May. 1st, 2012

missroserose: (Default)
So, at the behest of my husband, I've seen Pulp Fiction and both episodes of Kill Bill, and I feel I've finally tried enough Tarantino to decide I'm just not going to be a fan.

He's occupied an odd spot in my brain for a while, with a significant amount of cognitive dissonance. I admire his artistry quite a bit; I know there are people who call him a hack, but I have at least a little idea how difficult it is to mash up genres and styles like that and make it work. I also appreciate the pure glee with which he obviously makes his movies; I love to see anyone do something that they really love, especially when they also do it well. It's wonderful to see craftsmanship and enthusiasm in equal measures in any art form. So even though his movies aren't the sort of thing I'd normally enjoy, I really wanted to like them.

Thing is...well, obviously, I don't, or else there wouldn't be any cognitive dissonance. And I've spent quite some time dissecting what it is that so thoroughly turns me off about him. His reputation as a smarmy egotistical jerk (which, honestly, isn't helped by his default expression in every picture of him I've ever seen) doesn't help, but I've never been one to criticize art for the artist's faults. It's true that I generally prefer the understated-and-effective to the sort of ridiculous over-the-top-ness that he specializes in, but I've still enjoyed movies that are over-the-top when they go completely over-the-top (a la The Producers), and if there's one criticism you can't level at Tarantino, it's a tendency to hold back. The hyper-violence might be part of it too, but I've enjoyed many -- well, if not equally violent films, far more realistically violent ones (The Hunger Games comes to mind). I don't mind satire and pastiche as art forms. And I certainly have nothing against black comedies about crazy people - one of my all-time favorite films is In Bruges, ferchrissake.

Ultimately, what I think really turns me off about his movies is his fondness for exploitation. I know the word "gratuitous" is so overused as to be meaningless in movie criticism, but that's how a number of his scenes felt to me - the extended focus on The Bride's helplessness in the burying-alive sequence, the S&M rapists in Pulp Fiction, the coma sequence in the first volume of Kill Bill. Again, I realize that's part of the style that Tarantino's pastiche-ing, and it's obvious that he enjoys mondo-film-style titillation, and hey, if that's your thing, great. But to me, that sort of taboo-stomping for cheap thrills frankly just comes across as juvenile, especially with the gender-bullying mixed in. It's the same reason I don't much like Frank Miller, even though (again) I can admire the artistry of the two films based on his work that I've seen. The exploitative aspects just plain leave a bad taste in my mouth.
missroserose: (Default)
So, at the behest of my husband, I've seen Pulp Fiction and both episodes of Kill Bill, and I feel I've finally tried enough Tarantino to decide I'm just not going to be a fan.

He's occupied an odd spot in my brain for a while, with a significant amount of cognitive dissonance. I admire his artistry quite a bit; I know there are people who call him a hack, but I have at least a little idea how difficult it is to mash up genres and styles like that and make it work. I also appreciate the pure glee with which he obviously makes his movies; I love to see anyone do something that they really love, especially when they also do it well. It's wonderful to see craftsmanship and enthusiasm in equal measures in any art form. So even though his movies aren't the sort of thing I'd normally enjoy, I really wanted to like them.

Thing is...well, obviously, I don't, or else there wouldn't be any cognitive dissonance. And I've spent quite some time dissecting what it is that so thoroughly turns me off about him. His reputation as a smarmy egotistical jerk (which, honestly, isn't helped by his default expression in every picture of him I've ever seen) doesn't help, but I've never been one to criticize art for the artist's faults. It's true that I generally prefer the understated-and-effective to the sort of ridiculous over-the-top-ness that he specializes in, but I've still enjoyed movies that are over-the-top when they go completely over-the-top (a la The Producers), and if there's one criticism you can't level at Tarantino, it's a tendency to hold back. The hyper-violence might be part of it too, but I've enjoyed many -- well, if not equally violent films, far more realistically violent ones (The Hunger Games comes to mind). I don't mind satire and pastiche as art forms. And I certainly have nothing against black comedies about crazy people - one of my all-time favorite films is In Bruges, ferchrissake.

Ultimately, what I think really turns me off about his movies is his fondness for exploitation. I know the word "gratuitous" is so overused as to be meaningless in movie criticism, but that's how a number of his scenes felt to me - the extended focus on The Bride's helplessness in the burying-alive sequence, the S&M rapists in Pulp Fiction, the coma sequence in the first volume of Kill Bill. Again, I realize that's part of the style that Tarantino's pastiche-ing, and it's obvious that he enjoys mondo-film-style titillation, and hey, if that's your thing, great. But to me, that sort of taboo-stomping for cheap thrills frankly just comes across as juvenile, especially with the gender-bullying mixed in. It's the same reason I don't much like Frank Miller, even though (again) I can admire the artistry of the two films based on his work that I've seen. The exploitative aspects just plain leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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