With the release of his recent blockbuster; Django Unchained (2012), the legendary director, screenwriter and producer has come into the limelight once more. Tarantino is recognised as part of the cream of Hollywood’s crop of modern directors, known as the ‘director DJ’ for his frequent use of mixing genres and challenging the traditional norm he is ‘master of the scene’. Despite these accomplishments and the awards that have recognised Tarantino as a heavily decorated artist of our time, he has a significant fault- an awful tendency to want to act is a talent that, I am afraid to say, he simply does not possess. It emerges in the shape of the director cameo, a plague that pushes awful acting into our cinematic experience and dulls it slightly. You only have to see the lengthy and quite soul destroying joke he performs in Desperado (1995) to understand why. Even the recipients to the joke look at him with a sense of dismay; albeit he was playing a drunken cowboy, the three-minute moment for Tarantino isn’t such a moment for the audience (I would have taken that opportunity to nose dive into my overtly sized pic n’ mix to find the chocolate covered raisins).
Pulp Fiction (1994), a majorly successful crime thriller directed by Tarantino, is yet another film tainted with his on-screen presence. Some would suggest that if it weren’t for the likes of Harvey Ketiel’s acting skills, Tarantino could have ruined both Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs (1992), another rhinestone in his acting crown, with his short but effective moments of ‘acting’. This leads me to Django Unchained, the eagerly awaited western with a fantastic cast and great story line, packed full of action and plenty of violence. But wait- all this excitement was filled with an underlying worry, a background apprehension of ‘is he going to try and do it again?!’, and true to himself he made an appearance (and another lifeless one at that). Speaking with a cockney accent and then an Australian accent, seemingly unable to make up his mind, Tarantino may have been trying to add to the mystery. However, the Australian accent obviously proved a challenge for good ol’ Tarantino.
Although undeniable that Tarantino is a great writer and director, his acting does seem to have the ability to stop a film in its tracks, cheapening the talent of the other actors and amazing dialog which leaves the viewer with a sense of unease until he’s going to ‘have his moment’. Tarantino needs to face the music and stop employing his poor acting self in his movies. Along with extreme violence, the director cameo has become a trademark of his and as long as that remains, my fully stocked pic n’ mix will be in hand to seize the opportunity to fish out more of those chocolate covered raisins.
words: Poppy Bethell
photo: Georges Biard