memorable characters, and witty, distinctive dialogue, separating it from your run of the mill action pieces of shit. On a final note, I dig the germane content of the film- illegal immigration, in light of the recent Arizona fiasco, though I don’t think this is a movie with a deep political message haha. In any case, I hope to see a Machete II in the future!

: B+/A-

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


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?


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.


My Top Five Favorite Sequels

Shot of young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) gaining his first taste with murder as he is about to shoot public enemy Don Fanucci in the Godfather Part II

1) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)- Perhaps the greatest action flick of all time and certainly a milestone for special effects. An overall fun time by all!

2) The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)- One of the greatest (summer) blockbusters of modern times. You couldn’t turn your head without hearing a patron poorly imitating the Joker’s, “why so serious?” Action was entertaining, characters were well developed, dialogue was memorable, and the story closely followed the original comics. All in all, far more enjoyable than it’s predecessor. RIP Heath Ledger

3) Clerks II (Kevin Smith, 2006)- Quite frankly, I was shocked this film was so marvelous! Being a huge fan of the original Clerks (1994) (# 3 on my list of all time favorites), I honestly did not anticipate Smith’s sequel to the live up to the first film’s greatness, but I was dead wrong. The unlikely duo of Dante (Brian O’ Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are just as funny and pathetic (perhaps more pathetic!) in their 30s as they were in their 20s. Smith maintains the witty raunchiness we love in our View Askew joints and simultaneous creates a heartfelt masterpiece.

4) The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)- How do you top The Godfather (1972) arguably the greatest film in cinematic history? Well, you can’t! On the other hand, audiences fell in love with this sequel and many fans favor it over numero uno. In fact, it was awarded Best Picture at the Academy Awards, I believe the only sequel to do such a thing. Anyway, this picture continues the disturbing story of Michael Corleone and follows him into his darkest hour. By the end of the film, Michael is truly all alone with his sinister self.

5) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kirshner, 1980)- The darkest and for many the greatest of the original Star Wars Trilogy. There are no victories, no happy endings and no cuddily ewoks. This time the good guys don’t win, but it leaves we, the viewers lingering for more, like any good story should. With the introduction of the incredibly small, but sagacious Jedi Master, Yoda, the shocking revelation that Darth Vader is actually Luke Skywalker’s papa, and the badassness of Boba Fett, Empire is Fantasy Drama at it’s finest.

Note: Technically, Kill Bill Volume 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004) should be number one, but I do not think of it as a sequel, rather I view both Volume 1 and 2 as an entire, epic masterpiece.


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
: Continue reading “Film Review: Inglourious Basterds!!!”

Tarantino’s Top 20 Since ’92!

I love his enthusiasm. He could make a movie about the lives of McDonalds employees and I’d see it. I seriously doubt he would do that though haha. He seriously makes me appreciate Unbreakable more though. I’ve seen 9 out of the 20 and I’m familiar with most. I’ve had Audition on my never ending list of movies to see for so long! Dazed and Confused(2), Fight Club(6), and Boogie Nights (16)appear on my top 20 list as well. He hit the nail on the head on Dazed, but I can’t imagine going a few years without watching it! I used to watch it once a month!
P.S. It’s FRIDAY Quentin!