Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are you going to bark all day, little doggie, or are you going to bite?

A recent post at Adam's blog Counting Down The Hours got me to thinking. And I left a comment at his post about my thoughts. But I'm briefly going to mention it all here.


Good films, great films, action-packed films, intelligent-dialogue films, slow films, fast-paced films, high-octane chase films, etc, etc.

Compare Reservoir Dogs (pictured) with Pulp Fiction. Did you catch them both at the cinema when they were released? Sure you did, just as I did, and weren't they great? (In fact, if you live outside of Europe there's a very good chance you didn't see Reservoir Dogs at the cinema at the time of its release, since it did really bad box office in the States.) Anyway, like me, I'm sure you've watched each of those films several times since. And they're still the best of Tarantino's work.

But which do you like best? Which, for you, is the more enjoyable film to sit and watch on a Sunday afternoon, say?

I'll tell you now, for me the clear winner by a country mile is Reservoir Dogs. Yes, yes, I know Pulp Fiction is multilayered, multifaceted, multi-angled, multiracial, and multi-whatever-the-fuck-else, but fuck me it goes on, huh? The theatrical release clocks in at a whopping 154 minutes*, that's more than two and a half hours in proper money. And if you opt for the Special Edition, you can expect to remain seated for 168 minutes -- 12 minutes short of three hours. That's a whole lot of bed sores. Now, don't fucking tell me there's nothing in there that could be cut to make for a tighter movie.

Reservoir Dogs, on the other hand, runs to just 99 minutes. That's an hour and a half plus an extra 540 seconds. No time. Reservoir Dogs is so short, in fact, that you can almost always find time to squeeze it into your day, should you be so inclined. Small. But not only that, it's also perfectly fucking formed. It's tight as a motherfucking drum. There is nothing you can cut from that film to make it better in any way. It's that rare beast in cinema that you almost wish ran longer. And you know what else, it's absorbing for all of that time: you want to know who's double-crossed whom, just as Nice Guy Eddie wants to know. You are taken into this world.

Okay, of that last point you could probably say the same about Pulp... first time around. But the more you watch Pulp, the more you wish it was shorter. The more you wish you could fast-forward through some of those scenes that have become hackneyed. Not so with Dogs.

Of course, all of this is personal opinion, so let me know what you think: compact, bijou, and perfectly formed; or big, rambunctious, and a bit flabby around the waist? When it comes to films, tell me, what's your flavour?

* Of course, for the sake of this post, I'm not considering PAL speed-up for those of us watching on home cinemas that use the PAL system.

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Blogger Milla said...

You know, I hope you won't get offended, but I have always thought that as a film director, Tarantino sucks. Big time. However, as a script writer, he is MAGIC... For me True Romance is brilliant. And so is Jackie Brown (which of course he also directed, OK). But Kill the Bills 1 and 2? Pulp Friction? Reserved Dogs? Pleeeeeeeeaseeeeeeeee noooooooooooooooo!!

28 January, 2007 14:08  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

No offence taken, cara. To some extent I'm with you. I used his films solely as an example here, but one could choose any two films by any one or more directors.

I think Tarantino is quite a fine director (by accident sometimes), but in the early days his writing was definitely his selling point, without which we would never had heard of him. True Romance is his best script, no doubt, and the first one he sold, but his writing in much of his recent work has been quite poor. The Kill Bill films for me are visually great but quite terrible in the dialogue department.

And of course Jackie Brown was an adaptation so hardly counts in my book. He even left some of my favourite scenes from the book out of his screenplay.

28 January, 2007 14:14  
Blogger Adam said...

Dogs is my fav. Tarintino movie - I completely agree with you here. and Yea, Empire is definitely the standard at which pretty much ever sequel tries to emulate time and time again - it is the ultimate.

I like Godfather II more as well - I think cameron's sequels are worthy because they completely take their franchises in different directions - like the marines / tons of aliens and then having the Terminator himself as a father figure / good guy ha.

28 January, 2007 16:57  
Blogger martinobhoy said...

I'm going for Pulp Fiction although I do enjoy both. But it also depends on when you want to watch it. As you said Saturday afternoon then I'd probably watch Dogs but a Sunday evening it would be Pulp Fiction every time.

I actually enjoy the way that has so many stories running at different parts of the film, finishes in the middle etc.

And I have to admit I haven't even seen either of the Kill Bill films.

28 January, 2007 17:24  
Blogger Kate said...

Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs? Oooh, that's a tricky one. I dunno. Reservoir Dogs is a better film technically - the directing is wonderful - but I do like Pulp Fiction. I have seen that numerous times, but I'm still fascinated by the way he weaves the plot together. Having said that, True Romance is superior to both. I watched it for the first time a couple of years ago and have loved it ever since. The scene with Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper is spellbinding.

I haven't seen the Kill Bill films, so I can't really comment on them. I did start watching the first one, but it didn't grab me.

28 January, 2007 19:11  
Blogger cappy said...

loved jackie brown.
wifey and i went to see it with her sister and husband. they didn't like it. "it was all talking" er...ok! (fuckwits, both)
by the way, took the wife to see r.d. a few weeks after we got together. it was that or sister act 2!
"they don't cut a mans ear off do they? i don't want to see it if they do"
"no dear!"
what a laugh!

28 January, 2007 23:24  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

I liked both, and Jackie Brown too, although I think Jackie Brown isn't quite in the same league. I'm not comfortable saying which I liked better. It would be like saying which is better, Vertigo or Rear Window. Well Jesus, man I like Kim Novac AND Grace Kelly.

29 January, 2007 01:14  
Blogger Sheamus the... said...

Yeah man that is just the reason why i got rid of my pulp copy. i just never watched it. I love it but i never rewatched it. Love dogs and actually u inspired me to go buy the new sweet super fly edition of Dogs. And of course I agree with Adam on everything else.

29 January, 2007 03:07  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i agree that reservoir was the tighter film... but i felt so shell-shocked (i know that's the point, so well done mr. tarantino) at the end and as though nothing had really been resolved. but i still like the film.

i just like that pulp had a little more story and "reconcilliation" to it. but i also agree that it's not one i pull out and watch too often (although i own it)... it is really long.

but i DO really love the kill bill flicks... i agree the dialogue is pretty lame, but i think it's supposed to be. plays of the really awful dialogue of kung foo movies. but i love the directing of it... especially the white haired guy... that guy was so awesome. hahaha.

i don't think i really addressed the point of your post, but i feel like everyone else already has. for me, it really just comes down to which movie i enjoy the most. if they're all (by 'they' i mean, films in a sequence) great movies... the one i enjoy the most might not actually be the best one.

i know reservoir is "better" than pulp... i know empire is "better" than return... and yet, i "enjoy" pulp and return better

i could keep going, but i'm rambling, and not really getting anywhere. so i'll end with saying... good question :)

29 January, 2007 06:04  
Blogger Suze said...

I have to agree, for me it has to be Resevoir Dogs. Not sure what it is but the film has a certain magic. In fact you just reminded me to go out and buy it. :)

29 January, 2007 13:34  
Blogger ginkers said...

I'm with the Dogs on this one in particular and with the general point on film running time. I often find myself in the video shop checking how long a film lasts - if it is over two hours, forget it. Now I know this means I miss a lot of great films but when you've got two kids and sleeping time is at a premium you need a movie that tells its story before midnight. And, as you say, there are not many stories that can't be told in 119 minutes or less...

29 January, 2007 21:27  
Anonymous candyminx said...

I liked both. A different ways.

I DID happen to see the theatre release f Res Dogs. It was not a huge mega screen, but a movie screen all the same. There were about 12-15 people in the audience. And I was howling. Cracking up left right and centre. I have a fairy loud voice.

Er one else was laughing.

Carry on...when the flashback occured with the men's washroom I was dumbfounded...I was like, WHO THE HELL wrote this movie, this is incredible.

I left the theatre and coming out of the dark room ran into a former prof and his girlfriend. I was hi how are you what an amazing film, they were like yeah, it was a good. A bit violent. I was like yeah true but it also had some hilarious momets, I was laughing.

Then they looked at me with utter fear. Oh SHE was the one with the balc comedy humour.

As for Reservoir Dogs....more after Jackie Brown, after Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Natural Born Killers...I went back and watched Res Dogs. It was brillaint. It was one of those films I was so pleased to say that it was not only as good as I remembered, but it held up against bigger budget more experienced fare of the artist.

I loved Pulp Fiction, the humor, the rawness, the excitement. The music what a total package.

Loeved Jackie Brown...but my very favourite might just be Kill Bill.

It's a classic woman's story. Riffs on blind assasins, underworld, pop goddesse worship...all of it.

One thing Quentin does really well is women. Some people criticised Pulp Fiction for the women characters and it was all male bravdado.

Wrong...notice the plot and action. Everything that happens in the movie is the result of the power and llure and wisdom of women.

But Kill Quentin is like George Cukor, he's a real man who is a woman's writer director.

I love the stilted dialogue.

Remember how I was trying to defend the stilted acting in Lynch?

Well, Kill Bill is a very good example of their "heightened artificial dialogue" this is no accident or a misstep. It's ahighly cultivated very difficult to attempt on the part of make a character built on amplified language and inflection and distilled....DISTILLED dialogue.

Pritzi's Honour attempted this did Wild At Heart.

I love my boy Quinten, and Kill Bill is his best work yet!

(okay he wrote and directed an excellent episode of ER too)

Love your films posts *, great stuff!!!

29 January, 2007 21:53  
Blogger Pickled Olives said...

Can you belive I have NEVER seen Dogs? I have seen Pulp though. And you definitely pegged pulp correct. Can't keep watcing it any old time it come on. Gotta make the time!

30 January, 2007 01:56  
Blogger _z. said...

okay, my comment comes a bit little and a tad against currents.

I am a buff for tarantino, and I love everything he does. Even when he's acting funny and all coked up in a talk-show.

I even wrote a paper (when I was still in the univ.) comparing Tarantino's movies (nameley reservoir dogs and the kill bills) to Rem Koolhaas's aggressive architecture (with his fuck program, fuck context notions) using Marshall McLuhan's theories.

I love the guy okay!

Chosing between reservoir dogs and pulp fiction is a hard choice. Comparing any other two of his movies would have been easier. Both are tight, and the script and the discorses are excellent... in both.

However, I could procede simply and choose Pulp Fiction, just beacause the movie created a Pulp culture around it.
It created a stir in the world.
there was and there still is a pulp fiction mania and culture.

I pick the movie that influenced more our concepts.. thoughts and way of life.

mind you, I didn't go around shooting ppl or anything... but in a way, it set a lot of ppl free, and created a lot of rebels.

31 January, 2007 04:38  
Blogger _z. said...

*first sentence,

I meant to say my comment come a little late...

31 January, 2007 04:39  
Blogger Camie Vog said...

Reservoir Dogs. With Pulp a close second, immediately followed by both Kill Bills. Jackie Brown was okay.

I am SO late on my commenting! If only I could find the brain I had before I became pregnant...

01 February, 2007 01:36  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Thanks for all your feedback, guys.

Kate: I actually think Pulp is the better film technically, but it just isn't as tight and fun as Dogs. Still, like you, my fave "Tarantino film" is True Romance. It's actually my favourite movie of all time, and has been since way back when it first came out.

Cappy & Mr A: I almost totally hated Jackie Brown.

Martha: I think the comparison with kung-fu flicks is unfair, cos often it's the dubbing that is bad there, not the dialogue necessarily, which was sometimes changed considerably from the original Chinese dialogue.

Ginkers: I will still watch long movies, but it's difficult to rewatch them time and again.

01 February, 2007 12:24  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Candy: I went to see Dogs with my cousin's husband. He was sat next to a black bloke and was deeply uncomfortable at all the "nigger" jokes and references, even though the black guy was laughing himself.

I'm like you with laughing. I pissed myself all the way thru Robocop 3 (or was it #2?) at the cinema, and like no one else even sniggered once. Bizarre!

Don't get me wrong: I liked the Kill Bill films and I will rewatch them both at least once to confirm my thoughts, but the dialogue for me just didn't work. That said, I do think there might have been a deliberate attempt to get away from witty, pop-culture dialogue and go for coarse realism. At least I hope so.

01 February, 2007 12:29  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

_z.: I was a mad Tarantino buff back in the day, reading all the interviews and biogs that I could get my hands on, watching all the movies, reading the screenplays...

I started to tune out when I was disappointed with two things.

1. That the script for Jackie Brown was so lame and left out some of my fave scenes from the book Rum Punch.

2. That the script for From Dusk Till Dawn was so old that it had to have the Ezekiel bits taken out cos they had already been used in Pulp Fiction by that time. It just made me think, here's a guy who's plum out of ideas, y'know?

You are right though that it's most difficult to pick a fave between Dogs and Pulp than with any other two. That's because it was all downhill from there, I fear.

01 February, 2007 12:32  
Blogger _z. said...

good insight!

02 February, 2007 05:56  

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