There’s this bloke on Twitter who supports the same team as me and happens to be a very good writer. Over the weekend he wrote about a sporting moment I will never forget, but as an intro to his story he wrote the following:
“I’ve always felt that Quentin Tarantino doesn’t so much make great films as make great scenes. The kind that get the heart pumping; saturated as they are with wit and drama. Large parts of his movies are actually plodding pastiche padded out with some swears and a bit of the old ultra-violence. But with the rising inflection of Samuel L. Jackson’s voice, the opening chords from an old Steeler’s Wheel number striking up or the sway of Pam Grier’s hips, a powerful spectacle occurs that hangs the whole film together.” (http://soccerwithoutlimits.
I get it, this is only Tim’s(@LittleDutchVA) opinion – but I’ve heard this argument before. It has started to get louder ever since Inglorious came out. An argument which I feel is hugely unfair.
On one level, Tim is absolutely right. Quentin makes films which are broken down into episodic sections, usually arranged in an unchronological fashion. It’s a bloody great unoriginal gimmick. In most cases these episodes are dripping with laugh out loud humour, intrigue, tension - and the element that everyone concentrates on – violence.
My point is this: If every episode is great, doesn’t that make the film as whole great?
I think Tarantino is suffering from what I call the Illmatic disorder. Illmatic was the first album released by the rapper Nas. Now, Illmatic is widely considered to be iconic and a game changer in rap music. Every rap album after Illmatic, sounded like Illmatic.
Unfortunately for Nas, everything he did afterward was compared to his awe inspiring debut. No matter how good the music he releases gets, it never seems to be as perfect as Illmatic.
Tarantino is suffering the same fate as Nas.
Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are mammoth films. Unfortunately for Tarantino, his films after Dogs and Fiction were not as fresh, and this has giving detractors an opening to criticise him. [Note that the word fresh was used, not good]
And it’s obvious that Tarantino knows this, hence the change of tact in his last films. QT is starting to dampen down (he hasn’t quite abandoned it) on his gimmick and so his films have started to go soft in the middle because of this. The genius in his scenes is still there, but he seems to overindulge a little more than he used to; that Inglorious scene in the Nazi bar is a prime example.
Tarantino will always divide opinion. So, essentially, this article is pointless. Most people reading this have already made up their minds about the man and that’s fine. But I do think that people have stopped judging Tarantino’s work on their own merits. His new work is constantly being compared to his past – and this conflict is starting to show.
Django and Inglorious are both, in my opinion, fearless and brilliant. Both are flawed but, again in my opinion, are very important films. I hope QT doesn't lose his fearlessness - I hope he carries on trying to break taboos.