Quentin's dialogue has the ability to turn an evil character into a good one. His words create doubt about the morality of good characters by showing faults in both the protagonist and antagonist, even secondary characters with what seems like a throwaway line. Very well crafted screenplays equal excellent films.
By tying in reality and pop culture, Tarantino is able to draw in his target market as well as those that may not like his style of action movies. Either way, you have summed up his overall ability to ensure an audience can relate to a character be they bad or good or even indifferent. Active words are a great way to show action too!
I look forward to watching Inglorious Basterds.
In Jackie Brown, after Samuel L. Jackson's character Ordell Robie kills his buddy Louis (Robert De Niro), he says: "What the hell happened to you man? Your ass used to be beautiful."
I consider it one of the great lines in cinema.
Paul, based on Avary's own writing in his movies, I'm not sure how much dilution he's doing. I can't say for sure, of course, but I don't get the impression Tarantino was dictating to Avary who then filtered the language through his own grounding sensibilities. Judging by Killing Zoe or The Rules of Attraction, he doesn't have much of that. The dialogue in those earlier Tarantino movies is a bit more musical and more of a pure joy to listen to, but I'd say some of the conversations in Death Proof have a more realistic rhythm than the funnier stuff in Pulp Fiction.
If the credits below the screen toggled between "Script by Avary/Tarantino" and "Scr/Dir Tarantino", it might reflect a certain difference in quality between the heightened realism of Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction and the Tarantino-world language of the other movies. I personally prefer QT diluted by the addition of another writer's ear. Others will disagree. Nice essay, all in all.
Next to 'Grace', I would also like to add Larry Cohen's 'It’s Alive' (and its 2008 remake) to the "creepy toddler" genre.
Concerning creepy kids, there are also the quite recent 'The Children' (a British film about kids starting to murder their parents for no really apparent reason) and 'Case 39', big budget enough to star Renée Zellweger.
In Jackie Brown, the scene in which Ordell Robbie convinces a reluctant Beaumount Livingston to get into a small, dark, and dirty trunk and act as back-up with the end reward being dinner at Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles -- is CLASSIC! Jackie Brown gets over looked A LOT, but Tarantino uses Ordell's power of pervasive dialogue as action throughout the entire film. Ordell is easily one of Tarantino's best characters, especially in terms of dialogue, wish I could have seen more of him in this piece, but overall thanks MZS for putting together another great video essay! - LOPEZ
That's what you call a high-maintenance kid.
Another new entry to the creepy kid genre: Grace, the Sundance horror hit about a pregnant woman whose baby is born dead, comes back to life and requires regular doses of human flesh. (Although perhaps Grace is more a creepy toddler than a creepy kid.)
This is a beautiful piece and a gorgeous, insightful emtional essay. Kim always brings raw truth to her work and I love that you can hear it in her voice.
Way to go, Kim!
Smart and insightful. Morgan is the first and last word on Film Noir scholarship. She is simply the best.
Awesome. Thank you Matt.
"I got 0 correct. I am amazing-- in a way."
Ha! Yes, way better than the three or four I got .. . .
And I second the first comment.
Bigelow's biggest sin lies in her creation of an ironic "other"-- ie. a character who embodies the most romantic and cherished core beliefs of a culture, while also imbuing them with the aura of an outsider. Her characters-- in many ways are like the Las Vegas of american heroes. An impossible to understand pastiche of neon cliches that glow in the middle of a desert-- unreal, unsustainable, and the ease of engaging with them is VERY expensive.
Good work. However, I have to say that pointing out that McQueen was not a great actor is beside the point because he really was not an 'actor' to begin with.
McQueen was a screen 'star' because of a certain something that no else had. It is hard to put my finger on it. But let me put it this way, he was able to say lines, like Clint Eastwood - I am surprised you did not make a comparison with Clint - that few if any other actors could say.
Also, he was able to convey things without saying anything at all. Maybe that was the extent of his 'acting' ability. But whatever his ability was he could do things that if anyone else (save Clint Eastwood) attempted them would seem silly or not credible.
Consider the fact that McQueen was not good looking by the traditional standards of Hollywood. In another, earlier time, McQueen would have been relegated to a fill-in character actor status because of his looks. But he had, as I say, a certain something that made him attractive to the camera.
Lastly, I am really surprised you did not examine more closely one scene in the movie 'Papillon' which deserves careful consideration. When Papillon is put in solitary confinement for an extended time and the warden (played by Bill Smithers) asks him for the name of the person who helped him (which we know is Dega), McQueen, with his head stuck through the window in the prison door, delivers a performance or, let's say, creates a moment, which I do not see anyone else giving - not Newman, or Bogie, or even, dare I say it, Clint or Cagney - without calling attention to the fact that they were 'acting.'
Mind you, I do not disagree with the thrust of what you are saying, but merely offering my own clarification of McQueen's ability, whatever you call it.
Just my two cents. Thanks again for what you put together.
Luke: The music is by my maternal grandmother, Hazel O. Volkart, who died in 1984. The recordings are taken from a compilation album recorded in a studio about six months before her death. She was in the advanced stages of bone cancer at the time and had horrendous arthritis to boot, and if you listen you can hear a few places where she hits the wrong note or gets the timing off. All in all, though, it's a pretty amazing performance under the circumstances, especially considering that my grandmother made it her mission in life to write stuff that would have given Franz Liszt carpal tunnel. None of the recordings are commercially available -- it's just a bunch of old archival family stuff. The final piece was recorded on a Realistic mono tape recorder placed atop my grandma's piano by my grandfather in about 1977. That voice you hear saying "Memories" is him calling the tune.
Looks exquisite. This was really pleasant to watch, especially with the accompanying music--by the way, what was that? The follow shot truly is the oldest trick in the book, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a movie that doesn't have at least one usage of it. Your choices were wise and entertaining; I especially appreciated the inclusion of that scene from Die Hard. Seriously, the compilation would be utterly incomplete without that shot of chain-saw-wielding blonde pony-tailed terrorist.
I got 0 correct. I am amazing-- in a way.
I use Mac the Ripper or Handbrake to convert video to mpeg4 format, then mpeg Streamclip to convert the bits I need to dv format, which I then drop into a Final Cut timeline. The finished cut is then converted into an .mov format, then downscaled to make it small enough to upload.
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