I watched Quentin Tarantino's "Hateful 8" the other night, and am still digesting it as a work of art. While I'm not an incredible fan of the excessive blood and violence, it does have a soul and a complex theme. But mostly what I want to talk about today, in relation to my common theme of "novel stuffing", is Tarantino's patience as a director.
He doesn't rush things. His characters have conversations. He lets anticipation build up. He waits. He makes the audience wait. While in a novel, this is composed of words, Tarantino's slow movement is painted in color and images and dialogue, until (most of the time) some violent explosion.
Like the writer's that write floridly, I envy Tarantino's patience, perhaps even more so in his medium than I usually do in text. I love old movies. I love slow movies. Kubrick is my favorite. I love the films of the seventies that linger and linger and linger.
Maybe I worry about the modern American mind and its short attention span, that leads me to write so sparingly and without lingering. Maybe I worry about my audience's lack of free time and mental space, and hope to entertain them with little work on their behalf.
Movies are different though. While they might take an attention span, one doesn't have make one's way through an ocean of words to linger or meditate on a scene.
I'm also thinking of the opening of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time in the West", another western, with it's very slow opening that builds anticipation over minutes and minutes until the hero (Charles Bronson) makes his appearance and kills the bad guys. This is one of my favorite openings in movies, and obviously informed Tarantino's technique.
I can't really think of a scene from a novel similar to these two directors' work, I think mostly because cinema and literature are so darn different.
However, one of the parts in a novel that I love that lingers and slowly tells its story is the first opening pages of John Steinbeck's East of Eden. As a kid, I was obsessed with this work and read it over and over as Steinbeck describes the Salinas valley. I love this work.
Another scene that comes to mind is the opening prologue of Don Delillo's "Underworld", which features a panoramic, camera flying view of a baseball game featuring a multitude of characters including Edgar Hoover and other famous personages. It's a pretty stunning piece of writing in an otherwise so-so book (in my opinion). But this prologue is truly a tour de force, and I definitely recommend reading that, though not necessarily the rest of the book.
Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about today.