Quentin Tarantino Tribute

Reviewed by Kimberly Howard.  Viewed at The Arlington Theatre, SBIFF 2013

Have you ever been in the presence of someone that transcends greatness? To narrow the question a bit, have you ever been around someone who is so thrillingly on fire for what they do, they just take your passion for what makes you tick to a whole new level? I, along with hundreds of Santa Barbarians, welcomed the celebrated recipient of The American Riviera Award at this year’s festival tribute. The legendary Quentin Tarantino graced us with humor, and a humility that did not mask the love he has for the level and artistic content of his work. That was a refreshing impartation from Tarantino of how doing what you love becomes reciprocal.

To recap some of the evening’s highlights which paints just a glimpse of what makes this set apart director ignite the world of cinema, allow me to spell it out for you:

QUENTIN-SENTIAL! With every deliberate intent to play on the word quintessential, Mr. Tarantino’s films surpass the norm of what a genre film is in Hollywood. Films like Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2 (2003/2004) place him in a class all his own.

UNQUENCHED: When screening certain clips of movies like Resevoir Dogs and Kill Bill, Quentin immediately provided an example of how excited he gets from his previous works. He noted at his hotel, Resevoir Dogs was in the last act and he could not turn it off. He said he wanted it to “die a natural death.” We’ll, that was a nice notion, but nearly impossible since he added it is repetitively televised and each and every time he sees a past work, he is filled with such vigor and excitement that can not be quenched no matter how many years go by! His films give him a proud feeling, not an uppity attitude, in a thought, his films are like his babies!

EXTREME!: For a genre director, he takes the content of his films to an extreme unlike any other director, without making the viewer feel taken for a ride. The viewer feels like they are a part of the movie with the characters, not just watching them on a screen. He mentioned in the interview that was predominately about his writing method how he writes the story from a characters perspective and one extreme that everyone should love is the character in Pulp Fiction played by Samuel L. Jackson. In fact, Sam is the one and only actor who serves as a reference to Quentin during his writing process. All other characters and story contributions he said come as time goes on and they present themselves.

NOVELESQUE: When the moderator asked him why he writes his script in long hand, Quentin, leaning relaxed to one side,in an instant exclaims, “Because you can’t write poetry on a computer!” (My personal favorite anecdote I kept as a souvenir.) Adding to this quality, he says his scripts are particularly long because as he is writing, he sets aside his director and actor and just brings everything into focus for the writing portion.

TIMELESS: A personal example of just how his films not only surpass the genre concept, but they transcend the constraints of time. Pulp Fiction (1994) is a film that is just as effective today as it was nearly two decades ago at its release. I recall not wanting anything to do with that movie when it was all the rave and buzz at my job back then. A little embarrassed to reveal that I watched it for the first time in one of my classes last term and loved it, loved it! I am not a fan of violence and gangster type films, but the way he wrote with subtext and hidden meanings, with the redemptive ending makes me want to see it again, reserving a slot on my top ten list.

IMAGINATIVE: Tarantino has an ability to imagine scenes and describe them on paper and see what they turn out to be or not to be on the screen. What’s more to possessing such an achieved quality is to “forget” a trend in a movie, but get refreshed each time when you notice something new. At his tribute, Quentin saw in one of the clips a shot of cotton pellets being sprayed with “blood” and that was when he got this excitement over his creativity and to see how it actually worked in his film. That to me is the mark of a great director, to love your creation and never lose appreciation for your voice in a project.

NICE: Albeit possibly the most simple adjective in our grammar, Mr. Tarantino is just that, nice. In approaching a crowd which stood for close to three hours before the Arlington doors opened with hopes of getting as close to the legend as possible, Quentin walked past each one of us and shook our hands and even took a picture with a couple that was behind me. Well, I was so grateful I got to shake his hand, when he got to a few people ahead of me, I excitedly said “Hi!” And was shocked that he turned back to look and said a simple Hi. That totally made my night and just thought he was nice to do that.

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