James Napoli: Movie Review: Quentin Tarantino’s Haunting The Coming of Spring

As much of America emerges exhausted from a winter full of storms and tentatively ushers in spring, Hollywood marks the joyous occasion by debuting the first in a series of contemplative ‘Seasons’ pictures by famous directors. The Coming of Spring, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, presents four short segments about this restorative season of renewal that interweave into a profound narrative about blood, death, mutilation and the infectious laughter induced by scenes of dismemberment.

The film opens with a visceral, intestine-laden battle between a lion and a lamb, in which the tiny lamb, with one dangling eyeball and its stomach mauled away, emerges ultimately victorious over the lion. This is, of course, symbolic of March coming in like a lion and going out like a partially blinded and disemboweled lamb. Soon, the lamb is joined by its staff-wielding shepherd owner (Harvey Kietel), a Biblical figure in cotton robes who nonetheless wanders with his half-dead pet into modern day East Los Angeles for a segment called ‘Spring Cleaning,’ in which the shepherd’s staff doubles as a Samurai sword and decapitates a vicious Drug Lord (Danny Trejo) and his henchmen. If I had one complaint about the film, it’s that the Drug Lord dies too soon. His clever dialogue made many glib references to pop culture and was humorous because it didn’t sound like something a criminal would actually say.

Of course, spring also brings with it the start of the baseball season, and so our shepherd attends an ingenious bit of Tarantino revisionist history that echoes his turn in Inglorious Basterds. Here, the Boston Red Sox play against a team of Nazis in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, and Bill Buckner (Barry Pepper) is vindicated for his crucial fielding error by being able to carve “loser” into the foreheads of the opposing team. Finally, the film addresses the timeworn phrase ‘When a Young Man’s Fancy Turns to Love,’ by having the shepherd wander into a local dive bar and become entranced by a sexy pool hustler (Uma Thurman), who uses the testicles of the men she has defeated at billiards as the balls in a supernatural game-to-the-death. Tarantino himself appears in a cameo in this segment, as a hapless challenger who thinks he can defeat the mysterious Siren by making occasional comical homophobic references.

To say more would make for too many spoilers about this uplifting, life-affirming ode to one of the most well regarded and hopeful of the four seasons, made by a director known for touching upon so many sensitive, universal human truths. According to Fox Searchlight, distributor of the “Seasons’ franchise, the three other films in the series will be Winter directed by Darren Aronofksy, in which brittle, emotionally tortured women experiment with lesbianism while competing in the Iditarod; Summer, directed by Christopher Nolan, which concerns a stoic man who experiences several internal lifetimes as he sits on the dock by a rental cottage and is not even sure if he really exists, and, finally, Fall, directed by Nora Ephron, about several neurotic people wondering if they have offended anybody while crunching through fallen leaves.

The studios press release claims, “If Twilight, Harry Potter and comic books have taught us anything, it’s that brand recognition translates into success at the box office. And there ain’t nobody who doesn’t already know about Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall. It’s just too bad they weren’t video games beforehand, but you can’t have everything.”

James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the Web can be seen here.

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