Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Tarantino problem

The Tarantino report in H1 (in progress) definitely got under my skin today, and that's not a bad thing if it helps me articulate my unease with film violence in general, and QT's work in particular.

I came across this old discussion, which says some of what I was struggling to find words for. I don't know the films at all really, so I can't say if this is ultimately fair. But it reflects my reaction to what I've seen, albeit only sporadically and briefly (and usually at the instigation of student reporters).
My Tarantino problem in a nutshell is that I recognize the things that he's trying to do, and I concede that if the goal is to create an entertaining movie that is very much about other movies and very much informed by film history, then Tarantino has to be considered a major, major success, there's no doubt about it; but as I get a little older, and get further away from my twenties, I look back on my positive review of Pulp Fiction, and I cringe a little bit, because what I've come to value in movies more than anything else is emotion, and a sense of connection to life. That is the one thing that I think is consistently missing from Tarantino's movies, with a couple of exceptions, which I think we'll get to as we go through his career film by film... (continues)
Beyond that, and while Spinoza is still fresh in our minds...

Bertrand Russell points out Spinoza's view, that seems right in this context: considering Tarantino's obsessive preoccupation with revenge, "a life devoted to a single passion is a narrow life, incompatible with every kind of wisdom."
Postscript, Friday 27th. It’s the birthday of director Quentin Tarantino, born in Knoxville, Tennessee (1963), and raised in Los Angeles, near the airport. He dropped out of high school after ninth grade, took some acting classes, worked as an usher at an adult theater, and rewrote screenplays from memory. He skipped film school in favor of a job at a big video store in Southern California, where he and his co-workers — all aspiring filmmakers — watched and analyzed movies all day. He got a few small acting jobs, and sold a couple of screenplays, but, as the cliché goes, he really wanted to direct. He got his break when Harvey Keitel read one of his scripts; Keitel was impressed, so he helped Tarantino get the movie produced. That was Reservoir Dogs (1992). Two years later came his big hit, Pulp Fiction(1994).
Tarantino won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained (2012), a spaghetti western set in the Deep South, about a slave turned bounty hunter’s quest to find his estranged wife.


  1. Though I am a Tarantino fan myself, I can definitely see why his movies would bother people. In movies such as Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction, the main "moral" behind the movies is revenge, and how it provides a happy ending. Now, perhaps Aristotle would say that by watching these films, we can live vicariously through them; they're feeding a dark part of us that we don't want to actually act out. Looking at this point, it could be understandable. But, the thought that really sticks out in my head is, "Do we really need to be feeding that part of us?" Could watching these movies with unnecessary violence and hatred be tainting our spirits? Now, I don't have the answer to this, but I thought it was just an interesting thing to think about. After all, "You get out what you put in."

    1. "Tainted spirits" is definitely part of my unease. Humans seem already predisposed to behave vengefully and cruelly, and really don't need reinforcement from our "entertainment" media. But to each her own.

  2. Group 1 - H01

    FQ: (T/F) John Locke believed that all of our knowledge comes from our experiences in life. (LH 82)

    FQ: According to Locke, your personal identity only extends as far back as your _______. (LH 85)

    FQ: (T/F) Berkeley spent all of his time defending his immaterialism. (LH 92)