Comments on a Personal Essay

by Dr. Gordon Mennenga

The Good Guys (film student 1998)

The director I have chosen for this assignment is Quentin Tarantino. I looked at several of his movies and one that he had only written and not directed. I looked at the way in which he portrays the criminal. [1] How he shows us the other side of the whole cops and robbers, instead of the good cop chase in the cops' perspective we watch it through the eyes of the criminals'. [2] He captures everything but keeps it so real and not a giant Hollywood show. Tarantino uses all of his talents and that of others; one thing that helps give such authenticity is that he is able to gather great character actors. [3] The good guys [4] in his movies are always the criminals. The final thing that brings everything together is that there is almost always morals laying around with in the movies.

Quentin Tarantino is a director with a beautiful sense of humor that there is no way to dislike him. [5] He looks into the world of crime and almost puts it above everything else. [6] He makes the people look, talk, and act just like people that are in our every day lives. [7] You can see a repeating factor through all his movies, all the films cover the reasons why not to be a criminal, lots of guns, and lots of beautiful sets, scenes that could be just frozen and framed.[8] He is an artist to say the least. With his criminals he doesn't make them dump and stupid, he has the thugs but they are little importance. He looks at kingpins, the big bosses, and the whole network of mobs or gangs. He shows us all sides of them the caring side, the trust, and the loyalty of the criminals. He almost makes us question people around us that resemble actors in his films and look to see if they too could be criminals. Criminals are all around and he shows us that. [9] His sense of humor is wonderful, in one scene of Pulp Fiction, Vincent (John Travolta) brings a OD person [10] over to his dealers house and they are looking down out her trying to figure out who is going to put a needle in the girls chest. [11] The dealer is like, you do it, you brought her you do it, when I bring one to you I'll do it. [12] Tarantino can just make us laugh because personally that is the same thing I would have said if I was in that same position. He also gives them morals they aren't heartless criminals they understand exactly what they are doing just mess up a little. [13] In some of his films he actually gives scripture from the bible which is followed by people getting blown away. [14] He creates these players and is able to move them so that the viewer actually wants to be involved wants to either kill them or be friends with them, I would love to know all these fictional characters that he has made, and in some ways I do with the people that are in my every day life. [15]

His writing style is unbelievable he is able to reach every type of viewer. I touch on it earlier but he writes the dialog out so natural that you would think that the whole movie was made out of improv. [16] He makes scenes that we most likely have seen or lived through in our lives he takes out the glitter of Hollywood and the whole star studded scene and made it real. [17] I found that for some scenes in Pulp Fiction he had had the scene written years before and that when they filmed it they would film it two different ways and then just see which one works. I know a lot of directors do similar things but usually just for the endings. [18] One thing that is just amazing is that there is never one slow point in his films he is able to keep the flow of the film consistent [19] which is very hard to do. But I do have to say with the help of always having the option to kill someone off helps keep people involved. [20]

The final thing is the authenticity [21] of his films like you can see all these aspects help to bring it home [22] but the final thing is that he is able to find some of the best character actors that have ever been on the screen. [23] Just to name a few that Tarantino uses a lot are, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierny, and Michael Madsen all of these actors bring such a real emotion to the screen. You can all most all ready know what their role is just because of the other times that we have seen them in different films. [24] Also the costume is something else that is carried through his films in Reservoir Dogs everyone is in black one white suits which is also seen in Pulp Fiction. [25] He also loves the old cars the classics he gives this class to the people makes them upper class people not just someone rubbing someone because they just need money to live, most of the characters I would love to switch lives with. Even if he uses big name actors they aren't the ones that the story evolves around. They are just used to be able to make it more real because of the greatness of the actor. I would never image John Travolta getting shot to death or Samuel L. Jackson to be a pimp in True Romance that gets blown away, but I do believe it helps to bring in the viewers that might not normally go and see his films. [26] But in the end it all helps to bring the realness [27] to the screen and leave us with a question of are the bad guys really the bad guys or they really the good guys.

To conclude Quentin Tarantino is a beautiful director with talents that blow some out of the water and also a writer that can capture the whole realness situation. [28] He brings to the screen stories that are believable to a point but does always show us that it's just the movies. [29] There is no mistaking a Quentin Tarantino movie even if he has just written it because he is an individual that has what it takes to be just that, and individual. [30] I doubt that there will ever be some one that can do everything that Quentin Tarantino can do. [31]


1. Good start, makes assertion at a specific topic.


2. Lost control of sentence - reconstruct, maybe split in two.

3. Now has five topics going, dangerous, but still clear at this point.

4. Failed to define what he means by "good guys".

5. Writer puts things in the negatives - "no way to dislike him" not a good approach.

6. He could easily cut out most of these extra words.

7. Already dumped point about humor and making third commentary, none of which are connected.

8. List not parallel , the series within this sentence doesn't add up.


9. Every sentence so far has been an assertion with no examples, as a result it lacks development.

10. Suddenly back to humor theme…new paragraph and combine like topics.

11. We get the gist, but it is not a readable sentence - he didn't mention that the OD was a girl, to add content, he could have written "the young woman OD'd on cocaine"

12. A charming sentence, mimics the tone and captures the flavor of the movie.

13. Fairly inaccurate sentence, meant to say that, though they're criminals they have intelligence and some sort of moral code.

14. Offer Bible thing as example - connect it to film terms to improve this.

15. The paper is so far a battle between general and specific - when he makes observations about specific things, his writing is batter, general statements lose focus.

16. He keeps going back to dialog - write paragraph on dialog!


17. Will accept unfounded statement - you can't say anything wrong, but you get credit for what's accurate.

18. Some good sentences in here.


19. Explain what establishes consistency.

20. He has not used one film term yet.

21. Good to use "authenticity".

22. Makes fairly attractive points.

23. Good examples, and "character actor" is film term.


24. Lost focus - term implies this already, no need to waste words on it.

25. Extremely confusing, trying to say that all but one character wears black and that the director favors that kind of costuming.




26. These sentences need help with word choice and clarity - go to the writing center.

27. Good place to use "authentic" again instead of "realness," which is not a word.


28. Paper is devoid of content.

29. Could have listed qualities of a Tarantino movie, "lots of blood, sex, and rock 'n' roll".

30. Habits of not showing examples shows up in conclusion - he's applauding Tarantino in attempt to make everything sound positive - opinion is fine, but if you applaud, give very specific examples why: his editing style, his use of close-up, the pace and rhythm of fast editing, his use of deep-focus and rack-focus - use the terms to help yourself.

31. Overall Comments:

-Can usually tell by the end of the first page whether the writing interferes with a student's ideas, if this is a major issue I tend to edit as I go through and assume the person will take it to the writing center.

-Content fails rubric - it's not there.

-Make use of examples that employ film terms.

-Work from an outline.

-What are the 3 main points? Write with those in mind - even write 2 pages to diminish the scope of the paper - for writers who don't have much experience a 3-4 page paper must be frightening.

-Reduce it to manageable paragraphs.




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