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April 7th, 2004 Nate Berne | DVD & TV
 

Beyond Tarantino

     
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With his fourth film, Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Quentin Tarantino re-established himself as the hippest iconic filmmaker of his generation. The first chapter of Kill Bill arrives on home video next week, while the highly anticipated conclusion arrives in theaters a few days later. But if you think you've seen all the snappy dialogue, whacked-out action and chaotic plotting that Movieland has to offer, check out this list of films by other directors who seem to have borrowed from Tarantino the way he's borrowed from so many others.

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995)--"I am Godzilla, and you are Japan! GAAAAAH!" Thus screams Critical Bill (Treat Williams), one of Jimmy the Saint's (Anthony Garcia) gang of two-bit hitmen who wind up in hot water with the wheelchair-bound baddie The Man With The Plan (Christopher Walken) when a heist goes sour in Denver. Director Gary Fleder borrows unabashedly from QT with a host of grumbling mobsters and a turn by Steve Buscemi as a creepy mob assassin, but the gifted cast and busy-enough dialogue make this a furtively enjoyable sleeper.

The Salton Sea (2002)-- Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) is a tattooed trumpet player turned meth informer who's out to avenge the murder of his wife and purge the world of evil, one junkie/dealer/cop at a time. Though a flashback-heavy plot and the wild babbling dialogue seem a tad hokey at times, Kilmer's barrel-blazing journey through the grimy dope houses, dusty desert gas stations and burning bathrooms of vigilante-ville help maintain a loose sense of mentally diseased surreality. Wacky villains played by Vincent D'Onofrio, Luis Guzmán, and Anthony Lapaglia lend a sweaty hand as well.

Boondock Saints (1999)--Connor and Murph (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are fraternal twins who go from barroom brawlers to crime-avenging archangels overnight. Nothing too serious here, and the QT dialogue kicks in full-force as the duo navigates porn-house shootouts, plunging penthouse toilet bowls and fat guys who go down execution style. A serious boost comes from flashy Detective Smecker (Willem Dafoe) who follows the saints' gruesome exploits with both horror and vicarious glee. The excellent slow-mo violence and goofy gun-dropping sidekicks smooth over the few rough spots along the plot.

Killing Zoe (1994)--After only one day in Paris, safe-cracking wizard Zed (Eric Stoltz) has slept with call-girl Zoe (Julie Delpy), gone doping with his old crime buddy Eric (Jean-Hughes Anglade), and signed on for a bank heist with an international crew of drug-worshipping party animals. Writer-director Roger Avary lifts druggie hallucinations and bloody shootouts from QT (his real-life personal friend), and the pre-heist shoot-up spree through the bowls of gay Pari will certainly turn your tummy. A good film for fans of philosophizing psychopaths.

 
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