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Violence is so good
January 11, 2013 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Quentin Tarantino clashed with News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy during a fractious interview ahead of the London premiere of his new film. Tarantino has previously defended the gore that defines his movies, saying "that's the biggest attraction. I'm a big fan of action and violence in cinema".
posted by Lanark (138 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tarantino a big Tarantino fan, news at 11!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:37 PM on January 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


"I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way that they have not in 30 years." - Quentin Tarantino, minutes after doing a few lines of cocaine
posted by crayz at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


"I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way that they have not in 30 years."

"Specifically, they're talking about what I think of slavery."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesus, he's tedious.
posted by notsnot at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I find Tarantino's latest revenge flicks, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, to be lazy and going for low-hanging fruit.

Everybody hates Nazis and slaveowners in the American south. But they're gone. Seeing them murdered in various gory ways isn't making much of a statement.

If Tarantino wanted to make a film that really meant something, he'd do a revenge porn about a person or group of people who really exist today, who enjoy widespread support, who cause widespread misery.

Imagine a film about a group of Tarantino badasses who kidnap Rupert Murdoch and run him and his lackeys through a printing press. Or scalp Donald Trump. Or waterboard Karl Rove. Or target drone operators with drones- all to the tune of "Wipeout".
posted by dunkadunc at 12:46 PM on January 11, 2013 [28 favorites]


Wait, we've dealt with the Native American Holocaust? I missed that memo, BUT majorly happy that that's been resolved.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:46 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'M SHUTTING YOUR BUTT DOWN meme in 3..2..
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2013


It's too bad Tarantino doesn't alternate his schtick with Bergmanesque social realist dramas, like Woody Allen used to do.

It would be cool to see Tarantino adapt a Chekov play with a straight face.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


"I'm shutting your butt down" is hilarious.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most of this was standard QT stuff, and I didn't mind it until

interviewer: But why are you so sure that there's no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence?

QT: I don't – I – what, I'm gonna tell you why I'm so sure? Don't ask me a question like that. I'm not gonna – I'm not biting. I refuse your question.

interviewer: Why?

QT: Because I refuse your question. I'm not your slave and you're not my master. You can't make me dance to your tune.

Buh... seriously, Quentin? Seriously? You can't tell me you didn't regret that moment after the interview. I can't even decide if I agree with Django Unchained, although I think it's an exceedingly interesting thing, but that has nothing to do with this. Being asked annoying questions by a discomfited man in an interview is not like living in slavery. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Actually, Kill Bill was Tarantino's riff on Hannah & Her Sisters.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I dunno, my thought watching Django was things like that--the treatment of slaves, I mean--actually happened and pretending it didn't or getting all pearl-clutchy about violence is ignoring what happened. We're talking about an era leading up to one of the bloodiest 4 years in American history.

Imagine a film about a group of Tarantino badasses who kidnap Rupert Murdoch and run him and his lackeys through a printing press. Or scalp Donald Trump. Or waterboard Karl Rove. Or target drone operators with drones- all to the tune of "Wipeout".

You're looking for God Bless America.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


actually happened and pretending it didn't or getting all pearl-clutchy about violence is ignoring what happened.

Tarantino said basically the same thing in an interview with Terry Gross.

I sort of empathize with Tarantino because it must be just tedious to get the same question over and over. He's been making violent movies for decades. If he hasn't admitted that fantasy violence is responsible for all the world's ills, why would he start now?
posted by muddgirl at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


You're looking for God Bless America.

You're really, really not.
posted by eugenen at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Quentin is actually doing a lot less coke these days, which explains his testiness. When he was high he would happily ramble for 5min about violence in his movies.

I watched Inglorious Basterds a couple weeks ago, I swear you can get a contact high just from watching the interview on the DVD.
posted by mannequito at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2013


I dunno, my thought watching Django was things like that--the treatment of slaves, I mean--actually happened and pretending it didn't or getting all pearl-clutchy about violence is ignoring what happened.

But the revenge killing good guy badass slave never happened (so far as I know). Why not? That would make an interesting movie (or maybe it wouldn't). QT's comment that he wanted to give black people a western hero like white people have western heroes - why? Is that really important? And if you have to make one up instead of basing it off of something that actually happened, then what good are you doing? I feel like you could just as easily argue that he's imprinting the concept of COOL BADASS WHITE GUY on black culture and then being like yo, you're WELCOME.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:55 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip: "You're looking for God Bless America."

No, because in that movie, the protagonist is faulting the reality show participants. It doesn't grok that the media is propaganda meant to make us hate each other. If that movie had really gotten it right, he would have been going after the CEO of the network, not the spoiled reality-show teenagers.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The theory that newspapers and TV news fuel violence by providing the killers with fame and notoriety seems a lot stronger to me than the theory that movies and games fuel violence.
posted by BinaryApe at 12:56 PM on January 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


It would be cool to see Tarantino adapt a Chekov play with a straight face.

"If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must be fired into a pimp's testicles by a one-eyed, meth-addled prostitute in the last act."
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [32 favorites]


I say, with complete seriousness, that the violence in Django Unchained left unwilling to watch anything but fluffy bunnies for a few days.

InGlorious Basterds was great flicks and I could just look away at the violent sceens. Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill was were similar.

Django Unchained? The sounds of that one cowboy who was being repeatedly shot up in the cross fire during the big house shoot out near the end still make me wince.

I dunno, my thought watching Django was things like that--the treatment of slaves, I mean--actually happened and pretending it didn't or getting all pearl-clutchy about violence is ignoring what happened.

Django was a slave who needed a white man to help him be free and then teach him a useful skill. Once freed, Django didn't give a shit about any other black person except his wife, who had no revenge story of her own.

Now a movie about Stephen slowly poisoning Candie, his family and his staff, as he squirreled away money for guns to arm the slaves and local Indians for a bloody march across the south? I'd give money to that Kickstarter project.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:01 PM on January 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I can't make up my mind which director of overtly-violent films I hate hearing talk about their own movies more, Tarantino or Scorsese.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the revenge killing good guy badass slave never happened (so far as I know)

I'd be surprised if a less-movieish equivalent didn't occur, considering the larger uprisings that did occur.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good on Tarantino.

I'm tired of the whole "movies and video games impact violence in real life" narrative. It takes away the discussion from the ownership of the means required for carrying out violence in real life, and the societal conditions that impact the mental state of the people that carry out violence.

And as far as graphically depicting violence on screen and in various forms of art, I will just post this paragraph I read today on the AV club:

"the trailer for 2012—approved for all audiences—is more appalling than anything [...] witnessed in a “torture-porn” movie. (Save maybe for A Serbian Film, which is its own special brand of deplorable.) I’m constantly amazed by how much tongue-clucking happens over imagery in horror movies while we’re perfectly happy witnessing the bloodless, digital annihilation of giant swaths of the population without batting an eye. How is it not more perverse for audiences to embrace the fantasy of near-total oblivion as a popcorn movie and reject those films that, in your view, trade in human misery?"

Chew on that.
posted by mysticreferee at 1:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I find Tarantino's latest revenge flicks, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, to be lazy and going for low-hanging fruit.

Everybody hates Nazis and slaveowners in the American south. But they're gone. Seeing them murdered in various gory ways isn't making much of a statement.


That's a direct interpretation (meaning "it's about killing nazis"). But IB is a film about a nazi propaganda film in which someone tries to edit in their own editing, in which Hitler gets machine-gunned to death. It's about violence and film. So I don't think it's lazy, and I think it is talking about something interesting, in Tarantino's particular way (which includes him denying that it's talking about anything in interviews).

Not liking Tarantino's way of talking about things is something I can understand. But to say "it's just lazy and going for low-hanging fruit," I don't agree with.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


Imagine a film about a group of Tarantino badasses who kidnap Rupert Murdoch and run him and his lackeys through a printing press. Or scalp Donald Trump. Or waterboard Karl Rove. Or target drone operators with drones- all to the tune of "Wipeout".

He could buy the rights to Complicity
posted by dng at 1:03 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


“I feel like a conductor and the audience's feelings are my instruments."

It shows, Quent, it shows.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:03 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm torn; I like his movies, I generally agree with his views, and yet I find him intensely annoying.
posted by found missing at 1:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait, we've dealt with the Native American Holocaust?

Yeah, that was kinda weird and out-of-nowhere.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:07 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I very much sympathize with Tarantino here. The constant hand-wringing over violence in movies is not just wrong-headed but hypocritical: Spielberg didn't get questions like this after Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List, two movies which are a lot more graphically unpleasant than anything Tarantino has done. The general viewpoint, of course, seems to be that violence in those movies is okay because they have an IMPORTANT LESSON TO TEACH US™ and that the violence in a movie like Django Unchained is unacceptable because it doesn't Teach Us An Important Lesson, as though we should only watch movies as though we're being forced to eat our vegetables.

But there's no coherent argument to be made that violence that comes with An Important Lesson is good and healthy whereas violence that doesn't come with An Important Lesson is bad. In fact, I much prefer my movies to come without Important Lessons, which is why I'd take 1 Django Unchained or Final Destination 2 or Hostel or Killer Joe or Cannibal Holocaust over 1,000 Schindlers Lists any day: I would very much prefer my violence and exploitation in movies to come direct and honest, rather than leavened with a heaping helping of hypocritical Important Lessons.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


I very much sympathize with Tarantino here. The constant hand-wringing over violence in movies is not just wrong-headed but hypocritical

Especially since it is what people want and will pay for.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:13 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine a film about a group of Tarantino badasses who kidnap Rupert Murdoch and run him and his lackeys through a printing press. Or scalp Donald Trump. Or waterboard Karl Rove. Or target drone operators with drones- all to the tune of "Wipeout".

You're looking for God Bless America.


Or V for Vendetta.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


roger ackroyd : Actually, Kill Bill was Tarantino's riff on Hannah & Her Sisters.

I'm almost positive that Django Unchained is Tarantino's nod to the Catcher Freeman episode of The Boondocks.

Which I have no complaints about. It was a great episode, and I suspect based on the reviews of friends I trust, that it'll be a great movie that I'll enjoy quite a bit.
posted by quin at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The original V For Vendetta, anyway - the first year or so ran like a mash-up of 1984 and The Abominable Dr Phibes.

So... Or The Abominable Dr Phibes, I guess.
posted by Grangousier at 1:20 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Per his suggestion, I Googled what Tarantino has had to say about violence in movies and all I seem to be able to pull up is news about this interview.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:26 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Spielberg didn't get questions like this after Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List, two movies which are a lot more graphically unpleasant than anything Tarantino has done. The general viewpoint, of course, seems to be that violence in those movies is okay because they have an IMPORTANT LESSON TO TEACH US™ and that the violence in a movie like Django Unchained is unacceptable because it doesn't Teach Us An Important Lesson, as though we should only watch movies as though we're being forced to eat our vegetables.

There were certainly questions about the violence in Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List


You're also ignoring the type of violence in QT's films, where he's using it for humorous and outlandish effects. Considering the changed climate, where school massacres, not shooting, but massacres, are common, it's reasonable for people to be put off by QT's stylistic take on that subject.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:26 PM on January 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Everybody hates Nazis and slaveowners in the American south. But they're gone. Seeing them murdered in various gory ways isn't making much of a statement.

I haven't seen Django Unchained yet, but I was surprised at just how hard Inglourious Basterds pushed against that very idea. Maybe I took more out of the movie than Tarantino intended to put in, but I thought the violent slaughter of the Nazi characters ultimately made a really shocking statement. It was as if Tarantino were saying, see these Nazis? You know it's ok to hate them, because we all know they're monsters - they're not really human. It's ok to feel good and laugh when they suffer and die at the hands of the real human characters. But why are the Nazis so evil? Well, it's because they treat the Jews as monsters, not really human...

It's exactly the fact that we expect to feel comfortable watching Nazis get slaughtered that makes the movie so uncomfortable. They're just people, after all, not monsters, and the logic they use to justify their violence against Jews and other people they hate is the same logic you, the viewer, have to use to justify the violence you're watching against them. It's the same process of "othering" and dehumanization - but the movie Nazis won't cooperate, they keep acting like people and breaking the illusion, and there you are at the end, cheering on the violent, gory murder of people who probably don't deserve it.

So there really is a statement there, and it's a subversive one. It's not a new statement of course, people have been talking about the banality of evil for half a century now, but it's a uniquely visceral presentation of the idea, and the fact that Tarantino really is comfortable using violence for fun is part of what makes it so effective. He can really sell you on the idea that slaughtering Nazis is fun and entertaining, and then he's got you on the hook for the real moral conundrum at the heart of the film.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:28 PM on January 11, 2013 [49 favorites]


That's the thing about Tarantino. If he DID try to make an "out-of-character" movie he'd probably fail, even though for me Jackie Brown is his masterpiece and just a LITTLE out of character. At any rate, I don't think he could pull it off because he is so in love with his little film universe that he might be exposed as a bit of a charlatan when he doesn't have his Tarantino-isms to fall back on. Whereas, David Lynch, in between Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. made The Straight Story, a G-rated film distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, no less. And it's really great. Let's see Tarantino try to take a turn like that. Truly, it would be totally terrible.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everybody hates Nazis and slaveowners in the American south. But they're gone. Seeing them murdered in various gory ways isn't making much of a statement.

The clever part of both movies seems to be that they try to get the audience to identify with the Nazis and slaveholders. Django seems designed to produce produce Django moments. That's new.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kill Bill 2 was on TV the other week, and I thought what I always think during the opening sequence in the church - that I quite liked the Reverend and his wife and Rufus who is, of course, The Man, and it would be nice if they didn't immediately have to get brutally shot. Whilst I agree with him completely on the violence question, it would be nice if he'd just make a Gene Kelly-style musical, or a tribute to Frank Tashlin. He'd probably be equally as good as that.

As regards the gun question - at least two of his films (Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown) have as a (probably unintentional) theme the way that the permeation of American culture by firearms have made it very convenient for stupid people to kill each other and themselves.
posted by Grangousier at 1:30 PM on January 11, 2013


It's interesting how people keep bringing up the discomfort you feel when watching the violence in Django Unchained — justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow's link is a good example — as if it's somehow a failing of the film. To me, that discomfort is precisely the point of the film. The wincing seems pretty damn deliberate to me.

Django is fascinating in that is has two very different kinds of on-screen violence. The tenor of the scenes involving violence against slaves (Candie watching his brutal private fight; the dogs; etc.) is very different from the shoot-em-up revenge fantasy scenes. The former are brutal and incredibly hard to watch, and the later are silly and over-the-top. It makes the revenge scenes into a weird kind of relief: we laugh at that violence because the cartoonishness reminds us we're back in film-land after the brutality of the previous scenes.

Tarantino is pretty obsessed with violence; nearly all of his films are at least partially about violence itself, and Django is certainly no exception. In my eyes, the film most emphatically doesn't fail because of the violence. On the contrary; it's this weird duality in the presentation of violence where the film works the best.
posted by jacobian at 1:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


David Lynch, in between Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. made The Straight Story, a G-rated film distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, no less. And it's really great. Let's see Tarantino try to take a turn like that. Truly, it would be totally terrible.

Tarantino makes the films he likes to and wants to make, as does David Lynch. Since you have already decided he's a terrible filmmaker and have gone so far as to pre-judge a project that exists only in your own imagination, maybe you should just stop watching and caring about Tarantino and the movies he chooses to make?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


"No, I don't think there's any rape going on in the movie, all right?"

Whoa, what?
posted by glhaynes at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2013


Tarantino has always done hyper violence, but I realized while watching Django, he's kind of gone over the top with the whole "video game style" frag-violence, and it added some silliness, but also just a crazy other-worldly level of violence with bloody explosions everywhere.

I'd say the whole ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs was the grossest thing I've seen in a theater, but all the people exploding body parts in Django was pretty gross too.
posted by mathowie at 1:49 PM on January 11, 2013


> I also hoped nobody had been too put-off by my delight at an unarmed white woman getting more or less executed.

I hope not too. I'm white and that got the biggest laugh of the film out of me.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:50 PM on January 11, 2013


I'm a huge fan of Tarantino. I keep waiting for him to make another movie like Pulp Fiction, but that's clearly not happening. That aside, I seriously do not understand the controversy over Django. I have black friends who were worried that seeing the movie could be interpreted as supporting the use of the "n" word, and I shared in that concern. Plus, I heard the movie was extremely violent. Then I saw the movie.

What I felt I ended up seeing was a really funny, light-hearted, movie where the good guy gets the girl and all the bad guys pay. In fact, what I really enjoyed more than anything else were the characters; Tarantino chose to paint them with a fine brush. White Southerners, depicted in varying degrees of retardation and violence. Black slaves, whose differing personalities and roles in society (vis a vis their relationships with their masters) largely overcame the stereotype of "token" black person. The relationship between Jackson and DiCaprio was outstanding.

So I had a really good time, and the level of violence was comical. As a kid, I didn't play with my GI Joe figurines during the day, and harbor thoughts of joining the military and killing people at night. Why Tarantino has turned into a lightning rod for violence in cinema is beyond me. I don't understand how it could be somehow interpreted as worse than a billion orcs fighting a billion elves on the highlands of New Zealand. Or say, any first person shooter.
posted by phaedon at 1:50 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


As someone who's a Tarantino fan, not a gun fan, and who doesn't know for sure but thinks probably violence in movies isn't a big cause of real-life violence: Tarantino here makes me as suspicious-by-association of this position as incredibly abrasive and defensive gun advocates should make "2nd amendment means anybody can have anything" people.
posted by glhaynes at 1:53 PM on January 11, 2013


Django is fascinating in that is has two very different kinds of on-screen violence. The tenor of the scenes involving violence against slaves (Candie watching his brutal private fight; the dogs; etc.) is very different from the shoot-em-up revenge fantasy scenes. The former are brutal and incredibly hard to watch, and the later are silly and over-the-top. It makes the revenge scenes into a weird kind of relief: we laugh at that violence because the cartoonishness reminds us we're back in film-land after the brutality of the previous scenes.,

I agree with this interpretation. It would be unlike QT to make a seriously dark film, that focused just on the very ugly violence against slaves. So injecting humor and/or a different kind of violence into the film, against certain other characters is good idea.

But it didn't work for me.

What I felt I ended up seeing was a really funny, light-hearted, movie where the good guy gets the girl and all the bad guys pay

Against a backdrop of slavery, which was only paid attention to when QT felt like it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:54 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Against a backdrop of slavery, which was only paid attention to when QT felt like it.

Well I also want to say I kind of refuse to really get into Tarantino's comments about the movie, because the shit is still in theaters and clearly the studio is welcoming as much controversy as possible, to get people to see the movie. It's not like any executives have apologized for the movie, which is way more cartoony than a lot of this so-called serious film criticism makes it out to be.
posted by phaedon at 1:58 PM on January 11, 2013


I find Tarantino's latest revenge flicks, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, to be lazy and going for low-hanging fruit.


Let's see if you maintain that stance after reading this:

http://www.toddalcott.com/inglourious-basterds-part-1.html
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:59 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen the film, and I probably won't until it comes out on DVD, but it was interesting seeing my stepsons' friends reactions to it when they posted that they had seen it on Facebook. "I LOVED that movie!" Coming from a bunch of 20-ish white college kids, I am really curious what they loved about it. The discussions I've read here have been full of a lot of interesting nuance but I'm not sure how much of that gets through to younger viewers. All my kids could really tell me was that it was really funny and used the n word a lot and that I probably wouldn't like it.
posted by Biblio at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Django is fascinating in that is has two very different kinds of on-screen violence. The tenor of the scenes involving violence against slaves (Candie watching his brutal private fight; the dogs; etc.) is very different from the shoot-em-up revenge fantasy scenes. The former are brutal and incredibly hard to watch, and the later are silly and over-the-top. It makes the revenge scenes into a weird kind of relief: we laugh at that violence because the cartoonishness reminds us we're back in film-land after the brutality of the previous scenes.

This is it exactly: as with Inglourious Basterds, he is pitching the violence at two different registers. In IB, there is the gleeful Hollywood high-body-count approach that we see in the film within a film (American soldiers drop just as easily and are just as quickly forgotten as the CGI clone troopers in the Star Wars prequels) while elsewhere there is the intensely personal violence of Zoller and Shoshanna struggling, or the prisoner being beaten to death with a baseball bat. Previously to Django, (save for the Crazy 88s in Kill Bill Vol. 1) he hasn't really dealt in the large-scale violence that Hollywood does regularly -- check the body count of any given Pirates of the Caribbean movie compared to Reservoir Dogs.

I suppose that it is an intractable problem in filmmaking: you can show one death of someone we have come to know and like and it has far more emotional impact than of a thousand non-speaking extras dying on a battlefield. Tarantino's movies have been gradually melding the two, making the viewer complicit in the bloodshed. I am curious to see where he is going with this.


Tarantino a big Tarantino fan, news at 11!

I would love it if people who have nothing to offer but a cliché could at least get the cliché right. Nothing personal, 10RofF.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:05 PM on January 11, 2013


Biblio, I think it was funny and somewhat light hearted (while also being violent) during the first hour of the movie. You get to cheer along as Django kills a bunch of people that deserve it. The second half of the movie is a giant tension-filled segment that is brutal to sit through, and goes for over an hour where you don't think Django is going to get out alive, save the girl, and be free.

I think younger people might have a better stomach for prolonged movie tension, I find myself turning off movies when I feel the writer is being too brutal on the audience and stringing them along without relief (why I hated Life of Pi, it was 30min of fun, 2hrs of tension, and then a 5min dorky ending).
posted by mathowie at 2:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm tired of the whole "movies and video games impact violence in real life" narrative. It takes away the discussion from the ownership of the means required for carrying out violence in real life, and the societal conditions that impact the mental state of the people that carry out violence.

People learn from stories, myths, and media. Except in America, in America there's no connection between behaviour and narrative. Just a bunch of rational independent actors that have never learned anything anywhere.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hey rich white dudes, you don't really get a say in whether or not the US has adequately compensated the millions of existing Native Americans for hundreds of years of genocide, discrimination, and internment. Or you know, the continued discrimination, exploitation and appropriation of Native American history and tradition.
posted by pugh at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2013


I find Tarantino's latest revenge flicks, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, to be lazy and going for low-hanging fruit.

I wonder if the next Tarantino film will be about kitten burners getting their come-uppance?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:11 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that it was funny and sometimes light-hearted. But I can't imagine starting any description of the movie with those words. (I would have when I was a twentyish white college kid, though. Which makes me somewhat ambivalent about the movie, knowing that many of its biggest fans and those upon whom it will make the most impact will see it primarily in that light.)
posted by glhaynes at 2:12 PM on January 11, 2013


Hey rich white dudes, you don't really get a say in whether or not the US has adequately compensated the millions of existing Native Americans for hundreds of years of genocide, discrimination, and internment.

Though it is highly unjust at times, I'm afraid it is the victors that get the spoils.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 2:13 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there's no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value."
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:23 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


mathowie: I thought it was pretty gross initially as well, until I noticed upon later viewings that I wasn't really seeing anything. I just thought I was going to, and averted my eyes, the first time. But all that's there is a shot a guy with a razor near someone's ear and a camera moving upward, toward ... nothing.

(All the blood in the movie, and the long car ride where the guy moans and bleeds, went far more off the gross/gruesome charts for me, regardless.)
posted by raysmj at 2:32 PM on January 11, 2013


There's a lot going on here, some of which is defensible, some not. Tarantino's interview freak-out is embarrassing, but not unexpected. He's a epochal filmmaker who used to undermine my respect for him every time he opens his mouth. He seemed relatively reasonable and sedate this round of interviews, but eventually that old temper and awkwardness was likely to emerge.

But, then, this discussion of violence in his movies is a sideshow, generated by a horrific massacre that has got anti-gun control activists pushing a narrative that violent movies cause gun violence, and not, you know, guns. Were I a filmmaker, I'd be pretty irritated to have my work pointed to as a distraction from the conversation that should be happening, as a deliberate distraction.

The discussion of slavery is a good one, and reasoned people can have varied and differing opinions. But that's not the questions this interviewer was asking. Instead, the very fact that is a violent movie seemed to trouble him.

It's a genre film, borrowing, most heavily, from spaghetti westerns, and, to a lesser extent, from blaxsploitation. And there are reasons for borrowing from these genres, and they are sound. The western is one of films oldest genres, itself borrowing from live Wild West shows that emerged immediately following the actual settlement of the west, and from western pulps that were actually written contemporaneously with the stories they told. The western is our mythology of the civilizing of America, and it has a long history of being the way artists have revisited and problematized that history. Spaghetti westerns, in particular, have a history of criticizing the mythology of the west. And it's a pretty standard trope in the spaghetti western that a stranger comes to a corrupt town, is brutalized, and returns to extract retribution. This is exactly the story of Unforgiven, and it's the story of Django, except that the stranger is a slave, the corrupt town is America, and the retribution is against white racists.

The violence in the films is interesting, because it is unreal. People don't simply die, blood bursts out of them in an almost cartoonish fashion. But I think we have grown accustomed to realistic gunshots, and, by making the bloodletting as unreal as he did, Tarantino draws attention to it, and makes it newly shocking.

So what we have is a bog standard film trope made unexpected by the choice of main character, the racial component to those he exacts revenge on, and the bizarre way violence is shown.

Does this make the violence unusually meaningful or terrible? After all, we are in a media environment that is supersaturated with violence. More people are killed in Lincoln in the war against slavery than are killed by Django in his personal war against slavery. The ending of the Avengers involves our heroes killing a huge number of aliens. The ending of Unforgiven -- which is universally applauded -- involved Clint Eastwood killing a dozen men and then shooting a wounded man who lies on the floor; his character is an antihero, and it's a terrifically ambivalent scene, but I don't think the violence in Django is any less ambivalent, or that Django's bloodletting is any more cathartic than that in Unforgiven.

So what the issue? Why all the talk of violence -- and not academically, but as though the violence of Django is actually a problem, and may actually lead to more violence? I mean, look at the AV Clubs list of top movies of this past year, or NY Times, at least half of the film include graphic cinematic violence that went without comment. There is so much violence in film that it is usually unremarkable, but here it is remarkable. Why?

Probably a few reasons. Because Tarantino makes his violence remarkable. Because he's dealing with a complex historic subject in a brash way.

But part of it, as well, seems to be that its because the cathartic violent final scenes -- a staple of the western -- here involve a black man killing white people. And that's hit a nerve, and it's a nerve that we should know is being hit before we confront Tarantino about violence in his movies. And certainly we shouldn't frame that discussion as though Django were inherently dangerous in a way that, say, the violence in The Avengers isn't. The discussion of his use of violence is interesting. The fact that, instead of a discussion, instead we get a smoke screen to cover the fact that the NRA will not allow any conversation about gun control is disgusting.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


Bored...with...it...all.
posted by incandissonance at 3:11 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I abhor violence, but my god I'd be willing to make an exception in Tarantino's case. What an infinitely punchable little prick he is.
posted by Decani at 3:12 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find Tarantino's latest revenge flicks, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, to be lazy and going for low-hanging fruit.

Everybody hates Nazis and slaveowners in the American south. But they're gone. Seeing them murdered in various gory ways isn't making much of a statement.


man did you even watch inglorious basterds
posted by p3on at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, my thought watching Django was things like that--the treatment of slaves, I mean--actually happened and pretending it didn't or getting all pearl-clutchy about violence is ignoring what happened.

Bullshit.

Tarantino is the one who can't face what really happened.

One of Davey D's guests on a recent Hard Knock Radio program happened to be teaching in Russia when Inglorious Bastards was showing, and he pointed out that the Russians despise that movie because they lost 26 million people doing the dirty work of defeating Hitler, and Tarantino hands the credit to a gang of lovable misfits in his SadoDisneyfication of the history of WWII for all the world like those Russians never existed, and those rivers of their blood had never soaked into the soil of the country they saved along with God knows how many lives of citizens of countries which rolled over for the Nazis like obedient dogs.

Django Unchained is essentially One Inglorious Bastard where a lone misfit gos back and deals with the injustices of slavery not by righting them, not by compensating anybody for them, not by setting something better up in their place, or even by acknowledging them in a real way, but by getting extravagant and largely superfluous revenge for a single instance of them.

And thereby denies the courage, suffering, work and sacrifice of the people who really did do something about the crimes of slavery, and really, denies that these people existed in the first place.

Tarantino cannot so much as bear to look in the direction of violence or injustice without first wrapping it in 50 layers of self-righteous sadistic revenge porn so that it can never touch him.

If real violence had ever come anywhere near him-- if he'd been in Aurora Colorado for the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, say-- he'd probably still be curled up in a fetal position in some exclusive Beverly Hills hospital suite sniveling and crying and clutching the family jewels, such as they are.
posted by jamjam at 3:17 PM on January 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


I heard once that a South American film director had said about Tarantino that he depicted violence as someone who had never experienced it. I think that's about right - if there's one thing about him it's that he's completely failed to (pardon the expression) check his privilege of growing up apart from the threat of actual violence that someone of the same age in Argentina or Chile or Yugoslavia or any number of places either experienced directly or was only a generation from. On one level he's quite childish in that way.

Still, it's the actual guns, not the movies.
posted by Grangousier at 3:29 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


But you can make the same criticism about most makers of fiction. Hell, to dredge up another comparison from the last thread, you can make the same criticism about Shakespeare.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:32 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tarantino hands the credit to a gang of lovable misfits

Every time I've had or even witnessed a conversation about Inglourious Basterds, online or in person, I'm newly amazed at the inability of otherwise intelligent people to distinguish between a film's marketing and the actual film itself.
posted by Benjy at 3:34 PM on January 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think ambivalent is the word I'd use for my feelings about this film, too. Particularly where that target group of young white dudes is concerned. (Well, maybe they aren't the target, but the ads read that way to me, the middle aged white mom.). I think kids do contextualize that sort of screen violence in a different way and can turn it into "light hearted" even while blood spurts. I just wonder if that level of over the top violence overshadows any other message they might be getting from the film. Unfortunately my step kids have a hard time talking about film and tv critically. They consume so much of it, but don't really critique it besides "like/don't like". I guess I need to see Django myself, then.
posted by Biblio at 3:49 PM on January 11, 2013


It's an absolutely tremendous film - although I would have preferred Idris Elba in the title role, it's one of the best Tarantino has made. Walz, DeCaprio and Jackson are just amazing - I would have liked Django to be less trusting of Walz at the beginning but there you are, minor quibbles really.
He didnt handle the interview well but he was sucker punched by that english being very polite whilst being deeply insulting thing, interviewing as though he's personally responsible for gun violence in the US.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tarantino hands the credit to a gang of lovable misfits in his SadoDisneyfication of the history of WWII for all the world like those Russians never existed, and those rivers of their blood had never soaked into the soil of the country they saved along with God knows how many lives of citizens of countries which rolled over for the Nazis like obedient dogs.

Django Unchained is essentially One Inglorious Bastard where a lone misfit gos back and deals with the injustices of slavery not by righting them, not by compensating anybody for them, not by setting something better up in their place, or even by acknowledging them in a real way, but by getting extravagant and largely superfluous revenge for a single instance of them.


If you think that IB is all about exposing how bad Nazis were and how cool the Basterds were, or if you think DU is all about how Django is supposed to be the Great Liberator, it leads me to wonder if you watched either one very closely (if at all) or just read a couple Salon articles and Spike Lee tweets.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


The question is an incredibly lazy one, and he's been asked this a million times in a million different forums (on Fresh Air last week, for example), so bleh. Journalists should learn to ask better questions and pseudojournalist entertainment reporters should be berated when then ask them.
posted by beerbajay at 4:01 PM on January 11, 2013


"Django Unchained is essentially One Inglorious Bastard where a lone misfit gos back and deals... extravagant and largely superfluous revenge..."

I haven't seen the film (nor am I very excited by the prospect), but can you tell me whether in dealing out some extravagant revenge he's a kind of alter Odysseus?
posted by mr. digits at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2013


Django Unchained is literally Super Mario's quest to rescue his Princess from a castle set in the antebellum South. Along the way he stomps on some Goombas who had personally harmed him and her in the past, but they're present for only one scene. The revenge aspect is overstated.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:23 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing with Tarantino movies is his apparent disbelief that I exist. He thinks that I am laughing at some of his violence and then being shocked, that he is "manipulating" me and "conducting [me] like an orchestra," when really my feelings are a pretty constant cringe and general nausea throughout.

I swear, when I saw "Inglorious Basterds" (unwillingly) in a theater, my wife and I spent the whole movie making this face: D-: People kept laughing at things that made us squirm and seriously consider walking out (and offending the person whose party it was). Then at the end, there's that scene with Hitler laughing and clapping about the deaths on the screen, immediately followed by our actual audience laughing and clapping about the deaths on our screen, and I glanced around to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera or something because seriously people what the fuck is wrong with you?

But Tarantino thinks I was laughing and clapping, too, and that he is therefore somehow criticizing me, and whenever someone points out to him that people don't always actually enjoy violence very much and that not everyone has his same hangups about gore and revenge, he dismisses the point out of hand.
posted by Scattercat at 4:31 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Django Unchained is literally Super Mario's quest to rescue his Princess from a castle set in the antebellum South.

This is the comparison you make, when Django's wife is not just named Brumhilda, but the film explicitly recaps the plot of Siegfried as part of the main plot?
posted by Benjy at 4:34 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


The ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs is one of the greatest prices of movie trickery ever. The camera doesn't cut away, it pans shakily towards nothing as if averting its gaze, leading a sense of unease. Tarantino has said he filmed a more graphic version but it could never be as violent as what viewers imagine.

I'm not sure why QT gets such a bad rap. There are much worse scenes in most of Scorcese's films. The bloodbath at the end of Taxi Driver and the vice scene from Casio. Metafilter favorite Drive has a couple insanely brutal scenes.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:37 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is the comparison you make, when Django's wife is not just named Brumhilda, but the film explicitly recaps the plot of Siegfried as part of the main plot?

I was trying to out-Tarantino Tarantino.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:39 PM on January 11, 2013


This is asinine. Love him or hate him, why is Quentin Tarantino of all people expected to justify himself on the topics of Violence in American Film and Society, when nobody expects Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay, for instance, to justify themselves to interviewers about the same topic?
posted by jonp72 at 4:41 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Metafilter favorite Drive has a couple insanely brutal scenes.

I hate that movie, but all my criticisms are deleted.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:47 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of Davey D's guests on a recent Hard Knock Radio program happened to be teaching in Russia when Inglorious Bastards was showing, and he pointed out that the Russians despise that movie because they lost 26 million people doing the dirty work of defeating Hitler

Probably Jelani Cobb, who has written the best thing I've seen yet about the film.
posted by davidjmcgee at 4:50 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I heard once that a South American film director had said about Tarantino that he depicted violence as someone who had never experienced it. I think that's about right - if there's one thing about him it's that he's completely failed to (pardon the expression) check his privilege of growing up apart from the threat of actual violence that someone of the same age in Argentina or Chile or Yugoslavia or any number of places either experienced directly or was only a generation from.

I can certainly empathize with a South American film director who has this opinion, but I think it's absolutely nonsensical to assert a filmmaker doesn't have the moral right to depict violence on screen unless he's grown up in a war zone. If you follow that assertion to its reduction ad absurdum, then even filmmakers like Orson Welles or Jean-Luc Godard or Stanley Kubrick wouldn't qualify.
posted by jonp72 at 4:51 PM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's lazy is when interviewers STILL question QT about violence in film. Are people just trying to get his goat...pull his chain...get him to resort to violence in real life? QT's a pretty good fellow for not smashing Krishnan about the head for asking the same question he's been asked repeatedly.

QT: "Again with the violence in film? I'll show you some fuckin' violence you little fuck!"

Smash. Smash. Roar. Punch! (Extreme close up: Krishnan's right foot.)
posted by snsranch at 4:54 PM on January 11, 2013


Q.E.D.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:57 PM on January 11, 2013


in which someone tries to edit in their own editing

sigh. that was supposed to be "edit in their own ending".

posted by neuromodulator at 5:03 PM on January 11, 2013


Not sure how relevant it is, but some of the comments seem to refer to Krishnan Guru-Murthy (the interviewer) as if this was for a cheesy movie show. Quentin was obviously under this same impression too, but it is clearly pointed out when he starts getting annoyed that he is being interviewed for a news programme. Seems to me as if there were crossed wires as to the purpose of the interview in the first place.
posted by joboe at 5:24 PM on January 11, 2013


Probably Jelani Cobb, who has written the best thing I've seen yet about the film.
posted by davidjmcgee at 16:50 on January 11 [+] [!]


Thanks for sharing this link--I don't agree with all of the author's conclusions but find them extremely interesting and though-provoking. In particular, I was struck by my own response to this quote:
But in creating Stephen, Tarantino necessarily trafficked in the stereotypes he was ostensibly responding to. Samuel L. Jackson plays Stephen’s overblown insouciance and anachronistic mf-bombs to great comedic effect. There are moments, however, when ironies cancel each other out, and we’re left with a stark truth—at its most basic, this is an instance in which a white director holds an obsequious black slave up for ridicule. The use of this character as a comic foil seems essentially disrespectful to the history of slavery. Oppression, almost by definition, is a set of circumstances that bring out the worst in most people. A response to slavery—even a cowardly, dishonorable one like what we witness with Stephen—highlights the depravity of the institution. We’ve come a long way racially, but not so far that laughing at that character shouldn’t be deeply disturbing.
I had a sense of unease in watching the Stephen character throughout many of the scenes, though I suppose we could argue that this is Tarantino's subversiveness at work once again. If he is indeed inviting us to laugh at Stephen, or demonize him in some way, perhaps he is doing this deliberately, so that we interrogate those feelings.

As some have said above, however, I think this packed meaning will be lost on many of the younger people who see it. And I am uncomfortable with the idea of however many white teens and 20-somethings delighting in the death of the black house slave because he deserved it, or whatever other justification you might come up with. That to me would be dehumanizing of the slave experience, of any such experience of the oppressed. Again--Tarantino might be using Stephen precisely to create such a conflict, but considering how incredibly, rampantly racist so many Americans are (young and old alike), I fear this more nuanced plot-point will be lost, and Stephen and whatever archetype he represents of black slavery will be a figure of ridicule for moviegoers, as Cobb points out.
posted by nonmerci at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, if you go into a Tarantino movie that is a spaghetti western that is named after a movie where a guy is dragging a coffin around the whole movie that contains a gatling gun that he uses to slaughter the bad guys at the end of the movie that in turn inspired a whole bunch of increasingly violent and insane movies and you're suprised it's a bit violent... well... I don't know what to say. Kind of goes with the territory.
posted by Artw at 5:47 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Surprised no one has linked to this interview with Tarantino when he was promoting Kill Bill. The interviewer presses him on why there is so much violence in his movies, he responds, "because it's fun!" (oh, and warning: offensive video title)
posted by mediated self at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2013


And thereby denies the courage, suffering, work and sacrifice of the people who really did do something about the crimes of slavery, and really, denies that these people existed in the first place.

Every story about a thing doesn't have to be the definitive all encompassing story of that thing. That's the problem with how American culture treats slavery (and to a lesser extent, the entire Black Experience) Like, we got Roots back in the 70's and that's it, and everything has to be some sorrowful dirge, and swing low sweet chariot...

There is no one single appropriate lens through which to view history. It's not Tarantino's fault that we havent had more stories about slavery from all sorts of different viewpoints. One of the things I liked about Django is that he didn't go there. I think using slavery as a backdrop for a modern riff on the spaghetti western as if that was just a totally natural thing to do, highlights the ridiculousness of American culture's wholesale avoidance of the subject.

It's the same reason this Key and Peele Sketch cracks me up to no end. I don't need a history lesson about Sojourner Truth to give me permission to enjoy that joke.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:02 PM on January 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Q.E.D.

WTF?

And with all due respect to the Russians, it's not like a million movies about WW2 haven't already been made. The Russians you know, jamjam, who hate IB for the reasons you state, have completely missed the point.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


A response to slavery—even a cowardly, dishonorable one like what we witness with Stephen—highlights the depravity of the institution. We’ve come a long way racially, but not so far that laughing at that character shouldn’t be deeply disturbing.

This neglects a very important detail of the film: Stephen was faking the whole time. The limp and the cane were part of the act as much as the obsequiousness. Stephen didn't act the way he did, because he was forced into it by the depravity of slavery as an institution, but because he made a conscious decision to sell out other black people for his own personal gain. Stephen gets pleasure out of the possibility that Django will be enslaved in a mine for the rest of his life.
posted by jonp72 at 6:12 PM on January 11, 2013


Interestingly Roots seems to be loaded with sympathetic characters who are basically Stephen. Then again, it's loaded with white characters who we're supposed to feel for because they think some of the aspects of slavery are a bit iffy too.
posted by Artw at 6:18 PM on January 11, 2013


Then at the end, there's that scene with Hitler laughing and clapping about the deaths on the screen, immediately followed by our actual audience laughing and clapping about the deaths on our screen, and I glanced around to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera or something because seriously people what the fuck is wrong with you?

This is rather the point of the scene.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:16 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


A recent Tarantino interview in New Times (spoiler alert) suggests that the level of violence in Django Unchained was partially due to his wanting the film to be eligible for awards season (primarily the Academy Awards). In the interview Tarantino insinuates that the violence would have been even more explicit if he and the producers had decided to wait and release the movie in the spring. So perhaps at the moment, he's slightly less of an auteur trying to make a statement about justified violence and revenge, and more of a garden-variety Oscar-coveting Hollywood suck up.

It's the same reason this Key and Peele Sketch cracks me up to no end. I don't need a history lesson about Sojourner Truth to give me permission to enjoy that joke.

And then there's this one where K&P take on slave auctions and militant slaves.

I'm almost positive that Django Unchained is Tarantino's nod to the Catcher Freeman episode of The Boondocks.

Has Aaron McGruder dropped off the face of the earth? You'd think he'd have something to say about the "homage". I wonder if Tarantino will get The Boondocks' special treatment in its season 4.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:30 PM on January 11, 2013


You get to cheer along as Django kills a bunch of people that deserve it.

Also, you are reassured that it's righteous to leap to conclusions that people deserve torture and death without knowing anything about them, and we're encouraged to suppress our better judgement on that matter via the use of one dimensional caricatures explicitly designed purely to elicit the most powerful two-minute hate QT can manage, so we can revel in their destruction without the awkward questions of a conscience.

I'm not concerned about fears there might be links between torture-porn and real life violence, but I try to think we're better than loving teh tortures, and it's odd as fuck that faked-torture porn is A-ok and pencil-sketch faked-kiddie porn is OMG-arrest-the-perv! Ok, it's not odd at all - it's the usual "my pr0n is art, his pr0n is obscenity" double standard.
posted by anonymisc at 8:22 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"He's never suffered," to quote one of my Mexican immigrant coworkers.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:59 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


jamjam: "Russians despise that movie because they lost 26 million people doing the dirty work of defeating Hitler"

Let's not forget that Russian schools don't teach the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, so it's not like Russians in general have this all-encompassing perspective.
posted by gertzedek at 10:01 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's not forget that Russian schools don't teach the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, so it's not like Russians in general have this all-encompassing perspective.

Yeah, I don't see how anyone (Russian or no) could walk out of that film thinking that it was intended to be a realistic, historical portrayal of the winning of WWII, unless that's a chip they were carrying on their shoulder when they went in. It's completely, grotesquely and enthusiastically ahistoric as well as minutely focused on a small group of individuals, none of whom get anywhere near the Eastern Front.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2013


That was an incompetent interview. The number of times Guru-Murthy began a question with the word "But..." created the impression that Tarantino was being interviewed not by a news anchor but instead by an ambushing "gotcha!" field reporter for a local Fox affiliate.

A journalist's job is not to debate with interview subjects. If you can't provoke them into honest exploration of substantive issues without using dumb, blunt debating tactics like "But-but-but..." then you're not ready for the job and maybe you should stick to reading cue cards.
posted by cribcage at 10:22 PM on January 11, 2013


Russians despise that movie because they lost 26 million people doing the dirty work of defeating Hitler

Let us then assume they despise Raiders of the Lost Ark for depicting Indiana Jones emasculating Hitler's legions by means of theft of the Ark of the Covenant, thereby allowing the Allies to win World War II. Damn Americans!
posted by dhartung at 10:28 PM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is rather the point of the scene.

Which is precisely my point. The scene assumes that I won't notice myself cheering until afterward, when I've thought about it, but that wasn't the case. I wasn't laughing at any of it; it was all horrible. I was honestly amazed that no one else in the theater seemed to notice Tarantino Godwinning the whole audience.

So, first of all, Tarantino's whole thesis - that everyone enjoys the same things he does and has the same motives for doing so - is incorrect. And secondly, he uses every trick in the book to convince people that they're watching a stupid action movie (up to, if some are to be believed, actively pretending not to have any motive but "violence is cool" in interviews), so it's hardly even giving them a fair chance. What am I supposed to do with Tarantino's work at that point? Meet his eyes over the crowd of laughing sheeple and wink knowingly? The whole film would, under that interpretation, be a massive dick move, an elaborate trolling of his audience, in addition to being an ugly and unpleasant piece of work in its own right. (Disregarding the cinematography itself, which I freely admit Tarantino is highly skilled at.)

Either Tarantino is what he claims to be, a film geek who loves violence, or else he's a sneering, elitist asshole who would rather mock people than try to talk to them. Whichever it is, I don't care for his work.
posted by Scattercat at 10:35 PM on January 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I honestly wish Django Unchained had been deeply, remarkably offensive somehow, be it regarding race or violence or sexism.

Because as it stands, it's just fucking boring as hell.

And I thought IB was both highly entertaining and "smart" in how it implicates the audience, fwiw.

But what's even more boring are guys like Spike Lee and Tanahesi Coates being wholier-than-thou about the whole thing. Lee has always hated Tarantino I guess. Coates is being uncharacterisitically obnoxious and precocious with his "I'm not interested in revenge fantasies" schtick.

I'm sure he'll remind us all of his principled stand a few dozen more times in the near future.
posted by bardic at 10:51 PM on January 11, 2013


Personally I don't think IB was an indictment of the audience in the way the second half of Solondz's Storytelling was. He makes violent films and we know he is a fan of violent films. I'd say he was making a point about the universality of cinematic violence. Of course violence in his movies isn't "realistic". It is violence seen through the lens of thousands of movies he, and the rest of us have consumed.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:08 AM on January 12, 2013


Jesus that interview is painful. Mostly because the interviewer seems like such a little shit, using what was clearly and absolutely a press-junket stop to try to fish for Tarantino to say something controversial connecting his movie to Newtown. I don't love Tarantino in interviews but I felt like until that one went off the rails he was being quite good. And even though it was odd for him to brag on it the way he did, I haven't in my lifetime seen this kind of open discussion about slavery in America, so yeah, I'll let him have that one.

(Still totally not sure where he thinks we dealt with the Native American genocide, though.)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:11 AM on January 12, 2013


Well, there's Luncoln, but let's face it Lincoln is a very worthy and respectable movie that doesn't say much of anything and only vaguely has black people in it. Django, the crazy fun genre mash-up that's all "fuck it" to any notions of respectability certainly has the edge on it there.
posted by Artw at 12:23 AM on January 12, 2013


I haven't seem Django Unchained yet but:

a. I thought Inglourious Basterds wasn't violent ENOUGH, since I went in expecting an action-packed Man on a Mission film

B. Its about time we had another blaxploitation hero, though this sounds like the same plot as Boss N*gger

C. In Mark Ames Going Postal he talked about how many slave rebellions were defeated by slaves loyal to their masters, so Samuel L Jackson's character may be realistic

D. Ray Carney on Tarentino (I disagree):
MM: I take it you are not a Tarantino groupie.
RC: You're talking to the one critic in America who isn't ready to found a religion around him. I was willing to suspend judgment after Reservoir Dogs, but it's perfectly obvious to me by now that he's a lightweight. A flash-in-thepan. The Tarantino cult will disband in a few years and search for another Messiah, once he predictably fails to live up to his "early promise "—just like the David Lynch cult did

MM: Why do you feel so negatively about his work?

RC: It's only that in three films running something like seven hours in all-he has managed not to express one interesting insight into human emotion or behavior. If it weren't for daytime television, it might constitute some sort of record. All there is in his work is the Grand Guignol campiness, the chiller-diller suspensefulness, the kicky twists and turns of plot, and reversals of expectation. It's not much to go on, if you are beyond the age of 18 (which, admittedly, most of his audience is not at least not emotionally).

What am I saying? Simply that his scenes are boring. All he has to keep them interesting is the pop-schlock tones and effects. There is not a single conversation in Pulp Fiction that is interesting enough to stand on its own without some comic-book effect to jazz it up. Without the harem-scarem jokiness and thriller plot, even his teenage admirers would be bored out of their minds.

MM: At least you concede that it isn't just buckets of blood, as some mistakenly say. His work is funny.

RC: My problem with the humor is that it is too shallow. The great comic masters-Chaplin, Mike Leigh, Elaine May, Mark Rappaport know that comedy is a deadly serious form. In their works, we laugh from the shock of recognition. We see ourselves in extremely complex ways. The comedy is a way of suspending a viewer within the complexity. Tarantino never uses comedy that way. It's always merely for a cheap laugh at some easy irony or obvious incongruity-usually a sudden change of mood. The comedy doesn't reveal anything interesting. That's why in Chaplin, May, Leigh, and Rappaport the comedy draws us into states of intricately multivalent sympathy with the characters, while in Tarantino, it just makes us feel superior to them. The one kind of comedy makes things more complex; the other kind, Tarantino's, makes them simpler. Tarantino's comedy is similar to Altman's in this respect. It reduces and demeans, but above all it simplifies.

MM: How can you account for the critical praise that's been heaped on him?

RC: Oh, the critics are easy to buffalo. I sometimes give my students a recipe for making a movie that New York critics will champion. First, be sure you work in a well - established genre and wedge in lots of references to other movies. Play games with narrative expectations and genre conventions at every opportunity. That always appeals to intellectual critics, who like nothing better than a movie about movies. It makes them feel important. Second, include a ton of pseudo-highbrow cultural allusions and unexplained in-jokes. Critics love it when they can feel in the know. Third, strive for the "smartest" possible tone and look: as ironic, cynical, wised-up, coy, dryly comic, and smart-alecky as you can make it. It's important to avoid real seriousness at all costs, so that no one can accuse you of being sentimental, gushy, or caring about anything. That's a mortal sin if you want to appeal to a highbrow critic. If it's all a goof, like Pulp Fiction's comic-book approach to life, no one can accuse you of being so uncool as to take yourself or your art seriously. If possible, make the story blatantly twisted, surreal, excessive, or demented in some way. Make it outrageous or kinky. If the average middlebrow viewer would be offended by it, that makes it all the more appealing to this sort of critic, since shocking the Philistine is what this conception of art is about. Finally, glaze it all with a virtuosio shooting and editing style and a certain degree of on-rush in the plot. Keep the nonsense moving right along, so no one will stop and ask embarrassing questions about what it all means. Every other interest is abandoned to keep the plot zigging and zagging-psychological consistency, narrative plausibility, emotional meaning.



M.J. Knecht in Rick Schmidt's Blues.
It all seems pretty adolescent and Spy Magazine-ish to me, but when you're done, you've got Pauline Kael's all-time greatest hits, and the New York and Los Angeles Critics' Circle Awards winners for the past 30 years: Bonnie and Clyde, Mickey One, Clockwork Orange, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, The Fury, Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Blue Steel, Near Dark, Blue Velvet, Heathers, Reservoir Dogs, Red Rock West, Natural Born Killers, Bad Lieutenant, King of New York, The Last Seduction, Pulp Fiction. I probably left a few out.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:39 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tarantino has made it clear that he uses the surrealistic aspects of spaghetti western violence to highlight the realness of the violence that took place during slavery. I like spaghetti westerns and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It had the exact same familiar beats and I think that allowed me to enjoy it even more.

The question is an incredibly lazy one, and he’s been asked this a million times

It is lazy and it’s complete bullshit. Look, there are only two reasons to keep asking the same question of someone over and over. First, he’s wrong, then second they decide if he is either an idiot or an asshole. He’s an idiot because maybe he doesn’t understand the question, or maybe he understands the question but doesn’t understand its implications. Or, he understands the question, its implications, and just chooses to say that there isn’t some kind of cause and effect because he’s an asshole. It’s garbage.

Lee has always hated Tarantino I guess.

Tarantino was in Girl 6 and as far as I recall they were friends up until Lee had a few things to say about the language in Jackie Brown right after it was released. It was kind of odd because Lee made some statements about it’s language in an interview, but had never said anything straight away to his friend. The language wasn’t a huge departure from Pulp Fiction so it never made sense why he waited so long after the fact? I’m pretty sure that never resolved and Lee had problems with Tarantino ever since.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:55 AM on January 12, 2013


So I'll try to keep this brief, but I don't see all that many movies in theaters anymore but I saw bothDjango Unchained and Les Miserables very recently and, aside from just the obvious association between the two due to the Sad-Off, I'm now getting some deeper similarities between them.

Both are about cultures at a time when they systemically fucked over innocents and those underclasses of innocents rising up against them. Both take place in the years shortly before those systems would be actually overturned. Both involve a protagonist who is doomed to be part of the underclass forever until he is saved by a benevolent and unimpeachable man who is both of the system and yet disdainful of it, and who sees the potential for something greater in them.

But now I also see that Stephen is very, very much Javert. They are both from the oppressed underclass, both extremely, philosophically invested in the system, both using the meritocracy inherent in that system to rise as high as they are permitted to, and both obsessed with shutting down the protagonist, not for any personal gain - as neither will gain anything by doing so - but out of sheer resentment for the member of the underclass who jumped to a higher station than them without using the system they devoted themselves to.

Not much more to say about that now, but it intrigues the hell out of me while I ponder it.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'M SHUTTING YOUR BUTT DOWN meme in 3..2..

It is funnier on repeat
posted by Lanark at 5:30 AM on January 12, 2013


Which is precisely my point. The scene assumes that I won't notice myself cheering until afterward, when I've thought about it, but that wasn't the case. I wasn't laughing at any of it; it was all horrible. I was honestly amazed that no one else in the theater seemed to notice Tarantino Godwinning the whole audience.

You are not the target audience, then. I am not in Tarantino's mind, but I generally agree with you -- the thesis here is that (a) violence is cathartic when the targets are deserving, and (b) your idea of who the deserving targets are is not shared by everyone. He is holding a distorted mirror up to the audience; some members of the audience already know what he is saying and to them, it will appear unnecessary.

In any event, I consider Basterds and Django to be two parts of a larger whole, and have a paralyzing suspicion that his next film will make it into a thematic revenge trilogy (notwithstanding that the two parts of Kill Bill are revenge-driven as well). That said, I found Django definitely the lesser of the two works. I realized somewhat after the fact that this seems to be by far his most linear. His earliest films were notable for the fracture chronology and the more recent ones were composed of multiple individual chapters with overlapping plot points. Django has, as best I can recollect, not much more than a single significant flashback (the proto-Klansmen squabbling about their hoods) and even that seemed to throw a lot of viewers. I wonder if there is anything to the fact that the only other fairly linear film that he has done, Jackie Brown, was not especially successful.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:11 AM on January 12, 2013


Christian Movie Reviews summarizes:

The first two acts of DJANGO UNCHAINED hold the audience’s attention, but contain some graphic gun deaths and nearly constant crude language. When people are shot, for example, blood erupts from their bodies like a volcano spewing lava. The stylized violence becomes over-the-top and super-offensive during the third act in a protracted, frenetic shootout. After the shootout, Django is captured and brutalized. Then, when he escapes again, he mercilessly murders the female slave owner even though she physically didn’t take part in the abuse he suffers.

Heh.
posted by Artw at 8:17 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


the only other fairly linear film that he has done, Jackie Brown

Though even that one needs the disclaimer "fairly" because of that part right in the middle where he shows the same sequence of events from multiple points of view. The timestamps that he puts at the beginning of each PoV do help make it feel like a lot less of a spaghetti plot than his usual shenanigans.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:54 AM on January 12, 2013


Well, I admit I have seen it only once, some sixteen years ago. It didn't make much of an impression on me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2013


I didn't check his other films, but Jackie Brown was not his original idea. It's from an Elmore Leonard novel. It's even tied to Out of Sight with Clooney and Lopez; the Michael Keaton character is the same character in both movies. And assuming that his other notable movies were "original" ideas, it might explain why it doesn't quite feel like other Tarantino movies.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:55 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


So New York magazine reviewed this along with Jack Reacher and while they didn't like JR and regretted the violence in view of Newtown, they did like Django and had no problem with that violence. Perhaps they would have done had Newtown been more race based.

Okay, didn't see it, though I did see Inglorious Basterds (which is why I haven't seen DU). A tale of sound and fury and all that and catering to a Grand Guignol taste as old as theatre itself and I suppose as a free-speecher I have no choice but to tolerate it much as I must tolerate the guy leafing through Hustler or double-thumbing through Grand Theft Auto V, but must we call QT's stuff art? Granted, it has a look and some flash and some (poor man’s Elmore Leonard) dialogue, but let us not confuse style with content. In the end, his stuff fails the big one. Good theater is ambiguous, question raising, thought provoking. It can even use violence to that end. It is suitable for reflective adults.

Ambiguity seems beyond QT, and there's no pudding he won't over-egg. His villains are Irredeemably Evil, his heroes Empowered Victims. Not just a boring schlumpy Nazi functionary, but a Notorious Jew Hunter. Not just a tired slave owner, but a slave owner who trains Mandingo Fighters (?). Not just a dirty dozen, but a Jewish dirty dozen. Not just an abolitionist, but a former slave black abolitionist. All moral restraint is thrown off, let the killing begin. All in good fun, he says.

Some fun. It’s the mindset that armies work hard to instill in new recruits, and in real life, the post war results are not pretty for anyone. (Of course, Brad Pitt’s cracker lieutenant in Inglorious Basterds, is just naturally a good old boy psycho killer – what else can you expect from a southerner?)

So what is an artist to do?

Well, imagine an Inglorious Basterds where the audience included some small children of non-Nazi's who happened to be in the wrong place/wrong time. Imagine a loving mulatta Mrs. Candie with adorable quadroon children in the line of fire, perhaps defending her man with force. Suddenly revenge becomes a little more problematic, violence less cathartic. If he really wanted to examine issues of race and slavery, there are a million different ways to do so, most of them far more interesting than another contrived stupid blood fest. Frankly, I doubt he's up to it.

Plus - not as much fun. Or profitable.
posted by BWA at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pff. Meh at the nice Nazis and nice slave owners. Fuck Miss Lara Lee.
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ian Shoales had the most profound insight into movies of the 198s with his “That Dog’s Gonna Die” scenario: if in the first 10 minutes of a movie you see the protagonist has a dog, you know the dog is going to die at the hands of some villains. This justifies the bloody and tortuous revenge that the rest of movie consists of, makes it more than just gore for gore's sake. Note that the "dog" may also be a wife, or a girlfriend.

Quentin Tarantino just seems to like to use an entire ethnic group for his dog that's going to die.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:19 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bye bye, Miss Lara.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what is an artist to do?

Apparently it doesn't matter because people will blame them without even knowing that the artist (oh, I mean fakey non-artist) actually did address the very points those people are bringing up as faults.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So here's a thought exercise: what if Tarantino had, instead, made a film about Nat Turner's rebellion? Or if he had remade Amistad? Or made a movie about the Creole rebellion? Or about the Haitian revolution? I suppose it would have been harder to work in the genre bits that he likes so much. . . But I wonder if a key component of Tarantino's violence is that it is always necessarily and self-evidently fictional: is that his out, his escape route, his way to channel criticism into directions that are more easily managed?
posted by vitia at 1:07 PM on January 12, 2013


Here's an answer: it is the same reason Cameron used big blue aliens in Avatar instead of actual natives.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2013


A spokesman for Cameron has denied that it was colour correction gone too far.
posted by ersatz at 2:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It took me this long to realize that wasn't an oblique joke but a total misunderstanding of what I just said. Kudos.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:37 PM on January 12, 2013


a free-speecher I have no choice but to tolerate it ... but must we call QT's stuff art?

Of course you should. But you can also call it crappy art. Poor art. Lowest-common-denominator art.

Calling something "art" does not imply that the thing has merit.
And calling something "not-art" has a long history of always being on the wrong side of history. :)
posted by anonymisc at 5:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So here's a thought exercise: what if Tarantino had, instead, made a film about Nat Turner's rebellion? Or if he had remade Amistad? Or made a movie about the Creole rebellion? Or about the Haitian revolution?

Alternatively, why doesn't Spike Lee make such a film?
posted by Apocryphon at 6:34 PM on January 12, 2013


I for one would be overjoyed if Spike Lee decided that making a really good movie was the best way to stick it to QT.
posted by Artw at 7:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


It took me this long to realize that wasn't an oblique joke but a total misunderstanding of what I just said. Kudos.

I was joking about the colour palette in modern films that turns everything into teal and orange. No slight intended.

posted by ersatz at 5:21 AM on January 13, 2013


Alternatively, why doesn't Spike Lee make such a film?

I think this is part of the conceit that Tarantino's trying to get at, however unsuccessfully: why do we assume that anyone who's going to talk about slavery and its legacy must necessarily be black? That seems to me to say, "Well, now that slavery's gone and done with, it's really only a black issue."
posted by vitia at 12:22 PM on January 13, 2013


Django Unchained, Djack Whitehall and Djames Delingpole

What's more offensive: Quentin Tarantino's new film, a bad joke or a rightwing newspaper columnist?
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having the thread about the recent massacre and the thread about the Avengers movie and this thread all in my recent activity, it struck me that there is something unusual about the way in which guns are represented in a lot of Tarantino's films. Where as in most movies guns are just sort of there, spitting out infinite quantities of bullets which somehow manage to miss the protagonists every time, in Tarantino's films we are very aware of the presence of guns and the potential violence they represent. They are very rarely (to the best of my admittedly rather shaky memory) used without consequence. For example, Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, putting his gun down on the kitchen counter only for it to be used to kill him. There is always a very strong sense in his films, that if someone is seen to be holding a gun, someone else is very likely to die soon.

On the other hand, in Kill Bill it is the Hatori Hanzo swords which are the cartoon implements of violence – apart from the House of the Blue Leaves sequence I can't think of anyone actually being killed with one, although they are waved around quite a bit.

Also, it strikes me that his films are unusually un-militaristic – the Marvel movies for example, are astonishingly militaristic, everybody is either a soldier or a potential soldier, who just needs a bit of prodding to bring out their inner troop. By contrast, very few of the characters in Tarantino's movies are militaristic at all, even the ones who are supposed to be in the military.

Anyway, I think it's interesting given the way Tarantino is held responsible for gun violence, that he's one of the few film directors who shows guns to be actually dangerous things which actually hurt people who we actually quite like and would rather not be hurt. In most of mainstream cinema they are just plot motivators that go bang.

(I realise this contradicts the thing I said earlier on, where I quoted the South American film director whose name I wish I could remember, but a life dedicated to consistency and avoiding hypocrisy would probably be quite dull.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:10 PM on January 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


In Defense Of Quentin Tarantino's Rant
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2013


So that was a 'rant' now? Why is it suddenly unacceptable to make strong statements on things people know. We KNOW Tarentino's movies don't cause violence, and some of us are as sick of that line of argument as he is. But when he gets angry about it it's a 'rant' that he had to apologize for. The same way Dave Grohl or whoever had to apologize for saying that dance music/EDM wasn't real music, as if he wasn't allowed to hold an opinion.

When did the media get so NICE and boring?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:51 PM on January 14, 2013


It's the opposite of nice and boring, though. Tarantino expressing an artistic opinion is nice and boring. Tarantino RANTING is OUTRAGEOUS and ATTENTION-GRABBING! And in Grohl's case you are now talking about a FEUD! Rock vs. EDM! Page-views page-views page-views!
posted by muddgirl at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did the media get so NICE and boring?

I've thought for a long time that the media's most discernible and consistent bias is in favor of people who present stories in a way that makes it easier for the media to package them. If a director doesn't feel like answering a question at a press junket, it's a rant. When a politician deviates from the script his campaign has already provided to the media, it's a tirade. And if a vice-presidential candidate contradicts the presidential candidate (or even uses different language to say approximately the same thing), the campaign is fracturing. If the PR guy is away from his desk when the reporter emails with a two-hour window, he gets a foreboding "declined to comment."
posted by roll truck roll at 3:20 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, the only reason this is a story is because it sounds better for it to be one, not because there is actually any real story.

If you actually watch a Tarantino film, not only do you get a lot of talking over many hours, but what Grangousier was talking about. But a lot of people don't get that far.

He's really the only filmmaker whose work I consistently adore. I was a little disappointed with IB, but I think only because it had been 'the film he was always going to make' and it couldn't live up to the hype. Django Unchained will be interesting.
posted by heyjude at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quentin Tarantino And The Art Of The Badass Soundtrack
posted by Artw at 11:45 PM on January 20, 2013


How to Defend Quentin Tarantino by Outlaw Vern
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:47 PM on January 20, 2013


Betting Against ‘Django,’ and Losing
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on January 31, 2013


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