American Strays (1996)

Cutie Cleaner

Quentin Tarantino gets under my skin, where Richard Rodriguez does not. It is a corner of myself I do not quite understand. If you have QT wonder, this could help.

Tarantino places the viewer as a sort of museum visitor. He has this virtual video store of references, sometimes well arranged. You are not supposed to actually experience anything; you are supposed to slowly walk by while they blast something out, coming to meet you. It is cinema by advertising, experience by push.

I like it better when a filmmaker builds something I can enter; it doesn’t matter whether it is an escape or not. If they build niches for me to enter and explore, if they invite or tease me in, then I commit, I invest, I experience and am changed somehow.

This apparently trivial movie does that. It is just as brutally comic as the QT school, with its faux quaintness and engineered humour. It also avoids the challenge of long form filmmaking by assembling numerous small stories. It similarly is a pastiche of references from other, real films, films with actual identity. But it works.

Three real stories here, all love stories. The suicidal loser who gets the sexy traveller; the out resourced husband who “finds” his wife and place again; and the two serial killers who find each other and ride off together. They are stitched by common local, similar upholstery and a temporally but not spatially shared climax.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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