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Author Topic: True Romance (1993) - Once Upon A Time In Detroit  (Read 1264 times)
cigar joe
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« on: April 05, 2015, 08:51:41 PM »

Director: Tony Scott, Writer: Quentin Tarantino Stars: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and Samuel L. Jackson.



A heart beat of Noir.



The title sequence for True Romance magically conveys us to the bleak cold desolate vortex of the Rust Belt 1990’s Detroit, but also back a million plus years to the time when fantastic tales were spun by ancient man around the first campfire. Only in the here and now, the fire is scrap wood fed and in an oil drum in a vacant lot surrounded by hobos, outcasts, and scavengers and the fantastic tale is offered with rising sparks and smoke up to the eternal  night.  A Neo Noir tale.



Noir-ish

Very few of the classic noirs used the female voice over, one that readily comes to mind is Claire Trevor’s in Raw Deal. This neo noir story is triggered in one long flashback by a voice over narration by ex-call girl femme fatale Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette).





Alabama's Intro



Eating pie at Rae's



In the comic book store

Arquette here is downright outstanding, if ever there was a character that captured that effervescent spirit of Marilyn Monroe’s various characters (and updates that quality to the 90s and makes it her own) in a film it’s Arquette’s Alabama in True Romance. She is a blond, buxom, bombshell, a “firecracker” the “shot from the front” sequence where she jiggles down the courthouse steps rivals Marilyn’s classic “shot from behind” wiggles from Some Like It Hot and Niagara.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3NG956Q3cE

You just sense that if this were still the big studio days and she was under contract she would have been typecast into many of these kind of parts in quick succession at the peak of that phase of her beauty, Arquette might have become iconic but would the price have been tragedy as it was for Marilyn? As it is her performance is just a one off. The studio days are long gone and the atmosphere is catch-as-catch-can and Arquette did not get another similar Neo Noir role until her double parts as Alice & Rene in Lost Highway. I guess time will be the judge if contract stars of the Studios or those of the new corporate deal system will be best remembered in the long run.  Arquette here ranges from sweet and coy, to desperate and deadly, her transformation into Athena with her Amazonian like war scream is chilling.



Athena

The tale unfolds as quasi comic book/martial arts/Elvis geek Clarence gets shot out of the saddle by a B-girl at a local tavern. Later at a late-night triple bill Sonny Chiba show, Alabama, in a contrived maneuver spills her popcorn over the seat on Clarence. She expresses her dismay in an instantly loveable cutesy/ditzy manor and is soon climbing over the seat and settling in beside him. They soon connect and later over pie and coffee in a diner begin to fall for each other. Clarence takes her back to his pad above the comic book store where they make love. Later Alabama confesses that she is a call girl and was paid and sent by Clarence’s boss as his birthday present. Clarence is not mad at all says it’s the best present he ever had and that it was not just the physical part but he never had so much fun with a girl ever before in his life. They pledge their love for each other and get married. The whole sequence is wonderfully written and rings so true that you suspect it is somewhat biographical.



Clarence

Clarence, (Christian Slater) in probably his best role, whatch his dialogs with Alabama and his father. He is “cooler than cool” as he follows his personal rockabilly espirito Elvis in the way he deals with situations and travels life’s highways. . Elvis tells him to confront Alabama’s pimp Drexl and it’s this meeting that sends the tale spiraling into Noirsville.



Clarence and Alabama in LA

The rest of the cast is superb, Michael Rapaport as Dick Ritchie a struggling  numb nuts want to be actor who lives with stoner Floyd (Brad Pitt) who has a plastic honey bear  bong. Bronson Pinchot is the weasel  Hollywood yes man  Elliot Blitzer to producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek). Dennis Hopper is Clifford Worley, Clarence’s security guard father who sings Country Western songs while making his rounds and lives in a trailer park wedged between the river and the railroad tracks. Mafioso Don Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken ) is a capo for Blue Lou Boyle. Virgil (James Gandolfini ) is a reflective hitman. Gary Oldman  is delightfully over the top as courier and pimp Drexl Spivey. Chris Penn as Detective Nicky Dimes and  Tom Sizemore as Detective Cody Nicholson are Gung ho LA cops.  Samuel L. Jackson is Big Don a spastic druggie with some memorable lines, and Val Kilmer is "Mentor" (Elvis).



On to Mexico

Ably directed by Tony Scott with beautiful cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball. A great soundtrack by Hans Zimmer stitches all the segments together. True Romance is one of those films that prove that every once in a while Noir has a pulse. A fun flick with abundant eye candy 9/10

« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 05:22:57 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 01:28:44 PM »

So you easily accept that:
1) Slater kills two people and leaves his driving licence on the spot without ever getting aware of it (if he did of course he would realize the thugs are after him)
2) that he ask the black whore for his wife's things and gets away with a suitcase full of coke
3)  Slater goes to his father to make sure the police isn't after him. But it isn't explained why the cops should be after him. Maybe because he realized the missing driving licence? But then he should realize the thugs are after him and he also should let his wife drive the car (which he does not) in case a highway patrol should stop him. Of course, this is just a poor excuse to give a part to Hopper and Walken and have their scene.   
4) Walken can renounce finding the coke just because of a racial slur
5) that Slater, after having done without his father for some year leaves him an address to which he probably can be traced only for the days needed to sell the coke: to what end if not to allow his chasers to find him?
6)  that Pitt doesn't say anything about the man looking for the couple
7) that after the motel episode (a very special one when nobody, apparently calls the police after all the noise and without Arquette ever calling for help) the couple keeps the appointment with the producer.
Cool of course the tarantinian ridiculous mexican standoff, all the more so as it is featuring keystone cops
9) I'd even add the cheap marimba main theme, something I could compose in 10 minutes and that Zimmer probably did in 5.



If you can accept all of this seriously and not as a kind of spoof, well, then you can even give it 10\10. Me a generous 7\10.

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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 01:50:34 PM »

Great review CJ! You made me want to watch it again.

So you easily accept that:
1) Slater kills two people and leaves his driving licence on the spot without ever getting aware of it (if he did of course he would realize the thugs are after him)
2) that he ask the black whore for his wife's things and gets away with a suitcase full of coke
3)  Slater goes to his father to make sure the police isn't after him. But it isn't explained why the cops should be after him. Maybe because he realized the missing driving licence? But then he should realize the thugs are after him and he also should let his wife drive the car (which he does not) in case a highway patrol should stop him. Of course, this is just a poor excuse to give a part to Hopper and Walken and have their scene.  
4) Walken can renounce finding the coke just because of a racial slur
5) that Slater, after having done without his father for some year leaves him an address to which he probably can be traced only for the days needed to sell the coke: to what end if not to allow his chasers to find him?
6)  that Pitt doesn't say anything about the man looking for the couple
7) that after the motel episode (a very special one when nobody, apparently calls the police after all the noise and without Arquette ever calling for help) the couple keeps the appointment with the producer.
Cool of course the tarantinian ridiculous mexican standoff, all the more so as it is featuring keystone cops
9) I'd even add the cheap marimba main theme, something I could compose in 10 minutes and that Zimmer probably did in 5.



If you can accept all of this seriously and not as a kind of spoof, well, then you can even give it 10\10. Me a generous 7\10.

1) See? You just got the joke.
2) This is your only valid point.
3) 4) 5) Seriously?
6) Don't you think that the movie spends enough time showing in every possible way that Pit doesn't own a functional brain?
7) Would you spend 2 hours of movie with main characters who are not the kind of guys who keep the appointment with the producer?
Cool I agree. The longer TR goes, the more Tarantinian (in a bad way) it becomes. The first half is Tarantinian in the great way.
9) I like it but Zimmer probably composed it in 5.

That being said, I'm not far from your rating: 8/10.

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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 04:22:30 PM »


- 1) See? You just got the joke.

So you admit this is a spoof, not a serious movie? CJ seems to think otherwise.

- 3) 4) 5) Seriously?

If I weren't serious,  then I'd take the movie's logical shortcuts seriously, like you do.

- 6) Don't you think that the movie spends enough time showing in every possible way that Pit doesn't own a functional brain?

Absolutely. A pity though that his unfunctional brain is very functional in solving cheaply a plot loophole. Which should make evident that the otherwise useless Pitt character was just a cheap solution to a plot problem. 

- 7) Would you spend 2 hours of movie with main characters who are not the kind of guys who keep the appointment with the producer?

I surely won't spend another two hours on this movie in the future.

- Cool I agree. The longer TR goes, the more Tarantinian (in a bad way) it becomes. The first half is Tarantinian in the great way.

Probably.


- That being said, I'm not far from your rating: 8/10.

You are. Mine is a generous 7. It would be more precisely a 6 and a 1\2

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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 07:20:00 PM »


- 1) See? You just got the joke.

So you admit this is a spoof, not a serious movie? CJ seems to think otherwise.

The hell I do. The very last line I wrote was ''A fun flick with abundant eye candy 9/10". And used " Once Upon A Time In Detroit" in the title a fairy tale for comic book/martial arts/Elvis geeks and it works

What really is seriously authentic souding is the dialog between Slater & Arquette



- 3) 4) 5) Seriously?

If I weren't serious,  then I'd take the movie's logical shortcuts seriously, like you do.

- 6) Don't you think that the movie spends enough time showing in every possible way that Pit doesn't own a functional brain?

Absolutely. A pity though that his unfunctional brain is very functional in solving cheaply a plot loophole. Which should make evident that the otherwise useless Pitt character was just a cheap solution to a plot problem.  

Your getting to serious it's picaresque

- 7) Would you spend 2 hours of movie with main characters who are not the kind of guys who keep the appointment with the producer?

I surely won't spend another two hours on this movie in the future.

Watch it again it really clicks with repeated viewings

My biggest enjoyment was the performance of Patricia Arquette. Afro

- Cool I agree. The longer TR goes, the more Tarantinian (in a bad way) it becomes. The first half is Tarantinian in the great way.

Probably.


- That being said, I'm not far from your rating: 8/10.

You are. Mine is a generous 7. It would be more precisely a 6 and a 1\2


Quote
9) I'd even add the cheap marimba main theme, something I could compose in 10 minutes and that Zimmer probably did in 5.

actually Carl Orff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ-gTdR3oTQ  Wink

« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 07:44:26 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 10:28:20 PM »

- The hell I do. The very last line I wrote was ''A fun flick with abundant eye candy 9/10". And used " Once Upon A Time In Detroit" in the title a fairy tale for comic book/martial arts/Elvis geeks and it works.

Yeah, the very last line. What about the other lines: "neo-noir", "noirsville"? Do they rhyme with Tarantino? Yes, Jackie Brown does, but I don't think the other stuff does. And this is other stuff.

- Your getting to serious it's picaresque

I don't know what you mean, but it is probably the result what I assume to be the difference between neo-noir and Tarantino.

- Patricia Arquette.

Yes, I agree, but no reason enough to watch it again

- Actually Carl Orff

So probably it took him even less than five minutes.

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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2015, 12:12:24 AM »

titoli: I take it you don't consider Pulp Fiction is a neo-noir?
Anyway, TR is a bunch of the most cliché noir scenes put together and told with a modern twist. This alone makes it one of the most neo-noir films ever.

To me the opening sequence (when they meet, until the wedding) is 10/10.

« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 12:13:29 AM by noodles_leone » Logged


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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2015, 12:40:44 AM »

titoli: I take it you don't consider Pulp Fiction is a neo-noir?
Anyway, TR is a bunch of the most cliché noir scenes put together and told with a modern twist. This alone makes it one of the most neo-noir films ever.

To me the opening sequence (when they meet, until the wedding) is 10/10.

I consider PF a typical Tarantino. Jackie Brown I could accept to dub as neo-noir (though, to me, is simply a thriller). I mean, when you completely dispose of logic, then you have Tarantino.  And it is significant that both you and CJ jump over my number 3,4,5 points.

About the opening sequence, that almost made me stop the vision.

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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2015, 12:53:22 AM »

I sometimes wonder how on earth you and I could share a few identical thoughts about Leone.

I see your point about Tarantino though. In a way he's like Tim Burton: a Tim Burton film is a Tim Burton film before being a comedy, a thriller or a biopic.

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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 03:16:16 AM »

- The hell I do. The very last line I wrote was ''A fun flick with abundant eye candy 9/10". And used " Once Upon A Time In Detroit" in the title a fairy tale for comic book/martial arts/Elvis geeks and it works.

Yeah, the very last line. What about the other lines: "neo-noir", "noirsville"? Do they rhyme with Tarantino? Yes, Jackie Brown does, but I don't think the other stuff does. And this is other stuff.

It works fine it covers "the lovers on the run" trope, and the twist with the cocaine in the suitcase is typical noir.

Quote
- Your getting to serious it's picaresque

I don't know what you mean, but it is probably the result what I assume to be the difference between neo-noir and Tarantino.

Picaresque as is over the top hell I consider The Big Lebowski a neo noir  Afro

Quote
- Patricia Arquette.

Yes, I agree, but no reason enough to watch it again

Its her film, and for me it's every reason to watch it again

Quote
- Actually Carl Orff

So probably it took him even less than five minutes.

Who cares, watch it again, it works for me, it's in a way like Once Upon A Time In the West there are a lot of people who didn't like it originally but who came around after repeated viewings  Afro

« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 03:37:17 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2015, 03:18:52 AM »

PS, there are a lot of women that connect with this film, Tarantino got it right by them. Wink

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108399/board/thread/139429432

The original Tarantino scrip had Clarence dead at the hotel, and a more downer ending for Alabama BTW.

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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2015, 01:11:52 AM »

As I have said multiple times: TR is a movie I generally like a good deal, with all its fairy tale faults. It is also, probably, the only ''typical QT movie'' (RD and to some extent PF extracted, and JB excluded, which is BTW his best movie, or just ''movie'') I like in that type of framework.


8/10

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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2015, 03:30:22 AM »

The original Tarantino scrip had Clarence dead at the hotel, and a more downer ending for Alabama BTW.

It woudl have been better. As TR is right now, it starts as a neonoir and finishes as a cartoon. A downer ending would put the cartoon part in perspective (if you act like you would in a cartoon, bad stuff happen to you, in real life BUT ALSO in the universe described in the first half of the movie).

As I have said multiple times: TR is a movie I generally like a good deal, with all its fairy tale faults. It is also, probably, the only ''typical QT movie'' (RD and to some extent PF extracted, and JB excluded, which is BTW his best movie, or just ''movie'') I like in that type of framework.


8/10

It's funny how Jacky Brown is usually the favorite QT film by people who hate QT. And the worst for his usual fanboys.
I'd say it's both his most boring and most emotional stuff. I like it a lot.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 03:32:17 AM by noodles_leone » Logged


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