TARANTINO, DeLILLO AND CIMINO

A Gentler Tarantino

In a public interview with John Horn of the Los Angeles Times Quentin Tarantino revealed himself as capable of speaking with surprising tenderness of his own works.  Asked about learning from his past films, Tarantino said:

          I can look at, in particular, “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” and think “Oh, wow.”  You know, I’ve learned a little bit more about directing.  A little bit more about handling extras.  A little bit more about handling the crew itself.  And production design.  All that kind of stuff.  Like, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have had this.”  But nevertheless, that’s actually what I love about those movies now.  They were that Quentin then, and these movies reflect this point in time now.  And to some degree or another, it’s actually the imperfections of the earlier movies that I love the most.

     The interview, held onstage at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, was excerpted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/4/13.

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     “Movies take place in the dark.”

     “He checked the display of features and starting times and bought a ticket to the film about to screen.”

     “Always the sense of anticipation.  To look forward to, invariably, whatever the title, the story, the director, and to be able to elude the specter of disappointment.  There were no disappointments, ever.”

     “It took him a moment to realize that this was the same movie he had seen the day before…He watched it end the same way it had ended twenty-four hours ago.”

These lines are all from Don DeLillo’s remarkable story “The Starveling,” recommended on an earlier post (5/8/12).  It is in a collecion of stories called The Angel Esmerelda, nine stories (Scribner, 2011).   I found it at my local library, and it is available at amazon.com.

If you are one of my regular readers I predict that you will find youself somewhere in De Lillo’s story.

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Something(s) to think about:

When last did you see Heaven’s Gate?  Have you viewed the Criterion transfer?  It is hard to believe that Criterion released its restored, director-revised version without subtitles.  It is hard to believe given the worldwide criticism of the film’s frequent  —  more frequent that not  —  inaudible dialogue.  Criterion claims that Michael Cimino worked at improving the dialogue sound.

It is a must-see, nonetheless.

Two interesting quotations from director Michael Cimino:

     I think in many ways Heaven’s Gate is about what was happening when the people were struggling desperately to become Americans.  They were half assimilated, half nonassimilated, but trying terribly hard to be American.  I think in some ways it’s a film of America trying to become America.

And:

     In response to a question about his earlier remark that Heaven’s Gate is photographer Vilmos Zsigmond’s best work:  It’s a hard thing to explain.  It’s a very subjective remark.  It’s like looking at two paintings or a dozen paintings and saying, ‘I think this one is best’; it may not be the best for anyone but you.  I guess it’s when you feel that someone has complete mastery of all the formal elements and has invested them with as much passion as one can manage and has been concerned with the quality of the image, with visual rhythms, with the texture of light and dark  —  and when you see all that sustained over a long period of time, you think that it’s pretty good.

Both quotes are from an interview with Michael Cimino by Herb Lightman first published in American Cinematographer (November 1980) and reprinted in the booklet Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate included with Criterion’s two-disc issue of the film.

NEXT POST Friday May 3

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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