The Independents

The Independents

Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, Robert Rodriguez, Martin Scorsese, and Kevin Smith

Mr. Brown's Movie Reviews | Why I Do This |

Quentin Tarantino | John Woo | Robert Rodriguez | Martin Scorsese | Kevin Smith

Quentin Tarantino

In January of 1991 a film titled 'Reservoir Dogs' premiered at the Sundance Film festival. The writer - director, a first timer, by the name of Quentin Tarantino. The film garnered critical acclaim and the director became a legend in England and the cult film circuit.

Three years later Quentin Tarantino followed up 'Dogs' with the film 'Pulp Fiction'. 'Pulp' premiered at the Cannes film festival, where it won the coveted 'Palme D'Or' the virtual equal of the Best Picture at theAcademy Awards. The next year, in the '94 Academy Awards, 'Pulp' was nominated for that Best Picture Oscar, in addition to Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, among others. In the end, Tarantino and writing partner Roger Avary came away with the only award, for Best Original Screenplay

In 1995, Tarantino directed one fourth of the Anthology 'Four Rooms' with friends and fellow auteurs Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Allison Anders. Released on December 25th in the United States, to very weak reviews, the film did very poorly.

Rodriguez and Tarantino again teamed up to make 'From Dusk Till Dawn', a crime/vampire film which Tarantino wrote and costarred with George Clooney, under Rodriguez's direction. The film, a slick and dirty crime film which quickly changes gears and becomes a brutal but humour monster gore flick.

'Jackie Brown', a crime thriller / comedy based on the novel 'Rum Punch' by novelist Elmore Leonard, was released on December 25th, 1997 and starring Pam Grier, Bridget Fonda, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, and Robert DeNiro. The film was very loosely based on (inspired by?) not the novel, but simply a CHARACTER within the novel, which Tarantino used to craft a new, different story.

After that, Tarantino changed his direction, and it was over 5 years before he released another film which he had directed himself.

'Kill Bill, vol 1', the first in a two parter (originally one very long film) about a woman known only as "The Bride", who is left for dead on her wedding day after a massacre by the man she used to work for. It was of course, followed by Kill Bill, vol 2.

In between his films, Quentin has dabbled in television directing, including stints on ER, Alias, and CSI. He has also been active as a producer, with numerous credits to his name. How much active producing he did on these remains unclear however.

In the near future, Tarantino has two films he is working on,'Grind House', will be released in 2007, which he is directing along with fellow Independent, Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino's half of the picture is called "Death Proof".

Tarantino's next film is believed to be his long dreamed "Guys on a Mission" movie, 'Inglorious Bastards'.


John Woo

John Woo is one of a kind.

The king of 80s Hong Kong action cinema.

From his films A Better Tommorow I and II, Hard Boiled, and The Killer, to his American films Hard Target, Broken Arrow, and his newest Face/Off, John Woo has redefined the way people look at gunbattles. Featuring two fisted gun blazing action, there is no other filmmaker who uses such a wide combination of zooms, pans, slow motion, and fast cuts to such a tremendous film. The best thing about John Woo is that his films have plots and points, something that most current Hollywood films have forgotten (including his own!). Woo cared about the plot and it shows in the tremendous characterization and development given to his characters. Working with some of the finest actors in the world, including the stunning Chow Yun-Fat, among others. (Van Damme is not in that bunch...)

Woo has directed over 30 films, including comedy, drama, and action, as well as an American TV pilot version of one of his own films. This site tries to disregard anything he's made since coming to America.

Well, except Face/Off and the uncut version of Hard Target. Minus for the dancing Wilfred Brimley. /shudder.


Robert Rodriguez

He could be referred to as the King of the ultra-low budget film.

From his award winning short film Bedhead to the $7,000 feature film, El Mariachi, to the $6 million Desperado,. Robert Rodriguez has brought his amazing talents to Hollywood. This 25 year old filmmaker is one of the brighest stars in the film industry. He works cheap, fast, and makes amazing films. He's an editor, a director, a writer, a D.P, a cameraman, and a steadicam operator. He was the one man crew on El Mariachi. His third film was a segment of the critical and box office bomb, Four Rooms. Of the four filmmakers involved, Rodriguez was the only one to come out unscathed with easily the best segment of the bunch. His last feature film was the modest box office success From Dusk Till Dawn, a vampire-crime-action film from a screenplay by fellow Independent Quentin Tarantino. He's the American version of John Woo. This is the one man who could walk away from a film like Zorro: The Mask of the Blade when the studio balked at a request of an additional $1 million budget. Rodriguez wanted $42, the studio refused and offered $41. (After Rodriguez left, Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) came onto the project and the budget skyrocketed to $74 million.)

This, among other studio trespasses, and his Austin, TX roots, have seen his rise as a fiercely independent filmmaker, going so far as to make many of his films out of his house. (along with the incredible talents of VFX houses across the country.) With blockbuster hits such as the Spy Kids series, and the groundbreaking Sin City, (not to mention the disappointments of Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl), Rodriguez has become an incredible force in the film industry making films the way he wants to, and his film's credit sequences now reflect that he no longer wishes to hide his true influence on the films. While on El Mariachi he made up names and used family to avoid having his name all over the credits, most of his current films list his name between 5 and 10 times, showing just how much control over his film he really does have. (or has the ego changed?) When you do it all, no else can call the shots. Long as you keep it under an NC-17. :-)

As well as being a filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez had his diary of the making and selling of El Mariachi published as a book in 1995. Titled Rebel Without a Crew: or How a 23 year old filmmaker with $7,000 became a Hollywood player. This book is without a doubt one of the best books ever written on film. Right up there with Sidney Lumet's amazing book, Making Movies.


Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Flushing, New York. Through most of his life, his chosen career goal was to be a priest. However, he later had a change of heart, and decided instead to become a filmmaker. In 1964, he graduated from New York University from the film program. During the rest of the 60's, Scorsese made various student films, eventually becoming an assistant director and co-editor of the documentary Woodstock in 1970. This film, along with his others, caught the eye of veteran low budget producer Roger Corman.

In 1972, Scorsese directed Boxcar Bertha for Corman. In 1973, he followed that up with his amazing feature, Mean Streets. As Walter Melnyk pointed out, that film provided benchmarks for the Scorsese Style: New York settings, loners struggling with inner demons, pointed-shoes rock meets opera soundtracks, and unrelenting cathartic violence.

In 1974, Scorsese directed Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore which earned Ellen Burstyn a Best Actress Academy Award. In 1976, Scorsese directed the film for which he is probably most famous for, the ultra-violent Taxi Driver which drew controversy after it inspired John Hinckley's assasination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

In 1980, Scorsese made another film with Robert De Niro, Raging Bull. The film was an amazing, black and white biography of middleweight fighter Jake LaMotta which earned two Academy Awards. One for Best Actor - Robert De Niro, and one for Best Editing - Thelma Schoonmaker. Later, it was selected as best film of the decade by film critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

His next few works were King of Comedy in 1983 with Robert De Niro, After Hours in 1985, and in 1986, Paul Newman earned an Academy Award for his reprisal of the role of gambler Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. His next film was probably his most controversial to date, The Last Temptation of Christ which outraged some religious groups by attempting to portray a human son of God. In 1990, he directed the excellent film, GoodFellas.

In 1991, he directed a remake of Cape Fear, a remake of the classic 1961 film. In 1993, he directed The Age of Innocence. Casino, his epic about the rise and fall of a mob figure in Las Vegas was released in 1995. In 1999, Scorsese released Bringing Out the Dead, an adaptation of Joseph Connelly's novel about an overworked, stressed ambulance driver fighting insanity.

Scorsese has stayed busy over the years, directing Gangs of New York in 2002, and The Aviator in 2004, with The Departed scheduled for release in 2006, with an incredible cast, consisting of such talent as Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio (a Scorsese favorite of late), Martin Sheen, Matt Damon, and Alec Baldwin, and a great story concept, being of cross spies, one being in the Boston Police Department, and the other being in the Irish Mafia in Boston.

Martin has never won an Academy Award, however, in 1997, he was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.


Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith was born on August 2, 1970 in Red Bank, New Jersey. In 1994, Smith wrote and directed a film called Clerks based on his experiences working in a convenience store in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Clerks, his first film, caught the eye of indie film god John Pierson and wound up seeing the light of day at the Sundance film festival. This hilarious film was picked up by Miramax films and distributed nation wide. The 92 minute black and white film was very well recieved and made many times more than initial cost of only $27,000 (before Miramax got hold of it and added a million dollar soundtrack). Clerks was named one of the Year's Top 10 films by Time, The Village Voice, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

For his second film, he went to Gramercy films and made the film Mallrats. However, the film was ultimately released after much studio editing and very little promotion. The film did poorly at the box office and ultimately led Kevin to apologize for the film at the Independent Spirit Awards.

For his third film, Smith redeemed himself more than any other director could have. The film Chasing Amy was shot on a budget of less than $500,000 and premiered at the Sundance film festival where it was greeted with a standing ovation at it's conclusion. Released nationwide by Miramax, the film was on the top of the exclusives box office for many weeks and eventually did very well in a less limited release.

After a "failed" (kinda) attempt to bring Clerks to television in the form of an animated television show, Smith wrote and directed "Dogma", a comedy about fallen angels attempting to return to heaven by way of catholicism. After Dogma, his Clerks tv series did wind up seeing the air, never in a permanent form, but did decently in ratings. In 2004, Smith released Jersey Girl. 'nough said. Smith recently returned to the characters which started his career, directing the cast in a sequel to Clerks, named, well, Clerks II.



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