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Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:20 pm
by IcedOver
I don't have an issue with him criticizing the movie. I felt the same way in August 1992. He can say what he wants. As far as his work, I've never been a big fan but it's intermittently okay. "Django" was a lot of fun and the best of the ones I've viewed (I have never viewed "Jackie Brown" or "Death Proof" or his most recent). His movies have no other level aside from what's on the screen, nothing to ponder after, no moods in which to luxuriate. He knows how to turn a phrase and be playful and energetic, and that's what gets him by.

Really, he and Lynch are sort of similar. They both are atypical in that they're true "celebrity directors" who have built cults or gained recognition not just for their work behind a camera but because of their personalities and the way they conduct themselves. Other directors who are publicly known exist, but I can't come up with anybody else aside from Hitchcock whose personality is as much a part of the experience of knowing their work. I'd put Lynch in front of Tarantino in that respect because Lynch has a brand that has extended to so many media and platforms, unprecedented in terms of directors (edit: directors who aren't named Spielberg or Lucas). If you were to poll movie fans who are clued in to who directors are and who follow them, I'll wager both Lynch and Tarantino would get the most or close to the most votes of "favorite", just because that seems like the case.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:04 am
by Cappy
I always felt like that scene in Blue Velvet where Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and minions beat up Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) to the sound of Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" was what paved the way for (or even inspired) Tarantino's similar juxtaposition of pop music with ultra-violence, specifically the "Stuck in the Middle With You" torture scene in Reservoir Dogs.

Obviously pop music had been used to great effect in Scorsese films and other places, but no one else has pushed seemingly innocent songs about relationships into such disturbing places as Lynch and Tarantino.

I really don't see or feel any other overlap between the two -- Tarantino movies are a kind of house of mirrors, where older films are reflected and distorted and bounced off each other until they form something approaching new and original. They are movies about the idea of movies, not about lived real world experience. Not to disparage them as being about *nothing*, but they are products of a world where people have watched more movies about doing things then actually done things themselves. So in that regard Tarantino films are plugged directly into the current zeitgeist of media oversaturation and self awareness.

The closest Lynch has ever come to that is maybe the "Invitation to Love" stuff in season 1 of Twin Peaks (which apparently he hated and was Frost's idea?), or perhaps the Hollywood experiences of the characters in Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, but even then the focus is on a sort of intense but hard to define emotional ambiguity, where individuals' inner subjective turmoil bleeds into their outer, objective worlds in a way that confuses any barrier between the two.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:16 pm
by IcedOver
I went to "Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood". Wow, I hated it! It might be the worst movie I've been to in a theater in, say, five years or more. Talk about disappearing up inside one's own ass! That's where Tarantino has always been, but in his other movies, even if they're pretty bad like "Inglourious" or "Hateful Eight" or marginal like the rest, you could find something fun to hang onto, at least a few moments of trashy exhilaration. Not this. It has no entertainment value.

The pacing and editing are way out of whack. Some scenes . . . you might as well be watching paint dry. This isn't like absurdist scenes in S3 (to use a relevant example) like the sweeping where no plot is being forwarded but you know the director's intent, you can feel that authorial voice. So much through this movie, I couldn't even get at what Tarantino was trying to relay in a scene because I don't think he knew either, aside from his usual - play an old song, show stuff in a glorified way from when you were six, reference/steal from some likely shitty movie to say "I'm cool." The character arcs are awful and the performances grating. I've never liked Pitt and rarely DiCaprio, but they're insufferable in this. I won't talk about the plot, but what happens is asinine. Even the attempts at recreating the aesthetic of some shows back then are very poorly done and not authentic feeling.

Sorry for the rant, but this is the kind of movie that makes you a bit mad.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:39 pm
by LateReg
Wow, a lot to take in in this thread, and a lot of differing opinions. I'll keep this shortish. Vague spoilers ahead, but nothing specific.

The movie is one of Tarantino's best, and his best since at least Inglourious Basterds, which is increasingly treated as one of his potential masterpieces. The first time I saw it, I liked it a lot, but wasn't sure about the climax, up until things got quiet in the denoument, at which point tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt the entire movie creep up on me, so sneakily emotional. The second time I saw it, I loved the climax, and had tears in my eyes numerous times throughout the film, and was practically balling at the end. This elegiac tone and sweetness is definitely something new for Tarantino, most similar to Jackie Brown, which is his most human film as well as my personal favorite of his. (Ironically, I watched Coffy last night, and might watch Foxy Brown tonight.)

The point of his "historical fantasy" period is to use the power of cinema to confront and (literally, actually) burn away the sins of the past. It's unique and powerful! And I think there's a lot to think about in this phase: a lot of history, a lot of cinema, a lot of daring, a lot of questions, and a lot of cinema absorbing history without simply regurgitating it in a rare convergence and reconsideration of both history and cinema. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it is as Cappy eloquently describes, which is not a stretch at all because it's exactly what it's about. It's a luxurious tone poem of 1969, a time in which not only Hollywood gave way to something darker and grittier, but new dangers lurked around the fringes and threatened to consume culture. It is a fantasy, and that element is in the very title - Once Upon a Time - which references Leone, and which is probably exactly why that crane shot at the end is so similar. It's about changing times and a loss of innocence, and I think the feeling Tarantino created here is quite palpable and touching. To see the film is to witness a cosmic sort of justice, and to feel innocence restored in a very bittersweet way that leaves you with a lot of what-ifs that Cappy raised. There's a reason Sharon Tate barely has any lines in the film, and symbolically it's probably pretty similar to the reason that Laura Palmer is an orb sent to earth.

I think you can definitely trace a line from Lynch to Tarantino through the violence, dialogue and use of pop music. I think it was David Foster Wallace, in his Lost Highway essay, who said that Lynch invented the style of language that Tarantino uses. And for many reasons, Wild At Heart certainly seems like a central precursor to Tarantino's filmography, though I'm sure Blue Velvet was also very formative. I'd only debate Lynch vs. Tarantino with someone who would argue that Tarantino is superior, but for the record I believe that Lynch simply strikes a more unique tone and deeply emotional chord, accessing untapped versions of emotionality that no other director does. (For example, during the sequence revolving around Maddy's murder.)

I do however think that Tarantino is extremely original. Just because his career is based on borrowing doesn't mean that he's not original. And even if he is essentially creating a house of mirrors that primarily reflects cinema, there's nothing wrong with that. It's the greatest and most intensive and complex art form that I know of, and it's fertile ground for a cinephile to reconstruct in his own image. At any rate, I'm not one to state that commenting on and twisting a genre of cinema, as in Death Proof, is worth inherently more or less than commenting on some political crisis, as in any number of important films; the potential quality of the work of art in either case is equal in my mind. I also have no problem with Tarantino's arrogance, as I believe it is why he is able to make the films that he does. Lastly, side note, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is gloriously un-trendy, pulled straight from Tarantino's mind/memories onto celluloid without any thoughts of the demands of today, and sadly you can't say that about many bigger films right now. So at least in that sense, it is the exact type of movie you'd want to see succeed at the box office.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:25 pm
by Mr. Reindeer
Agree with most of what LateReg wrote. Just wanted to respond to a couple of things.

LateReg wrote:There's a reason Sharon Tate barely has any lines in the film, and symbolically it's probably pretty similar to the reason that Laura Palmer is an orb sent to earth.

And for the same reason Ontkean has no lines in The Descendants? ;)

While I can understand the rationale you’re alluding to (whether it was conscious or unconscious on Tarantino’s part), I can certainly see the argument that such an approach is reductive, arguably presenting the film’s most prominent female character as a talisman rather than a fleshed-out character. The two differences from Laura are that Tate was a real person, and that Lynch made Laura arguably the most compelling and complex character in the story. Particularly in a film that rather uncomfortably depicts and alludes to violence against women (deliberately uncomfortable, I think, much like TP:TR, but uncomfortable all the same), it does feel like on some level the film is reveling in masculine tropes of that period, that are actually responsible for a lot of the social ills that have come to light (such as the actions of Tarantino’s old patron Harvey Weinstein). Thus, while acting as a fantastical social cleanse of the problems of a long bygone era, it’s perpetuating an ideology that has led to some great art, but also kinda got us where we are in terms of a lot of current social harms. And I’m still not entirely sure how to feel about that. I’ve only seen the film once, and probably need to sit through it again to sort all of that out.

EDIT: This article does a pretty good job of summarizing some of my discomfort with the depiction of Tate (although I disagree with large swathes of it, particularly the discussions of Kill Bill and The Hateful Eight, and the generalized conclusions about Tarantino’s depictions of women over the course of his career). The article also makes the good point that the movie’s revenge fantasy is carried out against Manson’s (mostly female) acolytes, not against Manson himself (not that the cult members should be given a pass for their actions by any means, but they are on some level victims as well of a larger evil who is left free to presumably continue to commit more murders — in that sense, the film isn’t really the historical cleanse that it purports to be).

LateReg wrote:I do however think that Tarantino is extremely original. Just because his career is based on borrowing doesn't mean that he's not original.

I’d liken him to a jazz musician. He weaves in and out between the familiar and the innovative, vamping, riffing, restructuring and deconstructing familiar themes into something wholly his own.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:18 pm
by LateReg
Mr. Reindeer wrote:And for the same reason Ontkean has no lines in The Descendants? ;)

Ha, wouldn't that be something! Alas, sadly, no.

I agree with your points about Laura v. Tate. But I just have to say that the depiction of Tate really sat well with me, and so, like Tarantino, I'd just reject any hypothesis about her being depicted as an object. The film is about the time and the place rather than any individuals, and so she's just part of this hodgepodge, but she still gets the best, most emotional stuff, and she seems both very real as well as a beacon of hope and symbol of change. Her dancing and especially watching herself - her real self, one actress watching another, in an act of filmmaking that bridges the cinematic real and fictionalized, the past and present and therefore everything in between - onscreen. And I actually love that it is reveling in the masculine tropes of that period, whether because the film is really another Tarantino Western disguised as a period piece (the plot follows the same trajectory as many Westerns), or because he depicted - homing in on a few very specific aspects - the actual time rather than attempting to smooth it over or offer some insight into the times beyond what those men felt. Whether he's mourning that predominantly masculine element of the time, I don't know, but I think not trying to change it or offer commentary is what makes the film great; there's also the fact that Tarantino has supplied plenty of great roles to females and black actors in his films that the lack of them in this film is no oversight, but purely intentional, not that you were doubting that. And I don't think it's supposed to be a full historical cleanse, but retain the feeling of a fantasy, a dream. I think it's supposed to leave the lingering feeling that
everything may or may not be ok if only that tragic night were averted: that Dalton's career would have flourished, that Tate would have lived on with Polanski, that the good times would have lasted...and yet Manson still lives, the weird counter-culture and changing industry still exists, Vietnam is ongoing, etc. I love how fleeting Manson's actual appearance was, and I think only killing the attackers was the right choice. I also find it richly ironic that a lot of people have complained about violence against the female attackers when the alternative was to see a pregnant woman murdered in even more horrific fashion.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:I’d liken him to a jazz musician. He weaves in and out between the familiar and the innovative, vamping, riffing, restructuring and deconstructing familiar themes into something wholly his own.

Very well put.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:27 am
by Jonah
Apart from 2 or 3 movies, not a big fan of Tarantino (I really like Jackie Brown and Kill Bill, and I suppose Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but haven't watched them since I was a teenager - and wasn't super impressed with or couldn't get into his other movies, especially the recent ones). But I remember he also criticized one of my favourite films - Scream. Saying Wes Craven didn't take it out of orbit the way it needed to be done. But I think, as someone else here said, shitting on Lynch and FWWM was just popular at the time.

Weirdly, Tarantino always talks about stopping after 10 movies, and I know Lynch likes that number. Not counting his TV work or short films, Lynch directed exactly 10 feature movies, seemingly ending with "Inland Empire".

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:15 pm
by Agent Earle
Scream ruined horror in the 90's. For a number of years in its wake, all we got were stupid teenie-weenie slashers that used whichever young TV faces were hot at the time, tried to be all smart and meta and parodic and most of the times just fell flat on their ass, and didn't even feature serious gore and splatter, merely some light smearings of ketchup. As a horror fan, I shudder to think about that awful time - thank God for 2000s, when genre made a serious, epic even, rebound. Zombie renaissance, survival horror, torture porn, international horror, awakening of TV horror ... the goodies just keep on comin'!

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:30 pm
by Jonah
In the mid-90's, horror was effectively dead. Scream revitalized the genre. It's not it's fault if a lot of glossy teeny booper movies tried to cash in on its success, but that trend only lasted a few years, ending with Valentine in 2000. If it wasn't for Scream, we might not have a lot of grittier horror or smart movies today. I thought the sequels were all pretty good too.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:46 pm
by Agent Earle
Yeah, Scream revitalised the genre - and it lasted for about one flick and a half, Scream and its first sequel included. By the second sequel, the hyper-smart meta approach was already stale. The honor of playing a large part in the genre renaissance of the new millennium you ascribe to Scream should really go to Blair Witch Project (but even it was only one of the several things that worked in conjuction, 9/11 also having a not inconsiderable role in creating the horror-appreciating climate of the 2000s, as horrible as it sounds). Scream created a trend that cornered itself, and it played out by the end of the 90's.

Re: Tarantino criticism

Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:31 pm
by Jonah
Good to see Tarantino smiling and clapping for Lynch when he won the Oscar.