Quentin Tarantino's 'Best of 2013 So Far' list raised some eyebrows (as his lists always do) when he put The Lone Ranger on it. The film, a bomb that was critically reviled, seemed like an odd choice, especially as QT's list had no further explanation. Now he has spoken out about it and... well, The Lone Ranger still seems like an odd choice.
“The first forty-five minutes are excellent…the next forty-five minutes are a little soporific. It was a bad idea to split the bad guys in two groups; it takes hours to explain and nobody cares. Then comes the train scene—incredible! When I saw it, I kept thinking, ‘What, that’s the film that everybody says is crap? Seriously?’
"That being said, I still have a little problem with the film. I like Tonto’s backstory—the idea that his tribe got slaughtered because of him; that’s a real comic-book thing. But the slaughter of the tribe, by gunfire, from the cavalry, it left a bitter taste in my mouth," he said, continuing: "The Indians have really been victims of a genocide. So slaughtering them again in an entertaining movie, Buster Keaton style… That ruined the fun a bit for me. I simply found it…ugly.
"Making fun of this, when America really did it, it bothered me...That doesn’t stop it from being a good film but they could have done without that.".
When the interviewer challenged him on this, asking how that was different from Django Unchained, Tarantino said:
"I didn’t make 'Lone Ranger'…that’s two different things. I did an examination of America. I tried to juggle with different things and, frankly, I think I did it better than them. I don’t know, let’s just say that it was ugly. And violent. And boring. And it happens right in the middle of the film’s bad part, anyway. [laughs]"
That seems fair to me. The defenders of The Lone Ranger will say that Gore Verbinski was also examining America, but intention isn't execution. Tarantino masterfully juggles tones in Django Unchained, one of the best films of his career. Verbinski drops tones like a shitty juggler mishandling balls.
In general I think QT is doing that special film buff thing, which is taking the parts of The Lone Ranger he likes and discarding the rest. Most of us do this years after a movie is released, after we've had time to digest it and revisit it and recontextualize it. For Tarantino this process seems to be immediate.
While he was at it, Tarantino also gave his opinion on Ben Affleck as Batman:
"I have to admit that I don't really have an opinion. Why? Because Batman is not a very interesting character. For any actor. There is simply not much to play. I think Michael Keaton did it the best, and I wish good luck to Ben Affleck. But, you know who would have made a great Batman? Alec Baldwin in the '80s."
YES. He's right: Batman is one of the most boring characters in pop fiction. It's hard to imagine people actually caring about the character; they seem to just project themselves into him and imagine themselves beating the shit out of their problems.
Quentin Tarantino forever.