Directed By: Roger Avary
Written By: Bret Easton Ellis (novel) Roger Avary (screenplay)
I own this movie because it was a critical piece of evidence for an important argument I carried on for years with a good friend of mine. I think the movie is interesting and well made but I can’t say I really like it. In fact, having sat down to watch it for this review I could not even make it past the opening act. The date raping took all the interest out of me and I no longer cared to see the movie at all. Something about a virgin girl waking up to being the unknowing participant in a sex tape made me sick to my stomach. Even if there was a time in yesteryear when such a thing didn’t bother me and I owned this movie despite that, times have changed and that is no longer the case. The father in me will not watch any more of this crap, but I will explain how and why this movie is an important part of our collection.
I discovered Quentin Tarantino during my formative years and really took his movies to heart. I was a rebellious teen and the bad boy in me loved nothing more than the crime laden films of Tarantino. It was near the turn of the century that I became such a fan, and at the time spoilers on the internet were just growing legs. Tarantino’s last movie had been in 1997 but on the net I spent years following the production of his next movie, Kill Bill, which was delayed and pushed back multiple times. It was 2003 before the movie finally came out and after six years of eager anticipation I could not have been more let down with the overkill film based on a plot thread from his most famous movie ever.
Kill Bill was nothing more than shock value thrust upon the movie going audience. It was a weak story at best having emerged from Uma Thurman’s pilot “Fox Force Five” in Pulp Fiction. To make things even worse and specifically annoying was that everyone called this Part One garbage great. Was everybody completely insane? That movie was complete and utter garbage. Uma Thurmond is not Bruce Lee, and seeing her in that yellow jumpsuit as a “tribute” to him specifically made me sick. I tried to hold out hope for the second film to make it all worth wild but found Part Two to be even worse than the first one.
Now, to how this relates to this movie. One of my dearest and most misguided friends loved Kill Bill. So much so that we spent the better part of six years arguing about it. He maintained that it was excellent and Tarantino was still as talented as he had always been while I pointed to Kill Bill, and later Death Proof, as an example that he was washed up. He was supposed to be such a great writer but all he had come up with in six years was embellishing one line from his most famous film into an entire movie?
When I came across this movie it all seemed to make sense. The director of this film is Roger Avary, who was Tarantino’s writing partner on his most famous films in the 90s. I pointed to his absence in Kill Bill as a significant reason for why it sucked so much. Whatever gift Tarantino had, it was lost without the partnership he shared with Avary. When I saw this movie I found the direction and writing so captivating that I felt it proved my point and made me the one that was right in the argument. Based on nothing else than this movie I could obviously see that Avary had skills as a filmmaker, when matched up against the crap that Tarantino had just produced it seemed like an obvious truth.
So I bought this movie at a discount store because I was so certain of myself. It did nothing to change the mind of my stubborn and misguided friend who would continue to argue with me till the bitter end. Our argument hinged on Tarantino’s next film which took even longer to come out than Kill Bill did. Inglourious Basterds took quite a while to make and it went through various production problems that made me certain it would prove me right as well.
Well I pride myself on being wise enough to know when I’m wrong. After seeing Inglourious Basterds for the first time I called my idiot friend the minute I stepped out of the theater and proclaimed I was wrong. Tarantino was not only not washed up, but in fact still as great as I had denied. Inglourious Basterds was an absolutely outstanding movie and I had specifically wanted to hate it. For me with my preconceived notions to have no other choice than to admit its greatness I don’t know how anyone could ever deny it.
I did find it frustrating during my teaching days that some students were under the impression that the U.S. killed Hitler because they had seen this movie but I’m not going to let some idiot kids ruin something that was great. Those kids shouldn’t have been allowed to watch the film in the first place but that is beside the point. From beginning to end Basterds was captivating and powerful. I had been wrong in the argument but I happily accepted that because the product was worth it.
I no longer know how Roger Avary fit in with the collaborations with Tarantino and how he influenced his success but I still think this movie proves he is a talented filmmaker worthy of note. While I turned my nose up at the movie this time around that had everything to do with content and nothing to do with the quality of the film.
I’m not recommending this movie to anybody because I couldn’t even stand to watch it myself this time around. I would like to encourage any reader who has seen it to share some thoughts about it. If you can convince me to give it a second chance I will try to keep my fatherly objections in check and give it another go.
NEXT MOVIE: The Running Man (1987)