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2019 ERNIE LADD MEMORIAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH REVIEWS

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When the best guy in Be Cool is Cedric The Entertainer then that pretty mcuh tells you all you need to know. The novel for Be Cool is much better since the Linda Moon character is part of a rock band trying to make it and gets backing from their single which lets them open for aerosmith (who appear in the novel).

James

 

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Posted (edited)

Rippa's ramblings made me realize that Tarantino truly has no narrative voice of his own.  Some vivid characters, personalities, and dialogue, and he gets a lot out of his actors (I'm thinking less of Sam or Christoph and more the Jennifer Jason Leigh-type of roles that buoy even the films I don't care for), but that's as far as it goes.  He hasn't done anything his whole career that didn't crib heavily from B movies, gangster films, French New Wave, blaxploitation, kung fu, or The Dirty Dozen.

That probably seems like a facile thing for me to say, and I also imagine others have made the case better, but I thought about this in relation to other directors and find myself surprised that others don't temper expectations accordingly.  If you compare, say, Guillermo del Toro to Tarantino, you'd never think for a second that Tarantino could make a movie like Cronos or The Devil's Backbone and have them well and truly gut-punch you.  But he could totally do his own versions of Hellboy or Blade II, and you know exactly what they'd be like and that they'd be enjoyable.  That is, if he didn't (incorrectly) think of himself as some sort of auteur.  He can do splashy, and punchy, and cool, and violent, and tense (insofar as 'people are about to throw down' is tense), but he can't set up quiet emotions.  Nothing simmers, and when nothing simmers, the big overblown shows lose their luster.  I thought about Kill Bill, for instance, and I realized the two best parts of the movie(s) are 1) Beatrix realizing the baby isn't there and assuming the worst -- maybe Uma Thurman's best scene on film -- and 2) the brief detour through Budd's gray-tone hellscape of a life that serves as its own sort of revenge.  That latter scene might be the closest QT has ever been to creating a real, fleshed-out character in a film that could exist somewhere besides his films; that, or Jules' speech at the end of Pulp Fiction, which is a no-brainer on that front.

I know, I know, if this is how I feel, I should go back to watching Olivier Assayas and Yorgos Lanthimos and Krzysztof Kieslowski movies - and I will! - but I often find myself wondering, "If he's supposed to be so great, why can't he do something that doesn't feel like a re-skinned version of his other movies?"  Hey here's Nazi violence, hey here's Civil War violence, hey here's Kung Fu revenge, hey here's car-heavy stunt porn revenge. Good for you, Quentin, but I'm bored.

But, to get all this back on-topic, the comment about "he hasn't made a better movie since" might actually be fairly close to the mark.  I don't like Inglourious Basterds as much as other people (though I should rewatch it), and I think Django Unchained is his second- or third-best film, but Jackie Brown feels like the movie he got the most "right".  In his others, it feels very much like he's fantasy-booking the kind of movie he wishes someone had made, but no one ever did, so he's making it, and telling That Story as a result.  Jackie Brown never feels that way.  You don't sense an intrusion.  I don't know how much of that is due to it being an adaptation, but it's considerably less heavy-handed than a lot of his other stuff, and there's something to be said for that. 

But if you guys ranked it within your cohort as highly as you did, then, well, you kind of Super J-Cup'd the movie, because it's still not THAT good.  The 90s had a LOT of good films.

Edited by Contentious C

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Not surprisingly, i love QT for his metatext, but I would never call him a great technical filmmaker. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not going to argue about him but I will say my top two are 1. Jackie, and 2. Kill Bill 2.

I think one of the reasons I never watched Get Shorty is I confused it with Get Carter which was supposed to have a shitty remake done of its original around the same time. (I have seen the OG Get Carter. It is amazing. Thank you Tony Bourdain for getting it aired along with Withnail and I on TCM)

Edited by Curt McGirt
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The best description I've ever seen of Tarantino is that he's a collage artist. Taking other people's work and art and chopping it up and rearranging it into his own project. He has created some really striking visuals, but they usually crib from someone else.

I do think Sally Menke's extremely deft hand has been sorely missed since her untimely death. Both Django (which I really like) and The Hateful Eight (which I'm more neutral on) feel a lot shaggier and roughly edited than everything post-Dogs.

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I just watched the end of Get Shorty and Jackie is on right now. WTF, Showtime? Are you stalking me? 

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Given I called Jackie Brown the best movie of the 90's (because it is) I obviously disagree Out of Sight is better, but Out Of Sight is one hell of a movie. Easily the best thing J-Lo ever did, and a strong contender for both Clooney and Soderbergh's career best.

Plus, having Keaton reprise his role as Ray from Jackie Brown is just fantastic (although it adds to it to Phil's shared universe.) I've never actually read Out Of Sight, but I assume it's good?

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