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Q: Where were you in 1993? A: Watching True Romance

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2010 7:30PM

2010_07_true_romance.jpg Sobering fact for persons of a certain vintage: it has now been 17 years since Dazed and Confused came out, which is precisely the amount of time between its 1976 setting and its 1993 release. We may have to wait for a loving generational appraisal via coming-of-age story for that epoch, but that doesn't mean we can't ask "What were the kids into in 1993?" If you were going to make Dazed and Confused II: The Grunge, what would the characters be watching and listening to?

First answer: anything by a precocious and borderline notorious writer and director named Quentin Tarantino, who was suddenly everywhere in the mid-90s, and who happens to be featured throughout July and August at the Film Center. All of his major films will be shown, and most paired with other movies which inspired or relate to the director's work (His Girl Friday, The Wild Bunch, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, etc.). You won't find even a mediocre film in this program.

Our pick, the 1993 entrant (obviously), is True Romance, the script Tarantino sold to finance Reservoir Dogs. And while it is directed by Tony Scott, we'd argue it has the full complement of Tarantino-isms, including a plot lovingly overcooked by the brain of a video store employee, a genuinely shocking (for its time) amount of profanity and graphic violence, a closet full of high and low brow influences paraded openly with a jarring self-assurance, and an undercurrent of sentimentalism below the comic book-esque characterizations and criminality. Throw in a cast of Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, Michael Rappaport, Samuel L. Jackson, Bronson Pinchot, James Gandolfini and Brad Pitt, add a review from a Republican presidential candidate (we think they should put "Mindless violence and loveless sex -- Bob Dole" on the front of the DVD), and you have yourself a neglected and entertaining time capsule of 1993.

Check it out this Saturday and get a discounted admission to Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo, one of the truly great Westerns and an inspired choice to showcase Tarantino's debt to the genre. In the meantime, Grindhouse plays tonight if you cannot wait for the weekend to get your Tarantino fix.

Check out the original trailer for the film after the jump.