Once Upon a Luz

Don't get me wrong, I like Tarantino. But let me get this off my chest: his last two films have dropped the ball. The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are weak.

Hateful left you with a bloody mess but nothing to take home - Netflix didn't give any justice making it a miniseries. Hollywood left you with a decent last scene that paid tribute to the Tate family and altering a murderous history. But overall it's taking me a long time to come to terms that Tarantino isn't the indie filmmaker that I grew up with. He's his own kind of breed now and I'm respectfully walking away for awhile. Someone said Tarantino's last film should be Hollywood and I'm not going to disagree. Am I one to judge an incredible filmmaker? No. Not at all. But I am going to speak my mind about how I feel when I left the theater. I wasn't upset, just disappointed. I feel like I'll never get the same spark I got when I first saw Reservoir Dogs on VHS with my friend Joe during summer vacation - with Mr. Pink blasting away at the cops in busy Los Angeles. I won't be excited when my stepdad popped in the DVD of Pulp Fiction to see Jules Winnfield yell "Motherfucker!" - eyes bulging and then popping a cap in someone's dead ass. I'll never hold in my breath again in suspense when the Bride sucks out Elle Driver's eyeball during a samurai sword fight, quashing it between her toes while screams of agony and vengeance fill Bud's trailer.

I just yearn for the same magic I got when I saw his old films. It's either bone dry slow or rehashed of old, used jokes from the previous films. I got sad when we had a callback to a prior film because the callback reminded me so much of what I once wanted when I did go to the theater from a time that once was. To me, Hollywood isn't going to float long. It'll sink back down, La Brea tar pit style, reminding us of a bloody orchestrated magical time in independent cinema.

Speaking of origins, I recently watched the director debut art house masterpiece, Luz. Rapture-driven thriller/horror low budget indie comes with all items that hold dear to me: odd run time, smoke and mirrors, red hot lipsticked French women, an ear-piercing horror techno soundtrack and the devil himself in wide-eyed human form - wreaking havoc in a German police station. Sounds odd? It is. But it's independent art at it's finest. I'm glad the director didn't hold back and took the audience along for a solid ride of terror, of past mistakes and of hypnotic trances that leave you wondering about the plane of everyday reality while battling inner demons. What Tilman Singer gave me was the ability to appreciate simplicity and haunting long lasting impressions - using a low budget of clever vintage film styles and smoky rooms that you fill with your dark imagination. To introduce a host-killing demon into the film and use blasphemy in it's wake made me salivate to tell me there are other artists out there who willing break taboo in a tasteful artistic manner.

If you're looking for something to chew on that is infinite cubits away from Tarantino and studio-style cinema, seek out Luz. You might be fulfilled. You might be possessed. Either way, deep down you'll feel better.



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