Tag Archives: tarantino

The Real Warren Perso

Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley, 2008)

Mark Hartley’s documentary on “Ozploitation” – Australian exploitation movies of the 70s and early 80s – should find an enthusiastic audience. It is great fun, largely because it reproduces all the best moments form a body of work that is probably more a lot more enjoyable to reminisce about, and see highlights from, than it is to actually sit through in its entirety. After briefly setting the historical context, it starts with what I think are the best remembered sub-genre, the “ocker” and sex comedies from the 1970s (Stork, Alvin Purple, the Barry McKenzie films, and so on), and then works through horror films and action films (the films’ structure gives the impression that the filmmakers had an eye on being able to break the film up into separate episodes of a TV show). So we get basically all the sauciest and funniest moments from the sex comedies, followed by the most outrageous scenes from the horrors, and the best stunts from the action films. As a highlights package, it’s fabulous, and Hartley intersperses interviews with many key participants (plus Quentin Tarantino representing the fan’s perspective as only he can).

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Pulp Muppets

Exactly what it sounds like.

Also reminds you what an awesome trailer that film had.

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The Daily Grind

The trailer for the Tarantino / Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse:

I suspect the trailer is more fun than the movie will be, but then I said that about Kill Bill. I like the irony of them advertising two movies for the price of one after Kill Bill gave use one movie for the price of two. Perhaps it’s their way of clueing us in that the movie will be overlong.

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Bill Killed

Kill Bill: Volume II (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)

When I reviewed the first part of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, I concluded with a rhetorical question: would anyone have enjoyed just the first half of Once Upon a Time in the West? My point was that it was difficult to assess Volume 1 prior to the release of Volume 2, since it was bound to end up as an empty exercise in style if it could never reach any conclusion. Sergio Leone’s classic sprung to mind as an example of a perfectly rounded film by a master of film technique that wouldn’t amount to anything if you showed just part of it. Having seen Volume 2 of Kill Bill, however, I can see that the example was all wrong. Once Upon a Time in the West is a film with purity of purpose that stands as a supremely executed single entity. Kill Bill, by contrast, makes perfect sense as two movies. Not only is each volume an anthology, constructed out of a series of episodes that add up to a larger whole, but each volume is starkly different in overall purpose and tone. I’m now convinced Tarantino intended for the film to be split in half all along, and I’m not one of those who hankers for Tarantino’s promised single movie version (I can see it being schizophrenic and unsatisfying, like From Dusk Till Dawn).

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Mike Moore’s Palme D’Or and Quentin Tarantino’s Casino Royale

Mike Moore winning the Palme D’Or? It seems so bizarre that it is hardly surprising that in all the stories about Fahrenheit 9/11 preceding the festival, nobody had really suggested this as a possibility, despite the film being in competition. I can’t wait to see the film: I loved Bowling for Columbine, and am sympathetic to all but the most outrageous of Moore’s politics. Yet I also fear it may be terrible. Columbine I thought stood head and shoulders above Moore’s other work because he successfully reigned in many of his worst impulses. Moore has a weakness for hyperbole and half-truths that has brought down many of his other films and books, but despite the best attempts of the right to discredit Columbine, nobody really poked any serious holes in it. There is plenty of scope for a really devastating attack on George W. Bush without bending the truth, but I fear Moore’s anger and the praise heaped on him post-Columbine may have gone to his head. I can see Fahrenheit 9/11 descending into hysteria, conspiracy theories and factual error. Let’s hope I’m wrong: for all his faults, Moore popularises the left and has the kind of cross-cultural reach that usually only the right can achieve.

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Pulpy

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Reservoir Dogs is superficially in the same vein, but it expands the scope of Tarantino’s world enormously. Where Dogs was taut and focussed (telling the story of single bank robbery, with few locations and a small core of characters), Pulp Fiction is a wide-ranging journey through the low-life of Los Angeles. Its several interrelated story lines unmistakeably occur in the same world as those of Reservoir Dogs, but the film is in every way – story, messsage, form – more ambitious than Tarntino’s earlier film. It has an air of definitiveness: not just because it is a key film of its genre, but because it is the most focussed and well executed of Tarantino’s films. It enlarges and illuminates his other work.

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Half Dead

Kill Bill, Volume 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

Volume 1 of Quentin Tarantino’s bisected Kill Bill is at once less than I hoped, and better than I feared. Tarantino’s first three full-length films – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown – were amongst the best films of the last decade, but the possibility loomed that Kill Bill would favour all his worst instincts. Tarantino’s stated intent was a large-scale tribute to Asian exploitation movies, and the danger with such a project was that it would leach the substance from his work and leave only the sensationalism. After all, there was the clear precedent of his 1996 collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn. That film was a tribute to lurid horror movies, and while cleverly done, it’s also a rather unpleasant and barren film. I feared Kill Bill would follow that pattern.

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Dirty Dogs

Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)

The problem with reviewing Reservoir Dogs is that right from its release in 1992, even its detractors generally agreed what its merits were: to review it risks simply listing them. Tarantino, in his first film, had shown he had a good eye for direction, and that he could write slick dialogue that was heavily laden with pop-culture references. He was capable with actors, or at least had a good eye for casting, with the ensemble he assembled here somehow already having the feel of a repertory company (looking back, what is surprising is how few of these actors he actually went on to use in his subsequent movies). And everyone agreed he had a talent for narrative: scrambling chronologies with confidence, he had crafted a taut thriller on a low budget. This is not to say that everyone loved or even liked the film, but rather that its detractors – many of whom remain vocal over a decade later – tended to react not to Tarantino’s technical skills, but rather to the personality that they perceived the film as embodying.

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