Saturday, August 29, 2009

an ingenious bastard

Yesterday afternoon I started a movie that I simply could not finish. About a year ago I purchased a CD collecton (very cheap) of Western films that included a few Spaghetti Westerns. The movie that I could not finish was entitled 'Any Gun Can Play'. The producers, like countless other producers before, then and since, tried to capture and capitalize some of the success of Sergio Leone's grand Italian Westerns. This movie even started off with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Gian Maria Volonte look-alikes. There were some very familiar scenes and lots of tight close-ups. It was too boring to continue. No one could ever equal Leone. You see, Sergio Leone was a great storyteller. I wish I had a few dollar more for every time someone tried to come close to what Leone did in his films. What Leone offered onto film was unique.

I've always thought of Quentin Tarantino as sort of a Sam Peckinpah. Sure, Kill Bill I & II had Leone influences, but Tarantino has a very dull edge to his storytelling. Peckinpah was a bit edgy and graphic when it came to his storytelling. Quentin Tarantino's most recent work seems to be more of an homage to Leone and the Spaghetti Western from the very first frame of the movie 'Inglorious Bastards'. No. Quentin Tarantino is not a Leone mimic, he has his own brand of storytelling. He can pay homage without making copies of the masters. Tarantino is a master.

There is no mistaking this - Inglorious Bastards is a Spaghetti Western - only with cowboys and Nazis. I have witnessed many attempts to revisit the Spaghetti Western genre, and this movie is the first to have captured what I first experienced with Sergio Leone films many-many years ago. Quentin Tarantino not only can create the imagery, but has the slow fuse timing of a good Spaghetti Western.

I've never seen anyone handle blood quite like Qeuntin Tarantino. I've known no other director turn violent movies into an art form. Tarantino splashes blood onto celluloid like Jackson Pollack would paint on canvas.

Bloodletting aside, his characters, though sometimes stereotypical, have depth. Tarantino's plots are winding narrow roads which are needless to guess where they lead. In 'Inglorious Bastards', there are moments of film that are as awe filling as moments experienced in Orson Wells' 'Citizen Kane' or David O Selznick's 'Gone WIth The Wind'. Though I can relate Tarantino to many great directors - Quentin Tarantino offering is every bit as unique as the masters who have gone before him. His movies should be classified as a genre unto itself. There are so many familiar nuances experienced in his works - flavors and feels of movies past - yet his storytelling is his own.

I went to the drive-in last night to watch Inglorious Bastards on a bad weather night. It made no difference. The rain let up, and I put my folding chair front and center of the big outdoor screen. I listened to the sound through my headphones/mp3-FM player. I enjoyed this movie at face value - all those interesting and dangerous characters - all the conversations and tragic events strung together. There were moments in this film in which Quentin Tarantino created that are different than anything ever captured on film before- moments so memorable and timeless.

Quentin Tarantino isn't for everyone. I wouldn't recommend his films to just anyone. His stories and imagery are brutal to say the least. Even so, he is to me one of the finest directors living today. He isn't just a skillful director - he is a true artist. He is an ingenious bastard.
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