24 Lies a Second

0 Conversations

True Romance

Dear Quentin,

Yes, it's me again. I know we've sort of drifted apart over the years, but I still take an interest in what you get up to, and it's been nice to see the trailer for your latest film starting to pop up in cinemas - even if some of the advertising has been a bit over the top.

I still remember the first time I saw you on TV. This would've been early 1993 when Reservoir Dogs had just come out over here, and was attracting some criticism for its violence and amorality. Antonia de Sancha - you know, the failed actress who was only famous for having an affair with a Tory politician - was on the Wogan show with you, and particularly harsh about your lack of standards. The irony of this seemed to make you a bit exasperated, which may explain why your defence - the unpleasantness of a protracted torture sequence was mitigated because it was preceded by a dance routine - was a bit half-assed.

Nearly everyone heard about Dogs then, mainly because it coincided with one of the UK's regular paroxyms of muddy-headed moral anguish. But I guess there's no such thing as bad publicity and the fact it was denied a video release kept it in the cinemas as a burgeoning cult classic. I have to confess I didn't see it myself until over a year later, and that was mainly out of curiosity: two friends of mine trooped off to the Saturday midnight show every few weeks, and I couldn't help but wonder - what was it about this film that kept people coming back, still kept it profitable for the cinema even after it had been playing non-stop for nearly eighteen months?

So there was a vague whiff of forbidden fruit in the air when I went along one hot Saturday night in June 1994. And the film was a revelation to me. I didn't go to the cinema very much back then - blockbusters, yeah, the odd comedy, perhaps, but it was individual films that interested me, not Film as a whole, as an art-form. At that time I was just beginning to develop that kind of sensibility, that awareness of style and technique. Reservoir Dogs struck to the core of this new faculty.

That October I got a bootleg copy on video (sorry, but it was the only way) and watched it with my best friend Joe. He was an instant convert and we would annoy people at parties by performing scenes, verbatim. But the big event that Autumn was the release of Pulp Fiction. I'd laughed when the cinema manager claimed it was better than Dogs. But as my friends and I stumbled out of the press showing in the small hours of a Thursday morning, we had to agree he maybe had a point.

I've cooled on Pulp quite a bit since then, but at the time I took the enormous pop-cultural impact of the film, all Dick Dale and Royale with Cheese and glowing briefcases as a personal vindication. I was learning fast and could point out the homages to other films, the in-jokes, the filmic humus that had nourished your imagination. It was the first film I saw three times at the cinema.

You were suddenly a star, too: the only film director they sold posters of, for all that - with all due respect - you're no pin-up. You were a cult figure, and anything with your name on it attracted widespread interest. I was buying posters, books, soundtrack albums, all through 1995. Film geekery was in my bloodstream now.

It's not just me that has a lot to thank you for. You dragged the indie into the mainstream, and some other very interesting writer-directors followed in your footsteps, one way or another. Kevin Smith, for one, even if he's never quite moved on from his debut, and retains an alarming tendency to cast Ben Affleck and Jason Lee in his films. And Robert Rodriguez for another, although I wish he'd stop making Spy Kids sequels and do something with a bit more balls to it. Without the success of Pulp, Miramax wouldn't be the force it is today, which would mean no English Patient, no Scream, no Shakespeare in Love, no Chicago, and who knows - probably no Lord of the Rings, either.

I wish I could put an exact date on the time when things went sour between us. Maybe it started when word got out that Four Rooms wasn't actually very good. Or maybe it was when I started to realise that your films aren't really about anything except other films, they've no sense of a wider world or a greater responsibility. They strain for coolness and effect, and seldom care about right or wrong. Ironically, the greater awareness of film culture you inspired in me, only served to make me aware of how little there was in your films that was truly original. Your performance in From Dusk Till Dawn didn't really help much, either. I began to suspect that you didn't really care about writing or directing as such, you just wanted to be famous. I kept remembering you not as Mr Brown or Jimmie, but as an Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls, desperate to break into showbiz.

So by the time Jackie Brown came along I really didn't care - I wasn't going to the cinema at all at the point, because I simply couldn't afford to. It wasn't until years later that I finally saw it on video. It took me a while to warm to it, but once I had I was very impressed. Here was a film that was mature and restrained and driven by some superb performances, even if it was rather ponderous in places. You seemed a bit subdued, but that's often the case with Elmore Leonard adaptations - his personality has swamped directors like Barry Sonnenfeld and Steven Soderbergh equally thoroughly. I liked Jackie Brown a lot. It seemed like we'd both grown up, and if the driven intensity of the early days was no longer there between us, well, maybe that was for the best.

Since then... well, there's been nothing much going on with me, really, nor with you either from the look of things. (One film in five years? Who do you think you are, Kubrick?!?) Except now you've got this new film coming out, the one you wrote just after Pulp back in '94. I don't know how to say this, but the omens aren't great. The retro pop-culture stylings suggest a retread of old territory, the trailer - all pithy one-liners and smirking head-shots - smacks of complacent self-regard, and the bizarre nature of the project - a single film cut in half and released in two 'volumes', simply due to its marathon running time - screams pretentious, vanity project self-indulgence.

I will go and see both volumes of Kill Bill, of course. If nothing else it should have a superb soundtrack.

Well, anyway, Quentin, I've got to go now. I hope everything goes well for you with the new movie and everything else in your life. I really mean that, because in a sense I've grown up watching your films. I only hope that Jackie Brown wasn't a one-off and that you've grown up making them.



The Awix


14.08.03 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written by



h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more