Tarantino's dialogue

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 19, 2009

Matt Zoller Seitz has put together a selection of scenes from Quentin Tarantino's movies to illustrate what Seitz calls "the filmmaker's Socrates-in-a-dive-bar mindset" with regard to dialogue.

Tarantino doesn't just explore language's capacity to reveal and conceal motives and personality, he shows how people pick words and phrases (consciously or subconsciously) in order to define themselves and others, and describe the reality they inhabit (or would like to inhabit). Even low-key and seemingly unimportant exchanges are as carefully choreographed as boxing matches. Clever flurries of interrogatory jabs are often blocked by witty responses; the course of conflict can be shifted by deft rhetorical footwork that re-frames the terms of debate.