screenwriting

To Live And Write In L.A.: The Ballad of Hassel and Kylo

By Hassel Velasco

Currently working on: HTTAN, And Other Love Stories.
Currently Listening To: “DAMN.” Kendrick Lamar
Currently Reading: 100 Love Sonnets, Pablo Neruda

No, really, don't call it a comeback. It's me. Still living in Los Angeles with no hope of changing that anytime soon. I was also advised against "Flo-writah," and I guess I put too much value into that opinion, but I'm here nonetheless.

What's happened in the last eight months you ask? Oh, you didn't ask...

Buckle-in, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Act 1

With what seemed to look like my last two weeks in Los Angeles, my hope for finding an inexpensive place to live was rapidly escaping. I had come across a couple of apartments within my price range (and 3 percent of those were not crack houses!). The problem I encountered often was this ludicrous belief that in order to rent a place, you had to also put down a deposit equivalent to two white tigers and a blood diamond.

I don't get it...and I don't think I ever will. With a week to go, a place opened up, a bit outside of my price range, but fuck it, I had already ordered the blood diamond and didn't want any negative feedback on my eBay account.

Oh, I forgot to mention I also got something to try and warm my cold dead heart. His name is Kylo. He has big ears, a bigger heart, and he likes to party. Here's a picture.

And yes that's a Hawaiian shirt.

He's a fan of Bark-a-Ritaville. Get it...

Act 2

My place was slowly coming along and becoming my own. Kylo was settling in, getting along (somewhat) with the cat. I was surviving and this city wasn't going to take that away from me. Scratch that, I mean this city was going to try its very best to take it all away from me like a studio that's no longer happy with the seventeenth draft of "Giraffic Park," starring Amy’s recently birthed calf Tajiri. (Production on hold.)

At the end of 2016, Kylo got sick and so did my computer. I made the mistake of thinking a seven- to eight-month old puppy wouldn't be curious about a garbage bag and its melted chocolate contents at the bottom. I was wrong, but luckily he recovered and I still had my blood diamond. Not for long though. One computer logic board failure later and poof! I had trouble picking up my computer from repair because of my lack of funds (the blood diamond market is very saturated), and this in turn caused me to miss an important deadline.

Goodbye, HBO. Oh, hello, rent...

Life has a weird way of bringing you back down from the clouds.

Act 3

So, by this point 2017 had gotten off to a dreadful start, but I kept my head up. I kept working and soon enough I found myself up for a promotion at work. A promotion I had applied to and been turned away twice before. But this time it was different. I was prepared and I knew the role. I had been living it.

Life has a weird way of bringing you back down from the clouds. As Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio, to strangers) would tell you...amazing work doesn't always pay off. And like Leo prior to 2016, my work was overlooked and I was turned away once again. It's just the way life goes.

Maybe I'm not meant to succeed, maybe I'm the person pushing the people around me to succeed. Maybe I'm a better “Best Supporting Actor” than a lead. I do somewhat feel like the perpetual silver medal. Everyone's back up plan. But, hey, let's keep this going. Can't quit now. And if I am going to the worthy sidekick, I’ll be the Christoph Waltz of second bananas.

I wish the circumstances were different, but for now, I am glad to be writing again. But at least my high maintenance roommate lightens up the mood when I need it! 

Remembering Carrie Fisher

Photo courtesy of  Star Wars' Facebook page

Photo courtesy of Star Wars' Facebook page

By Sean Tuohy

Last year, Writer’s Bone attempted to feature Carrie Fisher in a 30-minute phone interview regarding her career as a script doctor and novelist. Unfortunately, the interview never happened, and we're saddened that we'll never get to hear more of Fisher's riveting, and often self-deprecating, stories.

On Dec. 27, the world lost a great actress, writer, and mental health advocate. Fisher’s lightning-fast wit, paired with her self-loathing brand of humor, charmed audiences, and she brightened a movie screen with just her presence. 

In between acting, Fisher became a sought after screenwriter in Hollywood and a beloved novelist. As blunt and honest as she was in person, Fisher was more so on the page. Her books, The Princess Diarist, Wishful Drinking, and Postcards From The Edge, were all honest and upfront about her abuse issues, her stalled acting career, and being an icon in the nerd community (and, let's face it, the galaxy at large).

When a script needed work, Fisher was often called in to save the day. She helped production on many films, including “My Girl 2,” “Coyote Ugly,” “Outbreak,” and “Lethal Weapon 3.” She also adapted Postcards From The Edge into a film starring Meryl Streep and directed by Mike Nichols.

Fisher could have easily skated by on her Hollywood pedigree (she’s the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher) and her iconic role as Princess Leia. However, she evolved into much more, which is why social media has been flooded with heartfelt grief.

Carrie Fisher was a writer, an advocate, and a role model, but, most importantly, she was herself. Always.

May the force be with you, Princess. You will be missed. 

To Live And Write In L.A.: Pokémon Procrastination

Photo courtesy of  Sadie Hernandez

Photo courtesy of Sadie Hernandez

By Hassel Velasco

Currently working on: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening to: “Views,” Drake
Currently Reading: Yes Please, Amy Poehler

Pokémon Procrastination

I've been trying to come up with a good excuse for my absence from my essay series last week but I'd rather be honest and inform the masses that I am now a Level 13 Pokémon trainer. Yes!

It was inevitable. I was a child raised by the card game and Saturday morning cartoon series. If you're not familiar, a Pokémon is a fictional animal-like creature that you train to battle for sport. And yes, now that I put it down on paper, Pokémon training sounds a lot like a mixture of Van Damme's “Bloodsport” and what Michael Vick went to jail for. Lucky for us the "Pokémon Go" battles end in faints and not fatalities.

As you can imagine, Los Angeles is a city filled with shattered dreams and PokeStops. (FYI: PokeStops are places of interest where you can retrieve items or get mugged depending on the neighborhood.) I spent some time around the city chasing these fictional creatures while avoiding real world deadlines. As of this writing, I have a little under a week to finish a half-hour radio play, an hour-long drama, three Web series episodes, and a short bio. But those can wait, right? I've been waiting my entire adult life to catch a fucking Squirtle in the wild, and I'm not about to pass up on the opportunity.

So last weekend a friend and I went out for what we thought would be stroll around her neighborhood and maybe dinner and a movie. But not only is she a nominee for greatest human, she's also just as much into Pokémon as I am. Lucky me. We walked to a couple of PokeStops nearby but after a drink and some coffee, we decided to drive to Malibu and catch some water Pokémon. While in Malibu I got an email to bring me back to reality. It reads, "Don't forget about the deadline to apply to [redacted] writers fellowship." My reply: “Is that a Psyduck?! We're pulling over.”

I realize that maybe Pokémon has steered this "get me on a show" train in the wrong direction recently, but sometimes distractions make things better. They relax you, and let's face it; procrastination is my field of expertise. I do realize there needs to be some context to what I'm preaching. For the sake of being somewhat productive and trying to move you out to Los Angeles and hunt Pokémon with me, I should provide you with some information. Here are the top Writers Programs and Fellowships in the business. Most of these provide a fantastic first step to your future lavish life of Pokémon hunting on your private yacht in Saint-Tropez.

The submission time for many of these differ depending on the one you choose. Before submitting your masterpiece, make sure to register your script with the writer's guild and make sure to follow the submission guidelines to a tee. A misstep by you means your script ends in the shredder.

So with all these deadlines looming I looked at the time on my dashboard, it read 3:30 a.m. I looked up from my phone as she continued to look for Pokémon, I quickly realized we were not in Malibu anymore. We were in Santa Monica. A look on the map showed the amount of Pokémon on the Santa Monica pier far outnumbered the amount of Pokémon trainers (FYI: people playing the game). So what do two adults with day jobs decide to do at this early hour in the morning? We parked the car and headed to the pier to find another 200+ people running around catching Pokémon. In the words of the great 21st century poet Drake, "What A Time To Be Alive."

Essays Archive

To Live And Write In L.A.: Turning Sorkinese

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening To: “Unlearn Everything,” Sharp/Shock
Currently Reading: Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

Turning Sorkinese

This town has a funny way of making you interact with the outside world. Maybe it's the proximity to the glamour of Hollywood or maybe it's the way everyone here makes you feel antiquated and uncool. All I know is that I didn't start to collect vinyl records until I moved out here. I didn't start growing this massive beard until I moved out here. I never had a bartender take 17-and-a-half minutes to make my drink until I moved here. I never tried to write like someone else until Los Angeles, this stupid, beautiful, hot-mess of a city.

As I reach the end of the tunnel on this Beatles project, I can't help but think it's quite possibly the best thing I've written. And I know, who is this pretentious asshole talking about how good his writing is? I get it, I'm not Quentin Tarantino directing “Inglorious Basterds” and saying, "this just might be my masterpiece." After almost a year of work, research, writing, re-writing, more research, crying, another re-write, and procrastination, I can finally say I'm 70 percent of the way finished. But then I started re-watching “The Newsroom” and the completion percentage now finds itself in the low teens.

One of the outstanding effects...affects...effects…screw it. One of the outstanding results of my move to Los Angeles has been my inability to be content with my writing. I personally have written more than 25 screenplays, and rewritten them more times than the human mind is able to comprehend, and most of them currently reside in a folder on my desktop labeled "incomplete."

Some of the best advice I've received regarding my Weinstein-esque plan to take over Hollywood has been just that, to associate your potential blockbuster project to an already successful and familiar one. Hence you the reader (or in this case the studio) would know what you're getting yourself into from the beginning. See Weinstein, Harvey.

The best feedback you'll receive as a writer is to make something more something-esque, and, trust me, take that feedback. It's way better than getting the "it's interesting" response.

So how does this pertain to my Beatles project? After the outlining and writing roughly 30 pages, I was given the feedback to make it more Sorkin-esque. Let me tell you, it's been tough. The problem with trying to assimilate something to a Sorkin screenplay is that Sorkin, like no one else, can write the fuck out of dialogue. It's incredible. And it's the reason why my 70% completion became 18% after re-watching “The Newsroom.” Seriously, go watch the pilot. I'll wait.

73 minutes later...

See! The dialogue is fluid, it's fast, it's funny. It's Sorkin. Not convinced? Need more proof? Watch the pilot episode for “The West Wing.” I'll wait...

45 minutes later...

Enough said! And if you're keeping track, my completion percentage is now in the negatives.

By all means, I would never compromise my individuality to conform to any type of specific writing or writer, and neither should you. But let's be realistic, unless you have a trust fund to dip into, you'll need some cash to fund your future artsy masterpiece. And how will you be getting that cash short of robbing a bank? You got it! By writing your next Michael Bay-esque explosion-fest. Until then, make your writing less Velasco-esque and more successful-esque.

Essays Archive

Fred Dekker and Shane Black: The Script Writing Dynamic Duo

The Monster Squad!

The Monster Squad!

By Sean Tuohy

Partnerships are not an easy thing (Dammit Dan, I said no ice in my scotch! What am I paying you for?).

It takes hard work, a shared passion, and a willingness to shrink your ego. There are plenty of partners that have never broken up, such as Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, Batman and Robin, and Häagen and Dazs (who I assume are cold, delicious people). On the other hand, sometimes partners stop being partners, for instance Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, The Beatles, and most recently and, perhaps most heartbreakingly, the Jonas Brothers.

One partnership I never truly understood was between screenwriters Fred Dekker and Shane Black. Two friends who shared a passion for movies broke into filmmaking together and even penned some movies as a screenwriting duo. However, their careers went in two very different directions. Black and Dekker (haha, get it?) met at film school and even lived together for a while. They wrote "The Monster Squad" together and then penned the still unproduced "Shadow Company" before they kind of broke up. How do two men who share the same love and same career goals go two different ways in life?

Let's take a look quick at the work that these two did together:

“The Monster Squad”

This movie bleeds 1980s. Just look at the hairstyles, the Walkmans, and the music cues. The movie is “The Goonies” except with monsters such as wolf man, vampires, and the living dead. Also, the kids shoot guns and swear unlike the PG-rated “The Goonies.” Black co-wrote the movie while Dekker directed. The movie sank like a stone. Why? Well, it was a hard movie to sell. It's too complex for a child to understand and too simple for an adult, so it got stuck in this weird middle ground. It would take years for the movie to find the right crowd.

“Shadow Company”

After this the pair wrote “Shadow Company” (Black reused the name for the evil group of drug smuggling commandos in “Lethal Weapon”), which was another 1980s-tastic monster flick. The movie told the tale of Vietnam vets that could not be killed. It was “Night of The Living Dead” meets “The Dirty Dozen.” Although the script was never made into a movie, it is still a ton of fun, and worth reading.

However, after that the two never worked together again. Why? I have no idea. I am going to take a guess and say that by the 1990s Shane Black was heating up in Hollywood while Dekker’s was cooling off. I don’t know. Maybe they stayed friends, but professionally parted ways.

Either way, it’s worth looking at both their separate careers:

Shane Black

Shane Black hit the scene hard before he was 22 years old. His spec script “Lethal Weapon” was turned in to a surprise blockbuster that spawned three sequels. After this his script for "The Last Boy Scout" was bought for an unheard of $1.5 million dollars—a record that was soon broken by his sale of “The Long Kiss Goodnight” for $4 million dollars in 1994. Black went into a sort of “retirement” during which he worked behind the scenes doing uncredited rewrite work. Then, after a nearly 10-year absence, Black sprang back into action with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” the movie that helped bring Robert Downey Jr.'s career back to life and got him the part of “Iron Man.” The movie was not a smash hit, but it did win the hearts of critics and has a great indie fan base. Black wasn’t done. After helping write the “Iron Man” films, he was asked to direct “Iron Man 3,” which turned out to be the highest grossing movie of 2013. All in all, not bad.

Fred Dekker

Fred Dekker came on to the scene with less of splash. He wrote the script for cult horror hit “House.” With this under his belt, Dekker was able to produce "Night of the Creeps," a much-loved horror film that failed at the box office. After the failure of “The Monster Squad” (his collaboration with Black) and two crashes under his belt, he was given the chance to direct the third installment of the “Robocop” series. Sounds great, right? Not so much. Peter Weller, who played Robocop, was not going to be in the film and the studio gave Dekker a shoe string budget. The movie crashed and burned and essentially killed Dekker's career. Dekker did some writing work here and there, but for the most part was shunned from Hollywood. Looking back, he did a lot with little and had some of the most original ideas in Hollywood. “Robocop 3” is a bad movie, but you can see that they did the best they could with what they had. In the end, Hollywood chewed Fred Dekker and then spat him out.

* * *

I always wonder how these two former partners and friends look at one another. You have Shane Black, Hollywood mega star, on one hand and then you have Fred Dekker, cult movie maker and redheaded stepchild of Hollywood on the other. Do they still talk? I mean, can you maintain a friendship with someone when their success so outweighs your own? Does Dekker look at Black with envy? Does Black look at Dekker with pity? I wish I knew how these two interacted now. Do they still talk like they did in the old days or are they no longer buddies? I may need to write a movie about them to figure it all out.

Maybe they will have a “reunion script” in the future. That would be awesome to see these two friends come together for one final “Hoorah!” Will it happen? Who knows, but I know this it better happen before the Jonas Brothers get back together.

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Sylvester Stallone: The Forgotten American Writer

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

By Sean Tuohy

Before his name was instantly recognizes all over the world, before he was a pop culture icon, before all the fame and glory, Sylvester Stallone was hunched over a pad of paper with a pen in hand trying to create a story.

Like many struggling artists, he had the talent and the drive and was just trying to make a buck. We all forget that Sylvester Stallone is a writer and an incredibly underrated one at that. He has 27 accredited scripts to his name and several of those are considered American classics. Screenwriters never get fame or glory. At best, they get a "good job" and then are left alone to create another story. If you look past the action movie star image you will find that Stallone is no different than any other writer. He’s stuck in a room trying to create something from nothing.

So let’s take a moment then to appreciate Stallone the writer.

“Rocky”

Rocky is considered by many to be one of the best made sports movies ever made. Stallone wrote this movie when he was nearly broke and struggling to make it as an actor. He knew that he had a great idea for a story within his own life. He wanted to write about a talented actor trying to make it, with one shot at the big time. The storyteller within Stallone told him no one would empathize with a movie about an actor trying to make it, so he switched it to the story of a boxer.

Bingo!

If you look at the script for Rocky, you find a well-crafted story that shows the rise of a troubled character trying to overcome the odds. Each character in the movie has flaws and internal conflicts, and overall are all well-developed characters. The monologue in “Rocky” where Rocky tells Adrian his fears and doubts before the big fight is a wonderfully honest portrait of a young artist on the brink of success (the above clip with his trainer Mickey ain’t bad neither). People tend to forget that Rocky does not win the match in the movie. After a close fight, he barely loses to Apollo Creed. Only a true writer would look at a story about boxer and say “He needs to lose the match for the sake of the character and the story.” Rocky's story is relatable, timeless, and always heartwarming.

The John Rambo Series

Stallone was not the creator of John Rambo—that was in fact the talented David Morrell—but he did bring him to life on the big screen. He co-wrote the first three movies (“First Blood,” “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” and “Rambo III”) and he was the sole writer of the fourth and final in the series, “Rambo.” Although I love the entire Rambo series, the fourth installment of the series has always stuck out to me the most. Although the plot seems very basic—Rambo saves hostages from a hostile country—it solely exists to move the action. When you look at the story developing within Rambo, there is so much more to find. Rambo is a man who hates who he is, and has never really came to peace with what he was made to do. By the end of the story, Rambo has been able to confront who he is enough to begin to recover and allow himself the peace to like himself again.

“Poe”

Sadly, I don't think this movie will ever be made. I have a feeling people would scoff at the idea of an “action star” making a bio pic. However, if it is ever made in to a movie I will be the first in line to see it. If I have to I will elbow an old man out of the way to get that ticket. I was lucky enough to find the script for Poe, which Stallone had penned years ago and had planned to make himself, but sadly, like so many movies, it fell apart and the story was shelved.

The movie was about famed American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Stallone was able to approach Poe as a tragic and tortured soul that had an amazing talent for writing but let his inner demons get in the way. Instead of your typical biopic, which tends to make their subjects two dimensional, Stallone actually was able to bring Poe to life in his screenplay.

It is hard to see Stallone as a “normal person” because he is, after all, Sylvester Stallone. However, at his core, he is a writer and actor who is just trying to share his stories. I like to believe that even someone like him, who has experienced such success, at one time or another felt the same self-doubt, fear, and frustration that all writers feel as they try to sort out the mess of ideas swimming around their head into a coherent story.

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Quentin Tarantino Likes His Orange Juice With Pulp

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

By Dave Pezza

After searching the hotel’s only two floors for a working vending machine, to no avail, I trudged to the front desk wearing unlaced boots, boxers, and an undershirt. I plopped my ice bucket, filled to the brim, on the counter. Looking at the concierge in the eyes, I said in desperation,

“Please tell me there is a working Coke machine somewhere?”

“Sorry. Both of them are broken.”

Despair ran down my face like wet paint.

“But we have cans of Coke down here…” she offered quickly in a tone of faux concern that all customer service workers use.

Hope.

“It’s warm though; is that okay?”

I looked at her blankly, then down to my bucket, then back to her.

“Yeah. That’ll work.”

Back in the room, I kicked off my boots, dropped the bucket of ice on the bathroom floor next to my flask and the ridiculously small plastic cup hotel’s provide with your ice bucket. Naked now, I test the bath water with my foot, balancing myself on the wet tile wall and the wet tile floor, hoping I don’t slip and go out naked in some hotel bathroom in Fairfield, Conn. The water was still hot! A minute later I am in the tub with a kiddie-sized plastic cup full of ice, Coke from a can, and Sailor Jerry rum watching Quentin Tarantino’s first major film, “Reservoir Dogs,” on my iPad.

For those of you unfamiliar with the screenwriter, director, and actor (or his movies), Tarantino exploded into Hollywood with his 1992 film “Reservoir Dogs.” His unconventional style of storytelling, compelling dialogue, and campy violence earned him an immediate cult following. Two years later, Tarantino would win an Academy Award for best original screenplay for his nod to 1970’s crime films "Pulp Fiction." He has made several movies since, drawing such actors as Bruce Willis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Uma Therman, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Nero, John Travolta, Christopher Walkin, and James Gandolfini to his projects. And it all started with a $1.5 million project that Tarantino wrote in three and a half weeks.

As I sit fully emerged in steaming water with only my head and right arm above the water to tilt cold cocktail into my gullet, “Reservoir Dogs” opens with Tarantino’s self-cast character, Mr. Brown, attempting to analyze Madonna’s radio hit “Like a Virgin.” The preliminary opening credits roll in gold lettering on a black screen to Mr. Brown’s voice saying,

“Let me tell you what like a virgin is about. It’s all about a girl who digs this guy with a big dick. The entire song is a metaphor for big dicks.”

Consider how ballsy a move this is. A no-name director who has spent every dime to his name on a movie that opens with a self-cast character trying to convince the audience that Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is about big dick. And it worked. Audiences ate it up, and "Reservoir Dogs" is still a cult classic.

Mr. Brown continues, “Pain. It hurts. It hurts her…The pain is reminding a fuck machine what it was once like to be a virgin.”

Tarantino describes here the essence of his entire career in the first words of his first major work.

Tarantino has come under a lot of criticism from mainstream film critics and media for his unoriginality, gratuitous use of the N-word, and obsession with violence. Tarantino has made a career of emulating his favorite genres of films. “Reservoir Dogs” is his take on heist films; “Pulp Fiction:” crime films; “Kill Bill:” Kung Fu and samurai films; “Inglorious Bastards:” World War II movies; “Django Unchained:” spaghetti westerns. This tour de film has caused some to brand him a copycat. As far as originality is concerned, Tarantino has won two Oscars for his original screen plays “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained.”

What is more telling, and much more subtle, is how all of Tarantino’s movies loosely fit into an overarching universe. For a better connect the dots of this universe see the Cracked.com article about said topic.

Here is a quick and dirty version: Tarantino’s world is loosely held together by the principle that culture, namely films, has an intense effect of reality. In this universe, World War II was ended by a few violent American agents shooting and blowing up Hitler in a movie theater in France. As a result, American culture becomes hyper-sensitive to film culture. One of the American commandos, Donny Donowitz, in “Inglorious Bastards” is the grandfather of the Hollywood film producer in Tarantino’s “True Romance.”

Films like “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” are about people who live in this alternative America. Mr. Blonde in “Reservoir Dogs,” whose real name is Vic Vega, is the brother of hit man Vincent Vega in “Pulp Fiction.” Other Tarantino movies, like “Kill Bill” and “Grindhouse,” are films that people in this universe would go see—films within films, if you will. If reality in the Tarantino universe is as violent as “Pulp Fiction," how gory and desensitized would a movie in that universe be? The answer might be why "Kill Bill" is literally drenched in gore. So gory that Tarantino was forced to shoot part of the movie in black and white.

There are numerous other tells, like Red Apple cigarettes, a fictional brand of cigarettes seen in several of Tarantino’s movies. All of this, of course, is oh so trite.

Tarantino came under particular criticism for his characters’ use of the N-word in his film “Jackie Brown,” Tarantino’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch. This criticism came up again this past year with the release of his latest movie, “Django Unchained,” which is set in the antebellum south. Many called his exorbitant use of the N-word in the film offensive; the word is used more than a hundred times Tarantino’s response to these criticisms is more apt than anything I could come up with:

“As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are, all right? And to say that I can't do that because I'm white, but the Hughes brothers can do that because they're black, that is racist. That is the heart of racism, all right. And I do not accept that ... It would not be questioned if I was black, and I resent the question because I'm white. I have the right to tell the truth. I do not have the right to lie.”

Boom!

As far as his obsession with violence is concerned, yeah there is a lot of violence and gore in Tarantino films, agreed. But there is also a lot of violence in Michael Bay films, and James Cameron movies, and in most contemporary visual media. Those cries fall on deaf ears here.

As Tim Roth’s character bleeds out in the back of car on my iPad, I chew ice from the plastic cup. Refilled, I slide down in the tub and feel the warm water around me and the cold rum running down my throat. I realize something, something beyond Tarantino’s style or his racial language or his violence.

He’s just fucking cool.

The way he makes his characters speak their diction, each word chosen carefully and delivered with poise and deliberateness by his actors, has been lacking in film for quite some time. The way John Travolta rolls his cigarettes, the way Tim Roth delivers his commode story, or Uma dances around in her living room. It all makes you believe that people can still act and talk and move like this, with purpose, with attitude. In a culture filled with sweatpants in public, aluminum beer bottles, the infestation of the word “like,” and constant social media babbling, at least someone is still dedicated to cool. There is hope in Tarantino films, hope that we can still be cool and self-aware as a culture.

When I sit down to watch his movies, it reminds me of what it felt like when I smoked my first cigar or drank my first mouthful of bourbon. It reminds a white collar stooge what it was once like to have thoughts and actions as one, smooth and steady, and what it is like to be cool as fuck.

And as long as you force yourself never to forget this, perhaps while naked in a hotel tub loaded on Coke and Sailor Jerry, then maybe you’ll never lose it.

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