Quentin Tarantino, or Mr. Brown as us “reservoir dogs” know him best, is one of the greatest living directors of our time. With such flicks as Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Jacky Brown, and the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs under his belt, no one can question his talent.
What places him on my radar, however, is an appreciation for those who write and direct their own material. The catalyst for this article was an interview I recently watched in which the director angrily refused to discuss the violence in his films.
First off, understand that this group of writer/directors isn’t as large as you might think. Truth is, in most cases a work is written and, though given special consideration, the writer sits idle while the director brings his words to life. And no, I’m not taking a slap at writers that don’t direct or vice versa. I’m simply justifying my admiration for Quentin.
That being said, as no one can deny his talent, we also can’t deny his films tilt toward the violent side (more like leap headfirst into violence).
It seems like most people look at violent flicks and expect to trade off plot for brutality. For films like Hostel or any Saw incarnation (after the first one), this is true. These films put violence up on screen and played visual chicken with the audience. How much can you take? They make money, and their viewers might blast me, but they trade away plot. The first Saw had an interesting message- what you do will come back to haunt you. I saw (get it) and liked this movie as it let its characters have a shot at redemption, solidifying the message and was actually not as gory as most remember. Tarantino does not trade plot for violence either.
His movies use violence to inform plot. Quentin is a wordsmith akin to Shakespeare. His dialog is equal to, if not greater than, the bloodshed in the movies.
Reservoir Dogs takes place primarily in one room where the main characters argue over previous events. For those that remember, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) was grievously angry with Mr. Blond (Michael Madsen) for instigating needless violence.
The Kill Bill pictures pay homage, of sorts, to the Kung Fu genre. They were also about avenging oneself against an aggressor. That being said, why is Richard Gecko (From Dusk Till Dawn) getting salty over people talking about it.
I may defend the violence because these films have message and style, but they are very violent pictures. People will question it and interviewers will ask you to respond, Quentin. I have to admit, after watching his interview he lost some of his shine with me. I was like, “Dude, this is what you do.” If you don’t want to entertain the idea of violence in cinema, don’t make a movie where you presumably kill 88 people with a Hanzo sword (Kill Bill, The Crazy 88). The scene was kick ass but tremendously aggressive. Further if your latest film plot is heavy on the terrors of slavery and Mandingo fighting (aka Django), let us not pretend there’s no violence.
Instead of harping on being surprised at his surliness toward addressing brutality, I throw it to you dear reader. Check out the interview. I still love (as did the interviewer incidentally) Tarantino and will be first in line for the next film. I just don’t respond well to bogus or warrantless outrage. The idea that he doesn’t have to answer to the audience is crazy, that’s your bread and butter. Put up a fight and defend the way you approach your craft.
As my sister hysterically pointed out to me, he once played an Elvis impersonator on an episode of Golden Girls. One could say his genius and the viewers (ticket buyers) took him from playing back up to Bea Arthur all the way to the top. Let us not be so rude to the interviewers and remember there’s always impersonating The King to fall back on.
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