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Monday, December 17, 2012

Quentin Tarantino Retrospective via Just Seen It



As I am becoming a regular guest reviewer on Just Seen It, I can continue to help by posting the videos.  Here is another post of a guest appearance of mine on the most recent episode, where we discuss the films of Tarantino.

Here's the official description:

Aaron, Salim and Guest Reviewer Aaron Neuwirth pick their favorite Quentin Tarantino movies and do a ‘preview review’ of Django Unchained. Starring Aaron Fink, Salim Lemelle and Aaron Neuwirth. Directed by Amy Taylor.

Quentin Tarantino has created some of the most memorable stories and characters of the last 20 years. In honor of his new western, we do a retrospective and a preview review of Django Unchained.
 
WATCH US ON PBS SOCAL Saturdays at 6PM or pbssocal.org/justseenit and the official site is justseenit.com

Check out my full review of Django Unchained HERE
 

Continue on to read more of what I have to say about Quentin Tarantino.



Below are notes that I had to create for the video, so I figured I might as well not let those go to waste and post them below:

What's your favorite QT movie and why?

So already this has become difficult, because I would recognize Inglourious Basterds as Tarantino’s “Best Film” but I consider Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown to be my favorites.  As I feel people can talk on and on about Pulp Fiction, I think I’ll go into Jackie Brown more.  I love this movie and everything about it.  Adapted from the Elmore Leonard novel, “Rum Punch,” Jackie Brown has Pam Grier, Sam Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, and Silver Linings Playbook’s Chris Tucker in this wonderful crime story that is very deliberate in its pacing, very dialogue heavy, but incredibly cool to watch.  The way this story plays out is great, as it really gives you a good hour, just so you can be comfortable with these characters, before it really digs into the “caper” aspect.  The dialogue has a great mix of Leonard and Tarantino’s style, with the help of this great cast to bring it to life, leading to a number of memorable lines that I could easily quote (and do, quite often).  The soundtrack is, obviously, great, as Tarantino always knows what choice tracks to select.  And on top of everything, Pam Grier is perfect in the lead role, conveying a level of cool and confidence, while fitting very well into the universe that Tarantino has created for this film, which is best seen in her scenes with Robert Forster as Max Cherry, played by Robert Forster, who is equally great.  Jackie Brown is often overlooked in Tarantino’s roster of films, but I love it.

What QT movie was the biggest disappointment and why?

This is not really a knock against the film, as I am a fan of every Tarantino film, but the closest film I could relate to this category is the film that even Tarantino has just recently proclaimed as his “worst”, which would be Death Proof.  Now, I don’t think this is a bad film, but in the realm of the film’s he has made, Death Proof is certainly the least significant.  More of an experiment that he made with Robert Rodriguez, who directed Planet Terror as the other part of the 2007 double feature flop that was Grindhouse, Death Proof was an attempt to bring to life a style of film that is not very prevalent anymore.  I think if there was a problem, for me, it’s that I feel like I have seen Tarantino do this already with his work on film’s like From Dusk Til Dawn and even the Kill Bill films, which are better and bring forward a lot of genre film aspects that Death Proof is equally trying to capture.  Still, Kurt Russell is amazing in this movie and on the short list of favorite QT characters, which I will get to.  The dialogue is a lot of fun (though the less Tarantino acting the better).  And the actually car stunts are awesome.  It may be the least of Tarantino’s filmography, but I still find a lot to appreciate in it.

Who is your favorite QT character/actor (does not have to be the same as your favorite movie) and why?

Oh man, there is certainly a short list here:  Stuntman Mike from Death Proof, Max Cherry from Jackie Brown, Jules from Pulp Fiction, Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction, Mr. Pink from Resevoir Dogs, Pai Mei and Hanzo from Kill Bill, Drug Dealer Lance in Pulp Fiction, Walken’s extended cameo in Pulp Fiction.

Really, it comes down to two people for me:  Mr. Blonde and Hans Landa.  Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde is both incredibly cool and a lot of fun, but also sinister and from what we are told – a psycho killer.  The scene where he tortures the cop in Resevoir Dogs is insane in the way it is both terrifying, but incredibly funny and it also has one of my favorite sequences from any of Tarantino’s films.  Hans Landa, on the other hand, is incredibly due to all of the talent that Christoph Waltz has.  He is another sinister villain, but also incredibly polite and professional, with various qualities that make him hilarious.  The fact that he speaks like four languages in the film only take him further in how well utilized he is and how he uses the language barrier in the opening of that film is another amazing highlight of Tarantino’s career.


Talk about Django Unchained - research it thoroughly. Premise/Story, Actors, the director.

Django Unchained is the film that I feel like Tarantino has been building up to for a while.  While he has brought elements of spaghetti westerns to previous films, this is finally THE spaghetti western that he is making and it has a great cast.  Waltz is back, along with Jaime Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio and Sam Jackson.  The premise surrounds a freed slave teaming up with a bounty hunter to both get back Django’s wife and take revenge on the Brittle Brothers, whom Walz’s character is searching for.

Of the things I know about this film, Will Smith was originally the first choice for Django, but decided to go another way, however, that could have been very interesting.  That said, I’m sure Foxx will be very good (he is an Oscar winner).  There were a lot of casting rumors and cameos planned that didn’t happen as well, including Costner, Russell and even Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Another fact – this will be the first of his film’s not to be edited by Sally Menke, who unfortunately passed away in 2010.  It will be handled by Fred Raskin, who has been an assistant editor for a lot of his previous films. 

I’ll be curious how well this film does over the Christmas release period.  True Grit may have been a successful western during that time a couple years ago, but this is a hard R, presumably over 2 ½ hour film that has a lot of genre elements incorporated into it.  We’ll see, but it’s still my most anticipated film this season.
 
And ANYTHING else you want to talk about - bring in some insiders industry knowledge and Urban legends

There are other things that Tarantino has been involved in that I could bring up.  True Romance, the Tony Scott-directed film starring…everyone (Slater, Arquette, Hopper, Walken, Sizemore, Pinchot, Pitt, Gandolfini, Jackson, Oldman, Kilmer, etc.) was written by Tarantino, I believe his first script ever actually, and it is another of my favorite films.  It’s this dark comedy romance action movie that fires on all cylinders thanks to combining Tarantino’s dialogue and Scott’s high octane direction.

Similarly, I love Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Til Dawn, which was also scripted by Tarantino and features Tarantino’s best acting, as he is tasked with being a psychopath who is very scary when he is just being quiet.  That film, which stars Clooney, Keitel, Lewis, Hayek, and a host of B-movie actors (Tom Savini, Fred Williamson, and Danny Trejo), is one that I try to say nothing about to anyone that hasn’t seen it, given the crazy turn it takes in its second half, because I love the idea of watching this movie fresh.

Other films: Tarantino loves to talk (obvisouly) and I remember hearing about possible plans to make a film called ‘Vega Brothers’ which would bring together younger versions of the characters in his film universe – Mr. Blonde (Vic Vega) and Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, played by John Travolta and Michael Madsen, in a war film, which eventually became Inglourious Basterds.  I know the other big rumor is whether or not Kill Bill vol. 3 will ever happen, featuring a grown up version of the daughter of Vivica A. Fox’s character going for revenge against the bride with possibly a now blind Daryl Hannah.  The only reason I would want that, is because it would bring me one step closer to finally seeing a release of the full Kill Bill film on Blu-ray.

Other thoughts:  Tarantino loves movies and probably knows more about them than all of us combined.  He owns the New Beverly Theater out in Hollywood, which, I believe, only plays original film prints of various old, vintage, and genre-type films in mostly double feature form, with special midnights showings as well.  

With his knowledge, I tend to think it is funny when people write off Tarantino for making so many references and taking from other films, when the fact is – every filmmaker does that, Tarantino just has a very specific style and his happy to acknowledge the fact that he is doing that.

With that again, I think there is also the tendency to believe that he is all dialogue, but Tarantino has a great handle on directing features, which is why I would consider Inglourious Basterds to be his best film.  While Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, or Resevoir Dogs can make you comfortable with how the dialogue flows, Basterds is a film that is incredibly tense and knows how to maximize that tension to full effect.

Last thought, a ton of influence and films have come from his existence.  People would never get to experience a lot of films from Asia, were it not for Tarantino having the kind of power in Hollywood (along with the Weinstein’s) and be able to put his seal of approval (Tarantino Presents) on certain features like Hero, Iron Monkey, The Protector, or Zatoichi for example.

Here's part of my room, by the way:


Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.


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