I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of Smokin' Aces a few months back, and after the movie ended I (and a bunch of other writers) got to sit down and shoot the breeze with writer/director Joe Carnahan. First off, say what you will about the guy, but he sure does know his movies. I've met filmmakers whose eyes got all glassy when I mentioned Walter Hill or Michael Ritchie, but Carnahan can movie-geek with the best of 'em. But when one of the journalists raised the topic of Quentin Tarantino, well, Joe had a lot to say about that.

According to this juicy article at the Sydney Morning Herald, Joe Carnahan will bite your head off if you compare his latest movie to Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction ... but I think this writer may have misrepresented Joey's tone of voice. When we sat down and discussed the exact same things that are covered in that article, Carnahan spoke quite respectfully of QT. He did, however, make it a point to say something like "Hey, Quentin didn't invent guns and hitmen and rapid-fire dialogue, you know!" -- but I never once got the impression that he was knocking Tarantino at all.

Is Smokin' Aces, in your opinion, too reminiscent of Quentin's flicks? Is it unfair to call one filmmaker a copycat of Tarantino if QT spent his entire career copycatting other filmmakers? (Don't get me wrong; I adore Tarantino's movies, but to label his subject matter as "original" is kind of a joke.) Frankly I don't think Carnahan deserves the copycat label, although I can plainly see where the comparisons are coming from. Smokin' Aces actually reminded me more of Running Scared than Pulp Fiction, but if a director wants to do a hard-R, tongue-in-cheek action flick, it seems he's bound to get painted with the Quentin brush. Kinda unfair, if you ask me.