Geekier than Hell

mitchellp.jpgI love Elvis Mitchell so much that if he were to review the phonebook, I’d read it just to admire his turns-of-phrase and character sketches of Aaron A. Aaronson and Aaron A Adams. Somehow Mitchell manages to be both cool and a major geek at the same time. Case in point, Mitchell’s piece in this week’s Times Arts & Leisure section, The ‘Kill Bill’ Soundtrack: D.J. Quentin’s Recycled Mix in which Elvis waxes geekier than Harry Knowles, “Moriarty”, and Quentin Tarantino in a three-way AOL chat.
Mitchell references movies and TV shows no one (not even the stars and creators) remembers like They Call Her One Eye and Codename: Foxfire.
It’s a good article, but man, if no one outside of the smallest of Internet chatrooms will find it interesting. My hat’s off to you, Elvis Mitchell, King of Geeks.

4 replies on “Geekier than Hell”

i was always all over elvis, nearly loving him, and always found his reviews/opinions the best of the triad of reviewers they brought in post-janet.
until: i rented the 2 dvd lost in la mancha set, and disc 2 featured an hour long interview onstage at LACMA last year between elvis and terry gilliam. elvis’ fanboy geekiness shone through, rpedictably, but whenever gilliam, with his pointed wit, would try to explain and/or politicize his stories or analogies with bush administration criticisms and other newsy events, elvis would sit there uncomfortably and change the subject. as though he either didnt follow the news or feared some sort of media repercussions for encouraging jokes about bush admin behavior?
anyway it was disenchanting.

Love Elvis, and all the more so after reading this.
But I disagree with a couple of points in his otherwise fine piece.
First, that QT “doesn’t seem to understand that the blaxploitation films he loots were a delivery system for underground cultural transmission.”
Surely QT understands that; however, that message doesn’t play a part in his films. The music is cool, it works, he loves it, and that’s it. That he doesn’t lift both the music AND its political subtext wholesale to incorporate it into his work doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand its function in blaxploitation films. He just wants the cool music, that’s all.
Second: “When Mr. Tarantino uses [“Across 110th St”] in a film like “Jackie Brown,” he’s . . . well, exploiting black talent in the same way the original’s white filmmakers did 30 years ago – another example of a white man’s profiting more from African-American culture than African-Americans.”
Puh-lease. Tarantino celebrates that culture. That he profits from it doesn’t matter. What else is he to do when he wants to pay homage to a culture he clearly loves (cinematically at least)? Give his profits to the NAACP?
Besides, you could say that throughout the 80’s and 90’s, rappers “profited” from that same culture by sampling its music in exactly the same way. Right?

Great assessment of a great writer. Howevs, he is most certainly NOT a great speaker (as Jean-Paul points out above). We shouldn’t fault him for said Gilliam conversation, nor should we praise him because his convo with Christopher Nolan on the “Memento” DVD is a guaranteed cure for insomnia. Rather, we should celebrate the fact that he’s a kickass film writer with a monumental repository of film history (both scholarly AND geeky) and that his writing straddles both worlds comfortably.

Tarantino has some talent, but after seeing “Kill Bill: Volume 1” its’ quite clear Tarantino himself is obsessed with Tarantino himself becoming a black man. Tarantino actually THINKS he’s black and while I always dismissed those commentaries against him in the past, nowadays I really do think Tarantino is a man shilling black culture for his own benefit.
And remember. Who is the first person to die at the hands of “The Bride” in “Kill Bill: Volume 1”? A strong black woman with a family. Arguably the only character of that assasion squad who decided to change her life for the better. And Tarantino kills her. The second that happened, that was it. My opinion of Tarantino changed and I really lost respect in that guy.

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