I was lying in bed. It was late at night and my apartment was pitch black save for the glow of my iPhone screen. Normally I’d be using my iPad, but I was too lazy to get up the fifteen feet to my bag and pick it up. It was cold and my bed was nice and cozy and warm and cozy and warm…
My mind was elsewhere, it was set in a world where men were named for colours and a robbery gone f***ing wrong. I was watching Reservoir Dogs. I was transfixed, I was enraptured, I was Stuck in the Middle of inspiration and shock. Reason why, I had never seen it before.
Let me back up…
I remember the first time I saw a Tarantino film. It was in a theatre, I can’t remember who exactly I was with, but knowing my many trips to the theatres it was probably with my Dad or my Brother or both. I was watching Inglorious Bastards. Yep, Bastards was my very first introduction to the body of work that was Quentin Tarantino. I actually didn’t enjoy this movie so much. Why? Too many subtitles. I won’t get into it, but suffice it to say it was difficult to watch. What struck me though as a really cool part about the film, and I apologize to those who haven’t seen it so….
I loved that Quentin killed Hitler. I did not see that coming at all. I honestly thought that because this was a WWII era film that it would follow the normal historical facts and that Hitler either killed himself or was killed at the end of the War. I remember sitting there in the dark theatre actually blown away. My first thought was “What the hell?” Then laughter, “He actually killed Hitler!” Then awe, “He actually killed Hitler!” That little nugget of storytelling was what drew me into his work. It didn’t grow instantly, it took a while to germinate because the next film I saw of his was Django Unchained.
I love Westerns. I only got into them back in 2007 when I told a filmmaker friend of mine, whom actually made a Western film, a story idea that I literally made up on the spot. I can’t say what it is as it’s been a work-in-progress novel since then and I still have plans to finish it. I can say it was a Western. Problem was the only Western film I’d seen at that point was Young Guns. It’s not that bad of a Western film, but it obviously isn’t the greatest. So I immersed myself in “research” by watching as many of the good Westerns as I could. I saw everything from The Magnificent Seven, The Man with No Name Series, Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, and yes Django.
When I saw Django on Christmas Day with my siblings and my sister’s boyfriend’s family, I loved it. It was fun and brutal to watch, and it was entertaining as all hell. I know I’m in for a ride in a movie when my mind immediately is so transfixed in this world that I start coming up with stories set in that universe. Believe me, if I ever got the chance to write a series of short stories based on Django, I’d be able to come up with an outline in an hour for all of them.
And yet though, I still didn’t see any more of Tarantino’s work.
Back to my bedroom (Oooooh yeah), I went back to the beginning. I finally sat (laid) down and finally bit the bullet to watch Reservoir Dogs. As brutal and violent as it was, it wasn’t that that blew me away. It was Quentin’s storytelling technique.
I loved how you never saw what happened at the Jewelry Exchange. You went from before the job into the bloody aftermath. You got the story of what happened and the characters through bits and pieces from amazing long pieces of dialogue and flashbacks. If you honestly think about it, if you took all the scenes in the film and put them in chronological order, the film would be too simplistic and garbage. You’d already know that Orange was a cop, that Blonde wasn’t as crazy as he was made out to be and Brown and Blue were useless to the story. But what Tarantino did was rearrange everything and turned a simple heist gone bad story into a very compelling piece of cinema. It was then that I was fascinated with Tarantino as a storyteller than as a director, actor or filmmaker in general.
After Dogs, I’ve devoured more of his films within this past month with Pulp Fiction (I really enjoyed), Jackie Brown (I had fun watching although was a bit slow to start, but that ramped up to a lot of fun to watch as you went along), From Dusk Til Dawn (I loved everything about it up until the Vampires bit. I actually hated it and felt it cheapened the movie. But then again it was a Robert Rodriguez Directing so I can’t get too upset). I still haven’t seen the Kill Bill Volumes, but they are next on my list.
But with all that I kept going back to Reservoir Dogs. I actually just watched it last night for the second time in three weeks. It made me think about my way of storytelling. Was I just going through the normal conventions of one scene after another? Or was I taking risks by seeing what it’d be like to shift things around? Am I saying I’m going to copy Tarantino? No, but it did give me a great perspective on how to structure how I tell my stories and I thank Quentin for that. He had opened a new way for me to really examine my stories and not just get from plot A to Plot Z, but it might be fun to try Plot Z then go back to Plot M and then go forward to Plot X then Y then A…you get the picture. I think with my writing and my storytelling I was so focused on the how where when and why I wasn’t putting in the fun that I needed. If I was reading or hearing my stories, would I be entertained or would I get bored because I was just going through the normal alphabet of Plots.
In thinking on this for a blog post for Too White for 30, it made me not re-think how my stories were told as it has already been recorded, but I wanted to use this project to explore a different venue for my storytelling. I want to grow as a writer and part of being a storyteller is being inspired by other storytellers. That’s what I’m taking away from this, that and Tarantino can now take the pleasure of moving into a part of my brain where Kevin Smith and the Wachowskis live. Pull up a chair Lady and Gentlemen, get some snacks and get comfortable in my cranium, let Quentin tell you a story.
That’s why Quentin Tarantino is my spotlight Storyteller for today.
As always I remain obediently yours
P.S. I’m super bummed I won’t get to see “The Hateful Eight” after that script leak that happened. I really wanted to see another Tarantino Western. Oh well, I can wait for the book.