I think Tarantino’s visual style is this: If you’re watching a film and you think it could have been made by many other filmmakers, but seems to lack the originality of those filmmaker’s films, that’s a Tarantino.
Sorry if you disagree.
Hes talented but I find him to be ignorant of much of the material he is supposedly paying “homage” to. I have to give him credit for his skill with writing good conversational dialogue.
The thing that makes Tarantino’s visual style interesting is that it is extremely FLAT. He only seems to want to shoot someone from the front or the sides. Whenever he dose move the camera it seems to preclude a pivotal moment. Much of the time he points attention to formal aspects of the movie (INT., EXT., zooms, match cuts, aspect ratio, soundtrack, and color scheme) to underline the emotional state of the character. My favorite example would be the switch from color to black and white in Death Proof where Rosario Dawson is smoking a cigarette outside a convenience store as she sees Stuntman Mike’s car roll past. In that moment you understand why Orson Welles said that there is no such thing as a great performance in color. In that switch, Not only is he imitating crude low-budget film making of the seventies, but you notice that it would have been distracting with all of the color visual information.
In terms of story and dialog he writes in right angles to the plot. He takes character who would normally be busy acting in accordance to the plot in other movies and shows them living average lives. Much has been made about his use of pop-culture references in his dialogue. But what it does is that it takes the characters out of the world of film and places them in this universe. It is a short-hand that gives them a history, a back story and a platform to relate to one another. It also makes the violence more shocking since we relate to them more as human beings and not as functions of a plot. One of the best illustrations of this is the “Pam Grier” scene from Reservoir Dogs. Though the idea that the dialogue indicates that his characters exist in this universe when all of the visual indicators (product placement, how many characters seem to be related to one another) suggest that they exist in a completely separate universe.
At his best Tarantino is a good storyteller, deft for human characterization and a unique filmmaker. I would include Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Death Proof on this list of examples. At his worst he is a mere formalist and a pitiless manipulator. In Reservoir Dogs I felt the dialogue was just overcompensating for a lack of real story. And Kill Bill Volume 1 I HATED! I HATED HATED HATED that movie! I do not have enough time to write at length the extent to which I HATED that movie! All I can say is that can indicate my HATRED for that movie is that the burning passion for which I HATED that movie dwarfs that of the fire of a thousand suns! Oh how I HATED that movie! Kill Bill Volume 2 less so. But even in those instances they are unique movies.
Originality is something QT is full of,even though his moves are mostly inspired from others he signs his name all over it. He is not about art and class but just simple entertainment.
I agree with your statement of QT being about entertainment. That’s very true. But I disagree with the originality. He himself has talked about how he bases most of his movies off of other movies that he’s seen. Every line is picked up from other movies. I believe his originality does come across in his song choices, though. That’s very true.
He has very original soundtracks.
I think he is very creative though. But original no.
i agree partially with you PAYA,yes he is not fully original but he started making movies because he wanted to make ones similar to those he enjoyed unlike other great directors who are visionaries of the tinsel town. he is not a visionary but just makes movies in already shown and applauded themes in his own style of realistic dialogs and screenplay which is his originality.Won’t you regard him as a trendsetter at least for his Reservoir Dogs? and how many directors could make a movie with a Female “Hero” with a one line story and make it a Blockbuster? You can never ever compare QT with masters like Kurosawa or Bergman or Kieslowski,i myself wouldn’t put his name in the list of legendary directors because he is not technically strong and doesn’t show anything with depth or intense but then he is a master of his own in making superficial subjects in a simple way and he may be making films for him to enjoy now but if he wants to make a blockbuster i believe he can burst one in no time.
Never expect to see artistic beauty or an emotionally sound movie from QT unless he promotes it saying so.Watch his movies the way they are meant to be watched and you’ll have the best movie going experience.The things i love in his movies are the dialogs and the riveting narrative style.I have to agree with one thing about QT i.e he can’t make classics but he can make movies which reminds you of classics and he can entertain you for the moment.Thats what QT is all about.
sry double post!
I agree with the trendsetting in Reservoir Dogs, Deathproof. And again I will never fail in purchasing his soundtracks! :D
In all honesty, the question of originality in this day and age is a troubling one. For the most part, many would argue that originality no longer really exists. Also as much as I’m not a fan of QT myself, I find that he is often judged with a double standard. Point in question, he receives criticism for basing elements of his movies off of pre-existing films. For example in Kill Bill, a portion of the House of Blue Leaves fight sequence is taken directly from A New Swordsman in addition to a character in Volume 2 taken directly from another pre-existing film, that of Pai-Mei.
In comparison, Scorsese used the “vertigo effect” in Goodfellas which as its name implies was originally used in Hitchcocks Vertigo, another pre-existing film. Another example would be the tracking shot at the beginning of The Player that is directly referencing Touch of Evil. And in TV, the fictional world of CSI takes some of its plot and setting from the world already established in Scorsese’s Casino.
The jist being, everyone does it, and in some of the latter cases, are even sometimes praised. People shouldn’t get caught up on the small elements in this context, but should consider the film holistically. In that case, I would definitely argue that Pulp Fiction, Kil Bill and his other works are unique in their own right.
thank you for pointing out that double standard. its silly to criticize a director for being unoriginal when he wears his references proudly on his sleeve, and they are such an important part of his cinema style.
I started out not liking him because so many kept people talking about him – you know, the mainstream. Hearing them you’d think he had invented cinema. Meanwhile, here I was watching Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Bertolucci, Scorsese, etc. He still does not rank with those directors but I must say, now I like some of his work … a lot. Most of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, I and II, and Death Proof. These are fine films, indeed. I love how he brings elements like american pulp, spaghetti western, and manga to his work. His control of the medium is highly impressive and very entertaining.
I agree with Alaska.
He knows how to tell a story. I think we can give him that. With his dialogue, sometimes it lends to character, and sometimes it lends to plot, but naturally he’s more notorious for the nonsensical conversational jibber jabber.
I think it contains a couple of aspects that provoke interest:
That and perhaps a commentary on today’s society, the primordial swamp of banality and what can be born from it, how we dwindle on the most trivial and moronic subjects.
BUT, though I do like his films, as a cinephile and a purist of sorts (I know, call me a hypocrite) he has plagiarized and ripped off practically every great film in history and never gave an ounce of kudos to the deserving parties. I guess he didn’t have enough time while he was snorting blow and choking on his ego.
tarantino? never giving an ounce of kudos to his favorite filmmakers?? tarantino??? ok, obviously you’ve never heard him talk before. that much has got to be a fact.
Clovenhoof-You’ve mistaken this site for IMDB
im with Bobby on this one, I dont think ive ever seen a director so outspoken about his references before. I mean hell, its almost absurd how much QT comes off with his fanboyism.
Oh I understand the man’s got his fanboyism. I DEF know that shit. But I feel like he isn’t open enough about where he takes his references, like he takes too much credit for it. I think that’s what I meant more than anything. He calls it his own with too much austerity.
He’s too crass and American to be deeply influenced by Wong Kar-Wai and Jean-Luc Godard. He says he likes those guys, but their light touch never shows up in his work. He’s far more influenced by kung fu movies, blaxploitation, and drive-in movies of the 60s and 70s.
The most interesting thing I’ve ever seen in one of his films, visually, is the use of an old-Hollywood-style background in the cab ride scene where Bruce Willis is talking to the Latina cab driver. The scene was not shot in an actual moving cab, with an actual background, but with a fake background. It’s a moment that says “This is a movie,” and it has a nice dreamlike quality.
how can you dictate who another man truly gets his influences from? that’s information that’s only inside tarantino’s head. how can you say, “i don’t believe you were really influenced by godard. let me tell you who you were really influenced by.”
and he’s too crass and american?? boy, i tell you. i said it before, i’ll say it again. when people criticize tarantino, they really pick some strange things from left field to go after. he must be a much more slippery subject than appears. and since when did godard be able to be reduced to a description like “he has a light touch”?
what you’re trying to say is there’s specific references that you can spot, and that’s what you want to comment on. play the reference game. but influences dont reside solely on the level of concrete textual symbols and appropriations. they can work in a million ways on the subconscious.
Bobby, I just don’t see it in QT’s work. I don’t get the same feeling as I do with Kar-Wai or Godard, and I don’t see it in his narrative structures, his dialogue, his camerawork. Whatever he thinks is going in, what’s coming out is much closer to the kung fu, blaxploitation, and drive-in movies that he has said he loves. And comic books. You always return to your earliest loves. And no, he’s not wrong to love what he loves. But for people to equate him with anything more profound is wrong, imo.
And he’s totally deliriously crass, that’s his only saving grace. At least he doesn’t take himself half as seriously as his apologists. And he’s as American as they come.
you’re not supposed to get the same feeling. you’re supposed to get the feeling that you’re watching a tarantino film. and i dont think he ever said he was trying to make a godard or kar-wai film. you’re taking the term “influence” to the extreme, and forcing it to apply to every single formal element as a dogmatic rule.
what could be more profound than love?
i didn’t know all americans were crass. excuse us. but maybe i interpreted your comment wrong.
and apologists? wow. is that what he needs? i didn’t know tarantino was sinning by making films.
“Crass” and “American” are not synonyms, they’re just two adjectives that I use to describe QT. I’m American meself.
Um, clearly you’re supposed to feel like you’re watching a Tarantino when you watch one of his films. But you speak of underlying subtleties and the subconscious, and that’s precisely where I’m saying I do not see any influence from a culturally higher source.
He’s the one who named his production company after a Godard film, and he’s the one who says Wong Kar-Wai influenced him. Not I. Of course love is profound, but raw love does not equal art. There has to be a finessing process, a translation, in between the emotion and the finished work. Again, I think QT often succeeds with what he’s trying to do, but let’s not dress it up as more than it is.
Apologist is not a catholic term. No sinning involved. Just people trying to turn probably the most important genre director of our time into a genius groundbreaking auteur. That’s the worst thing you can do to QT, because there’s ultimately nothing there to back it up. It’s like insisting a roller coaster is really a Le Corbusier. Let it just be a darn roller coaster and leave it at that.
QT’s films are all based in the pastiche. They’re sort of like touchstones for popular culture. And they’re all about flattery. They take the successes of films before them (with the exception of Reservoir Dogs) and act upon them so they can succeed themselves. They don’t lack any unique flair or twist, they just lack the core of originality that “good films” (or what users on on auteurs classify as ’good films) contain.
His movies are all distinctly Tarantino, though, and something any person would be able to pinpoint. The language is fresh and vulgar and the violent scenes are flippant and nonchalant. He has fun while making his films and likewise I have fun watching them. They’re pure entertainment, sort of like universal inside jokes.
I love you Honey Bunny… now let’s execute the whole motherfuckin’ lot of ’em!!!!!
:) lol. Sorry.
ok. tough argument. you think people dress tarantino’s films up to be more than what they are, i think people dont give them enough credit for being as great as they are. tough to come to terms with that one.
a genre director cant be a genius, or an auteur? what’s the qualitative difference between an important genre director and a genius auteur? because that was almost a synonym for the cahiers critics in relation to many american directors they championed.
well yes, but those original genre guys from the 40s and 50s were actually kind of inventing something that hadn’t really been done before. They had some influence from German expressionism (as we’ve talked about in Bob’s Noir thread), but for the most part it was a new thing. It was almost whole cloth. I don’t think Tarantino even sets out to be creating from whole cloth. He may be a genius, and there’s no doubt he has cinema running through his veins. He also wrote Natural Born Killers and True Romance, two excellent scripts. But I still see his work mainly as great entertainment rather than art. Hey, it’s just my opinion.
i hear you. we disagree on the entertainment/art dichotomy.
the original genre guys in the 40s and 50s weren’t inventing something new. genre films have been made since the silent days. those guys weren’t even original genre guys. it wasn’t something new that they invented that the cahiers critics seized upon. first of all, they were only prized so heavily in the first place because the cahiers guys grew up in the 40s and 50s watching those films from those directors. you tend to covet what you can see, what’s closest to you.
the cahiers critics didn’t discover anything. they were polemicists. they argued for the recognition of film directors as artists, therefore for film as an art. and they succeeded. their method for polemicizing was picking out trends and patterns in filmmakers work as evidence of artistic intervention. because it was evidence of choice and tastes and proclivities and concerns. style is the man, and art is the humanizing of form, as godard said.
tarantino is an artist. he makes art. maybe its good, maybe its bad. but to quote walter sickert, art is produced mainly for lay consumption. and if it fails to be lucid, it fails of its first function.
His originality is more in how he chooses to use the elements he’s “borrowed” from other people.
He’s original in his own sense, he just borrows a lot.