Every filmmaker has their influences and clearly that includes the Coens, but there is no one that steals from earlier films as blatantly as Tarantino does. No one. Everything enjoyable in Kill Bill is lifted directly from Boxer From Shantung. His constant need to namedrop, which probably shows most prominently in Inglorious Basterds, is absolutely insufferable. The references to Clouzot and others (I believe D.W. Griffith, but I'm not sure), literally serve no purpose other than for Tarantino to prove to everyone how much of a film buff he is.....
I think that even if you're evaluating their work as is and not looking at the influences, 90% of the Coens' output is still just so much better than Tarantino's most impressive work. All I could think of while watching the video was how much I love each of these Coen Brothers films and how the reverence of Tarantino by frat boys worldwide is, to me, completely incomprehensible....but that being said, i can see how arguing passionately in favor of two of my favorite filmmakers, in response to a post about fanboy culture, would come off as naive.
You obviously know your stuff, which is refreshing. Thanks for your reply.
Re: Inglourious Basterds and cinephilia (or the incessant cultural references, which, you’re right are EVERYWHERE in that movie)—I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time thinking about why Tarantino infused so much of his own love of cinema into that movie and although it could be argued that many of the characters are just ciphers for his own enthusiasm, I believe he has constructed a film which is self-consciously cinematic and theatrical. I’ve written about it here, if you’re interested.
I think also there is a tendency to shun Tarantino precisely because he is so overt and shameless in his thievery and this coupled with his own celebrity (which is copped from the French New Wave directors he idealizes [but plenty of people hate Godard, too]). The Coens, on the other hand, play things much closer to the vest in terms of influences, which are chiefly literary (and therefore perceived as more high-brow) and/or genre-specific instead of film-specific (eg. their noir-infused films are indicative of a sense of film noir rather than a shot from, say, Detour.) This is not to say that Tarantino doesn’t deserve criticism or that your own criticism is invalid in any way.
On a personal note, I am a Tarantino fan. It’s hard for me to dislike anyone who is so unashamedly a film geek and a supporter of film culture (Tarantino’s acquisition of the New Beverly theater has endured him to me forever.) As frustrating it is, I think any discussion of this kind will ultimately come down to a question of preference.
I can agree with you that fanboy culture is hopelessly naive and frustrating. But beyond that initial deification of Tarantino (then Kubrick, then Nolan, and so on…), a small number of those people who were turned on to Hong Kong action cinema or Blaxploitation because of Tarantino will pursue that interest further, evolve and refine their tastes. Which, for me, is reason enough to support Tarantino as a filmmaker and defend him when given the chance because I know that he’s exposing viewers to styles and genres they might not have seen otherwise (even if they are the co-opted Tarantino-ized versions of those genres.) To me, that is worth supporting.