What do you think about Quentin? Is he a genius or an overestimated director and a debatable artist?
I think that the word genius is tossed around way to easily when it comes to filmmakers. In my genuine opinion i personally feel that directing is an overrated profession that tends to reward one individual when in the reality of it all it conisists of a team of people that create your vision. Now yes the vision itself comes from the auteurs mind but for it to really hit the capacity of what you want it will not work if you have a mediocre team. Tarantino’s movies wouldn’t look as good if his budget was limited like most filmmakers are. I mean the DP plays such an important part the editor, the composer. Now also let it be known that finding the right people to collaborate with is also part of the process of making a film and finding those is also a skill that all great filmmakers need to learn to harness. I saw Ridley Scott talk about making Black Rain and making it in japan and sayig how the crew was japanese so the obvious langauage barrier would make things a bit more difficult and the crews worked completely different than how they work in the states. Problem ? Yes. But as a filmmaker you just have roll with it and make it work to fit your style. In all it makes that much more of a filmmaker when you go through hardships that challenge your film.Case in point Apocalypse Now although Coppola doesnt churn out films like Woody Allen his films carry alot of weight. I bought Youth without Youth and i was pleasently surprised at how good it actually was after reading some reviews i felt that critics really just got it wrong. It was exactly what Coppola said he would do, small personal movies. Which it is, but like all great films by masters it carries a heavy theme. And in my opinion it works extremely well. Sorry for babling but my answer for Quentin is that he definitely is a great filmmaker but belive me he is really far from being a genius. That word should be left to the Bill Gates and Albert Einstein’s of the world.
Reservoir Dogs is a film maked with a very low budget, isn’t it? And it is one of Tarantino’s most important production. However I’m completely agree with you when you say that a film is the result of a team work.
I didn’t appreciate Youth without Youth…..
I think some people who idealize the directing profession might be rubbed the wrong way by Bronc but he’s right about that for the most part. Director’s like the great Orson Welles admittedly couldn’t have made Citizen Kane on his own: his visual style and screenplay are greatly indebted Gregg Toland and Herman Mankiewicz. The network of people that make a movie are so instrumental, I’d think a great deal of Hollywood pictures made my solid directors are the product of a great production crew. The Spielbergs and Eastwoods of the world really work as little more than producers these days as far as I’m concerned… they have this movie making machine of Michael Kahn’s and Tom Sterns and Janusz Kaminski’s…
Having a limited budget doesn’t mean that a film won’t “look” professional though; that’s suggesting that having an expert team guarantees a gem of a movie. I’m a film student and I’ve worked with a number of teams. I’m definitely low budget. I’m not from the top schools or anything and most kids I work with are there because film school is easier to get through than dental school. Yes, it’s a big pain in the ass to work with a mediocre team of people but that doesn’t mean the movie’s going down the drain. A director makes the movie happen dude. Every director may not be a genius but I can guarantee most of them are work horses with big “cojones”. If they know their shit they show up to the set and they work the actors and they work the lights and they work the cameras and the list goes on. That’s if you’re a good director. If you’re a good director budget is worthless and imagination is everything.
Is Quentin a genius? I lost track of time…
Yes i know that Reservoir Dogs a is low budget, but remember actors are part of the team that can elevate your film. And that cast is top notch. Yes at the time Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn(who was already name) , Steve Buscemi were fairly unknown and Tarantino in alot of ways helped elevate their careers. But still Harvey Keitel who serves as a producer helped elevate that film above the normal low budget pic. And if you think about it Reservoir Dogs really was his only penny pinching low budget film because Pulp Fiction although it didnt have a huge budget it was still pretty sizeable compared to other indy pics. And again his cast is even more Top Notch with real big names that again Tarantino helped elevate to a whole new level of popularity and stardom(travolta,willis,jackson,thurman,rhames, and even keitel again). But my point is that he is not a genius, but rather blessed with the gift for storytelling.
Mao you are absolutely right. Regarding that no matter how good your team it still does fall on the director to make sure his vision comes as close as possible to his original conception. But like you said the team also deserve’s as much credit as the director does. Sometimes though the team does surpass the director. For example any film shot by Conrad L. Hall looks so exceptional that the story sometimes takes a back seat to his extraordinary photography. Now i hope that i dont rub eveyone the wrong way about idealizing filmmakers but i feel that for example the oscars are more about popularity than quality. And that’s really what has always bothered me because especially in the hollywood setting those films are often not made by the filmmakers themselves but a whole team of people who test the film until they feel that they have the most marketable product to release. My argument in this topic really just goes back to the word Genius being tossed around for filmmakers. Now dont get me wrong their are filmmakers that are probably so in tune with everything that they themselves are probably genius’ in their own right. But someone like Tarantino who is an admitted film buff is not a genius, just someone who has the gift to view movies and take his love for movies that inspire him to create new and original ideas that all start with his knowledge of what he watches. Also Mao excellent point regarding working with different crews and limited budgets, you got me brother. But like i said that part of making it work most of the time falls on the director.
Directing: If you’ve ever done it, you will understand that it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. A team is only as good as the communication that spills down from the auteur. Years of training/experience/research in acting, cinematography, screenwriting, sound and nefarious and multifarious other skillsets are involved in directing. There are many poor directors in the industries. I call this megaphone syndrome, individuals seduced by the image of director, as opposed to the work thereof. Film schools churn out halfwitted egos founded on ideas of three acts structures and shot sequencing theory, and these people in turn churn out bad atmospheres and little innovation. A great director’s work is invisible: they pull the best out of their team, lead them through the dark hours with relentless willpower and never lose sight of the whole. The film supercedes them.
As far as Tarantino goes, I’m not a great fan really. Although his source material is typically fairly obscure to the mainstream eye, his work is nonetheless extremely derivative to the point of plagiarism (Reservoir Dogs is a case in point). So he’s not a genius, because he has not created a new form (hallmark of genius). On the other hand, he is a great director, because his ability to translate his influences into a coherent and entertaining vision is absolute. He knows what he wants and he has the willpower to get it. He’s an affable director, cajoling his actors rather than screaming ego at them, and he subsequently draws some astounding performances out. His films work, he is recognizable instantly by style and shot, and he has a highly refined capacity for pinpointing zeitgeist and key ideas in popular culture.
Opinion on who is great and who is not is an individual affair: films I liked at 21 now seem utterly childish to me post-30. The more you see, the more you learn: and the more you grow as an individual, the more your need for different kinds of film emerge. This is why I am conflicted in discussion of film, especially the stamping of genius or hack tags onto people. The value of any work of art is dependent on the psychic need of the spectator/audience. Take, for example, music: there are those for whom free jazz rips into their souls, chews up their hunger for harmonic chaos and noise, and they whoop and whistle ecstatically. To other people it just sounds like atonal, pretentious wank. Yet others are emotionally disturbed, as they find the fragile shell of their selves cracked in the vibration. And so it goes with film. Some people say Donnie Darko is their favorite film, because it resonates with the symbolism and archetype of their age. To me it’s just a slightly amusing twist on the coming of age genre, filtered via Phillip K Dick. On the other hand, I highly rate Le Feu Follet by Louis Malle, because I am reaching an age where my friends, previously mad artists, have all become mortgaged bourgeois whose primary activity is dinner and nostalgia for a youthful abandon that apparently died for them in their mid-20s. So that film resonates very deeply with me.
And so on.
I liked Reservoir Dogs when I first saw it. I thought it was brilliant, shocking, perfectly scripted. Later, I saw Pulp Fiction, and was a little disappointed that the brutal realism of RD was erased in favor of a more comic book slapstick approach to the dark subject matter. But I still liked it, it just didn’t do anything for me, because I couldn’t relate, and I began to suspect Tarantino of style over content. Then I lost track of him. I caught up with him again around Jackie Brown and thought that was great. And then came Kill Bill, which ….pah. I don’t think it’s very good. It’s a mess. Part fetish, part homage, part slapstick, part music video. But that’s my opinion. I haven’t seen Grindhouse and I probably never will. I’ve just lost interest in him, and after Once Upon A Time In Mexico, I never want to waste any more of my life watching a Rodriguez film.
You see, for me, Tarantino looked at the outset like Kassovitz (La Haine): and I thought he was more socially conscious than his later work evidences. And I’m disappointed. Maybe one day he’ll get back to basics. Maybe not. Or maybe one day, I’ll wake up and my psychic need for a Kill Bill experience will kung fu kick in, and I’ll be gripped again.
T. you are as always on point. One thing that i do have to make clear is i am not ripping directors per say in my opinion i just think that awards praise and calling them geniuses is overstating the fact that it is not the individual but the team. I mean if during the oscar’s if the whole cast and crew went up and receives the award for lets say best direcotr and best picture along with the producers and director then my argument would probably be moot, but as we all know that will never happen. Great directors know how to get the best out of there cast and crew. So in no way am i trying to say that the director’s job is a cake walk. It is a hard job that not only takes up all of your time it is extremely stressfull. I lost ten pounds a couple of years ago when i shot a short in a matter of one week. One of the worst weeks of my life, but definitely worth it when the short was completed.
Ah, yeah, the director’s diet. That could be A-list in the health section of any bookshop :) I hear you. What was the short about?
Hey anyone want to discuss Tarantino’s chair > power > language > torture/death scenes?
The theme for the festival was (get ready) TWIST. So i took the M. Night way and decided to go with a story twist. It was a five minute short, and we titled it (ge ready#2) “the devils due”. And it was a tragic love story of with a cold twist at the end. Terminal death, betrayal, murder and the devil to boot. A young man’s wife is dying of terminal cancer and the prognosis has taken a turn for the worse. As he struggles to cope and escapes deep into his sorrow. Decisions she makes will have a terminal effect on one of there lives.
Heavy. Heavy is good. I’d like to see it. Is it posted webwise anywhere?
Not really, it was about six years ago. But i can try and forward you a copy.
Drop me a link.
It will take a little bit, but i will get it to you.
i can’t comment much on his technique. my instinct says he’s good because his films look good and are paced very well for being on the long side, which i really like… and i heard he’s nice to work with… genius might be a bit of a stretch, though pulp fiction is a tremendous accomplishment.
jackie brown is highly underrated. tarantino serves up a pretty refined take on a genre flick, but Robert Forster and Pam Grier really add what’s most special to that film. Very believable and sympathetic characters. Their understatedness really captures a great vibe for a Tarantino film.
kill bill was proof he’s only human. just watching a Leone film, or Lone Wolf and Cub, or a Kitano movie instead would have been much more gratifying. the Deathproof half of grindhouse was better than rodriguez’s when it finally got to the point. just had more of an impact being so over the top and relentless once it kicked in. but ultimately sort of throwaway.
Probably a bit of both.
@T. What part of Tarantino’s early work led you to believe he was socially conscience? For me watching Tarantino has always been equivalent to indulging a guilty pleasure. His films are extremely visceral and derive entertainment through the exploitation of the more “uncivilized” aspects of human nature.
Reservoir Dogs. At the time, I imagined he might be an auteur exploring (to quote yourself) “the more “uncivilized” aspects of human nature”. RD has a tendency to realism, despite its stylized dialog and characterization. It looked to me like the first steps of an individual with a lot to say, in the same way that ‘Elevator to the Gallows’ is pulp-esque but stands as a great intro to the rest of Malle’s work.
But I was wrong.
Excellent point T. Were do you come with this stuff!
From a dark place of utter contempt for complacency and academic mumbling.
Genius – No
Entertaining – Most of the time
Overated – By most of cinema fans IMO
Except for Reservoir dog which was pretty nice, I don’t have a lot of respect for Tarantino movies; they’re just…entertaining…
I don’t have a film analyst sense of view like Toby and Tarantino movies are not the kind of movies that I like to “dissect”, then I watch his movies when I want to see a entertaining movie with a lot of “inspirations”(I don’t want to start a debate about “reference/inspiration or copiying”) of great movies for the everywhere in the world…
About overated or not; I think he is but since I’m not a fan of any american movies I’m not the perfect guy to decide if he is or not…
Recently popped in the Kill Bill blu ray and marveled at the images being hurdled at my retina. And as impressive as this film may seem, it carries many flaws. In respect to Tarantino he clearly allows his love for his imagination take hold of his brain and just letting it rip. What we get is a mish mashed film that goes all over the place, preposterous result after result.
Just talking a little shit.
To me, a great deal of the flaws and the resulting mish mashed films, are a big part of Tarantino’s identity as an auteur. A new sense/style comes out of his postmodern copy/paste. I don’t like it when directors like him are intellectually/academically snobed, just because they don’t take themselves so seriously.
Tarantino is one of the most influential directors of an entire generation. He did it… come on! He is not an artisan, he just makes and throws it in you face. Over-analyzing and over-thinking his style doesn’t make sense to me, it contradicts the very thing he proposes.
Tarantino is a visceral and immature mofo.
I don’t worship his films,
but I say genius.
I predict his next films will be a new chapter in his career.
He’ll mutate into a more mature filmmaker… unfortunately?
New Chapter beginning , sure! Mature filmmaker lets hope not, i think what helps him distinguish himself is his childlike excitement for what he creates. I personally love his films. But taking a step back as a fan, i have to note that he does make simple filmmaking errors. Does he note these mistakes, sure. Does he care? absolutely not. For that i give him his credit and respect as an auteur. So i myself must state that i cant wait for the inglorious bastards.
This is not a judgmental statement, but frankly I find Tarantino’s “post-modern” kind of mish-mish and resurrection already somewhat out-dated, a kind of calculated nostalgic throwback to referential cinema. Truly post-modern works cloak their references and ingrain them to a degree where referentiality is nearly impossible to trace back to its source, which is nearly the total opposite of Tarantino’s reverent approach.
this topic is always a minefield….
I personally think he is excellent at making cool movies. Great ones not so much. Same with Zack Snyder and Robert Rodriguez.
I can’t call this guy a genius, but his films are definitely entertaining, which I believe accounts for something. He has a got a great eye and a great knack for pacing, which is hard to do.
I think Jackie Brown is legitimately great. It turns a lot of genre conventions on their heads, and challenges the legacy of blacksploitation cinema. Death Proof wasn’t as good but I thought it was also thoughtful piece of work, kind of a requiem and a re-contextualization for the old male action hero. The Kill Bill’s were too much of a mash up for my liking, but I have no contempt for them either.
When he actually challenges the material he’s influenced by as opposed to just mashing them together I think he’s quite great. But genius is going too far.