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Tarantino, Quentin


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#41 Duke Togo

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 12:30 AM

^
Then I would like to amend my original take on the narrative structure. I still believe the different angles/chapters of the same overarching plot were intended to mimic the capsulated nature of ongoing pulp publications, but I think the order Tarantino has chosen serves no other purpose than to make that point that this isn't chronological. There was certainly a method to it beyond that, as in he has certain plot points being revealed in an order that does benefit us in an overarching way, one that was very deliberate of him in his manipulation of the viewer, but I don't think Tarentino was trying to pull a Hanke here with some sort of exercise of Godly power in the editing room. The story still exists as a complete whole, which isn't that hard to put together, and at the end of the day Vincent is dead.

#42 helloemigoodbye

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 03:59 AM

I don't think a message has to necessarily be completely intended for it to exist. I think if something is a work of any quality, it can be examined and understood on several different levels.
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#43 hal0000

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 10:43 AM

I don't think a message has to necessarily be completely intended for it to exist. I think if something is a work of any quality, it can be examined and understood on several different levels.

Precisely. There is too much fuss over whether something was the director's "intentions," which I think is a load of bull. What matters is you can substantiate a claim with what's on screen. Yeah, not crazy about the auteur theory.

That said, I don't think the self-reflexive subtext marcus put forth is a consistent theme throughout Pulp Fiction. I can't see it anyways. I like his interpretation, but outside of the scenes he mentioned, I don't see these ideas being reinforced. Which is why I think Inglourious Basterds is a better movie, because this Persona-esque subtext is breathed into virtually every scene.

Even though Tarantino takes some liberties by messing with the dialogue, Top Gun still has a homoerotic subtext, so it doesn't matter what the "intentions" of Bruckheimer or Tony Scott were:


#44 Godard Fan 39

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 10:46 AM

I don't think a message has to necessarily be completely intended for it to exist. I think if something is a work of any quality, it can be examined and understood on several different levels.


I think this position is at least somewhat correct. I once made a movie where I mention the "Varmint Cong." I'd already seen Caddyshack, but at the time of making this movie I was certainly not aware of the fact that the same expression is used in that movie. I think it's plausible to believe that I unintentionally imparted this meaning to the work. So it's plausible in that sense. However, I do think that people too often move from

This COULD mean such-and-such

to

This DOES mean such-and-such.

This to me seems to be a clearly invalid deduction. It's of course sometimes all right, but we have to have reasons why particular instances are in fact correct.
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#45 marcusbulbous76

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:39 AM

Without devolving too far into Clintonian syntax, it depends on what mean means. Is meaning inherent in the film or is it something we invest in the film, in which case films are more like slates on which we project our own ideas about things? Tarantino may or not have intended Pulp Fiction to dogmatically read 'cinema is my religion and the filmmaker is god'. I don't think he did, but I don't think there are many good films you can dogmatically read any one way either. Films don't really work that way, at least not well. Nevertheless it is there.

The argument that the above interpretation is incidental would be a stronger one if I thought Tarantino's use of time-jumping from episode to episode was arbitrary, that he just wanted to do that for its own sake. I don't think that, so the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that since it's deliberate this is something like what he was trying to effect, that linear time, and the absoluteness of death linear time causes, as well as certain other absolutes, can be undone with film. It may have more to do with Tarantino's interest in pulp, in glimpsing brief stories from a vast criminal underworld, peeking in here and there at different points in time, but I cannot fathom that he was unaware of the larger implication of revisiting Vincent the day before, living, after his death.

#46 Godard Fan 39

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 03:49 PM

Is meaning inherent in the film or is it something we invest in the film, in which case films are more like slates on which we project our own ideas about things?


It's the former.

The argument that the above interpretation is incidental would be a stronger one if I thought Tarantino's use of time-jumping from episode to episode was arbitrary, that he just wanted to do that for its own sake. I don't think that, so the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that since it's deliberate this is something like what he was trying to effect, that linear time, and the absoluteness of death linear time causes, as well as certain other absolutes, can be undone with film.



I don't see this at all, to be honest. I agree with the first part, that Tarantino probably jumbled the episodes for a reason. I just don't think the reason is anything like what you're getting at. A more plausible reason, in my eyes, would be that Tarantino is obsessed with Mexican standoffs at the end of films. His favorite movie is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which (basically) ends with one, his first movie, Reservoir Dogs, does too. He also wrote True Romance around this same time, which ends with a Mexican standoff (I think it can be a Mexican standoff even with such a huge group of people). So, perhaps he put it in that order so that Pulp Fiction could also end with one, and also to tie it in with the beginning. That would be my guess.
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#47 marcusbulbous76

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 05:13 PM

It's the former.


I'm not so sure. Films are collections of symbols/cues that trigger mental processes in us. That's why many people react differently to the same film. When a bad guy twisting his mustache appears we generally ascribe badness to him. The meaning inherent in the film is the potential meaning the filmmaker wants to conjure. But it takes the spectator ultimately to invest meaning. This is not an argument for relativism. I just think the cinematic experience is more complex and two-way than the hypodermic needle argument would have it (the viewer is injected with meaning by the filmmaker and his agent, the film). What do Ozu's low angled shots 'mean'? They mean how we feel about them. There's nothing inherent in the film text, other than Ozu's intention to make us feel a certain way.

I don't see this at all, to be honest. I agree with the first part, that Tarantino probably jumbled the episodes for a reason. I just don't think the reason is anything like what you're getting at. A more plausible reason, in my eyes, would be that Tarantino is obsessed with Mexican standoffs at the end of films. His favorite movie is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which (basically) ends with one, his first movie, Reservoir Dogs, does too. He also wrote True Romance around this same time, which ends with a Mexican standoff (I think it can be a Mexican standoff even with such a huge group of people). So, perhaps he put it in that order so that Pulp Fiction could also end with one, and also to tie it in with the beginning. That would be my guess.


I think many things are going on at the same time. You're right about Tarantino's need to reach apotheosis with a Mexican standoff in his films. Pulp Fiction is no different, but at the same time he's also commenting on his proclivity for the standoff, as Pulp Fiction is resolved peacefully. I can't explain much further than I already have, but I'd mention that just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

#48 Godard Fan 39

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 05:54 PM

I'm not so sure. Films are collections of symbols/cues that trigger mental processes in us. That's why many people react differently to the same film. When a bad guy twisting his mustache appears we generally ascribe badness to him. The meaning inherent in the film is the potential meaning the filmmaker wants to conjure. But it takes the spectator ultimately to invest meaning. This is not an argument for relativism. I just think the cinematic experience is more complex and two-way than the hypodermic needle argument would have it (the viewer is injected with meaning by the filmmaker and his agent, the film). What do Ozu's low angled shots 'mean'? They mean how we feel about them. There's nothing inherent in the film text, other than Ozu's intention to make us feel a certain way.


We might just be using words differently. I'd call what you describe "significance" or "effect" or something like that, which is definitely produced by a combination of the filmmaker and the viewer. I'd use "meaning" to refer to what the filmmaker himself puts into the film, consciously or subconsciously.

I think many things are going on at the same time. You're right about Tarantino's need to reach apotheosis with a Mexican standoff in his films. Pulp Fiction is no different, but at the same time he's also commenting on his proclivity for the standoff, as Pulp Fiction is resolved peacefully. I can't explain much further than I already have, but I'd mention that just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there.


This seems to ironically contradict the sentiment behind

What do Ozu's low angled shots 'mean'? They mean how we feel about them.


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#49 marcusbulbous76

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 07:07 PM

This seems to ironically contradict the sentiment behind


It would if we were forced into relativism, which I don't think we have to be. Any seeming pronouncements we make on films as to what they mean are always negotiations between the film and the viewer (me). If you find the meaning I derive rings true then that's what it means.

You could call what I say meaning is 'effect' but that's a little misleading because it isn't specific enough. There are lots of effects but we're speaking of the 'meaning effect' I guess produced when thinking beings cognitively process films. I would call what you call meaning 'intention'.

#50 Godard Fan 39

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 10:00 AM

A couple of things I'd add here:

The analogy of a hypodermic needle was introduced above when you (marcus) denied that meaning is something that's just injected like a hypodermic needle injects things. I think that this is troublesome. I'll give the example of medicine. It's true that medicine has to be ingested by us, and our bodies' chemicals have to break down the medicine (or incorporate it into our bloodstream) for the medicine to take effect, but normally I'd argue that nobody is inclined to give the body much credit for this catalytic function. The same holds for film I believe.

I also dispute that there's any significance to Tarantino's bringing Travolta back via film form instead of diegesis. The reasons include the fact that any other narrative form of art is able to capture this as well, and so it doesn't say anything about movies as movies per se, and also the fact that there's nothing particularly interesting about this process, anyway. All it requires is a specific non-linear sequence of cognition, available via our minds alone through memory, etc.
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#51 Izo

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 09:23 PM

So has anyone seen Django Unchained yet? I just got back from seeing it, and I need a day or two to gather my thoughts, but I absolutely adored it.

#52 Lawrence

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:27 AM

So has anyone seen Django Unchained yet? I just got back from seeing it, and I need a day or two to gather my thoughts, but I absolutely adored it.


I haven't yet, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Let me guess - snappy well written dialogue, looks gorgeous, fantastic soundtrack, humour aplenty and of course the QT trademark getting great performances from your cast. And yet there is no real substance, nothing to think about during the following week beyond how cool that scene was et cetera. Am I right?

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#53 Izo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:46 AM

Whoa, no real substance? I don't think I've ever felt that way about a Tarantino film. Can you elaborate on that a bit, L?

#54 Lawrence

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

Whoa, no real substance? I don't think I've ever felt that way about a Tarantino film. Can you elaborate on that a bit, L?


His films aren't populated by 'real' people for a start, I find them immensely entertaining but it never feels like QT is trying say anything more than 'I've seen this film, do you get the reference'. Maybe it's just me, but they are fun, violent and good looking films, but not much more than that.

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#55 Izo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:29 AM

I look at Tarantino as a sort of Hitchcockian master director. Like Sir Alfred, he plays his audience like a violin. The style is the substance.

#56 Lawrence

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:57 AM

I look at Tarantino as a sort of Hitchcockian master director. Like Sir Alfred, he plays his audience like a violin. The style is the substance.


But there is a depth to a Hitchcock film. Maybe it isn't so obvious on first viewing but upon returning there is normally some undercurrent that has spurred him on to make each film. With Tarantino I get the feeling the driving force is his enthusiasm for a favourite scene or obscure film. Don't get me wrong I really like him, but he makes movies not films. Popcorn, Saturday night, Tarantino film then down the pub before last orders.

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#57 Izo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:10 PM

What you said about Hitch is exactly the point I was trying to make. I think Tarantino has exactly that kind of depth.

#58 Lawrence

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:13 PM

What you said about Hitch is exactly the point I was trying to make. I think Tarantino has exactly that kind of depth.


Can you back that up though?

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#59 Izo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:21 PM

With Django Unchained? Not just yet. I'm struggling with organizing my thoughts.

However, something like Inglourious Basterds is a really devlish examination of violence on screen and its effect on an audience. Take the long theater section. We're shown the Nazi's watching a propaganda film showing the brutal killing of American soldiers at the hands of the young, handsome Nazi hero - who up to this point in the film had been nothing but an intelligent and charming semi-potential love interest for the Shoshanna character. We're revolted both by the film and by the audience's reaction to it. Hitler is shown cackling at the slaughter. Minutes later the entire theater is up in flames and the Nazi's are being gunned down in a manner even more horrific than what was in the propaganda film-within-the-film. If you watch that scene with an audience, you'll notice that for the most part, their reaction is absolutely no different than the Nazi audience's was in the picture, and that is precisely the point. What Tarantino is actually trying to say here is completely up for debate, but I would never argue that he isn't trying to say anything.

#60 Lawrence

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:32 PM

I didn't see it as that at all. To me it was just another of his glorifying violence scenes. I honestly think you're reading too much into it.

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