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Tarantino's lost the plot and needs a good editor

Date

Keith Austin

Opinion

Nonsensical? ... Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in <em>Django Unchained</em>.

Nonsensical? ... Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained.

OK, let's get this over and done with. I'm going to talk about Django Unchained, the new Quentin Tarantino movie out in cinemas on Thursday and I'm going to use the 'N' word. Oh yes I am, and you can't stop me. Nonsensical.

There, I've said it. Read it and weep, fan-boys; this is a film with more holes in it than a crocheted bikini. Does Tarantino not have anyone around him who can say, without fear or favour: ''I'm sorry Quent, but that's a load of rubbish?''

Perhaps the absence of Tarantino at this week's red carpet premiere in Sydney was a blessing in disguise. Because someone, surely, would have had to have asked him, in the post-show Q&A, ''when was the last time you heard the word 'no'?''

Lost the plot ... Quentin Tarantino.

Lost the plot ... Quentin Tarantino.

Overlong, overcooked and underdone (not an easy thing to do), this is not up there with Tarantino's best. That it's being considered for a best film Oscar beggars belief. Even Jackie Brown made more sense than this unoriginal mishmash of cliches and non-sequiturs.

It's probably too late. Someone should have stepped in on the set of Inglourious Basterds and told him that the ridiculous denouement in the theatre belonged to another, not very good, film.

But perhaps there comes a point in every auteur's success story when those voices are either silenced, or silence themselves. It's why rock bands can get away with demanding only green Smarties in their dressing rooms.

As any journalist/writer worth their salt knows, everyone benefits from a good editor. But try telling that to Neil Gaiman, whose wonderfully inventive 2001 book American Gods was re-issued as a 10th anniversary special with 12,000 extra words. The original paperback came in at a massive 501 large format pages.

The 12,000 extra words are called ''the author's preferred text'', also known as all the stuff the editors wouldn't let the author put in the first time around.

Stephen King, too, has gone down the reissue road with his book The Stand. His ''director's cut'' turned an 800-pager into 1100 pages. Again, to no great advantage.

Of course, King's publishers could print the man's shopping list and it would sell its socks off so why even bother editing anything he does?

Well, perhaps to prevent the debacles of his last two books, Under The Dome and 11/22/63, his J.F.K. assassination time travel romp. In both of them, King gradually paints himself into a plot-line corner and has to resort to utterly unlikely and unsatisfactory endings.

These otherwise excellent books could have done with a brave, experienced editor writing ''B -, could do better'' in the margin.

That same editor could have been redeployed to work on A Dance With Dragons, the latest 1000-page instalment in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones franchise. A great, sprawling breezeblock of a thing that would choke a sperm whale, it cried out for a firm hand from someone who could perhaps have said: ''George, seeing as it's called A Dance With Dragons - maybe fewer feasts and a tad more dragon?''

As it is, even rusted-on Game of Thrones readers have come away disappointed. As one online review site, The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, put it: ''For a thousand or so pages almost nothing happens and then we get a bunch of cliffhangers. The End.''

Are these hugely successful creative writers victims of their own success? Can they just disregard editors, or have editors become mere pipelines to the public? As the League of Ordinary Gentleman site added: ''I just can't imagine reading a manuscript of this book and thinking 'This is good. This is ready for publication.'''

Tarantino is reported to have said he would like to release a director's cut of his spaghetti western that is five hours long. Good, then we might find out some more about Django's wife Broomhilda, who seems to have been dropped into the plot from a circling spaceship (maybe King helped out there); and maybe it will solve the mystery of Zoe Bell and her bizarre eyeballs-only appearance. It certainly had better explain the stupid dancing horse, that's for sure.

All of which should have been picked up and corrected before we crammed into the State Theatre to watch Tarantino strained through Tarantino.

*This story has been brought to you by me, followed by my partner, the opinion page editor, a subeditor and, with any luck, a final proofread. And it's all the better for it; the first draft read like a Tarantino movie.

Keith Austin is a freelance writer.

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161 comments

  • Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, so after seeing the film twice already, allow me to offer mine.

    The only thing i find "nonsensical" is this article.

    Cheers.

    Commenter
    Radiohe4d
    Location
    Earth
    Date and time
    January 24, 2013, 8:08AM
    • Thank you, I have been fearful to mention to my fellow cinephile’s that I was quite bored, esoecially in the last hour. Django easily could have been one hour shorter! The last great film he did in my eyes was DEATH PROOF.

      Commenter
      Trinity
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 8:57AM
    • The irony in this article is that the author needed a bit of self editing.

      Other than a one liner about the movie needing editing and a couple of generic complaints, nothing to back up the criticism.
      Waffling on about Stephen King and others is irrelevant as a critique of the movie.
      I guess when the objective of the article is be critical for the sake of criticism it's hard to make a case of it.

      Commenter
      JIM
      Location
      Bayside
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 9:43AM
    • I've also seen it twice, and think it's fantastic- and I am not generally a Tarantino fan at all. Weird that this little rant even got published as 'Opinion'. It's more the kind of thing that you see written in the Comments, after a review, by someone who wishes they were the one doing the review. Odd.

      Commenter
      sixshootin' daddy
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:01AM
    • The major issue I had with the movie was its release date.

      Why wait a month or so for a delayed release in Australia? Hasn't Sony pictures heard of the Internet? Most commenting here have seen it. . Most people I know have seen it. Yet it was only release today?

      Just stupid....

      Commenter
      Davej
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:13AM
    • I haven't seen it yet, but, 'Nonsensical' article. I hope this guy isn't paid for pieces like this.

      Commenter
      Rod
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:20AM
    • Further, IMDB with 113K votes at 8.7.

      Commenter
      Rod
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:22AM
    • The thing is, no one will question him, because the audience loves extreme violence, and he gives it to them.

      Bums on seats, blood and guts, money money money. Who cares.

      Hollywood movies are all just crapola that insults our intelligence anyway. They think we're idiots.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:25AM
    • It was a tribute to the Blacksploitation films of the 70s.
      In that context it starts to make more sense.
      I enjoyed it very much, but I agree it's not his best film.
      But the thing about Tarantino is that he takes risks and makes kinds of movies you haven't seen before. There's always the risk that it becomes a little weird. Personally I liked it though.

      For her to criticize Inglorious Basterds is pretty pathetic. That was an excellent film, extremely entertaining. I guess critics just live to criticize. It's weird that a critic, who makes no actual contribution to art, doesn't create anything, spends there whole career denigrating other creative people.

      Commenter
      Jon
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 10:39AM
    • @sarajane: Have you SEEN the movie, heard the dialogue, to be making statements like this?

      Tarantino is one of the rare writers who writes Literature FIRST, and THEN translates it into movies.

      I agree with Radiohe4d. This article is what's nonsensical.

      Commenter
      Chained
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 11:04AM

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