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My Kind of Psychopath

Michael Wood, 20 July 1995

Pulp Fiction 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 198 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 571 17546 5
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Reservoir Dogs 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 113 pp., £7.99, November 1994, 0 571 17362 4
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True Romance 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 134 pp., £7.99, January 1995, 0 571 17593 7
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Natural Born Killers 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 175 pp., £7.99, July 1995, 0 571 17617 8
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... train set in the world he probably wasn’t thinking about the toy crashes he could arrange. Quentin Tarantino obviously sees the movies as all kinds of fun, but his screenplays and films are full of accidents, scarcely imaginable without them. It’s not the bloodshed or the blowing away that’s so unusual – that’s just Peckinpah in the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inglourious Basterds’, 10 September 2009

Inglourious Basterds 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
August 2009
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... combined The Great Dictator with Pulp Fiction and shifted the scene to France? One answer might be Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Inglourious Basterds, but it’s not a great answer because the film itself is so many things. Of the identifiable movies within its fanciful confines, one is rather good, another is so bad you have to like it and the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Django Unchained’, 24 January 2013

Django Unchained 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
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... An easy celebration? Whatever the answers to these questions, they have nothing to do with Quentin Tarantino’s Django. This is a violent and lurid movie lover’s movie, alternating fluently between comic-book massacres and brief, bleak reconstructions of actual horrors. It would be cruel if it could take itself as seriously as it sometimes ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Arkansas’, 4 June 2020

... the dialogue rather than doing anything of their own. Reviewers have mentioned the works of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers as models, and the connection makes sense if we’re thinking about atmosphere. But Arkansas is not, as their films are, saturated in cinephiliac memory – far from it. This is neither a defect nor a merit, just a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Babel’, 25 January 2007

Babel 
directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
September 2006
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... Grams, and they can’t seem to get out of the habit of the multiple plot. Once upon a time only Quentin Tarantino was interested in this kind of thing, but then there was Crash, and currently it can seem as if there are only two kinds of movie on offer: movies about penguins and movies with tricky storylines. The penguins are the sign of sentiment and ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... son a girl’s name, because he thinks it’ll toughen him up. When Cash sings it live, on At San Quentin, you can hear the prison inmates go wild; goodness only knows what they’d have done had he decided to perform his version of the excruciatingly sentimental barbershop favourite, ‘Daddy Sang Bass’. Despite his carefully cultivated outlaw image – he ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... novel turned out not to be so different from that of other arts during the same period: Quentin Tarantino was making arty B-movies, or B art-movies, at the same time that Lethem was writing Amnesia Moon, a homage to Philip K. Dick, and Gun, with Occasional Music, a homage to Chandler and Hammett; graffiti and other outsider art started ...

The Life of the Mind

Michael Wood, 20 June 1996

Fargo 
directed by Joel Coen.
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Fargo 
by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.
Faber, 118 pp., £7.99, May 1996, 0 571 17963 0
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... solemnly: ‘Blood has been shed.’ The fancy diction in the nasty situation recalls the films of Quentin Tarantino, and the actor is Steve Buscemi, who appears in a not dissimilar role in Reservoir Dogs. In Fargo, when Buscemi returns to the hideout he and his fellow hood are using, his face ripped by a gun shot, and caked with blood, he ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... Bacall, are now coming to seem dismally familiar. We have had High Fidelity, and White Noise, and Quentin Tarantino, and The Sopranos, and Fury, and by now we get the idea that we are poor sops in the society of spectacle, and that everyone under fifty speaks in consumer clichés and TV tags. It may be time to retire this little observation. Like Dave ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... the people in world history that they both like: Bob Dylan (although not recently), Graham Greene, Quentin Tarantino and Tony Hancock.’ Andrew and David, it has to be said, would probably count Nick Hornby somewhere between Martin Amis and Jeffrey Archer. How to Be Good is uneven. Compared to Parsons, the smooth operator, Hornby can appear ...

Futzing Around

Will Frears: Charles Willeford, 20 March 2014

Miami Blues 
by Charles Willeford.
Penguin, 246 pp., £8.99, August 2012, 978 0 14 119901 6
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... work. ‘Nobody,’ Elmore Leonard said, ‘writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford.’ Quentin Tarantino cited Willeford as one of the major influences on Pulp Fiction. There can be something a little suspect about being so well respected by fellow practitioners: the appeal may not extend to ordinary readers. And this is the danger with the ...

The Colossus of Maroussi

Iain Sinclair: In Athens, 27 May 2010

... of small grocers, peddlers of hub-caps, warehouse sex clubs, graffiti and finger-jabbing Quentin Tarantino billboards pimping whisky: I WRITE MY OWN SCRIPT. After the cemeteries, the allotments, the Euro-funded super-highway, there was that familiar sense of being out on the edge of things, confronted by strident architectural interventions. The ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... film and video in the larger art world, perhaps even because of the cult status given him by Quentin Tarantino, of all people. Wheeler Winston Dixon’s new book presents a macroscopic view of Godard’s career to date, covering every film or video he has ever made. It is divided into five chapters, which correspond more or less to the five ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... lite, the Florida ecologist Carl Hiaasen and grizzled Elmore Leonard (as cannibalised by Quentin Tarantino), but also from Mosley. The Griffin books won’t reduce to exploitable Hollywood storylines, they’re much too rich and strange for that. Villains don’t have to be land-grabbing corporate monsters or tourists with an unfortunate taste ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’, 12 September 2019

... from Cielo Drive, Los Angeles. At least this is what ‘one of the killers would later say’. In Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, we not only hear the ice, we see a drunken Leonardo DiCaprio making his margaritas with it, and taking a sip from the ice-cruncher as he berates a group of intruders in a car (he calls them ...

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