A household name. That is a feat few directors can claim. So, why has Tarantino captivated the hearts and minds of so many people across the globe?
Well, this guy is going to tell you.
At the beginning of July, I decided to change up how I watch films a little bit. I decided to pick a director and watch all his films in order. I chose Quentin Tarantino because he is perhaps one of the famous, or infamous, directors of our age. I wouldn’t say that he is one of my favourite filmmakers and I feel like the praise that he gets as “The Greatest Director of Our Time” is unwarranted. I think he is good…but not amazing. So, I entered into this endeavor hoping that the entirety of his works would sway me. My goal was to check out his films in order to see how his style changed-if any-and, if it didn’t, I wanted to see how his style was formed or molded. A buddy of mine and I have discussed our favourite Tarantino films and I also wanted a better ground to base that discussion on.
Enough about me. Here are the films in order of release date. This is going to go quickly, so strap in.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) was where his films began. It is about a jewelry heist gone wrong and the criminals involved begin to think that one of them is a police informant. The film stars Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen, among many others. This propelled Quentin Tarantino into a very interesting career. My favourite part of the film was the dialogue and the chemistry between the actors. It is a film that keeps you guessing the first time you watch it, until the initial climax, but remains highly re-watchable. It includes the very memorable scene where Michael Madsen’s character turns on Steeler’s Wheel “Stuck In The Middle With You”, then proceeds to torture a police officer and cuts his ear off. For a very long time, I thought that this was my favourite Tarantino film. I think after finishing all his films again, that may change.
Pulp Fiction(1994) is considered to many as his magnum opus. It follows a series of interconnected stories of mob men, a boxer, a mobster’s wife and two diner thieves. The connection is violence and redemption. This film stars Quentin’s leading lady and man of most of his films, Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson. Add a cup of John Travolta, a dash of Ving Rhames, a tablespoon of Bruce Willis, a pinch of Tim Roth, and you have the recipe for a hell of a promising film. I think my favourite scene… just kidding, how do you just pick one? I enjoyed the beginning scene where Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta is first introduced until they get what they are after. Jackson’s hilarious and over the top dialogue is perfect for a man of his stature and persona in the film. “SAY WHAT AGAIN! I DARE YOU…I DOUBLE DARE YOU MOTHERF**KER!.” A close second for favourite scene in this movie was when Travolta and Jackson have Marvin in the back seat and Travolta says “You gotta have an opinion” and his gun misfires and he accidentally kills Marvin, saying “oh shit, I shot marvin in the face”. Just the way Travolta delivers that line is fucking hilarious. Yes, I cuss-get over it. I think the mix of drama and crime with many overtones of black comedy serve the movie well. It’s definitely a film to see. However, I went in the first time hearing all of this “greatest film of all time” word of mouth and I left feeling very disappointed; I thought it was a great film, but by no means did i think it was the greatest film of all time.
netflix pulp fiction? Yes
Jackie Brown (1997) is a highly underrated Tarantino film. Not many people discuss this film when it comes to Tarantino and his body of work. Pam Grier is the star of this film, accompanied by Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, and Michael Keaton. The film follows Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) who gets caught in the middle of a conflict that will either make her rich or will cost her life. I think my favourite overall part of the film is the delightful soundtrack. It is absolutely full of great tunes, like Across 101st Street and Strawberry Letter 22. But, lets be honest, Tarantino’s films always have really delightful soundtracks. My favourite scene in the movie was when Robert De Niro’s character and Bridget Fonda’s character are attempting to find the van in the parking lot, and Melanie keeps annoying Robert De Niro’s character. Its a very humorous scene and the after part with Samuel L. Jackson is even more funny. I highly recommend watching this film.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). Where to begin. Let us go back to the start. The first time I watched Kill Bill Vol. 1, I had everyone in my high school class talking it up to me, saying “ITS THE BEST MOVIE YOU HAVE GOT TO WATCH IT!”. So I watched it. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. At first, I thought the plot was terrible, but the action was pretty good. Flash forward to 2016, when I decided to do this marathon, I watched it again and this time I ended up enjoying it. I really thought that Uma Thurman’s character “The Bride” was a very intelligent and meticulously crafted character. The whole premise of the film is The Bride is out to get revenge on Bill for killing her. The best scene in the film by far for me was the final battle between The Bride and The Crazy 88. The over the top violence may not be for everyone, but the choreography of the fight and how crazy it was… get it? see what i did there? I thought it was just a cool movie. Mind-blowing? Maybe not. Fun? Hell yes.
Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004). It is interesting to note that Tarantino did the first volume and second volume back to back. I guess he did not want for people to wait or maybe he was just that excited about the project. Vol. 2 picks up where the first volume lets off. Uma Thurman’s The Bride is continuing her quest for revenge against Bill. Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of this film. Maybe I need a second watch, like I did with the first, but I doubt my opinion will change much. I did not like the plot, or the action scenes and I didn’t think it was as good as the first volume. It appears that even Tarantino gets hit with the “sequel curse”. I will definitely re-watch it and will do an update, but for now I think this is Tarantino’s weakest film of his filmography.
Death Proof (2007) is an underrated film. The first time I watched it, I wasn’t a huge fan (like my usual experiences with Tarantino’s works), but as I got older and started to really branch out in the films, I found myself enjoying it. I appreciate the filmography, particularly the filter that was used on the camera. Kurt Russell’s “Stuntman Mike” was a great character; one half creepy and one half hilarious, and definitely an asshole. I thought he was well-rounded. I like characters with flaws. It was also cool to see Zoe Bell in an acting role. She’s been behind the scenes in lots of Tarantino films as Uma Thurman’s stunt double for years, but she stepped up and delivered a very good role for Death Proof. My favourite scene by far was the end car chase between Stuntman Mike and the group of girls he was stalking-yes, stalking. I said he was creepy, alright? It was intense, bloody, well shot, and kept me on the edge of my seat. A lot of people consider this to be his worst film, but screw them. I enjoyed it.
Inglourious Basterds (2009) is set in Nazi-occupied France in World War 2. The film centers around a plan to assassinate the Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers; a plan that lines up with a theatre owners plan to carry out her own revenge. The film has an all star cast of Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender and Daniel Bruhl. This film is honestly perfect in my opinion. The setting is one of my favourite eras in history – World War 2 -and what made me want to study history. I think what perfected this film for me was the amazing performance by Christopher Waltz in the character of Col. Hans Landa. He was the perfect balance between being evil to the bone and hilarious. He was creepy, but was also likeable-very likeable for a antagonist of a film. His best line was “Thats a Bingo!” while laughing maniacally. Sure, it was funny, but I was terrified about where he was going. I also thought that, despite the lack of screen time, Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine was a phenomenal character. He was very funny, yet his character knew exactly what needed to be done in order to succeed in their mission. The cinematography in the film was amazing, the setting was amazing, the characters were amazing. My favourite scenes were the climax of the film, the beginning of the film when we were introduced to Christoph Waltz’s character, the bar scene with Michael Fassbender – he was so good in this film, and every other film. I genuinely believe that Fassbender is one of the best actors working today. And lastly the scene where the US army is trying to figure out who speaks the most “I-Talian.” What I am trying to say, really, is that all the scenes were my favourite. Is that cheating? Oh well. The black comedy undertones are great and I would definitely recommend this film to everyone. This has replaced Reservoir Dogs as my favourite Tarantino film. It was just a great film and begs to be experienced.
netflix inglorious basterds? Yes
Django Unchained (2012) is another story of revenge-a Tarantino favourite. Django is a freed slave played by Jamie Foxx – in one of the best roles I’ve seen him in – sets out to free his wife from a plantation owner (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of a German bounty hunter (played by the amazing Christoph Waltz). This film was very well made. The story was great, and for a film pushing three hours, it kept me interested and on the edge of my seat. The characters were well written (surprise, it’s Tarantino, of course he has well written characters.) Christoph Waltz was lovable, and he played a great character again. Jamie Foxx was phenomenal; he was mysterious, but he had a goal, and he didn’t talk a lot but you knew that he just wanted to get his wife back. Leonardo DiCaprio, on the other hand, definitely stole the show. He reminded me a little of Christoph Waltz’s character in Inglorious Basterds; he was likeable despite being incredibly creepy and racist. Speaking of, my only real gripe with the film that I think needs to be stated is the overuse of the N-word. It was a bit much. Yes, it was a film that took place in the slave era, and yes, you can use it a little bit in your film to emphasize the era, but I felt like the script overused it. It seemed like every other word was the N-word. I feel like subtlety would have still had the same impact and carried the same effect in the film. Another film that did that, which carried a very powerful message, was Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Same era as Django Unchained that used the N-Word sparingly but still had a very powerful effect on the film. Now this being a gripe, isn’t a bad thing, its just my opinion and I still think that this movie was well crafted. My favourite scene in the movie was the dinner table scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character delivers a deliriously crazy, exceptionally written, and well delivered monologue to Django and Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) characters. It made me fall in love with Leo’s acting all over again. I think that this film is definitely in the top 3 of my favourite films by Tarantino.
netflix django unchained? Yes
Lastly, The Hateful Eight (2015). The film is about a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that find themselves sheltered in a cabin during a blizzard. The cabin is inhabited by many interesting and quirky characters. The first time I watched this film, I liked it but I felt like something was missing. It was Tarantino, but it seems very tamed compared to his usual filmmaking. After the second watch, I think that this film was well done. It was slow, but burning throughout the whole film. The tension was very high and it kept my attention for three hours. My thing about three hour films is, while I enjoy them, if you don’t keep my attention throughout the whole movie, I will start looking at my phone, or pause more, or take a break. That was not necessary during this film. The characters are what kept me intrigued. I think Samuel L. Jackson’s character was the best; he was subtle, but when he had to be intense, he delivered with full force. I also give a lot of credit to Channing Tatum’s character as he was a very vital part of the plot of the film, but he didn’t overproduce himself (similar to Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds.) I don’t think i have a favourite scene in the movie, but I do think that people should definitely check it out. Like I said before, It is a Quentin Tarantino film, but it is decidedly different than anything that he has done before. That is why I like it; it’s Tarantino, the elements are there, but it’s different than anything else he has done in his filmography.
In closing, I felt like this was a very interesting way to watch movies. I got to see how Tarantino’s style was molded and came to be. I also got to see the relationships that have prospered throughout Tarantino’s career. He is a big fan of using similar actors in his different films – Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth for example. But in closing I would like to say, this is a fun way to watch movies, and after watching his eight films back to back, I can better decide what I think is his best films. So, lastly, I will rate my top three – they are as follows – keep in mind this is my opinion, I invite you, if you disagree to do a marathon of his films!
- Inglorious Basterds
- Reservoir Dogs
- Pulp Fiction
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I know its a really long post, and it rambles but i appreciate your time.
Until next time! Keep your eyes on the screen!