In 1992 a friend of mine discussed that Tim Roth was to feature in a new movie Reservoir Dogs. Tim Roth had been outstanding in Made In Britain and was clearly an actor to watch very closely. At this point it was all about Tim Roth. Quentin Who?
Just before Reservoir Dogs was released I phoned the Odeon cinema in Birmingham. Somehow I ended up speaking to the manager. He sounded more annoyed than me (I was just merely enquiring) that the cinema was not screening the film. Citing that Reservoir Dogs was “too art house” for the venue he genuinely sounded peeved that they would not screen the movie. This racked up my interest more than anything else. Ironically the Odeon would eventually screen the movie for a lengthy period when it was unavailable on video due to its forthcoming controversy.
Reservoir Dogs opened in October, 1992, at The Triangle in Birmingham. Myself and three friends attended the first screening in the afternoon on a Friday of that October.
Now, it didn’t take long before the film hit a verbose spot that movies previously just didn’t. As the heavy language flew the film made me think instantly of my first listen to Straight Outta Compton by NWA. One thing was clear, the film was moving cinema onwards.
It may have been the student heavy audience but there would be no near famed walk-outs here. The film actually isn’t as graphic as it is cited to be. The imagination is left to fill in certain gaps (and ears). The movie looked simply fantastic from its sun drenched heist scene to the dark inside shots. The suits. The acting – and Dammit the sheer feel of the film actually gave the viewer a rush.
The masterstroke of Tarantino was the incredible use of music. When notable underground deadpan comic Steven Wright introduces a song in the movie as a radio DJ his voice alone steered the testosterone action to a much wider audience.
Reservoir Dogs ends with one of cinemas classic “eh” moments and this must have seen many need to see the film again. The end of the film is superb and a good business idea also enticing another viewing.
The film was not granted a VHS release for what seemed like an eternity and rather like Frankie Goes To Hollywood in the 80’s this strengthened the directors hand more than it being to his detriment. Pirate copies of the film were handed around and the grainy appearance, rather like A Clockwork Orange added to this viewing experience rather than took anything away. It cemented the film as an underground debut classic for the director – it made the movie beyond cinema and took it into rebellious rock n’ roll territory.
True Romance was not directed by Tarantino but by Tony Scott of Top Gun fame. Almost a full year after Reservoir Dogs the movie was marketed as a Tarantino film (he wrote it).
Again. On the first day of release I would be at the cinema (The Odeon, Birmingham) – this time with about 8 or 9 mates. After a few beers in The Pen & Wig (now Scruffy Murphies) we decided we had to see the film. Quentin’s stock had risen. The film is a cartoon violence drug fuelled sprawling but tidy classic. Again, music was a key part of the film.
Pulp Fiction (1994) would be Quentin Tarantinos next film proper and is a film he is yet to surpass. The soundtrack sold like a huge hit album and the movie poster decorated many a 90’s room. The music use in Pulp Fiction is amongst the best I have ever heard.
Tarantino has a knack of finding hidden gems of songs wherby when you hear them play out in his films you cannot help but think ‘who the hell is this – and why have I never heard it before’? Am I alone here?
The movie itself is dense, rich, ultra-violent and very word heavy. On cinema screens scenes like Mia Wallace being brought back from a near fatal accidental heroin nasal intake make the viewer gaze fully around the screen in opened mouth wonder. THAT is what CINEMA is all about and in 1994 the cinema had a new hero in the shape of this über nerdy, but oh so cool director. Pulp Fiction continued the movie split into unnatural segments like its predecessor Reservoir Dogs. There is no mistaking that Tarantino, despite his mainstream appeal moved art house cinema on, or at least made it more appealing to the masses. He offended people who are narrow-minded and entertained the open-minded – is there any better split than that?
1997’s Jackie Brown saw Tarantino slow things down a little. The movie is highly regarded and cited by some (not me) as his best work. The movie is superbly cast and executed but lacks the sheer rock n’ roll cinema of RD and PF. Don’t let this very minor grumble stop you from viewing the film if you have not seen it already.
Talking of not seeing films. I am yet to watch 2003/4’s Kill Bill 1 & 2 – I should remedy that pretty soon. Also I have not seen 2009’s Inglorious Basterds although I have seen the original which itself is an adult styled A-Team war / action epic of boys own proportions.
Grindhouse is an exceptional full on, over long gore-fest. It’s main draw back is that Death Proof is overshadowed by Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. This is hardly a criticism.
I am writing this post as last week I watched two films. Two very different movies. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino).
These two movies reminded me of Tarantinos contribution to cinema and film. Whilst Anderson has made a film far better than Tarantino could realistically ever make (There Will Be Blood) and is continuing to hit around that mark of modern classic cinema he is not necessarily better for the cinema than Tarantino.
The Master draws the viewer in deeply with astonishing acting, wordplay and cinematography. However I imagine Django Unchained will sit in my memory longer and possibly more favourably. That’s not to say it is a better film. It’s just different – Tarantino different.
Tarantino is here to stay. Django Unchained has taken a staggering $402m so far.
Tarantino will always draw criticism for language, violence and sheer gung-ho cinema – ask yourself (seriously, inside your head right now) would you want that any other way?…
(Notable exceptions to blog post must go to : Natural Born Killers, Killing Zoe, Four Rooms, Desperado, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Sin City).