Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Argument Against Quentin Tarantino

With the recent Golden Globe nominations and DVD release of Inglorious Basterds many people have been once again asking me how I felt about the movie. Most people are under the impression that, given many other types of movies I love, that I am a Quentin Tarantino fan. Well, I'm not. Granted, in every one of his movies there are parts that I like the problem is they are all very few and far between which makes most of his movies unwatchable to me. I can admit that for the most part the guy is a good director, most of his movies look great, my problem with him is in his writing.

Let's start with his most recent work, Inglorious Basterds, which has now been nominated for four Golden Globe awards and it looks like it might get a couple Oscar nods as well given the critical acclaim it's received. I remember when I first saw a trailer for this movie, Brad Pitt with a big scar on his neck talking with a Tennessee accent to several Jewish-American soldiers about going behind enemy lines and scalping Nazis. That got me very excited. The tile of the movie and every advertisement for the movie was centered around Brad Pitt's character and his men, the Basterds. So when I went to go see the movie I expected to see a movie about a group of American soldiers led by Brad Pitt roaming through Germany and Nazi occupied France killing Nazis, what I got was a long movie about a girl who escaped being killed by the Nazis then a couple years later is running a theater in Nazi occupied France where the Nazis want to have a movie premier at. Brad Pitt was in the movie maybe 20 minutes and his men maybe 30 of the 150 run time. None the less, I will admit that this movie was more tolerable than most of his work, so much so that I might watch it again. One part of this movie that I did appreciate was Tarantino's complete disregard for history, I have always wanted to see a WWII movie where Hitler gets killed in the end and I got it. Still, as I said before, my problem is with the writing. The opening scene seems to drag on forever as the characters talk about milk for far too long and most other conversations involving the characters of Shosanna or Col. Hans Landa seem to drag on forever as they seem to talk about nothing. One of the scenes which seemed to be going in a great direction was the scene in the bar with a couple of the Basterds and Diane Kruger's character. At first this seen was good and quite funny at times, then it just kept going and going till all of a sudden everybody's dead in a flash.

This is the problem with Tarantino, he fills his movies with so much useless and irrelevant dialogue. I think the man just tries way too hard to be cool and to me he just comes off boring and stupid. The best example of this is everybody's favorite: Pulp Fiction. I re-watched this movie recently to give it another try and I almost regretted it. This movie is nothing but boring and completely useless dialogue that is wasting my time. What the hell do I care what a quarter pounder with cheese is called in France, does that have anything to do with anything? No. Now, I do enjoy dialogue heavy movies, for example all of Kevin Smith's movies, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Gran Torino and many many others. The thing is though, all of the dialogue in those movies is either very interesting or relevant to the story. I have had several people tell me "well he's trying to show you what it would be like in real life if these people were talking". That's great, problem is that real life is boring, that's why I go to movies, to get away from the boring and mundane that is real life. To me the there are only two parts of Pulp Fiction that are worth watching, the weird scene in the basement of that store with Ving Rhames because it's actually pretty funny, and the last scene with Samuel L. Jackson. The speech he gives at the end is great.

Alright, now I'm going to talk about Grindhouse and more specifically his movie Death Proof. This is the one movie of his that I can watch every once in a while, which is a little ironic. Let me explain, you can tell that the Grindhouse movie was Tarantino's idea as he has a thing for genre movies. The problem come when you realize that his movie is not a Grindhouse movie. The point of Grindhouse has always been exploitation movies, this means the movie is nothing but sex and action and violence. Robert Rodriguez's segment Planet Terror is a grindhouse movie, it is loaded with gore and action and sex. Death Proof however has a good 30 minutes of pointless dialogue then a quick action scene then another 30-45 minutes of dialogue followed by some good action for the last 15 minutes. Why I enjoy this movie I can't quite explain but I can say that I am begging the studio to release the theatrical cut of Grindhouse because it's great and the extended cut (which is the only cut you can get) of Death Proof on DVD pushes the movie towards unwatchability because Tarantino decided to add an additional 15+ minutes of dialogue.

The funny thing is Kill Bill Vol. 1 is more of a Grindhouse movie than Death Proof is. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is nothing but action and blood and gore. Sounds great but I still didn't like it. I know this sounds stupid but I remember when some of my friends took me to go see Kill Bill Vol. 1 opening weekend and I wanted to kill them for it, the movie was just stupid, there was no plot or story other than Kill Bill which just wasn't enough for me. The only parts of that movie I enjoyed were all of the scenes with Lucy Liu. I hated Vol. 1 so much that I refused to see Vol. 2 for years. When I finally did I appreciated Vol. 1 a little bit more because it at least gave us some story and David Carradine was great as Bill. However Vol. 2 was still filled with scenes that went on too long and some pointless dialogue, not as bad as all of his other movies though. These movies are tolerable to me but I still don't care to re-watch them.

Reservoir Dogs was another of his tolerable movies but it suffers the same issue of all of his others, too much pointless dialogue. And as for Jackie Brown, it has been forever since I've seen that movie but I do remember that I really didn't like that movie. I will admit that Tarantino seems to be getting better slowly, as I mentioned Death Proof actually was pretty good and Inglorious Bastards was alright but it just went on too long in many scenes and the title and advertising is a bit misleading. He hasn't screwed up so bad yet that I won't see any more of his movies, I'm going to keep watching his movies when they come out but I am going to be prepared for disappointment. In the meantime I am going to keep watching his friend and, at times it seems, partner Robert Rodriguez. When Rodriguez makes an movie, it's worth watching, even his kids movies aren't bad.

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