“Grindhouse” Again

A whole N.Y. Times piece about Grindhouse — two high-style wankoff movies made in the spirit of ’70s exploitation flicks, one directed by Robert Rodriguez, the other by Quentin Tarantino — and not a single mention of the film’s most fascinating element, which is how heatedly and lasciviously Rodriguez will photograph actress Rose McGowan in his segment, called “Planet Terror.”

Rodriguez, a very clever and likable guy who, being a kind of lapsed Catholic, appears to regard women as either Madonnas or floozies, tends to make his actresses look hot and saucy in his films. He dressed and photographed Salma Hayek like a pistol-hot wet dream in Desperado and From Dusk to Dawn, and one naturally presumes that the ardor behind his on-set affair with McGowan during filming of “Planet Terror” (which led to the end of his 16-year marriage to Elizabeth Avellan) will be captured, so to speak, in the way in which he dresses and films her.
And yet Times writer Whitney Joiner writes only about the usual technical-attitude genre-homage stuff. Said it before, saying it again: Rodriguez and Tarantino seem to be chronically lazy genre filmmakers, incapable of creating a single honest (i.e., unreferenced) thought or emotion about anything real, indulging time and again in ironic (i.e., insincere) B-movie trappings and posturings — style, pizazz, attitude, etc. They’re both lost…totally lost.

  • p.Vice

    I bet Bob Dylan used Tarantino’s script for toilet paper.

  • Arrow77

    “Said it before, saying it again: Rodriguez and Tarantino seem to be chronically lazy genre filmmakers, incapable of creating a single honest (i.e., unreferenced) thought or emotion about anything real”.
    Now, here’s a bad analysis if I ever read one! Lazy genre filmmakers? Okay, there are genre filmmakers but calling them lazy makes no sense: their genre movies have a lot more personnality than most of the other ones out there. That has to take effort to achieve.
    And there’s a difference between “incapable of” and “not trying to”. One is caused by a lack of talent, the other is happens because of artistic choices.

  • corey3rd

    the film is such a risk for Harvey and Bob since they’re taking their two “prime” filmmakers and letting them make 2 movies, but only charging one ticket. Three hours plus that’s Grindhouse pretty much kills 2 shows a night.
    And why the hell put it out in April? This is a summer flick. This is a Drive-In flick. Plus how can they not have Grindhouse 2 already in production and ready to hit the screens at the end of summer? Where’s the Women in South American Jail movie? Where’s the motorcycle gang flick?
    Tarantino is a scared filmmaker. How long has he promoted his Western and WWII flick? We sent him “research” film back in the 20th century. But he’s retreated into the “safe” grounds of making tributes to Crown Int & AIP rather than even coming close to proving that Pulp Fiction was a white elephant in his career. Maybe this is the best he’s really capable of doing without Roger’s help.

  • jeffmcm

    You’re complaining because the NYTimes reporter didn’t want to bring up gossip and dirty laundry in favor of actually talking about (horrors!) the movie and its process of creation?
    Meanwhile, I agree with Arrow. For one thing, Rodriguez and Tarantino have made some fantastically entertaining movies. For another thing, Tarantino’s choice/predilection to use homages and references doesn’t mean he’s not original; rather, that he’s engaged with the cinematic landscapes of our minds in a unique and interesting way. It’s one thing to just recycle garbage – just check out any Michael Bay horror movie rehashing for boring regurgitation. It’s another thing to deconstruct and reassemble the pieces that make people love movies.
    Wells, you need to realize that, like it or not, you are becoming Bosley Crowther (or Rex Reed, or name-your-own-out-of-touch-critic).

  • JD

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jeff is like the folkies who jeered Bob Dylan for rejecting their beloved, socially acceptable, geriatric-friendly folk music and embracing the more youthful, irreverent, and disreputable rock ‘n’ roll. Does anybody really want to see Quentin Tarantino take a stab at movies like Brokeback Mountain, Babel or The Queen? I certainly don’t. He’s essentially a visceral, comic filmmaker so why not work in genres that best serve those strengths?
    And well put, jeffmcm. Tarantino is criticized for drawing on really specific, obscure movie moments and deconstructing/combining them in an exciting and insightful way, while other filmmakers are free to re-make and/or imitate bland, generic movies in an uninspired fashion without being criticized. As far as I can tell, Tarantino’s punished for the originality of his movie references because they’re more noticeable than the status quo re-hashes seen elsewhere.

  • D.Z.

    Arrow: “Okay, there are genre filmmakers but calling them lazy makes no sense: their genre movies have a lot more personnality than most of the other ones out there.”
    I don’t see how reading something out of an encyclopedia or making your weapons more over-sized than the competition gives you a personality.
    corey: “the film is such a risk for Harvey and Bob since they’re taking their two “prime” filmmakers and letting them make 2 movies, but only charging one ticket. Three hours plus that’s Grindhouse pretty much kills 2 shows a night.”
    They’ll probably cop out at the last minute and cut it in two, like they did with Kill Bill. Especially since Sin City 2’s been pushed back a year, and they need something to fill the void.
    “And why the hell put it out in April? This is a summer flick. This is a Drive-In flick.”
    They don’t want to compete with Fantastic Four 2 and POTC 3.
    “Part of my fun in doing genre cinema, since everyone knows the rules well, whether unconsciously or not, is leading you down a road and giving you all the information that you’ve gotten in other movies, and then using your own information against you,” [Tarantino] said.
    Hasn’t that already been done with Scream?
    ‘√¢‚Ǩ≈ìI always loved it in horror films when you actually got to care about the characters so much that you almost resented that the horror was going to come in,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù Mr. Tarantino said. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìYou don√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t want these people to die.√¢‚Ǩ¬ù’
    What characters?! They’ve got less depth than those in a sitcom.
    ‘Mr. Tarantino called his female characters√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ dialogue, which simultaneously evokes both √¢‚Ǩ≈ìSex and the City√¢‚Ǩ¬ù and teenage girls√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ MySpace profiles, √¢‚Ǩ≈ìsome of the best dialogue I√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve ever written in my life.√¢‚Ǩ¬ù’

  • D.Z.

    jeff: “For another thing, Tarantino’s choice/predilection to use homages and references doesn’t mean he’s not original; rather, that he’s engaged with the cinematic landscapes of our minds in a unique and interesting way.”
    That’s such bs, and you know it. He doesn’t have a unique or interesting bone in his body. He’s just the sum of his videos he watched at his store.
    “It’s one thing to just recycle garbage – just check out any Michael Bay horror movie rehashing for boring regurgitation. It’s another thing to deconstruct and reassemble the pieces that make people love movies.”
    A remake is a remake, no matter who’s behind it.
    JD: “Jeff is like the folkies who jeered Bob Dylan for rejecting their beloved, socially acceptable, geriatric-friendly folk music and embracing the more youthful, irreverent, and disreputable rock ‘n’ roll.”
    I’m not really interested in the kind of rock and roll in which white people just covered black people’s songs.
    “He’s essentially a visceral, comic filmmaker so why not work in genres that best serve those strengths?”
    The problem is his only strength is “borrowing”.
    “Tarantino is criticized for drawing on really specific, obscure movie moments and deconstructing/combining them in an exciting and insightful way, while other filmmakers are free to re-make and/or imitate bland, generic movies in an uninspired fashion without being criticized. As far as I can tell, Tarantino’s punished for the originality of his movie references because they’re more noticeable than the status quo re-hashes seen elsewhere.”
    He’s critiqued for taking credit for those movie references and keeping original talent down in the process.

  • D.Z.

    One more comment. “For another thing, Tarantino’s choice/predilection to use homages and references doesn’t mean he’s not original; rather, that he’s engaged with the cinematic landscapes of our minds in a unique and interesting way.It’s one thing to just recycle garbage – just check out any Michael Bay horror movie rehashing for boring regurgitation. It’s another thing to deconstruct and reassemble the pieces that make people love movies.”
    So you’re saying what Bay did to Clonus is different from what Tarantino did to City on Fire?

  • http://home.houston.rr.com/adhoc/ berg

    Speaking of homage … Look at the way Scorsese paid homage to Tarantino in The Departed: scene: You keep calling me Babu, It’s Singh, motherfucker … Land of 1000 Dances music playing as Leo beats two gangsters to pulp … obviously taken from the scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 …. the differnce in Scorsese between Goodfellas and The Departed is the difference that Tarantino created in American films after 1992 … Do you bite little doggie, or are you just going to bark?

  • JD

    You’re right, DZ. Movies are about their premise and nothing else. They don’t contain detail or nuance. Plus, The Island and Reservoir Dogs are interchangeable. I don’t even know why people bothered reviewing them when they could have just written simple-minded DZ dismissals like “The Island is just like Clonus” or “Tarantino stole all his ideas from City on Fire, the first and only undercover cop movie ever made… which definitely wasn’t influenced by any American movies whatsoever.”
    And berg, I think the point you’re making is valid but unfair. You’re assuming that Scorsese’s intentions with The Departed were the same as his intentions with Goodfellas, but that’s obviously not the case. Goodfellas is based on a true story and attempts to dissect all the details of an era and place in an anthropological way. While Goodfellas is entirely character-driven, The Departed was intended as a more classical, pulpy, story-driven crime film in the tradition of 40s film noir. Like Tarantino’s films, it’s a movie movie, not a reality movie. It’s also worth noting that, whereas Scorsese co-wrote Goodfellas, he didn’t write The Departed. His actual contribution as a director isn’t dramatically different. For better or worse, what you’re really describing is a script issue.

  • berg

    JD … point taken … but look at Scorsese’s use of music, a directorial choice to be sure … In Goodfellas he played the cool, correct song (What is Life? during the helicopter scene) to accentuate the scene, but after the Pulp revolution music has to be more than just a single point of reference … So Scorsese plays Gimme Shelter to introduce Jack’s character, then he cues the song once again in the scene where Vera moves in with Matt …Then in the middle of that scene Scorsese stops Gimme Shelter, about a minute in, then restarts Gimme Shelter just like you would push replay on a CD player … That’s a difference that hasn’t shown up in Scorsese films like Goodfellas or Casino …

  • http://lazyeyetheatre.blogspot.com Piper71

    The thing that Tarantino and Rodriguez are doing is re-inventing the category as Tarantino has specifically done time and time again.
    Reservoir Dogs is a heist movie. It’s been done before. But no one had done it the way Tarantino had with the narrative and the dialogue.
    The same is true with Grindhouse. These guys are having a blast and why shouldn’t they? I would rather have their work than the pretentious crap from Shalamaladingdong any day. Don’t we go to movies to be entertained?
    And as far as them not bringing anything new to the table I give you this. Planet Terror has a section in the middle that says “Missing Reel” and suddenly you come back the the film and a lot stuff has changed and you don’t know what has happened. To me, that is one of the most original ideas in film-making that I have seen in a long time.

  • D.Z.

    berg: “You keep calling me Babu, It’s Singh, motherfucker … Land of 1000 Dances music playing as Leo beats two gangsters to pulp … obviously taken from the scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 …. the differnce in Scorsese between Goodfellas and The Departed is the difference that Tarantino created in American films after 1992 … Do you bite little doggie, or are you just going to bark?”
    Yes, Quentin never saw City on Fire or Goodfellas and is totally original. But if you want another movie about gangsters being beaten to a pulp, how about A Better Tomorrow?
    “but after the Pulp revolution music has to be more than just a single point of reference … So Scorsese plays Gimme Shelter to introduce Jack’s character, then he cues the song once again in the scene where Vera moves in with Matt …Then in the middle of that scene Scorsese stops Gimme Shelter, about a minute in, then restarts Gimme Shelter just like you would push replay on a CD player …”
    Yes, Coppola and Kubrick never thought of that idea in Apocalypse Now and A Clockwork Orange.
    JD: “I don’t even know why people bothered reviewing them when they could have just written simple-minded DZ dismissals like “The Island is just like Clonus”‘
    Apparently, the guy who directed Clonus agrees, and is currently suing Bay.
    ‘”Tarantino stole all his ideas from City on Fire, the first and only undercover cop movie ever made…’
    It’s not the first, but it might be one of the first to incorporate cinema veritae elements.
    ‘which definitely wasn’t influenced by any American movies whatsoever.”‘
    There’s a difference between being influenced and mimicking the style, and copying entire plot-lines and scenes. The former is an homage, while the latter is a remake.
    Piper: “Reservoir Dogs is a heist movie. It’s been done before. But no one had done it the way Tarantino had with the narrative and the dialogue.”
    I guess the guy who directed “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” is a nobody.
    “I would rather have their work than the pretentious crap from Shalamaladingdong any day.”
    So you’re claiming that Quentin’s dialogue is not pretentious?
    “And as far as them not bringing anything new to the table I give you this. Planet Terror has a section in the middle that says “Missing Reel” and suddenly you come back the the film and a lot stuff has changed and you don’t know what has happened. To me, that is one of the most original ideas in film-making that I have seen in a long time.”
    *cough* Monty Python and the Holy Grail *cough*

  • christian

    and dennis hopper’s THE LAST MOVIE…but this works for me. i’ve seen a qt fest and it was the best week of movie going i’ve ever had. this will be like a condensed version.

  • jeffmcm

    Yes, what Bay did in The Island and what Tarantino did in Reservoir Dogs are two different things. One is a rehash, the other is taking something old and making it new again with fresh dialogue, clever plotting, and excellent performances. What we call ‘style’. What did Bay add to Clonus except more expensive car chases?
    By the way, if you’re going to make claims about City on Fire, you ought to learn how to spell cinema verite…or what it means.
    Tarantino’s accomplishment is that he is a truly post-modern filmmaker. While boring hacks like Bay think the work they’re doing actually is fresh and original, Tarantino knows that movies are made of building blocks, and he feels free to pick up and play with those blocks in new and interesting ways.
    I can literally say that you don’t get it.

  • jeffmcm

    So in other words, if Monty Python and Dennis Hopper were so innovative with the Missing Reel thing, why didn’t anybody do it again in the last 33 years?
    (I don’t think that actually happens in Holy Grail, I think you’re confusing it with a different gag. Obviously I haven’t seen Grind House, but it does sound like a very clever thing to do – and original in its specific application, to skip over narrative necessities, aka ‘the boring parts’.

  • Nick29

    the film is such a risk for Harvey and Bob since they’re taking their two “prime” filmmakers and letting them make 2 movies, but only charging one ticket. Three hours plus that’s Grindhouse pretty much kills 2 shows a night.
    -they work cheap, the preview is playing like crazy in every theater i’ve been in and gets the same fired up responce from every crowd I see it with. this will be a new franchise and they’ll get all kinds of directors in there to do whatever, just keep it cheap. they’ve shot a bunch of fake previews to show in between the films, i bet one is for QT’s films that he’ll never make but always talk about (the preview will of course be made by Rodriguez)

  • Hallick

    “Jeff is like the folkies who jeered Bob Dylan for rejecting their beloved, socially acceptable, geriatric-friendly folk music and embracing the more youthful, irreverent, and disreputable rock ‘n’ roll.”
    Except that Quentin is acting more like Jet than AC/DC.

  • MPNeeb

    Maybe it’s me, but how close can we get to a grindhouse aesthetic and experience when the producers and directors drove to the set in Lexus SUVs?
    While I’m excited to see this, the whole things reeks of a bunch of suburb kids trying to prove how “ghetto” they are.

  • D.Z.

    jeff: “What did Bay add to Clonus except more expensive car chases?”
    What did Quentin add to City on Fire except more cursing and blood-letting?

  • D.Z.

    jeff: “What did Bay add to Clonus except more expensive car chases?”
    What did Quentin add to City on Fire except more cursing and blood-letting?
    “By the way, if you’re going to make claims about City on Fire, you ought to learn how to spell cinema verite…or what it means.”
    This coming from a guy praising a high school drop-out…
    “Tarantino’s accomplishment is that he is a truly post-modern filmmaker.While boring hacks like Bay think the work they’re doing actually is fresh and original, Tarantino knows that movies are made of building blocks, and he feels free to pick up and play with those blocks in new and interesting ways.”
    Casting white people in Asian remakes has been done since The Magnificent Seven.
    “So in other words, if Monty Python and Dennis Hopper were so innovative with the Missing Reel thing, why didn’t anybody do it again in the last 33 years?”
    Because unlike Quentin, they moved on?
    MPNeeb: “While I’m excited to see this, the whole things reeks of a bunch of suburb kids trying to prove how “ghetto” they are.”
    You mean like Eminem? Or Kid Rock? Or both?

  • goodvibe61

    These are the same lazy, self important, wrong headed criticisms about the work of Quentin Tarantino that film lovers have been force fed for years now:
    Res Dogs is just City on Fire!
    He’s lazy cuz he’s a genre filmmaker.
    Quentin is nothing without Roger Avery.
    All he’s ever done is copy what he saw when he was working in a video store.
    It’s all a bunch of bullshit.
    There are great, classic, Shakespearean themes running rampant all through Tarantino’s work. There is a complete and utter mastery over story structure, and anyone who loves pop culture can clearly see that his writing is the single most influential aspect of film over the past 15 years or so.
    He gets wonderful work out of his actors. His blocking is so well considered and tasteful. His shooters do fantastic work for him.
    And he gets bashed more than just about any filmmaker you can think of. I don’t know what the reasons are for that, except that there are so many fans of his work out there that the naysayers have to trumpet their criticisms to the heavens about the guy.
    I guess he’s been too successful, his work is so much at the forefront of pop culture that everybody needs to bash it.
    People criticizing the whole missing reel thing , they’re already grasping at straws like, “gee, that was in another movie fourty years ago”, or some stupid shit like that.
    People, what HASN’T been done in a movie already? It’s the painfully stupid that it’s become funny at this point.

  • Rich S.

    I also don’t understand how you can say that Robert Rodriguez is a lazy filmmaker when he turns out something like Sin City. You may not have cared for it, or thought that he failed in the attempt, but in no way is Sin City lazy. Rodriguez swung for the fences in trying literally to translate a revolutionary comic book series directly to the screen. He even had to surrender his membership in the director’s guild to do it, because he brought the comic’s creator in to co-direct. If he wants to take a break to do something like Grindhouse, which employs his friends and makes a lot of money, so what? Where’s all the hatred for Clooney and Soderbergh and the Oceans movies?
    As for Tarantino, I’m as angry as anyone that he keeps putting off Inglorious Bastards. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Kill Bill 1&2 weren’t gloriously entertaining. Tarantino may not be making the movies I want him to make, but I can’t fault him for what he is turning out. If you don’t agree, don’t go. It will mean one fewer bored patron text-messaging while I’m trying to watch the movie.

  • The Movie Man

    D.Z.-Why don’t you get over yourself man? We know you don’t care for QT and that’s completely your right, but as much as it may gaul you, a lot of people DO like him. You’ve made your point time and time again (in posts that are seemingly a 1000 words long). We GET it. You’re as predictable with this as you claim Tarantino’s movies to be.
    As for the general conversation, I have to agree with Jeff in that I’m getting mighty tired of there being quote marks in all of these films, but Tarantino’s trash is better than most’s A game. You can keep Robert Rodriguez though.

  • MarkVH

    Nope, Wells is right – Rodriguez and Tarantino ARE, in fact, chronically lazy genre filmmakers. The only thing worse than watching their tired, reference-laden circle jerks is listening to overzealous fanboys bend over backwards to make their increasingly boring films seem relevant. “They’re only movies! They’re supposed to be entertaining!”
    A sure sign that fans of these films, like their creators, have nothing of value to add to the conversation.

  • The Movie Man

    Mark-In regards to Robert Rodriguez, we are fully in agreement. I think Tarantino, for Pulp Fiction and especially Jackie Brown, deserves some respect. But he has been treading water for a while, and seems terrified of making a straight movie again.

  • MarkVH

    Movie Man, absolutely agreed. Tarantino didn’t start off lazy – he started on an upward trajectory that peaked with Jackie Brown (a terrific movie and the one that shows just what an incredibly skilled filmmaker he is when he’s got an actual story to work with). But that was almost 10 years ago, and you’re exactly right – he seems terrified of making a “real” movie again.

  • gatsby1040

    I’m excited to see Grind-whatever. It’ll be a hoot. Not a fan of RRodriguez… his movies don’t have much going on in them otehr than their flash and sizzle. Sin City was pretty to look at, but so, so trashy. In a bad way.
    As for QT, I’m also disappointed that he’s resorted to making these meta-movies (GH & KB) instead of REAL movies with depth, character, and punch. His first three movies were all terrific, and yes, all contained an idea or two or four gleaned from lesser movies in the past. But QT brought so much panache, voice, quirk, and LIFE into these movies. They reflected real life and real personality. Its not just that “the dialogue is good” but that the dialogue feels REAL. He’s excellent with actors, and his movies contain actual thematic and human depth. For all the talk about ‘sensationalism,’ if you go back and watch RD, PF, and JB you’ll find three very old-fashioned crime films rooted in chracter, dialogue, and narrative, with a mastery of film technique and a skillfull handling of structure, pacing, and, yes, violence — which almost always occurs OFFSCREEN.
    Fast forward to KB, and its a whole new ball game. Yes, the KB movies had a new visual sense then QT had previously demonstrated, and again the use of structure, narrative, and dialogue were strong. But where QT’s life has clearly once fed into the world of his movies, the world of KB is informed ONLY by other movies. He lost the single thing he had that made him great. I have no illusions that grindhouse will suffer from the same problems. These movies may be fun, if you’re into, you know, Kung Fu and Slasher movies. But they ain’t worth watching repeatedly, like Jackie Brown — which just gets better each time you see it.
    So what happened? Does anyone know? I heard the War script was making the rounds out in LA– has anyone heard anything? Will QT ever make a real movie again?

  • ArchiveGuy

    Let me see if I’ve got this right–two famous filmmakers decide to collaborate on a mini-anthology double feature, reviving two genres in a stylistically retro way…
    And the most fascinating thing about it is Rose McGowan’s knockers?
    Yeah, sure Jeff.

  • The Movie Man

    Good call gatsby you summed it up better than I could.

  • DavidF

    At the risk of sounding like a fanboy.
    Here’s some stellar NY Times journalism:
    “The director Sam Raimi played with a similar idea in √¢‚Ǩ≈ìDarkman,” she writes, referring to a hero having a weapon attached to a stump.
    I give her points for suggesting that Rodriguez’s “high caliber ephipahny” (nyuk) isn’t hugely original but it’s been a while since he and Tarantino have been about that kind of originality.
    I’m not saying that everyone needs to worship before the Godliness that is Bruce Campbell, but how hard is it to know the difference between Darkman and any of the three Evil Dead movies??
    Lame.

  • DavidF

    And I’m still making my way through the article…what about this bit?
    “My whole thing is to play with the audience,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù said Mr. Tarantino. √¢‚Ǩ≈ìI guarantee you, when it pops up √¢‚ǨÀúMissing Reel,√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ the entire theater is going to scream. They might very well be screaming my name: √¢‚ǨÀúQuentin, you bastard! We hate you!√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢
    Well, I won’t be screaming because QT, you just ruined the fricking joke, man! (I will refer you, in fact, to the John Stockwell thread which devolved into talk about Gremlins2, which contains virtually this exact joke, 15 years ago WITH Hulk Hogan. AND it was a SURPRISE!)
    I wouldn’t say I have high hopes for this movie but I still think it can be good fun if they don’t take themselves as seriously as the NY Times article make it seems.
    √¢‚Ǩ≈ìIt feels like it√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a popular film that√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s been screened a bunch of times. The texture, all the scratches, makes it look really creepy, like you√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re watching something you√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re not supposed to, where anything could happen at any moment,” says Rodriguez.
    Huh? My fingers are crossed a bit tighter than before…

  • The Movie Man

    I think we can agree that any thread that begins on John Stockwell and ends on Joe Dante should not be considered devolving.

  • christian

    my only fear is that the incessant hyping of every little detail about this film is being telegraphed too much in advance — this is actually a way to protect themselves so boneheads won’t freak out in case of a “missing reel”…as if the fanboys in the crowd won’t get it.
    and if anybody thinks the ny times knows anything about anything…i especiallly love these journos who act like they’re dispersing some arcane cult info to the hoi polli: “raimi once used this idea in a cult horror film he made years ago before he hit it big with SPIDERMAN…”

  • Rich S.

    Amen, Movie Man. I just caught Matinee again on Universal HD the other day and marveled all over again what a terrific little film it was. John Goodman has never been better. I guess Scream kind of ruined the public’s taste for the kind of movie at which Dante excels.

  • The Movie Man

    “i especiallly love these journos who act like they’re dispersing some arcane cult info to the hoi polli: “raimi once used this idea in a cult horror film he made years ago before he hit it big with SPIDERMAN…”
    Haha.

  • Mr. Peel

    Could we all just talk about Gremlins 2 some more?

  • DavidF

    Ha. Who knew that mentioning G2 (as I’ve decided to nickname it) would send people off with such, um, passion. Again.
    I mean, it’s relevant to an extent.
    QT has always been very referential – even self-referential – but die-hard fans have to be a bit concerned he’s crossing the line, don’t they?
    There is a very long list of projects he’s almost done, for example. Off the top of my head:
    “The Vega Brothers”
    “The full-length Kill Bill”
    “The Kill Bill anime,” which even QT acknowledges in the article.
    “Inglorious Bastards,” the WWII flick.
    The latter has missed the chance to revitalize Eddie Murphy’s career…but Norbit might knock him back down far enough that QT can still do a Travolta on him.
    IMHO, Reservoir Dogs is great in its way but I never re-watch it. Just a bit too nihilistic for me.
    PF remains superb. Hasn’t lost a thing.
    JB is the underrated slice of genius is his catalogue. It should be too long; it should be boring. But as said above, it gets better and better as the years go by. The definition of a “mature” work from QT.
    (Plus, they kill of Chris Tucker in the first ten minutes. What more can you possibly ask from a movie?)
    Then there is Kill Bill which I recently rewatched – it is great in many ways. Its humour, its use of Carradine, Michael Parks’ double-duty character work, its balls-to-wall style…but, ultimately, it’s hollow. Part II ends up giving Part 1 an unexpected depth but it’s still more about style and “cool” than anything else. And that’s ok.
    I can re-watch it, I like it a lot but it’s not a GREAT FILM. It’s not a huge leap forward given the time it took to make.
    And, in that context, Grindhouse doesn’t seem a move forward to me. It may be entertaining etc. but I have no doubt that QT is capable of greater depth than he has explored since JB.
    And, to circle all the way back and satisfy Mr. Peel, it’s hard to pick the funniest line in Gremlins 2 – the line one might quote to a friend a la “Royale with Cheese.”
    Still, I think it would be great if every office building had a fire alarm that actually said, “Fire! The untamed element! Giver of warmth! Destroyer of forests! Right now, this building is on fire! Leave the building! Reenact the age-old drama of self-preservation!”
    that’s good writing, folks. B-movie or otherwise.

  • Mr. Peel

    Don’t forget Christopher Lee’s best line:
    “All they have to do is to eat three or four children and there’d be the most appalling publicity!”

  • gatsby1040

    David F, you hit the Kill Bill nail on the head. I just dont see how a movie that has as little substance as KB can be any kind of a step forward. Yes, yes, the second half tried to bring soem depth. But its still only a good action movie, nothing more — and its length and ambition hurt it. Still, it is far more visually intricate/rich than anything he did before, so I guess that’s a good thing.
    Jackie Brown, on the other hand, is one of my favorite movies. There’s something so classic about that one — it’s got soul, it’s very well acted and written, and it has an intriguingly detached rhythm and pacing, which was why it was underrated on first release. It doesn’t have a traditional structure, it just kind of cruises along, gaining momentum as it goes. Unlike PF, RD, and KB, it doesn’t beat you over the head with its own brilliance. It’s modest, even subtle. And it contains one of Deniro’s finest performances– he’s so good you don’t even think that he’s doing anything. It’s also Samuel L’s best performance ever. Forster and Grier are luminous, and Tucker and Fonda add so much. Here’s hoping QT figures out how to access all that soul again.

  • DavidF

    If you want a good laugh, by the way, I was inspired to watch KB again after catching a bit on TBS.
    They were showing the House of Blue Leaves sequence and given the way they cut the movie (ie cutting out the VIOLENCE) it made for some absurd watching.
    Watch the Bride swing her sword.
    Watch a man scream (I guess he was hit by it?).
    Rinse, repeat.
    change channel, insert DVD.

  • dobbsy

    Folks: I need some help here. I was already depressed about the state of American indie cinema, then I read about the dreck of these two hacks and got more depressed.
    So here’s the question: Who is the most important American indie director of the past 20 years? What is the most important American indie film of the past 20 years?
    Where do these two lads (QT, RR) fit in?

  • DavidF

    I don’t think what they’re doing is DRECK. I just think it’s superficially fun work rather than something “deeper.”
    You can’t overstate the importance of Tarantino, I think. The zillion imitators (good and bad) are testament to that.
    Rodriguez and Kevin Smith both inspired (for good and bad) a whole school of “I can shoot it cheap!” filmmakers.
    I guess others will tout Cassavetes, Jarmusch etc. but I’d say they’re too arthousey to have had a real impact.
    “Most important” is hard to define but QT and RR have both had crossover into the mainstream and that counts for something.
    Ditto for Soderbergh who has really dabbled with just about everything from ultra-obscure to “Hollywood” filmmaking.
    I’m not going to look up the B.O. numbers right now but it’s worth remembering that Pulp Fiction is the only REAL blockbuster Tarantino has had. The rest has really seeped into the culture via DVD, geekboys quoting him etc. His films do not, as it may seem, make $250M (or even $100M!) at the domestic box office.
    Strictly speaking he isn’t “indie” but I’d count Fincher in there too. “Fight Club” is probably the most indie studio film ever made. (Also, not huge box office.)
    If you’re really honest you have to give props to George Lucas too. For all his faults (and they are legion), he is the epitome of an indie filmmaker. He finagled a contract that gave him (“The artist”) money and power at the expense of the studio.
    He financed the new Star Wars films entirely with his own money and did them his way. Watch “The Beginning” doc on the Episode 1 DVD and realize that even he was not sure this was the wisest decision.
    He says something to Spielberg along the lines of “This could all end up being ‘More American Graffiti.’
    If making your own movies with your own money, practically making the studios beg to distribute them, isn’t indie filmmaking I don’t know what is.
    The fact that he makes billions (especially with DVD and merchandising) is besides the point. He (and Coppola too, sometimes) have been making movies outside of the Hollywood studio system and means indie to me.
    Then we could into a whole discussion of whether “indie” means financing or attitude or whatever…I guess I kinda referred to both above because I don’t think either really captures it on its own.
    All of the above, of course, is IMHO.

  • christian

    soderbergh and linklater are the most important of the past 20. i’d throw in payne and qt too.
    i don’t think you can name just one important indie of the past 20, but sex lies etc and slacker come to mind.

  • DavidF

    I had to look it up having mentioned it. Here are Tarantino’s box office hauls. I think you have to admit it that they are far lower than his fame might suggest:
    Kill Bill Vol. 2 $66,208,183
    Kill Bill Vol. 1 $70,099,045
    Jackie Brown $39,673,16
    Pulp Fiction $107,928,762
    Reservoir Dogs $2,832,029
    Remember when $100m was a blockbuster?
    Neither do I.
    So, that’s an average of about $70M (if you take RD out of the equation). And this is the proverbial “Miramax’s Mickey Mouse.”
    One could equate it to, say, the impact of The Ramones and Bob Dylan have had, far outstripping what their sales would suggest, but it’s worth remembering.
    After all, EPIC MOVIE has already made about 1/2 of what JACKIE BROWN did. (Gulp.)

  • CambridgeCat

    Tarrantino also kills on video and, like Kevin Smith, is a guy who makes his movies for cheap so there’s no huge risk attached. My guess is that if you take what this list of movies cost to make and what they made in the theatre and on video/DVD then QT is among the most profitable directors (for his studio) around.

  • http://KeithNYC KeithNYC

    Great discussion on QT. I think QT got so scared by the initial reaction to “Jackie Brown” that he will never make a “mature” movie again. I think he feels safe in a comic book world. I remember reading an article a while back when “Kill Bill” was released that he locked himself in his apartment for months and just did weed after the initial reaction to JB. It is a real shame b/c he was a once great film maker. He needs to go back to his Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown routes and make viewers FEEL something again. I will still never forget the first time I saw Pulp. Can he ever get back to that again?

  • The Movie Man

    I agree with the overriding theme of this thread but let me risk whatever mature, criticish credibility I may have with you folks and play devil’s advocate. Kurt Rusell in Snake Plisken mode in a Tarantino helmed slasher film doesn’t get your nerd pulse going just a little bit?

  • DavidF

    -I totally agree, CambridgeCat. But I think one hears so much about TARANTINO that it’s easy to forget that in terms of box office (still the bar by which Hollywood measures things) QT isn’t that huge. The two Kill Bills made about $135million. If it had been a single film it probably would have been slightly less. I’m sure that’s more than the budget but it’s still not as huge as one might expect given his clout.
    And as for what Keith says…an artist has to be a bit fearless and QT’s dedication to acting certainly suggests he is that. So are we to believe that he’s not making the oft-discussed Inglorious Bastards because Jackie Brown scared him off? I dunno…Looking back, the academy should be ashamed the flick got a single nom (no love for the screenplay, or Grier, or DeNiro…?).
    And as for my “nerd pulse.” Sure, that gets it going a bit. But not as much as if I heard he was making his WWII flick with Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and the other 10 cool people who have been attached over the last decade.
    It’s a bit like how I feel about Kevin Smith. I throughly enjoyed Clerks II but I’d really love to see him break the mold. (If Miramax had had the balls to make Fletch with pre-Earl Jason Lee I think it would have killed and really got Smith out of Jersey.)
    It’s presumptious to say that you know better than an artist what is better for them. But sometimes you just love em and wanna see what ELSE they can do…you know?

  • EveHarrington

    Just because QT and RR are making this movie together doesn’t mean you can really speak of them in the same breath. I’m with goodvibe61. It doesn’t really matter whether you like what QT is doing, or whether you think it’s meaningful. Being an artist means making the movies you want to make because if you’re not making the kind of art you want to make – rather than what others think you should make – what’s the fucking point?

  • corey3rd

    The best “indie” film projects going at this moment are TV shows. Nothing showing at the art house can compete with “The Wire.” Dexter is a 12 hour epic with a difficult lead character. Weeds is better than 99 percent of the comedies released in the past decade.
    And what director has had the most influence over their audience in the past 20 years? I say Patti Kaplan. How many people have explored something after watching it on HBO’s Real Sex series?
    As far as the Grindhouse series goes, they should already have the next batch in production – like Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.

  • http://lazyeyetheatre.blogspot.com Piper71

    Say what you want about QT and RR but they’re calling their own shots and having a fucking great time doing it. And we’re all just writing about it.
    I think there’s a lot of truth to what KeithNYC says and I would agree that if there’s a fault of QT it’s doing what is easy for him and not really stretching himself. But hey, he does it really well.

  • christian

    corey, people who watch too much tv are always saying this. the shows that people love are basically soap operas.
    “How many people have explored something after watching it on HBO’s Real Sex series?”
    i’ve never seen one episode and i haven’t talked to a filmmaker yet who’s acknowledged this arcane influence.
    while i do think there is good tv writing going on, it’s extremely overhyped because people are basically addicted to their tube.
    i’m just sayin’.

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