Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese and Tim Robbins discuss Samuel Fuller


 
Ah, Samuel Fuller. The great director, on some levels, exists in his very own category, creatively hitting up in the Kubrick/Kurosawa/Bergman leagues and yet hardly most people outside of serious film geeks have ever heard of him.

Arguably, Fuller has been largely ignored historically because, even in the 50s and early 60s he was cranking up the intensity to levels that simply could not be tolerated by most cinema-goers or even movie critics. Confronted with Fuller’s incendiary vision, American society collectively slapped their hands over their ears and repeated, No, this can’t be the way things are. But they were that way, and Fuller presented it in such a way that you couldn’t deny it. Forget about mom, apple pie and the postwar American dream, Samuel Fuller’s films metaphorically lifted Marilyn Monroe’s skirt to reveal a maniacally grinning demon underneath.

For instance, here’s white supremacist Trent from Shock Corridor, and remember this came out in 1962:
 

 
See what I mean? If you’ve never experienced that scene before, right now you’re probably saying, “Holy Shit…”

Sam Fuller was a classic cigar-chomping old school man’s man who’d been a crime reporter in the 1930s and then shipped off to World War II. He fought on the beaches of North Africa, Sicily and Normandy before helping to liberate the concentration camp at Falkenau, where shot some of his earliest film footage.

By the time he made his first movie in 1949 at the age of 37, Fuller was already loaded for bear with levels of life experience most of us would never even wish for. His films combined newspaper sensationalism sprinkled with bits and pieces from his own life. Although not nihilistic, Fuller didn’t have heroes or villains in the classic sense but populated his films with real characters with good and bad all mixed together. You know, like in real life.

Like any artist or writer or, well THINKER worth a damn, you can’t easily pigeonhole his world view. In Sam Fuller, The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera, a documentary about Fuller’s life, Jim Jarmusch describes the iconoclastic director as an “anti-totalitarian anarchist,” though Fuller took heat from both the right and left for Pickup on South Street (which was accused of “Red baiting” and anti-Americanism at the same time!). In the film you can also see Fuller describe both the fascists and mid-20th century communist regimes as “Enemies of humanity.”

Like Luis Buñuel,  Fuller got kicked to the curb for a number or years for just going too damn far, with the controversial White Dog—which never did see a US release—about a dog trained to hate black people [A neighbor of mine in Brooklyn had a doberman that hated black people, so this isn’t as far-fetched as you might think], whereupon he moved to France, where he was, of course, hailed as a genius, and finished out the rest of his creative career.

Here’s the entire film about Fuller, shot during his lifetime so that there are plenty of classic quotes from the man. Just as amusing are the shots of Quentin Tarantino and Tim Robbins rooting around in Fuller’s pre-France work-space, uncovering all sorts of Fuller’s old treasures, even as they imitate him and invoke his spirit at a distance:
 

Written by Em | Discussion
Quentin Tarantino’s father really really sucks as an actor
01.28.2013
09:46 pm

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Movies

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Quentin Tarantino
Tony Tarantino


 
There’s no love lost between Quentin Tarantino and his father Tony. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that Quentin pretty much loathes his dad. The elder Tarantino abandoned his son and his son’s mother when Quentin was still in his mama’s belly. Tony apparently wasn’t the domestic type.

As is often the case, the estranged father started to express an interest in his son when Quentin started making money. The color of green stirred up Tony’s paternalistic impulses. He started to morph into Mike Brady, if Mike Brady had been played by Tony Montana. But all attempts at bonding with his son were spurned. The one time he actually confronted Quentin in person, he was told to get lost. He left, but he didn’t get lost.

Well, I never knew my father. That’s the thing. I never knew him. He wanted to be an actor. Now he’s an actor only because he has my last name. But he was never part of my life. I didn’t know him.” Quentin Tarantino

Nothing has stopped Tony, least of all shame, from trying to cash in on the Tarantino name. He claims to be an actor and a director, but based on this clip from the movie Blood Money, which he co-directed and stars in, the talent gene seems to have bypassed him and gone directly to his son. Though, I must admit, Tony’s right index finger shows some promise.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Quentin Unchained: Should Tarantino answer questions about movie violence?
01.10.2013
03:16 pm

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Movies

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Quentin Tarantino


Fan art by Daz Tiibles, via downwithfilm
 
Quentin Tarantino is not your slave and you are not his master.

That’s what he told newscaster Krishnan Guru Murthy on the UK’s Channel 4 News today, in a tense and very awkward interview.

In response to questions about violence in movies, and in particular whether people who enjoy violence in movies also enjoy violence in real life, the director stated that he is not Murthy’s monkey and that he can’t be made to dance to that particular tune.

To be fair, he kinda has a point, as this line of questioning always comes up in his interviews. Then again, as horrific acts of violence erupt more often in public, and as Tarantino keeps releasing mass-marketed films containing horrific violence, aren’t these questions more relevant than ever?

I was actually expecting this interview to be worse, a potential storm-out situation (maybe it’s Murthy’s ever-so-level-headed British demeanour that keeps it together, or maybe I had too many expectations after Piers Morgan and Alex Jones), but as Quentin gleefully points out, the broadcasters are looking for any kind of controversy that will bring them more views, and in reality this television spot is just an elongated commercial for Django Unchained.

True enough, but I’m not sure if this particular commercial makes me wanna go and see it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a strong stomach for gore and “edgy” subject matter. It’s more about the director himself, and the cult that surrounds him, a cult which facilitates his often over-indulgent film-making. If the truth is that he actually CAN’T answer these questions, if he doesn’t even have a stock answer prepared, then why in hell should I sit through almost three hours of him working that shit out on a big screen?

Reservoir Dogs was one of the key movies that sparked my undying obsession with films and film-making, and I would still class it as one of my favorite films, so I have been there with the Tarantino idolation. As the years have gone by, as I have seen a shit-ton more films, and as I have gotten a lot older and a little wiser, I have been less and less impressed. British critic Mark Kermode absolutely nails the problems with Tarantino and his work in this review of Death Proof (ironically, the last Tarantino movie I enjoyed).

Essentially I feel that Tarantino is film-maker who has nothing to say. Nothing to say except for having seen more movies than you. And that’s not the best reason to be acclaimed as an auteur, and certainly not the best reason to begin tackling such weighty events as World War 2 and the slave trade.

But, hey, that’s just my opinion. And I probably will end up going to see Django Unchained, if only to make my mind up.

Enough about me though, what do you think?

Is Quentin Tarantino a genius film-maker? Was he right to “shut” Murthy’s “butt down” in this interview? Should he be expected to answer questions about violence in movies? Or is that not part of his responsibility as a director of violent movies?

Here’s the clip. After a tense start, the pan really boils over from the 4:30 mark:
 

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Like a scene from ‘Pulp Fiction’: Would-be robber ends up as captive sex slave

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The headline says it all:

Robber who broke into hair salon is beaten by its black-belt owner and kept as a sex slave for three days… fed only Viagra

The Mail reports on a Russian man who is said to have tried to rob a hair salon, but soon ended up as the victim when the female shop owner overpowered him, tied him up naked and then used him as a sex slave for 3 days.

Viktor Jasinski, 32, admitted to police that he had gone to the salon in Meshchovsk, Russia, with the intention of robbing it.

But the tables were turned dramatically when he found himself overcome by owner Olga Zajac, 28, who happened to be a black belt in karate.

She allegedly floored the would-be robber with a single kick.

Then, in a scene reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, police say Zajac dragged the semi-conscious Jasinski to a back room of the salon and tied him up with a hair dryer cable.

She allegedly stripped him naked and, for the next three days, used him as a sex slave to ‘teach him a lesson’ - force feeding him Viagra to keep the lesson going.

The would-be robber was eventually released, with Zajak saying he had learned his lesson.

 
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A blurred image of Olga Zajac, who allegedly held would-be robber Viktor Jasinski prisoner for 3 days in a back room of her hair salon, where she fed him Viagra and had sex with him “a couple of times”
 

Jasinski went straight to the police and told them of his back-room ordeal, saying that he had been held hostage, handcuffed naked to a radiator, and fed nothing but Viagra.

Both have now been arrested.

When police arrived to question Zahjac, she said: ‘What a bastard. Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1,000 roubles when he left.”

All far too reminiscent of that famous scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction

Update

Thanks to DM reader Tom for posting a link to Kiri Blakely‘s blog on Forbes, which explains that this story is over 2-years-old:

The entire wacky incident happened over two years ago, in April of 2009. Here is the Moscow Times story on it. The story wasn’t exactly underreported, either. Google “sex slave Moscow hair salon” and over 200,000 results come up, all of them dated April 2009.

The Daily Mail also acts like the Russian sex slave incident just happened today. Was there some new news here that would entail [the Daily Mail and Gawker] republishing this two-year-old story? Maybe a trial or sentencing or something? Not from what I can see in either the Gawker or Daily Mail pieces. It’s the same old story—though granted, it’s a good one!

Read the whole article here.
 

 
Via the Daily Mail
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Quentin Tarantino’s seldom seen first movie: ‘My Best Friend’s Birthday’
01.09.2011
09:36 pm

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Movies

Tags:
Quentin Tarantino
My Best Friend's Birthday

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My Best Friend’s Birthday is the first film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Shot in 1984 for $5000, the rough cut was 70 minutes long before a fire at the processing lab destroyed all but 36 minutes of the film. It’s never been officially released.

Co-written with Craig Hamaan and photographed by Roger Avery, My Best Friend’s Birthday stars a motley collection of Tarantino’s video store co-workers and friends from acting class.

The stylistic foundations upon which Quentin built his career -Scorsese, Godard, Cassavetes, blaxpoitation and rock and roll - are evident in this clumsy but fun little flick. And the dialog is unmistakably what was later to become known as Tarantinoesque.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Quentin Tarantino’s Trunk Shots
Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
A Basterds Antidote: Kobayashi’s The Human Condition

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Although I found parts of Inglourious Basterds entertaining (especially the acting), Quentin Tarantino’s rewriting of World War II’s end days left me, as a whole, both confused and disappointed.  I can understand film as wish-fulfillment (that’s why we go to movies).  I can also recognize the appeal of what-if scenarios (The Man In The High Castle, anyone?).  But fighting genocide with genocide, and showing it triumph, over Hitler and History, strikes me as infantile, and reduces to cartoonish dimensions the very real horrors of the time.

And if you’re of the camp that thinks QT’s commenting, like, ironically on this stuff, that would mean you could detect, amid all the gunshots and carvings, a trace of regret here and there—even some ambivalence.  Well, you can’t.  Not in a single, gleeful frame.  It would also presuppose some recognition on Tarantino’s part of life beyond film—of film as a reflecting pool that’s capable of bouncing back at us something more than the shards and slivers of other films.  I’m not sure he’s that self-aware.  I’m not sure he cares to be.

For me, the war film, or, more specifically, The Nazi War Film, best conveys its horror when its full dimensions haven’t yet been realized.  As something approaching on the horizon, dark and inevitable for the film’s participants.  I think that’s why the below clip from Cabaret chills far more effectively than anything in Basterds or Downfall; why a Weimar-era Aryan youth singing as he salutes freaks me the fuck out far more than the table-banging Hitlers of Wuttke and Ganz.

 
So, with all this in mind, I read with great interest Grady Hendrix’s Slate piece about this week’s Criterion release of Masaki Kobayashi‘s The Human Condition:

Deep where Basterds is shallow, expansive where Basterds is puny, and profound where Basterds is glib, Kobayashi’s humanist triumph is finally getting the Western exposure it deserves.  Based in part on a six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa and, in part, on Kobayashi’s own wartime experiences as a pacifist trying to survive in the Japanese army, The Human Condition is as grand in scale and scope as that other anti-war classic, Gone With the Wind.  Like the South, Japan lost a war and can’t stop talking about it.  Every great Japanese director has a movie about the traumas of WWII under his belt, but none is as ambitious as The Human Condition.

Before you rush to queue this up, though, Hendrix also warns that the movie runs nine-and-a-half hours (albeit spread over three films), and is so “monumentally painful to watch, that it stands as the Grand Canyon of despair.”  Well, for those of you willing to commit yourselves to only, say, the San Fernando Valley of despair, the following trailer for Part I clocks in at just under 5 minutes.

Written by Bradley Novicoff | Discussion