Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why I hate Quentin Tarantino

Terribly embarrassing admission - I used to like Tarantino. I thought he was a maverick film maker - pushing boundaries. In my defence I was a film student, so it went with the territory.

I saw Reservior Dogs on the big screen (well it was at the Mercury Cinema so it was bigger than a TV). It was pretty awesome. The blood, the raw cruelty, the unhappy ending - it seemed so fresh. Seemed being the operative word. I had gotten into Hong Kong Cinema around the same time; the cover to the video (as in VHS) for John Woo's Killer advised it was the world's highest body count - so how could i not rent it? I got hooked.

While watching Ringo Lam's City on Fire it dawned on me; this is Reservoir Dogs but ....not. It was weird, essentially the same story but shot differently. It caused a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

Pulp Fiction was good though, I saw that twice at the cinema. It still holds up.

But Jackie Brown - in what world is watching someone choose and buy a cassette for 20 minutes entertaining? Ugh. Kill Bill #1; shallow and empty. I didn't bother with #2.
And Death Proof is just indulgent rubbish.

The thing that really bothers me is that his films are just mash-ups of Quentin's favourite things. Homages are ok- they can bring some depth to a text, but plain old "stealing" concepts is a bit much. It just shows a lack of creativity or originality. Its all pastiche; glorifing empty cinema from the 70s but shooting it with 30 million dollar budgets.

Sure you can claim Warhol did the same thing; low art to high art but at least Warhol's work said something; on consumerism, on modernism. What does Kill Bill say - Quentin likes feet? That his audience would like recooked work as opposed to the originals? That there is nothing new under the sun? If you don't have pop cultural references in your movies that doesn't require a Google search you aren't an interesting writer?

Nostalgia was once seen as a sickness - something that kept us going forward, moving on. Move on Quentin, Move on.


LFW said...

HAHAHA! FINALLY! I used to get criticised severly for plagerising popular stuff of the time back when I was a young'un and still learning the storytelling ropes. Part of it was doing what Quentin does, mash-ups of my favourite stuff. Yet I'd point out to those same people who just worshipped tarantino that he did the exact same thing as I did. "no! its completely different!" complete wankers, hahahaha.

I havn't seen death-proof yet, so I'd be interested to watch it. I didn't mind kill bill, there were some bits that I thought were a bit hammy, and the first vol seems like a completely different film to the second (which is weird because it was originally a single 4 hr flick), also I hear it borrows heavily from the japanese film "lady snow blood" which I also havn't seen.

Resevoir dogs was interesting from budget/locationary standpoint, but as you said, entirely a rip off of a John woo classic and a british film about a train robbery (they even use the same types of fake names like mr. black, etc etc).

But yeah, nostalgia is shit. people who are nostalgic suck. I'm all for having your influences, but if you're going to use tried old cliches that have been done a million times before, you better have a good way on turning it on its ear that no one has thought of before, otherwise your just a loser copy-cat with no ideas of your own.

shit, that was a long post


Mark Selan said...

Tarantino is a brand - like Apple their are fantics that just adore everything he does unquestioned. Crab Allan is an example of homage "TinTin as directed by John Woo" but its own beast. You don't have to have read any tinTin or seen any john Woo films to appreciate Crab Allan. Star Wars is a love letter to Ford/Kurosawa in the same way.

I'm pretty sure the Mr Black, White, Pink came from "the Taking of pelham 123".

Hollie Simmons said...

Tarantino is most definitely a brand! I dont like his consistent copying of others directors' ideas/typical conventions. But... you know. He's alright, just a bit... common in terms of filmmaking.