Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Rocks In The Attic #589: Nino Rota – ‘The Godfather (O.S.T.)’ (1972)

RITA#589.jpgAll hail the greatest cinema in Auckland – the Event cinema on Broadway in Newmarket. Not only was this the location where I met both Quentin Tarantino and Danny Boyle, but last Friday night they played The Godfather.

For a long time, The Godfather has been among my favourite films. I first saw it around the age of 17 or 18, and was immediately obsessed with it. It was probably the first film I was obsessed with as an adult. Prior obsessions as a teenager included the likes of Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens, so The Godfather was definitely a step-up, being such a decorated film and a more serious one at that.

I don’t know why the film struck such a chord with me, but it’s something I’ve never become tired with. I have a number of books on the film – Peter Cowie’s The Godfather Book and Mario Puzo’s original novel being early targets, and Harlan Lebo’s The Godfather Legacy being a happy find in more recent year. The soundtrack of Nino Rota’s score sits on my record shelves – a strange Australian pressing with a murky green cover – and of course, I have the Coppola Restoration of the trilogy on blu-ray. At University, I remember walking through a field to the supermarket with my housemates, feeling like Michael walking through Sicily accompanied by his bodyguards.

Seeing a film on the big screen is always a different prospect than watching at home though. You notice things that you would never have noticed in hundreds of home viewings – a character’s glance, a line of dialogue, the way the light falls on an object outside of the immediate foreground of a shot. It’s also nice to see it in a room full of people. The screening I saw was almost sold out, and full of much younger people than I was expecting.

As a film, it shouldn’t be so good. It goes against so many cinematic rules. The lead protagonist is clearly Michael, yet we don’t see him until a good five or ten minutes into the film, and even then he is introduced as a supporting character. Vito is initially offered as the film’s hero – or anti-hero – but his gunning down towards the end of the first act provides the film’s first challenge, a shake-up to decide not only who is going to become the patriarch of the Corleone family, but also the film’s lead protagonist.

By the end of the film, Michael’s actions have transferred him from protagonist to antagonist, and the stone-cold denoument where Michael’s study door is slowly closed on Kay, is matched only by the ending of The Godfather Part II where he sits alone to contemplate the terrible things he has done to his family.

Speaking of which, I’ll be seeing a screening of The Godfather Part II this Friday night. Same cinema, same seat probably. Leave the gun; take the cannoli.

Hit: Main Title

Hidden Gem: The Pickup

Rocks In The Attic #499: Ennio Morricone – ‘The Hateful Eight (O.S.T.)’ (2015)

RITA#499

Int. Cinema Foyer. Night.

The scene takes place in Event Cinemas, Broadway, Newmarket, New Zealand. The date is Wednesday 20th January 2016. It’s hot, damn hot.

A host of minor New Zealand celebrities have tested everybody’s patience while we await a glimpse of Quentin Tarantino at the New Zealand premiere of The Hateful Eight.

Cast member (Six-Horse Judy) and Tarantino alumni Zoe Bell comes around first. She gladly signs an autograph on Johnny’s copy of The Hateful Eight on vinyl. Johnny hands her a red marker so that it matches the blood splatters in the snow on the cover.

RITA#499c Johnny: Thank you Zoe – could you also sign my copy of Death Proof?

Johnny presents the second record cover.

Zoe: Fuck yeah I’ll sign your Death Proof!

Working his way down the red carpet, Quentin starts scrawling his autograph on Johnny’s copy of The Hateful Eight on vinyl. Again the signature is in blood red.

Johnny: Hey Quentin – thanks so much for coming out to see us in New Zealand; we always get forgotten about…

Quentin: Hey, no problem.

Quentin looks up, and notices Johnny’s Stax Records t-shirt.

Quentin: Hey, cool t-shirt man!

RITA#499bJohnny is about to melt from a mixture of adrenaline and utter panic at having being sartorially complimented by one of his heroes.

Johnny (voice starting to quiver): …And please don’t stop directing after two more films. Please, please keep directing.

Quentin looks up, slightly taken aback. He makes eye contact again, leans back and taps Johnny on the shoulder.

Quentin: Thank you man, that’s a very nice thing to say.

Quentin moves down the line to speak to his other adoring fans. Johnny vomits and dies of excitement.

Fin.

Hit: L’ultima diligenza di Red Rock” (The Last Stage to Red Rock) [Versione Integrale]

Hidden Gem: Apple Blossom – The White Stripes

RITA#499a

Rocks In The Attic #338: Rod, Matt & Jane – ‘The Bumper Rainbow Album’ (1976)

RITA#338Rod, Matt & Jane? This line-up pre-dates the trio I knew from my childhood – Rod, Jane & Freddy. If Matt looks familiar on the cover of this record, it’s because he’s Matthew Corbett who later went on to take over his father’s presenting duties, sticking his right hand up Sooty’s backside.

This sort of thing seems to happen a lot in children’s television. The Wiggles have had more line-up changes than Sugababes, and the new Maori Wiggle is referred to as the brown Wiggle, which just sounds disgusting. As Tarantino would say in Reservoir Dogs, ‘Mr. Brown is a little too close to Mr. Shit.’

Just give me anything that isn’t Peppa fucking Pig!

Hit: Clocks

Hidden Gem: Happy Christmas

Rocks In The Attic #315: Various Artists – ‘Pulp Fiction (O.S.T.)’ (1994)

RITA#315What a soundtrack! Pulp Fiction came out in 1994 – the year I finished school – so I remember this soundtrack being the – erm – soundtrack to many parties over that summer. Whatever you might think of Tarantino’s films, his soundtracks can’t be beaten for pulling together forgotten songs and giving them another chance in the sun.

Tarantino has definitely lost his way recently – Inglourious Basterds is simply a patronising wish-fulfilment fantasy for the Jews, Django Unchained does the same for African Americans – but Pulp Fiction is almost perfect. I remember hearing so much about it; I bought it on VHS the day it came out. I’d missed it at the cinema (although I did eventually see it on the big screen, on a special screening a few years later), but I just had to see it. I don’t think I had even seen the trailer at that point – just a snippet of the film, the Jack Rabbit Slims dance contest, on Barry Norman’s Film ’94.

This was when I used to work at Tesco, so after my shift I bought the video together with some chocolate with potato chips – and consumed the lot that night (as in the chocolate and potato chips at the same time). I haven’t eaten chocolate and potato chips at the same time since – it is a pretty weird taste, and I can’t remember who recommended it to me – but it’ll forever be linked to Pulp Fiction in my memory.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over that fluffed line when Amanda Plummer repeats her expletive-filled rant at the diners towards the end of the film (‘Any of you fucking pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!’ becomes ‘Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every one of you motherfuckers!’) – and I do think it is a mistake, regardless of any well-thought out theories out there (love your thinking, Realiction) – but I’m constantly reminded of it every time I hear the dialogue that opens the soundtrack.

I do like to think though, that if I ever did commit an armed robbery, I’d announce it in Tim Roth’s wonderfully understated “Everybody be cool – this is a robbery!”

Hit: Misirilou – Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

Hidden Gem: Bustin’ Surfboards – The Tornadoes

Rocks In The Attic #107: Various Artists – ‘Inglourious Basterds (O.S.T.)’ (2009)

Rocks In The Attic #107: Various Artists - ‘Inglourious Basterds (O.S.T.)’ (2009)Of all of Tarantino’s films so far, this is probably the one I’ve liked the least. Death Proof was pretty poor, for no other reason than it was just plain boring; this film however, was insulting in its revisionist fantasy retelling of WWII events.

The soundtracks jars slightly too, because among snippets of Morricone film scores (which prop up the album), there are odd choices that sit in-between them.  Songs like David Bowie’s Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) or Billy Preston’s Slaughter would have fit into any other Tarantino soundtrack – but as an accompaniment to a period film, which otherwise is well scored with Morricone’s western themes, they feel just a little too much out of place.

The vinyl artwork for this soundtrack is very nice – made to look like a very old 1940s release, with water marks around the edges and publicity shots from the film printed with Ben-Day dots.

Hit: The Verdict – Ennio Morricone

Hidden Gem: White Lightning (Main Title) – Charles Bernstein

Rocks In The Attic #48: Clint Mansell – ‘Moon (O.S.T.)’ (2009)

Rocks In The Attic #48: Clint Mansell - ‘Moon (O.S.T.)’ (2009)Soundtracks are a minefield. You can have the great themes by composers like Bernard Hermann and John Williams, but those soundtracks can also be marred by short, unmelodic bursts of score that only serve the purpose of matching cues in the accompanying film. Then there are the soundtracks that just have popular songs on them, starting with American Graffiti and continuing through the John Hughes films of the 1980s. These types of soundtracks are all the rage these days (especially since Tarantino lent an air of cool to the process in the 1990s) as they’re easy to cobble together. Then there are composers who simply try to put across a mood or a feeling in their soundtracks. Clint Mansell is one of those composers.

Looking at the subject matter of this film, and the identity of the film’s director Duncan Jones (also known as Zowie Bowie), it would have been all too easy to plonk Space Oddity on the film’s soundtrack. Thankfully, this fantastic film was made in the UK, away from the clichés of Hollywood.

Hit: Welcome To Lunar Industries

Hidden Gem: Memories (Someone We’ll Never Know)

Rocks In The Attic #2: Various Artists – ‘Jackie Brown O.S.T.’ (1997)

This was the first Tarantino film I saw at the cinema, while on holiday with friends in Omagh, Northern Ireland. I had been far too young to see Reservoir Dogs (and probably unaware of it at the time), and I had narrowly missed seeing Pulp Fiction upon release (although I would later see it at the cinema on a special screening).

It took me a while to really appreciate Jackie Brown as a film. Like most people, I was besotted with Pulp Fiction, and I saw the follow-up as more of a letdown than anything else. Only upon repeated viewings did I realise that it’s a much different beast, much more of a slowburner. I had nearly worn out my VHS copy of Pulp Fiction by the time this was released on video, so this took over as the go-to film I would put on whenever Tarantino was in mind.

In terms of the music, even though I love the soundtracks for his first two films I think this one gels the best of the three. Even though there are a few departures (a Johnny Cash live performance and a rap track from Foxy Brown), the album generally sticks to sickly sweet 70s soul.

Oddly enough, two of the songs on the soundtrack are relatively famous from earlier movies. The film and soundtrack’s opening track Across 110th Street is the title track from the 1972 blaxpoitation flick of the same name; whilst Randy Crawford’s Street Life had already been well used in Burt Reynold’s otherwise forgettable 1981 film Sharky’s Machine. Maybe Quentin thought he could use these songs better. He did.

Hit: Across 110th Street

Hidden Gem: Street Life