Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Tarantino, master of parody

Date: 05 Jul 2007

I agree with the "master" in this headline, but not the "parody." Parody implies that he is making fun of his source material, which he is most certainly not. In fact, if he has any fault, it's that he loves all movies, good and bad, equally. Instead, Tarantino is the master of pastiche. He sifts through for the "good bits" from various movies (and books), some well known, others very obscure, and chops and channels them into new movies. Movies that for the most part improve upon much of the trashy source material.

True, his movies are not as deep since the end of his collaboration with Roger Avary (I can't see how people can miss the depth of Pulp Fiction with its characters' various opportunities for redemption and second chances and the consequences of their engaging them or ignoring them), but, as Amy pointed out so well, they're a hell of a lot of fun. There are few movies I've watched as many times as Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 and I am very much looking forward to the four disc set of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, which recuts it as one film (scheduled for November). That film also turned me on to much of his source material and I have become a huge fan of samurai films (among other genres he drew from).

(Death Proof may not be up to his other directed work -- particularly when heard in excerpts, as on the soundtrack CD, soudn like QT parodying himself -- but the car scenes were way cool, and it was still a lot of fun in its trashiness. Not so much fun seeing him act.)

As for his influence on noir writing, I think it has been pretty huge. Tarantino opened up a market, leading to the release of many of the films that influenced him (he is directly responsible for the dozens of samurai films that have come out here in the past few years, for the better treatment of kung fu films -- Dragon Dynasty, for instance, would not exist if not for him) and numerous new crime films that have tried to emulate his success. Yes, many if not most of them have been mediocre at best, but it has also brought us films like Brick, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Unknown, to name just a few from the last year. I am most certainly not calling the makers of these last films Tarantino imitators, just saying these films probably would not have been made if Tarantino had not primed the pump.

And the same goes for noir fiction. I've seen "In the tradition of Pulp Fiction" on a number of covers, and I bet it moves more books today than
"In the tradition of Chandler and Hammet" would/does. I would be really surprised if Charlie Huston, for instance, was not a Tarantino fan, find it hard to believe his work his work would be made the way it is and found so easily in bookstores if Tarantino had not paved the way. Al Guthrie is a fan of Tarantino's. And would there be a Hard Case Crime series, with its covers sharing the aesthetic of the Pulp Fiction poster, without Tarantino? (Would there Charles?)


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