Is there anyone that can outclass, out-debauch, and outdo the mastermind behind Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill?
Coming up with a suitable replacement for a veritable satellite industry isn’t a cinch. Quentin Tarantino probably comes closest to Stanley Kubrick in terms of an oeuvre that is ironclad, with few to no misses. Tarantino isn’t immune to a box office flop (see Grindhouse), but whether a success or not, he’s got a recognisable brand that is near impossible to emulate. So what comes closest? Some have admitted that Barry Sonnenfeld’s Hollywood mobster movie Get Shorty (1995) could have them fooled. Or Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2000).
It’s easy to paint several directors as Tarantino wannabes; his signature elements – gallows humour, a badass in a nice suit, Mexican standoffs – are swiped at every turn. Who out there is doing something new? Here we survey the landscape for the fresher voices whose own styles allude to a cinematic mastery that shares a resemblance with Tarantino’s best work.
The sight of blood make you queasy? Jeremy Saulnier’s brand of gory revenge thrillers – so far Blue Ruin and Green Room – will have you reaching for the barf bag. One scene in Green Room is a particularly tough watch. Pat (Anton Yelchin) gets his arm slammed in a door and on the other side are neo-Nazis with knives who attempt to slice his arm off at the wrist. He gets it back just in time to show the audience the full extent of the damage. Not pretty, but Saulnier doesn’t shy away from a casual wound.
Japan’s ‘cinematic extremist’ has been making films since the early 90s, and films like Audition (1999) and 13 Assassins (2010) have put him on the map. Yet for all his feverish output, Miike’s name is still rather scarce in the western world. His next film, Yakuza Apocalypse, is a gangster vampire blend. Kamiura – rumoured to be unkillable – is an omnipotent vampire backed by a loyal gang of assassins. When a dying Kamiura bites Kageyama, the latter transforms into a vengeful monster who will stop at nothing to avenge his former boss. Yakuza Apocalypse is balls-to-the-wall tailspin reminiscent of Kill Bill.
Watch this trailer for Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room and be at a loss for words. Maddin brings an art sensibility that is hard to describe; the 59-year-old Canadian “channels the spirits of silent films” through live happenings. But his film is magnetic in the sense that he juxtaposes strange scenes to create something altogether epic. The film opens with an absurd 1960s-era instructional sequence about how to take a bath, followed by a high-stakes rescue mission wherein a Canadian lumberjack attempts to save a damsel from cave dwelling wolf-men. There’s also a lobotomy scene meant to cure the patient from his penchant of pinching booty. If Tarantino retired and became an artist, he would be Guy Maddin.
In terms of odyssey plots, Baker’s hilarious film about a trans woman on a manhunt for her pimp is right up there with the simple absurdity of True Romance (a Tarantino-penned classic). In Tangerine Cindee has just been released from prison, and upon finding out her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her, sets out on the ultimate pimp chase. Meanwhile her BFF, Alexandra, is just trying to hype her open mic night to folks in the hood. Unfortunately, Cindee drags her around town when she decides she’d rather track down her man’s booty call. Much like Tarantino, we’re heavily invested in outrageous characters who make it their mission to accomplish a wacky goal. Much unlike Tarantino’s lust for 70mm film, Baker shot the entire pic with three iPhones.
Measured purely by online chatter, Sebastian Schipper’s single-take film Victoria is miles ahead of the pack. It’s “one of the best german movies ever made”, at least according to one Reddit user. Over 134 mostly improvised minutes, Victoria bumps into four men outside of a Berlin night club at 4am. They invite her to continue the party and she agrees. As the night wanes into the early hours of morning, shit gets weird. Victoria gets caught up in a bank heist and her world quickly falls into chaos. Schipper has only directed four films to date, but with Victoria, he’s solidified his status as an adrenaline junkie.