By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
RJ Smith's article on Quentin Tarantino and Kill Bill ["The Tao of Tarantino," October 1-7] was the best film piece you have printed in ages. Smith's writing is excellent: He condenses so much commentary on and references to pop culture in this one piece. I hope he writes more for your paper.
RJ Smith succumbs to a preposterous level of hyperbole with his lead line about Tarantino's new movie, Kill Bill. Saving Private Ryan remains by far "the most violent American movie ever made" and would have garnered a profit-prohibiting NC-17 rating were it not for Steven Spielberg's imperious influence over the MPAA ratings board. Kill Bill is a gloriously innovative film, but not by reason of RJ Smith's misleading article title.
THE X IS FOR X-TREME
I harbor reservations regarding the assertion that Kill Bill might be "The Most Violent American Movie Ever Made." The hype seems presumptuous. Can Tarantino really top Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch or Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia? Or, for that matter, can he even go up against Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Whatever little Quentin can dish out, I'm sure there is no way the geeky former video store clerk can possibly shock audiences the way Pasolini did with the unparalleled horrors in his cinematic adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's most notorious novel. Despite Tarantino's auspicious beginnings, my taste for his filmmaking has diminished following each new project he releases. Judging from the trailers for Kill Bill, it appears to me that he has already descended into the abyss of unintentional self-parody in an attempt to maintain his fragile reputation as an "original" auteur. He shot his load with Reservoir Dogs and has been dry-humping audiences ever since.
WHAT ABOUT FINDING NEMO?
Memo to Quentin Tarantino: "Pure cinema" can also be approached without action sequences. I have just seen Austrian director Ruth Mader's film Struggle, in which the story of an illegal immigrant making a life for herself and her daughter is told with a minimum of words and a maximum of cinematographic brilliance. No adrenaline rush, perhaps, but a fine cinematic experience.
SAID AND DONE
So long as you honor such public obligations as a member of the so-called media, there may be some hope left in this world of machtpolitik. It is "power" we should fear, and fight, not powerlessness.
A NOTE FROM DAVID A. ROSS
Excuse me! But Jerry Saltz is 100 percent wrong ["At the Crossroads," October 8-14]. I was not canned, nor was I even forced to leave. I left for what I thought would be an exciting new set of challenges in San Franciscoin particular the opportunity to help build the collections and programs of SFMOMA.
I left the Whitney with the fifth floor completed and paid for, the "American Century" exhibition in place (and also paid for), very fond memories of a great staff, and wonderful relationships with the vast majority of an active and generous board of trustees.
I join you in your positive feelings about Adam Weinberg. In fact, I think he will be a superb Whitney director. But please check your facts before you make such potentially offensive pronouncements.
David A. Ross
Jerry Saltz replies: Incorrect facts are embarrassing and don't advance the case of my article, whose larger points still stand. However, I inadvertently contributed to the (widely held) art world misconception that at the very least David Ross was eased out of his job by an unhappy board of trustees (along these lines a well-known museum curator recently remarked, "Everyone knows directors are never fired. They resign, even if it's the way Richard Nixon resigned").
In fact Ross was not fired in 1998. He tendered his resignation to become the director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a job he held for three years, before resigning. In addition, I hope when I wrote that three of the institution's top curators were "pushed or fell on their swords" it was understood that Lisa Phillips left the Whitney of her own accord after Maxwell Anderson succeeded Ross as director of the museum.
I'M A SCHWARZENEGGEROCRATICAN
Anticipating a Left/Dem echo of the Bushrepublican scramble to get their signatures somewhere close to the Schwarzenegger triumph, Ridgeway's article was a keen delight, an alert snapshot.
Bravo to The Village Voice and the gang!
Well, I'm sure Savage gets his jollies masturbating over a picture of some grossly exploited woman (which is presumably why he uses this grotesque generalization to justify his own disgusting habits). But the reality is that many men do not look at pornand we're not liars or castrati. Many menmore and more every dayrecognize that pornography demeans not just its subjects, but all of humanity.
Dan Savage replies: After reading Mr. Beswick's compelling, informed letter, I have resolved to never again look at pornographic images of grossly exploited women while I masturbate.
Hey, it's great to make it into popular culture any way you can! And I was pleased to see Rob Brezsny's horoscopic reference to my novel, On the Road to Baghdad [June 25, 2003], aimed to advance Sagittarians' sex lives, but please let him know he's got my gender wrong: I am as female as they come.