Yesterday we ran a report on the new Tarantino film, Django Unchained, a script Quentin completed in late April that has already been heavily leaked and reviewed all over the ‘Net.
Reviews have been mixed, and Tarantino fans have also reminded those who didn’t like it that a screenplay is a blueprint, but we all know with Tarantino he doesn’t change his scripts, unless he’s too lazy to film something. (Comparing the Kill Bill script to the finished product was especially disappointing in this regard.)
Yet in another way, it’s hard to tell a Tarantino project from the script, because the scripts I didn’t like from him turned into good movies, and the scripts I liked didn’t come together for me.
I loved the Kill Bill script, and was very disappointed in what a half-assed mess the film turned into. I also recall reading Jackie Brown and thinking it wasn’t anything special, but the second the movie started, I got what he was going for immediately.
Death Proof was absolutely one of the worst screenplays I ever read, yet people liked it, the little pieces of it I saw turned out okay, which I never would have imagined on paper.
A friend of mine also remembered reading Pulp Fiction about six months before it came out, thought it was amusing, but nothing special, but it really came alive on film.
One Hollywood manager once told me there’s scripts that are great reads that don’t turn into great movies, and he felt this way about Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which I thought was a brilliant script, and turned into a good movie as well. I didn’t get Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation on paper, but once I saw the movie I got it immediately, and it was pretty much word for word what I read.
With Tarantino, the right cast is often needed to really make his scripts come to life, which is what I felt about Inglorious, which I thought was okay, but nothing special. (Certainly a big step up from Death Proof however.)
And Tarantino fans will also remember Inglorious did not go over well at Cannes, and I don’t know if any changes were made, but it definitely was a big hit with critics and at the box office once it came out in theaters here and abroad.
If the Vanity Fair review of Django is correct, and it has the more humanistic qualities of Jackie Brown, which I agree “is due for re-evaluation,” it could really deliver something special. Vanity Fair also wrote that if Smith takes the role, it could be “a Denzel maker.”
I haven’t read the script myself, and even if I did, knowing my previous experience with Tarantino’s scripts, I’d hold off judgment until I see the finished result.