Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Quentin Tarantino

Every time a Quentin Tarantino film comes out, his critics attack him with a vehemence as vivid as his on-screen carnage. Sure, he's a cinematic virtuoso, but that only fuels their rancor. He's so talented; now will he please grow up?

We hope not. So much of today's entertainment is either infantile or geriatric: the comedies about farts and body parts (the cult of Adam Sandler) and the pensive portraits of sensitive misfits (the curse of Sundance). In this dank atmosphere, Tarantino's teen-boy fixations — men with gigantic guns, beautiful gals with mean mouths — are a real tonic. At 42, he still has a movie love as convulsive as a schoolboy's crush, still has a young man's bravado. He'll attempt anything, from the ricocheting narratives of Pulp Fiction to the single-plot, two-part Kill Bill. And since he's got gifts to match his guts, he can pull off these cool stunts. Who else even tries? Some of the best people, actually, all of whom have benefited from Tarantino's trailblazing. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's movies are as depressive as Tarantino's are manic, but he shares Q.T.'s fondness for subverting structure and for dialogue as ornate as an aria. Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) brandishes a Tarantinish expertise in trash culture. Robert Rodriguez, a frequent collaborator, has paid lavish homage to Pulp Fiction in his three-story Sin City, part of which Q.T. directed.

The bad news with Tarantino is that each successive film takes longer (two years, three, six) to produce — and that he's threatened to retire before he's 60. "I'm not going to be this old guy that keeps cranking them out," he has said. In that case, Q.T., crank 'em out faster, right now. The world needs lots more movies from this incorrigible, irreplaceable adolescent.

From the Archive
The Bill Comes Due: Tarantino's killathon ends on a pensive, emotional note. But folks still get buried alive and blown away