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: Cinema Speculation (Tarantino book)  ( 2399 )
dave jenkins
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« : November 01, 2022, 12:32:22 PM »

QT reviews the classics. The classics being (in chronological order) Bullitt (1968), Dirty Harry (1971), Deliverance (1972), The Getaway (1972), The Outfit (1973), Sisters (1973), Daisy Miller (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), Paradise Alley (1978), Escape From Alcatraz (1979), Hardcore (1979), The Funhouse (1981).
 
Keeping the rules of Fair Use in mind, here's QT's (digest version) take on Bullitt:
Quote
Peter Yates' film doesn't quite have the same zeitgeist position it enjoyed through the last decades of the twentieth century. While a lot of people born since 2000 may have heard of it, and they probably have heard about its famous car chase, that doesn't mean they've seen it. I'm old enough to have actually seen Bullitt at the cinema when it came out. Which means I saw it at six. I don't remember the movie. I remember the car chase. And that's what most people usually remember about Bullitt. But they also remember how cool Steve McQueen was as Frank Bullitt, his cool clothes, his cool haircut, and his cool Ford Mustang. If they had a sense of the movie, they also might remember Lalo Schifrin's terrific jazzy score (the type of score Quincy Jones tried to do for years and always failed miserably at). The one thing they don't remember is the story. Bullitt does have a story. But it's not a memorable story, nor does it have anything to do with what you respond to in the movie.
You might think the lack of a memorable story would count against the film. QT explains why that ain't necessarily so.
Quote
We don't give a shit who killed the homosexual in The Detective, we don't care who killed the hooker in They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!, we don't give a fllying fuck what happens to Madigan's gun, and we know exactly who killed Peppard's wife in Pendulum, and we can't believe it takes the movie as long as it does to figure it out.

Yet since Yates cares so little about the crime story at the center of Bullitt, it suggests he knows we don't care either, and that suggests a bohemian hipness that was unusual in a Hollywood crime movie. A light Hitchcockian thriller could ultimately be laissez-faire about the McGuffin the film's characters chase one another over, but not a violent-bloody-cop-picture.

Hey, I think this Tarantino guy is on to something.

He's got a great observation on Taxi Driver at the end of that chapter, too:

Quote
Scorsese further clarified to Thompson his intentions in regard to the audience when he was making Taxi Driver: "The idea was to create a violent catharsis, so they'd find themselves saying, YES KILL, and then afterwards realize, OH MY GOD NO."

. . .

But . . . if the goal was "OH MY GOD NO," then show a movie about a man who spends the entire movie speaking about cleaning up the scum of the city, and demonstrate that it's black males he considers the scum of the city. Then at the climax he kills a bunch of black males because of their defilement of a young white girl and is turned into a hero by the very same city (i.e. white society).

That would have been viewed by audiences as OH MY GOD NO!

And that would have been The Searchers.

QT then follows up with a whole chapter called "Cinema Speculation: What if Brian De Palma Directed Taxi Driver Instead of Martin Scorsese?"

Gonna go read that one right now . . . .



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dave jenkins
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« #1 : November 04, 2022, 05:52:10 PM »

Tarantino Contra Truffaut

In his piece on Sisters, QT first gives a quick rundown on De Palma's early career and how De Palma became De Palma. De Palma started out as an independent filmmaker and then switched to the commercial cinema. QT sees De Palma making the conscious decision to pattern much of his filmmaking efforts on Hitchcock's example. Here he talks about De Palma's motivation, and gets a dig in at Truffaut en passant.

Quote
I can also imagine part of De Palma's inspiration to forge a career executing Hitchcockian set pieces was his frustration at how inept he felt the highly praised Hitchcock homages from the French New Wave were. Particularly messieurs Truffaut and Chabrol. I can't imagine De Palma appreciating even a relatively decent one like Chabrol's Le Boucher (probably chalking it up to a thrill-less thriller). But I can absolutely see De Palma being apalled at Truffaut's amateur, clumsy fumbling of The Bride Wore Black. As well as being dismayed by the affectionate praise heaped on it by the New York film critics (probably the only thing De Palma and Bogdanovich ever agreed upon). It's doubtful a master filmmaker like De Palma was ever charmed by Truffaut's Ed Wood-like amateur bumbling even under more appropriate conditions. But in the service of a Hitchcock-like thriller, backed by Bernard Herrmann's music? It must have left young De Palma puking in the aisle. I can hear him ranting to Jennifer Salt [De Palma's girlfriend at the time], "How do you do a Hitchcock film without any cool shots? How do you do a Hitchcock film where the camera is unimportant?"

For those who have the novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there's a bit (not in the movie) where Cliff (the Brad Pitt character) gives a run-down on his movie likes and dislikes. Truffaut comes in for special attention.

Quote
He tried Truffaut twice, but he didn't respond to him. Not because the films were boring (they were), but that wasn't the only reason Cliff didn't respond. The two films he watched (in a Truffaut double feature) just didn't grab him. The first film, The 400 Blows, left him cold. He really didn't understand why that little boy did half the shit he did. Now, Cliff never spoke to anybody about it, but if he did, his first case in point would be when the kid prays to Balzac. Is that something French kids do? Is the point that that's normal or is the point he's a little weirdo? Yes, he knows it could be meant to be the same as an American kid putting a picture of Willie Mays on his wall. But he doesn't think it's supposed to be that simple. Also, it seems absurd. A ten-year-old little boy loves Balzac that much? No, he doesn't. Since the little boy is supposed to be Truffaut, it's Truffaut telling us how impressive he is. And frankly, the kid on-screen wasn't impressive in the slightest. And he definitely didn't deserve a movie made about him.

And he thought the mopey dopes in Jules and Jim were a fucking drag. Cliff didn't dig Jules and Jim, because he didn't dig the chick. And it's the kind of movie, if you don't dig the chick, you ain't gonna dig the flick. Cliff thought the movie would have been better all the way around if they just let that bitch drown.

Personally, I love The Bride Wore Black, The 400 Blows, and Jules and Jim. But I also love Tarantino's takes on those films. More power to ya, Quint!



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« #2 : November 10, 2022, 12:21:22 PM »

The behind-the-scenes shot from The Getaway on the cover is a nice choice. Any choice tidbits he has to share on that one? I might need to put this book on my Santa list.

dave jenkins
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« #3 : November 10, 2022, 03:58:17 PM »

The book jacket photo speaks to the fact that that is a favorite film of his, as does this paragraph:
Quote
I first saw The Getaway in 1972 when it came out at the Paradise Theater in Westchester, a Los Angeles town by LAX (the Paradise and the Loyola were the two theaters near where we lived in El Segundo that I saw a lot of movies at from 1971 to 1974). My mom would drive me to the cinema on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, then drop me off and come back and pick me up four or five hours later. And that's how I first saw the PG-rated The Getaway when it opened opposite The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. I liked both films enough to see them again the next weekend. Then the next year, when I was living in Tennessee with my grandmother, I saw The Getaway a third time on the lower bill of a drive-in double feature with Walking Tall. Then back in Los Angeles one year after that, at a United Artists theater in Marina del Rey on the lower half of a double bill with The Outfit. And all that was before I was fifteen. I later watched The Getaway at revival house screenings, not to mention on home video, and countless times since (I have my own IB Technicolor 35mm print)
pp. 99 - 100

So, he really likes the film, but he does have what he calls "misgivings." He notes that there are changes to the book he doesn't like (but there are also some changes he approves of), and he has issues with some of the casting (doesn't think Al Lettieri or Ben Johnson were right for their roles in this). QT says he initially didn't like Ali MacGraw's casting either, but after 40 years he's changed his mind. Part of the reason for that change comes from his current understanding of the film.

Quote
I now realize what Sam made and what McQueen and MacGraw performed was a love story.
The crime story is literal.
The love story is metaphorical.
But it's on the metaphorical level where the filmmakers (and I include the actors in that title) operated most successfully.
Thompson wrote not only a getaway story, he spends the entire book, chapter by chapter, page by page, putting the couple through hell and tearing them apart.
Sam does the complete opposite.
He spends the entire film, reel by reel, scene by scene, putting the couple through hell, then bringing them together.
p. 112

So, a love story. And I guess if you want to tell a love story in 1972, you get the girl from Love Story (1970) to do it.

Quint has a great description of a scene in the book that didn't get into the film that would make the perfect Tarantino scene in one of QT's films, but I'll let you read that one for yourself. Yeah, don't wait for Christmas, better get a copy for Thanksgiving.



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« #4 : November 11, 2022, 08:27:41 AM »

It was a PG?!

dave jenkins
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« #5 : November 11, 2022, 09:38:38 AM »

That's what the man says.



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« #6 : June 06, 2023, 07:47:59 PM »

Thanks for posting these excerpts, DJ. I always appreciate QT's takes but I do think he has too strong of a bias towards movies from late 60's and 70's -- even though I concede that the 70's is the best movie decade if I have to try and be objective about it. He's usually always interesting when he's not swiftly dismissing entire decades like the 50's and 80's.

His Taxi Driver take is similar to yours, if I remember correctly. It's still a masterpiece kind of movie to me though.

I must have missed this when it was originally posted.



Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
dave jenkins
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« #7 : June 07, 2023, 02:02:15 AM »

Dude, buy the book! It's been out for a while.

I enjoy reading Tarantino even when I disagree with him. His takes on 60s and 70s films are good (although he likes a lot of crap), but otherwise I think he's bananas. The 50s suck? Uh, no way, Jose. Truffaut is worthless? Uh . . . no. But reading him express those opinions is nonetheless very entertaining.

While we wait for Mr. Power and Mr. Drink to return to regular posting on this board, we need something to occupy us. QT fills in quite nicely.



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« #8 : June 07, 2023, 02:56:37 AM »

For the record the audiobook is available for free right there:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnkx3HDRl4

The first chapter is recorded by QT himself. I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks but in this case it's a great medium, probably the best one: Tarantino's style (at least in Cinema Speculation) is very much him talking to you instead of writing. I'm about 70% finished with the (audio)book and I like it much more than I thought. Of course, despite the many little stories and facts that populate it, despite the fact that QT's filmmography is barely mentioned here and there, it's much more of a deep dive into Tarantino's cinema than into the movies he's talking about. Which is great.

« : June 07, 2023, 09:14:53 AM noodles_leone »

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« #9 : June 07, 2023, 12:07:36 PM »

Thanks for posting that Noodles. I might consume it that way and get the book later on to browse through. You might be right about the conversational aspect that an audiobook may provide.

DJ, I do agree with QT about Truffaut, but I wouldn't call him worthless. I just don't find his movies particularly exciting and think his influence is wildly overstated. The 400 Blows came out the same year as Shadows, and Truffaut received a lion's share of the credit for the independent slice-of-life movie that became a fixture in the medium. That's also not factoring in the world cinema stuff that preceded the FNW.

While I can be dismissive of decades, or more specifically the 22+ years of this Century (and enjoy a fair amount of 20th Century crap), I really wonder how deeply he delved into the 50's to smear it as the Doris Day decade. His knowledge of movies from ~1964-1989 is impeccable, but I know he hasn't seen stuff like The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and Terror in a Texas Town (1958), which I found surprising since those are rather well known for noir and western fans. I normally wouldn't really care about that, but I do wonder if he's done his homework on that decade.



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dave jenkins
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« #10 : June 07, 2023, 12:34:51 PM »

For the record the audiobook is available for free right there:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnkx3HDRl4
Whoa, I didn't know this! Thanks, noodles, you're all right, I don't care what Drink and Power say about you.



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dave jenkins
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« #11 : June 07, 2023, 03:00:37 PM »

While I can be dismissive of decades, or more specifically the 22+ years of this Century (and enjoy a fair amount of 20th Century crap), I really wonder how deeply he delved into the 50's to smear it as the Doris Day decade. His knowledge of movies from ~1964-1989 is impeccable, but I know he hasn't seen stuff like The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and Terror in a Texas Town (1958), which I found surprising since those are rather well known for noir and western fans. I normally wouldn't really care about that, but I do wonder if he's done his homework on that decade.
I think you've put your finger right on the issue of QT's cultural myopia. His knowledge of cinema is deep rather than broad.



"McFilms are commodities and, as such, must be QA'd according to industry standards."
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« #12 : June 13, 2023, 10:24:23 AM »

I think you've put your finger right on the issue of QT's cultural myopia. His knowledge of cinema is deep rather than broad.

Exactly. Which makes him much more like your average filmgoer than he likes to admit.


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« #13 : June 14, 2023, 07:56:35 AM »

One thing I?ve always found a shame was that Alex Cox did not become a kind of Quentin Tarantino. Give Alex Cox a great cinematographer and editor, and you?ve got magic. Take them away, along with all the budgets, and we?ll ? what can you expect?

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« #14 : April 11, 2024, 07:02:26 PM »

For the record the audiobook is available for free right there:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnkx3HDRl4
Here's an excerpt talking about Point Black and The Outfit (and more generally about all the adaptations of Parker novels), but with film clips to help make his points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krQ3YfGX4AI



"McFilms are commodities and, as such, must be QA'd according to industry standards."
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