If it's crap ... We'll tell you
After the success of Pulp Fiction, it seemed everybody wanted a piece of Tarantino. I remember being around 6 or 7 at time, hearing the words "Pulp Fiction" in the news here and there. I even remember, one night, my parents renting it on VHS and going to bed. Overhearing the barrage of f-bombs was insane to me. Years later, at 14, I saw the flick for myself and became a huge fan of the director.
The rest of the 90's wasn't exactly slow for Tarantino. He may not have had too many big movies out, but he certainly found some interesting gigs.
Finally saw this last night. I was never that big of a fan of the series, but I have seen a few episodes here and there growing up, as my mother was a fan. I rented a DVD of Season One and watched this episode, and as a guy who isn't well rounded on the series, I found this pretty interesting. I see the appeal of the show. While not written by Tarantino, it certainly had the look of Quentin's films. The most noticeable, to me, were long steadicam takes, including the first scene after the theme sequence.
The plot of the episode is one of the doctor's sisters has given birth to a girl, and their mother has, just like that, decided not to be much of a help. Another doctor has just lost his mother. As hinted by the title of the episode, mothers are a major theme. Many of the patients are mothers or their children. Not quite what we're used to from Quentin, but still it's compelling enough and Tarantino really did a good job directing for a TV show he didn't write.
This will be a little more difficult for a new Tarantino fan to track down, but if you have 45 minutes to kill and you want some good medical drama, this is a good episode
Fun Fact: I read on IMDB that Quentin was offered an episode of The X-Files, but didn't do it because it would require him to join the DGA. Can you imagine Tarantino directing an X-Files episode? Geekgasm.
Tarantino teams up with Robert Rodriguez (for the first time), Allison Anders, and Alexandre Rockwell for a night of zaniness through the eyes of Ted the Bellhop. These four interlocking short films of Ted offering his services to the hotel's clientele. I know Tarantino didn't work on all four segments, but I'll quickly review the other three.
First Room: "The Missing Ingredient" by Anders:
This one I didn't really care for. Mainly because it isn't quite on par with the other three. It's much goofier, but without being very funny. Also, I have a strong dislike for Madonna. That might be a big factor. While the other kinda have darker or more realistic themes, this one has more of a fantasy element. Luckily, we go uphill from here.
Second Room: "The Wrong Man" by Rockwell.
I actually liked this one. Ted deals with a case of mistaken identity by an angry husband who has his wife tied to a chair. He believes Ted had sex with his wife. It's pretty amusing the same way films like Big Nothing is amusing (while Big Nothing is much better). Not much to say without spoiling much.
Third Room: "The Misbehavers" by Rodriguez.
Makes me think of Spy Kids in a way, except R-rated with pornography, dead hookers (a favorite leitmotif of my macabre sense of humor), fires and violence. It's whacky, sick, and overall funny. So what is the plot of this madcap story? Ted babysits two children while their parents go out an party.
Finally this brings us to Tarantino's segment, "The Man from Hollywood."
Considered by many to be the best of the four. Tarantino plays the titular man from Hollywood, Chester. He is a movie star (a combination, in my opinion, of Jim Carrey and Tarantino himself) celebrating New Year's Eve with his friends and invites the Bellhop to join the festivities. Ted is taken into a wild bet inspired by an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," which (in a typical Tarantino manner) could end in bloodshed. Tarantino's never been considered a great actor, but I thought he funny in this one. Bruce Willis shines in this segment as a drunk producer, and both he and Tarantino are backed up with a talented cast. It shows that Tarantino can be just funny, but still has the feel of a Tarantino film. This my personal favorite of the four. It's cleary a work of Tarantino with the dialogue, the long takes and extreme close-ups. It's just a more comedic work.
So, one film with one big misfire, two entertaining (but not great) segments, and Tarantino's twisted, fowl-mouthed finale. Not a popular movie but it's worth watching at least once.
FROM DUSK TIL DAWN
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Tarantino writes the script to this vampire flick starring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Tarantino. Clooney and Tarantino play the Gecko Brothers (one an armed robber, the other a sex offender), who force a family a gunpoint to take them to Mexico to run-dez-vous with their contacts. While they wait, they come to a Mexican bar called The Titty Twister. It all turns ugly, however, as they discover the staff and many of its patrons are vampires who lure truckers and bikers to feed on.
Thing about this movie is, to me, it feels like two movies. The first half feels like a Tarantino movie, and the second feels more like Rodriguez fare. But the transition works, and it's a pretty fun vampire movie.
Also, if you get it on DVD, you get a documentary called Full Tilt Boogie, which should be required viewing for any aspiring director.
In a 1994 interview on The Charlie Rose Show, Tarantino said the next thing he'd like to do is adapt a novel. That's what he did with his third feature film, which was also a nod to blaxploitation cinema. The film could be considered a comeback for its star, Pam Grier, the queen of blaxploitation films. The film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch, and he rounds up a pretty good cast. Sam Jackson, Robert DiNiro, Michael Keaton, Bridgette Fonda, and even a cameo by Chris Tucker (easily one of the best scenes in the movie) This isn't Tarantino's most popular, but it's still a pretty cool film. Still has a good soundtrack, great acting, great script. Just lacking in the blood, and not quite as memorable.
With a new millennium, we meet a new Tarantino.