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True Romance

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2008 11:09AM) (new)

I have a friend who loves this movie, and I just watched it again with him. This really could have, and should have, been a fantastic film. It has a fantastic script, a huge if often beguiling cast--including Gary Oldman and Tom Sizemore, two of my favorite actors (but also including the idiotic Michael Rappaport, and for some reason Bronson Pinchot)--nods to The Street Fighter (which rules), an imagined Elvis as mentor, and the obligatory cringe-inducing blaxploitation era racism that, for some reason, Tarantino just can't stop himself from throwing into everything. It has great momentum, and reaches some great places, but is ultimately hacked to pieces by the moronic directing of Tony Scott--director of such "hits" as Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and Beverly Hills Cop II. It also has one of the most abysmal scores I've ever heard in a film.

Though frustrating, its also interesting to be so hugely torn by a film and, I think, a useful tool in pinpointing what makes great films and what makes terrible ones. I just thought I'd bring this up and see what other people thought about it.

message 2: by George (new)

George | 951 comments Actually, it's one of my all-time favorites for a wide variety of reasons. The theatrical version was hacked to bits, but the movie works for me at least, even the idiot actors, who after all are playing idiot characters, so their very weaknesses play into the film. It's definitely episodic, but some of these individual scenes are exceedingly good. You mention Gary Oldman, what do you make of his character? Is he actually some Jamaican gangster, dreds and all, or is he a white wanna-be who has taken on the gansta persona to create his personal dream. Is he living the dream in a similar way Christain Slater wants to go for? however you choose to look at it, his scene is riviting. Most of the characters are losers on various levels, many of them on all levels. Slater works in a comic book store and dreams his comic book dreams, he accepts his own dismal reality, but when given a chance decides to play Don Quixote and turn his dreary whore into Dulcinea. His friend, Michale Rappaport, is as big a loser as he is, and so is his father, Dennis Hopper. But like his son, Hopper rises to the occasion and martyrs himself in a forlorn effort to save his son. I absolutely love his scene with Christopher Walken with his soliloquy on the orgins of the Sicilian people. Similarly, Patricia Arquette rises from mire and takes on Tony Soprano himself, and wins her celebrity death match! So, I suppose I'm inclined to forgive the various faults of the film. It ain't Kurosawa, but it works for me as a sort of ultimate poor white trash fanatasy.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)


Let me again stress that I think the script is brilliant--the events which take place in the movie are fantastic and a lot of the actors do wonders with their roles. Cinematography is mind-numbingly bad sometimes though and a lot of the score is just very lame. But there are many things about this movie that I just love. All the characters work in their own way, and the story of Clarance and Alabama really is a great one. I just think if Tarantino had directed it instead of Scott it would easily be one of my favorites.

message 4: by George (new)

George | 951 comments Yes, I agree. it would have been better had Tarantino actually directed it. Sort of a warm up for his own work later on. But, even with its flaws, it still works for me.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, I do like it a lot the more I think about it. But I do think that that is mostly contingent on the strength of the script. Some of those crooked camera shots look so lame!!!

message 6: by George (new)

George | 951 comments Well, the script and the performances. Your racism comment earlier was interesting though. While I think I understand where you're coming from on that, I don't really agree. I think Tarantino seems to genuinely admire his Black characters and their rebellion against the Man, and their larger than life characters. While the images are drawn from the Blaxploitation era I think it would be hard to maintain that the Black characters are in any way inferior morally or mentally to the White ones in these films, and the lead characters are dominant and powerful. I'd say take a look at Jackie Brown if you haven't seen it. He uses the ultimate Blaxploitation actress, Pam Greer, to great effect in that film and treats her character with considerable respect, in my opinion. Samuel Jackson and Ving Rhames both come off particularly well in his film.

message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 23, 2008 10:10AM) (new)

I think I might have simply put it poorly--I actually agree with you wholeheartedly. What I meant was that there are always scenes in Tarantino films which are very inspired by blaxploitation films in which there are characters who are racist, not to imply that Tarantino himself is. I don't think any of the black characters are taken to be inferior at all, but I do think that some of the white characters in his movies think that they are. You know what I mean? I say that scene is cringe-inducing because its kind of shocking, not because I think it reveals Tarantino's personally biases.

Hopefully that clears it up a bit!

message 8: by Eileen (new)

Eileen (booklover69) | 30 comments awesome movie!!! one of my favorites..

message 9: by George (new)

George | 951 comments So, I did misunderstand, ok, that does clear things up a great deal. Yes, certainly there are racist white characters in his films, but at least they seem to get their just desserts. And in Pulp Fiction, it took a combined effort between Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis to do them in. I guess these scenes don't bother me that much to the extent that I find them as shocking as you do. Yes, some of the white characters in these films are racist, but they do exist in reality and are capable of being dangerous when they think they can get away with it. Their views aren't shared by any number of other white characters in the films though and they're pretty much all losers. One might say, Quentin is just keeping it real. Anyway, sorry for the misunderstanding.

message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 24, 2008 01:08AM) (new)

No problem at all, I think I just tried to boil it down to one (piece of a) sentence without any real context. Yeah, I think that even the racism seen in some of the characters aren't across the board for any race lines in his films. But there is almost always an obligatory N word scene in his films, simply to be taken as it is--its just his style, as a huge fan of blaxploitation films, I think. Its just sort of shocking because most filmmakers do not want to even touch those race lines, and Tarantino is just so willing to go there it seems.

message 11: by George (new)

George | 951 comments One gets the impression that Tarantino is willing to go 'most anywhere.

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

That's how I've felt too, Rob, primarily because of the shitty directing/cinematography, but actually going over it here is making me appreciate it more and look past Tony Scott's meddling ways.

I think Foxy Brown is the only QT film I still haven't seen, which I need to reconcile soon. I've heard such mixed things about it (both that its peoples' favorite Taratino movie, and least favorite), but I'm still sure its quite good.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Whoops. I just realized that I think we both mean Jackie Brown, not Foxy Brown. Regardless, though, I still would like to see Jackie Brown.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Word up!

message 15: by Phillip (last edited Dec 24, 2008 04:09PM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments i thought you meant jackie brown....i liked it pretty well, but it's not my fave. i do know people who think it's his best film...i usually don't agree with their opinions on film.

i think you might want to go back and check it out again's better on repeat viewings. there's a lot of good humor in it. but it doesn't have the bite that some of the other films have. robert forester is great in it - he seems born for that role. it's one of the only films where i thought bridget fonda wasn't horribly miscast...and when de niro bumps her toward the end...well, damn, that was tasty.

reservoir dogs might be my fave, but i was really shaken by it the first time i saw it. on repeat viewings i came to enjoy the humor that everyone cited, which i didn't see at all the first time around...i was too busy being shocked by the movie.

pulp fiction is also a fave, probably his best script. i like how it works structurally, and the characters are funny and original.

i liked kill bill a lot when it first came out, but on subsequent views my opinion has dropped. it sports one too many rip offs of old shaw brothers films. i know he probably feels like he's paying homage to those movies, but that whole sequence at the night club where uma thurman takes on all those guys in black suits is almost scene for scene (stolen) choreography from kobayashi's classic samurai film, "hara kiri". i'd rather watch that film than kill bill anyday.

i haven't seen true romance in years, but remembered liking it. i'm not a christian (i want to be nicholson) slater fan, but i am a fan of patricia arquette's (early) work. it had a nice punch and a good bit of fairy tale ideology wrapped in its caper narrative. the oldman character was a good bit of humor, imo, nothing more. not a performance of his that stuck with me like many of his other roles.

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