Sunday, 8 November 2015

Hurrah! We don't need to pretend to like Quentin Tarantino movies any more!

Tarantino hit the headlines last week by making some ambiguous statements about so-called police violence against blacks. He used the word "murderers", but in a sufficiently ambiguous way to allow him to deny that he meant to imply that the police (in particular,  the New York police) were murderers.  Two points about this little fracas: first, it never fails to amaze me how often prominent left-wing members of the entertainment industry manage to make themselves misunderstood - you'd think they'd be better at communicating effectively: second, if bleeding-heart liberals are really that convinced that black lives matter, why don't they draw attention to the greatest cause of black deaths, i.e. blacks killing other blacks? For example, a nine year old boy, Tyshawn Lee, was lured into a Chicago alley last week and "executed" because of some gang-related dispute involving his father: daddy won't talk to the police investigating the crime, while mommy has sought to ease her grief by buying herself a nice new car, explaining: "I got this shit for my protection...I'm pretty sure that's something my son would have wanted me to do." Yes, I'm sure he would.

Anyway, whether QT has or hasn't been defaming the police, he has a new film coming out. It's called The Hateful Eight, and even if it receives the greatest reviews in the history of film criticism, I will avoid it, because, after watching his last movie, Django Unchained, I swore I'd never watch another Tarantino film. At the time, (in a blog about Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman, here) I called it "Quentin Tarantino’s latest stab at turning history into a moronic comic book for 15-year old High School stoodents (the dumb ones, mind you)," Nothing I've heard about The Hateful Eight, which is set in post-Civil War Wyoming, suggests it will deviate from the formula.

The only reason I'm mentioning my intention of never again watching a new Tarantino picture is a bracingly liberating article by David French in National Review entitled "Quentin Tarantino, the Most Overrated Director in Hollywood" (you can find it here). Addressing his remarks to the director, French writes:
Your movies... are terrible. And I don’t mean “morally reprehensible” or “too violent.” I mean they’re simply bad. But don’t tell the movie press. Rarely has so much celebratory ink been spilled on a director who has made such dreck. Ever since Pulp Fiction — your best movie — they believe you’re an artist, but over time you’ve proven to be nothing more than a splatter-film director who can attract top talent. And you’re the least original splatter-film director in the United States. 
Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were two of the most original films released during the '90s: they both had terrific verve, they broke rules (for a start, they're excessively "talkie"), the black humour mostly worked, they were constantly surprising, and they were utterly compulsive. I rubbed my hands and looked forward to Tarantino's mature work. Unfortunately, he never matured: instead, he foregrounded his tics and mannerisms and rammed his cult film fan nerdishness down our throats until we gagged. Jackie Brown was a bit dull. I dutifully sat through both parts of Kill Bill, but even the pleasure to be derived from watching Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu indulging in vigorous and protracted bouts of chop-socky rapidly palled. I vaguely remember sitting through some of Death Proof on TV, and turning over before starting to lose the will to live. Inglourious Basterds followed. I told myself I was enjoying it, and that it was almost a return to form - the opening sequence was effective, but, to be honest, the rest of it sucked like a hoover: it was just so juvenile and mindless and easy, but without any of the verve or the goofy originality that sometimes makes schlock cinema enjoyable.

To be fair, Tarantino then went on to produce Machete, a gloriously silly and enjoyable slice of hyper-violent nonsense, which I lauded here. I wonder if it would have been half as enjoyable if Tarantino had written or directed it. Doubt it.

Next up was the excrementally abysmal Django Unchained. And now we have The Hateful Eight. David French's reasons for avoiding it exactly match my own:
Maybe Hateful Eight will be better. Maybe it will have a shred of originality (doesn’t this movie have double the bounty-hunters of Django?), a plot that varies one or two degrees from your last four big films, and maybe the top acting talent can somehow make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. In other words, maybe you’ll get better. Stranger things have happened. I’m not holding my breath. But I’m not boycotting your film, either. A “boycott” implies that I’m skipping a movie I’d otherwise see. I’ve given your work more than enough chances to live up to the hype, and I’ve been let down time and again. So I’ll probably sit this one out — not because you’re liberal but because you are bad.


  1. There was a lot of police violence last Tuesday when a six year old boy was gunned down by two police marshals in Louisiana.
    So expect to see thousands of whites rioting and looting.
    This tragedy will be 'forgotten' swiftly as it does'nt fit the narrative of white police shooting a black man.The little boy was white therefore its just not 'cool' for people like Tarantino to bring it up.

    1. What an extraordinary story! It's in the Mail, here:

      The two black policemen shot the boy five times. The boy's father, who was driving the car the police shot up and appears to have been unarmed, raised his hands BEFORE the police started firing.

      "According to Town Talk, at least one of the marshals has been accused of crime before.
      Stafford was reportedly indicted in 2011 on two counts of aggravated rape, with both cases dismissed in 2012.
      He is also a defendant in five civil lawsuits, with one involving alleged excessive force. Greenhouse is also named in a civil lawsuit relating to excessive force. Neither has been convicted of a crime."

      At least the policemen have been charged with second-degree murder.

      This sentence from the report struck me as vaguely sinister:

      "Craig Betbeze, a spokesman for the FBI's New Orleans division, could not elaborate on why the FBI and Justice Department's civil rights division were involved."

      I really hope we're talking about the dead child's civil rights here.

  2. Adam Sandler also has a new western coming out "The Ridiculous 6" [11th December on Netflix]. So together with "The Hateul 8" that is two films I shall look forward to not seeing.

    In 1959 Andre de Toth directed a western set in the winter in Oregon called "The Day of the Outlaw" and starring Robert Ryan, Burl Ives and Nehemiah Persoff [Little Napoleon in "Some Like It Hot"]. The plot and setting sounds similar to the Tarantino film and it is absolutely superb. Uncle Burl is as sinister as hell.

    I do however have a soft spot for Tarantino after he shredded that bumptious little tit Hari Krishna Guru Murphy during a C4 interview.

    The best examples for running off at the mouth and then trying to deny it are still Hillary Clinton ["I misspoke"] and Glenda Manspread Hoddle ["At this moment in time I never said them things"].

    1. I'm still fond of Boris "Shagger" Johnson's "inverted pyramid of piffle". At the time, I rather assumed that would be the end of his political career.

  3. Sinister indeed.Its unlikely to be the dead child's civil rights.My guess is that the 'N' word may have come into play and as this is now considered to be the most heinous crime on the planet bar none,the defense may be trying to manoeuvre this into the realms of an excusable and justifiable homicide.

  4. Like I said this story has been completely buried on CNN and the like and now overshadowed by the terrible events in France.
    Paris and Louisiana are like two peas in a pod.Hate functions in the leaderless West where hurt feelings and PC trump law and order.

  5. Boris is the imaginary cone that is supposed to exist atop the actual one.