Tag Archives: Jackie Brown

So Long Dutch

elmore_leonardElmore “Dutch”  Leonard died this week of complications from a stroke he suffered two weeks ago. He was 87.  Leonard was the author of 47 novels and several collections of short stories. Nearly everything Elmore Leonard wrote was optioned by Hollywood. The more notable of which were Get Shorty, Jackie Brown (based on the novel Rum Punch), Out of Sight, and most recently, the FX series Justified (based on the short story Fire in the Hole). Leonard was sometimes happy about how these adaptations turned out.

Born in 1925, Leonard began his career as an advertising man. His first novel, 1953’s The Bounty Hunters was handwritten on yellow legal pads, a habit he never lost. The Bounty Hunters, like most of Leonard’s early works was a western. With 1969’s The Big Bounce Leonard took his gritty characters out of period pieces and into a modern setting. In many ways Leonard reinvented the crime thriller, taking it to a place beyond the dime store pulps.

With Timothy Olyphant on the set of Justified

With Timothy Olyphant on the set of Justified

I first discovered his work on a $0.50 used paperback shelf in my local bookstore. After reading Killshot, I devoured everything Elmore Leonard I could get my hands on. Like many of his readers, I was enamored of the realistic dialogue and the desperately relatable characters. Beyond the wonderfully intricate plots was an ability to allow the dialogue to drive the story. When asked about his dialogue Leonard responded “Don’t you hear people talking? That’s all I do.” It was that dialogue that allowed Leonard to write re-readable thrillers while most are viewed as disposable.

In addition to the gift of his stories, Elmore Leonard offered some advice for the rest of us. Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writing published in 2007 was a list of common sense rules for aspiring authors. With simplistic rules like “Never open a book with weather” and “Never use a word other than “Said” to carry a conversation” The pamphlet offered some insight into his success.

Elmore Leonard, sometimes called the Dickens of Detroit, gave depth to all of his characters. He treated the antagonists with the same care as the protagonists and showed the same concern for each of his stories. Leonard wrote westerns and thrillers with the same attention to each aspect of the narrative. He allowed for humor and depth in each. Leonard’s style and career are best explained by what I believe is the most important of his ten rules: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

 

 

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Tarantino Returns!

I have a small list of certain directors that, when there’s news of them releasing a new film, I get a bit excited. And by “a bit,” I mean I get giddy like a little schoolgirl. Christopher Nolan, Zach Snyder, Rob Zombie, Guillermo del Toro, Joss Whedon…but none get my film-nerd fires burnin’ quite like Mr. Quentin Tarantino. [Seriously, you should have seen how much I geeked out for, as well as during the first viewing of, Inglourious Basterds.]

The man is an auteur of the best kind because he himself is a film-nerd. And you can tell how much of a nerd he is and how much he loves the art with all of his films. Each one is perfectly crafted with such enthusiasm, creativity, and passion that with each scene you feel as though you’re watching the film inside his head, seeing it as it was meant to be seen, as he truly wanted you to see it. But inside his head is one of those places you could say is a “nice place to visit but you don’t wanna live there.” It’s a bit too violent to call home, so let’s just be glad he lets us peek in the windows on occasion.

Finally! A Tarantino western! [image property of Columbia Pictures]

About a month or so ago, the trailer for Django Unchained was released and all the tingles started up again. I had heard news of Tarantino working on a new film but I wasn’t quite sure of what it was about. Just the name and three cast members: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Those names were enough to hold my attention until more news was leaked. Then a few images came out and finally, the trailer. I sat patiently as I watched it, waiting and withholding my squeals until it was over. And when it ended, I set them free. I became so stoked for this film, even more so than before, that  it was very difficult to keep my head from exploding. I think the only thing that kept me grounded was the little part at the end that said it didn’t come out until Christmas. Which is a bit of letdown, but I guess it’ll help me learn some willpower or something.

RZA as “The Blacksmith” [image property of Columbia Pictures]

So after that, I thought the fanboy would be kept at bay but then this happened. Yup, that’s right, The Man with the Iron Fists. Not a film written or directed by Tarantino or anything, but a “Quentin Taratino Presents” film, and I’m still geeking out. I mean, I’d be geeking just for the fact that the whole film is an homage to the old Shaw Brothers martial arts films and that it stars RZA (I’m a fan of the Wu), Russell Crowe (Best Robin Hood yet), Batista (Dude’s a beast), and Lucy Liu (She was a bitch in Kill Bill, but she kicked ass). Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s written by RZA and Eli Roth, directed by RZA, and RZA is in control of the soundtrack. But slap “Quentin Tarantino Presents” on that and I’ve gotta change my shorts. The only thing that could make this film more perfect than it already is would be the addition of Billy Zane to the cast. [Note: I think Billy Zane is an AMAZING actor and would cast him in damn near anything.]  Sadly, I’ll have to wait for this one as well. It doesn’t release until November.

Billy freakin’ Zane.

Now there’s two films I have to eagerly wait until the end of the year for, and now there’s rumors of his next project being Kill Bill Vol. 3!

Sweet baby Jesus! I might not make it. My head just might explode. Or maybe Man with the Iron Fists and Django will hold me over enough until the third installment of Kill Bill (or whatever his next film is).

Just for fun, here’s my favorite Tarantino films (the one’s he’s written/directed), in order:

1. Pulp Fiction
2. Inglourious Basterds
3. Kill Bill, Vol. 2
4. Kill Bill, Vol. 1
5. Reservoird Dogs
6. Jackie Brown
7. True Romance
8. Death Proof

Which film(s) do you like best?

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