“If Tony Scott didn’t inspire a lot of respect from critics, he does have some dissident champions among serious cinephiles. More than one colleague dinged me for liking his films, as if happily admitting to their pleasures was an unpardonable breach of good taste (or correct politics). There was plenty about his work that was problematic and at times offensive, yet it could have terrific pop, vigor, beauty and a near pure-cinema quality.

“These were, more than anything, films by someone who wanted to pull you in hard and never let you go. Years after I met him, Mr. Scott sent me a note of thanks for my review of Domino, embellishing it with a witty self-portrait of a figure in a red cap smoking a very large cigar. He looms large on this little rectangle, a blank screen he filled with vivid energy.” — N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis in a tribute piece (“A Director Who Excelled In Excess”) appearing in today’s print edition.

Domino was perhaps my least favorite Scott film of all. But Man On Fire was right at the top. Yesterday I sent the following this to a journalist friend yesterday who was looking for a quote or two about Scott’s under-appreciated films:

“While I suspect that Tony Scott’s politics were liberally inclined, Man on Fire was, I submit, perhaps the most brilliant right-wing revenge thriller ever made, and one of the most satisfying post-9/11 movies about socking it to the ‘other’ — anarchic, ruthless, swarthy non-American sociopaths.

Denzel Washington‘s Creasy, an ex-CIA operative working as a bodyguard for a young American girl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City, fulfilled every right-winger’s violent fantasies when he went all ballistic and medieval on the gang members behind her kidnapping. He might as well have been torturing and killing Al Qeada members, and you can bet that he was doing exactly that in the minds of many who watched this manic, jolting, brilliantly edited 2004 film.”