Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Ballad of Clarence and Alabama

So a while ago I started the big countdown of my favorite movies, and,
in true Julia fashion, I managed to get sidetracked. So here goes,
this is my third favorite movie of all time, and yes they are in
order. And just in case you forgot, as I often do, number five was
Reality Bites, number four was Say Anything, and number three is True
Romance. So I know I’ve talked about this one before, so again, I’ll
try not to be too repetitive, and this one will be short and sweet
because really the top 2.5 are the real juicy ones that I have lots
and lots to talk about.

Alrighty then, so True Romance, here we go. Like I said before, it’s
the best Tarantino movie there is, specifically for the reason that
it’s directed by Tony Scott (Ridley Scott’s brother). When Tarantino
wrote the original script it was truly Tarantinoesque. It was all
non-linear and Christian Slater died at the end. I mean, I’m sure it
would have worked but not as well…it would have been a completely
different movie. And one that I may or may not have wanted to see.

Now, something that I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly said
outright is that a great movie is all about great casting. Most
people don’t really realize how much casting really makes a film.
Think of ‘When Harry met Sally’ without Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Now think about it without Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher (the
supporting cast). It’s not just about the leads. I mean, let’s learn
something from Girl, Interrupted (a.k.a. the movie Angelina Jolie
stole from Winona Ryder). What good is Scarlett O’Hara without Rhett
Butler, Ashley, Melanie, Mammy, and the rest of them. I mean, the
supporting cast is just as important, if not more so than the leading
men and leading ladies.

This is the genius of movies like the Big Lebowski and True Romance.
Sure, in True Romance the movie rests on the chemistry between
Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater. I mean, without us, the
audience, buying them as a couple, and buying them falling in love as
fast as they do, the whole movie doesn’t work. But
True Romance wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is without the
supporting cast. Just starting with Val Kilmer as Elvis, who we never
really see, he’s always sort of in the background, in the distance, as
Clarence’s conscious. Then, of course, and I promise not to wax too
poetic about him, there’s Gary Oldman as Drexl, the white guy who
thinks he’s a black guy pimp.

Then there’s Dennis Hopper as Clarence’s dad. And Christopher Walken
as the Mafioso who’s after Clarence. The two of them engage in one of
the best tense conversation moments…in a scene of true Tarantino
genius Denis Hopper tells Christopher Walken about how Sicilians are
descended from black people (he uses a different word, that I’m not
comfortable with). What is amazing about the scene is how difficult
it is to tear your eyes away from the screen. The two of them are
laughing as the story is told, but there’s just so much going on
underneath, and you know that Christopher Walken is going to do
something violent because of this story, and you can see it coming,
but you can see that they truly respect each other. It’s great.

Then of course there’s Balki, yes, that’s right, Bronson Pinchot from
perfect strangers as the assistant to producer Lee Donowitz. He plays
a perfect assistant, just pretentious enough. He’s not as good as
Adam Brody in Thank You For Smoking (that’s what career assistants are
really like), but he’s pretty rad.

Of course the true real greatness, and stand out supporting actor is
Brad Pitt. I still maintain that this is his best role, even though
he’s not in it very much. He plays Michael Rapaport’s stoner
roommate. I just don’t know if words can describe the brilliance of
Brad Pitt’s performance as Floyd. The best line is when James
Gandolfini walks in and asks about Clarence’s whereabouts. When he
leaves Brad Pitt, in his stoner voice says, ‘don’t condensend me man.
I’ll fucking kill you.’ It’s brilliant, and I assure you, there are
no spelling errors in that quote.

This brings me to the man, James Gandolfini, who, surprise surprise,
plays a mobster…in training for Tony Soprano perhaps. Anyway, he is
a badass in this movie, as he was in the Sopranos. And it’s all
realized in the scene between him and Patricia Arquette…the infamous
fight scene with the infamous corkscrew. Usually I’m not one for
watching male female physical fights. I mean, I don’t really like
watching men and women beat each other up, but I have to say, it’s
supremely satisfying in True Romance…probably due to the outcome of
the fight.
Still, the corkscrew is priceless.

Now, this movie does come with a disclaimer since I have heard from
some people that you are actually watching these movies…which
couldn’t make me happier. But this is a Quentin Tarantino movie and
you know what that means…violence and STRONG language, and this is
me talking. So just a warning.

There are other things that make True Romance my third favorite movie,
but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them so go back and look at your old
emails if you need some more persuasion. And until next time…

Peace, Love, and Alabama Whirley,


October 5, 2007 - Posted by | Coen Brothers, Movie Reviews, Movies, Quentin Tarantino, The Big Lebowski

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