The State of Tarantino

Chapter One: The Setup

I’ll admit, most budding filmmakers close to graduation typically fall into one of two camps of inspiration: Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. That said, while shooting my senior film with my very talented team of creatives, I couldn’t help but hope to channel the on-set excitement of Quentin while directing actors, or the ridiculously intricate plot points that weave together a Nolan film. After all, isn’t imitation not only flattery, but necessary while creating?
Clearly the impact of both directors on our current cinema landscape is obvious. The remainder of DC films have tried to keep close to the realistic approach of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. More subtly, films like The Boondock Saints or Kingsman likely had inspiration from Tarantino’s approach to storytelling.
All of this isn’t to say it’s folly to admire these men. However, being a few years removed from higher education, I’ve realized I had goggles on. I can now see the glaring flaws in The Dark Knight Rises, but I still love the thematic content. I’ve recognized it was much better to write a drama about a married couple, and their life-extending, over-the-counter pharmaceutical than one about outlaw brothers who hide out in a farm town, only to end with a typical Mexican stand off, and some mysterious, glowing item in their trunk. One of these is smarter than the other, read: smarter than the other.
So, let’s go ahead and take the leap.
Image from Reservoir Dogs

Chapter Two: The Leap

I saw The Hateful Eight a few nights ago. I was very excited as I’ve only missed three of Tarantino’s filmography. I’ll go ahead and spoil my thoughts: I wasn’t exactly impressed, I was put off. Not due to violence… but maybe. Not due to one-dimensional characters… but maybe that too. I mean, Sam Jackson is a screen hog usually in whatever he does, but Tarantino amplifies that.
Tarantino also has a great knack for pulling oldies back into the spotlight, I mean, he gave John Travolta another chance at life to make movies, and grasped Idina Menzel’s face worldwide. Here he pulls Tim Roth and Kurt Russell, and plenty of others from the dusty top shelf, shakes them off, and shoves a novel of lines into their mouths. Then he slaps them around until they regurgitate it all in front of some ancient lenses to get that novelty wide-screen effect.
Don’t hear this wrong, I admire Tarantino, but he’s just not my favorite anymore. He was always afraid of making too many movies, and eventually his last films would be garbage. The Hateful Eight isn’t garbage, but it’s not classic Tarantino fare. Usually we get bombarded with revenge porn, and the issue here is, it usually feels very desired.
Who didn’t long for vengeance upon Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) in Inglourious Bastereds? Even in Django Unchained, Tarantino was so careful to ensure every time a white slaver was killed, it was gory and hilarious, however, when violence was enacted on a black slave, the scene was serene, like a soft and gentle ode to those who suffered much at the hands of their captors.

Chapter Three: The Hateful Eight

If you strip the camera direction, casting choices, and delicious, honey-like dialogue from The Hateful Eight, you are left dumbfounded, confused, and wondering if it was ghost-written. I’m not trying to be a cynical or get clicks, this is serious. I remember finishing Reservoir Dogs and feeling uniquely satisfied at the very unnatural plot reveals, and very interesting characters leftover.
I suppose Dogs and 2015’s release mirror a couple similarities in that regard, but while Dogs was randomly violent, Eight was red, dead, dripping wet. I actually felt dirty leaving the theater, like I saw something I shouldn’t tell my parents about. Maybe that’s my warning to those who go to see it. If you have a penchant for gore, you are better off watching this than a Saw film.
Each character in Eight has motive for their purpose at the cabin (Minnie’s Haberdashery). However, don’t feed me lines about how things were just different then, Tarantino get’s it. That’s a load of nonsense. Characters in Eight are all just ready to pull out a gun and blow off anyone’s head, so long as they don’t get arrested and have frontier justice reigned upon them. It’s different from past entries.
Film Title: Inglourious Basterds
Col. Hans Landa, played by German actor Christoph Waltz
I can understand his excessive use of the “N-word” in Django. Here, it makes no sense. I was mortified. Like Tarantino couldn’t help but to indulge himself and shock us just a little bit more–except we aren’t amused. We aren’t bewildered by the characters. In fact, we are more confused by you, Tarantino.
Why use the only woman in your film as a punching bag for comedic timing? Did you chuckle every time Kurt Russell beat her teeth in?
I’m not offended by what I watched, again, I just feel confused. It’s like a long-time friend of mine who spent eight years in school to be a top of class doctor, decided instead to drop his career and take a minimum wage job deep frying chicken nuggets or french fries. It makes no sense, and I’m lost for words to figure out why he made that choice. He had so much going for him.

Chapter Four: The Verdict

So, that’s where I’m at. I’ll still watch and dissect Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill with my wife, but I won’t watch Eight with her. I’m really hesitant to think about Eight anymore. It’s not who I thought Tarantino was, but I’m glad I can at least see past my star-studded goggles to make that call now.

Chris Hecox

Chris enjoys the simple things in life, like teaching his wife the newest review game, looking up Ketogenic recipes, and playing 10 hour long indie games on Steam. If he's not thinking about the oil drum components from Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, playing Player Unknown: Battlegrounds with his college buddies, or dwelling on the release of Daredevil Season Three, he's probably shooting or editing video, because that's what he does for a living.

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