Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
How could we resist? It feels like Cult Collisions was built for a piece on Quentin Tarantino and has been scheduled to be written since Django Unchained was announced last year. So with that in mind, let’s get to it…
If you don’t know who Quentin Tarantino is then I suggest it’s about time you find out (if you type ‘Q’ into the search bar of IMDb he comes up first) because he is probably the most notorious director in the world today. Master of the pastiche and the grand purveyor of ultra- violence his films continue to this day to drag in cinema viewers for their crude violent nature and their ability to make you howl with laughter at Nazis been beaten to death by baseball bats and bullets through the face… but more on that later. Simply we are going to go from the start and work our way through film by film to give you a comprehensive slice of Tarantino goodness.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Like most directors out there, Tarantino still to this day sights this as his best piece of work and he’s probably right. The film focuses on a small band of part time crooks who set out to rob a bank. The heist itself is never seen we view the meeting before the act takes place and the bloody aftermath that ensues but in non- Hollywood style Tarantino exemplifies his love for disparate and time shifting narratives. For a film set largely within two rooms in an abandoned warehouse Reservoir Dogs remains compelling and hilarious from start to finish. The directors ability in casting is also evident this early on with the inclusion of Harvey Keitel amongst the stellar cast of actors. Never before has an audience laughed so hard and then cringed so intently as the events of Reservoir Dogs unfold. Although the only detracting factor is that Tarantino simply ripped off a Chinese film called ‘City on Fire‘ when he made this film, like much of his work he takes inspiration from old Hollywood B- Movies in place of wholly original ideas.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Often cited by film fans as “the best film ever” Pulp Fiction is considered the jewel in Tarantino’s crown. It defies the typical linear narratives usually seen in film and shifts across events that happen throughout a day covering the affairs of various L.A criminals and their underworld existences. Each story and character is linked to another and the pace of the film never lets up. Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta drive around town assassinating people whilst Bruce Willis attempts to shed his debts and leave L.A whilst Uma Thurman tries to seduce Travolta (before she snorts a pile of heroin) and Tim Roth and his lady friend who appear at first just to be going for breakfast actually enact a robbery on small grotty diner. Yeah it sounds confusing and it can be at times, but this raises the question “what is the point of it all?”. If it had been presented in linear fashion the film really plays out like a collection of short stories with no actual conclusion, what Tarantino did so well here was that he managed to hash together four narratives that alone don’t constitute good cinema but that together make something very watchable. But then again if we start asking about the point of the film then that’s really failing to grasp what Tarantino does. He’s entertainer but he doesn’t win any awards for cinematic beauty and he isn’t changing the world. However with this film he gave us the line ‘BAD MOTHER FUCKER’ and made talking about McDonald’s cool.
Jackie Brown (1997)
The only way to describe this is as Pulp Fictions ugly sister or Pulp Fiction 2. It’s similar to the previous film but in no way does it live up to it’s predecessor. The pacing is all wrong for a start, the first hour is comparable to pulling teeth and drags like nails on a chalk board. Also by this point the tales of the seedy underbelly of L.A were becoming a bit over done. Really why do we care about people that enjoy killing for money and that have no other morals or purpose?… quite simply we don’t. If you talk to a pretentious Tarantino fan they will say this is his best film, but that’s only because less people have seen it and so that claim is narrowed due to the many people who skip this in the Tarantino box- set. It’s a bit shit…
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Tarantino must have realised that people were fed up of his cliched gangster flicks as he moved on after a six year hiatus to the Kill Bill double feature. The first part being mainly one long sequence of excellently choreographed martial arts battles filled with as much limb slashing and leg breaking as you could ever care to see. Tarantino invested his love of 70’s and 80’s kung- fu and samurai movies all into one place and boy did he get it right. Yes a lot of the characters were picked up and dropped into this film from others but Kill Bill Vol. 1 is so brilliant because it is so ridiculous. Uma Thurman’s character ‘The Bride’ actually kills nearly 100 people in the first film alone all with here trusted Hatari sword all in the hunt for her treachurous ex- husband Bill. I don’t want to spoil any plot details here but the first part of this film feeds in well to the second and the expansion of the created world. It’s a revenge film… with teeth
Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
The second installment plays out more like a Western as we see The Bride continue her vengeful rampage and come up against her toughest foes to date. Tarantino rounds off the double feature excellently giving us more character study and back story to answer the questions posed in the first volume. It also features David Carradine as Bill (he died shortly after this when he did… you know that thing…) who puts in an excellent performance as The Bride’s ultimate adversary. Tarantino proved that he wasn’t a one trick pony with this film and showed that his abilities as a director didn’t just take root in one specific genre and is something that has defined his career going forwards.
Death Proof (2007)
I’d avoid this one like the plague… it’s two hours of your life you will NEVER get back and that really isn’t a harsh statement at all. Tarantino’s entry into the Grindhouse collective focuses on Kurt Russell’s ‘Stuntman Mike‘ who drives around shitty American towns picking up supermodels and murdering them with his suped- up stunt car. That is literally it, it’s sadistic and morally bankrupt. Mike gets his comeuppance and his killed at the end of the film but it really is one the worst films you will ever see. The soundtrack is pretty good but then again you don’t ever need to see this film to enjoy the music…
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
This has to be this reviewers personal favourite out of all of Tarantino’s career films so far. Yet, even this is stolen from the film ‘Inglorious Bastards’. But it is nevertheless truly excellent, Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt give stunning performances throughout. All in all though this film is good because it really just plays out like one long Nazi- killing fantasy. We all know Nazis are evil dont we? And so we never question that killing them and cutting off their scalps or stabbing them in the face through pillows or bludgeoning them to death with a baseball bat is a bad thing… it’s just HILARIOUS. If you ever wondered what it would look like to shoot Hitler in the fact with an automatic machine gun then look no further. You’ll laugh all the way through and your face will hurt afterwards…
Django Unchained (2013)
Set for release this month is Tarantino’s homage to the Spaghetti Western and the work of late great director Sergio Leone. Waltz is back and with a main casting credit as a bounty hunter and Jamie Foxx is in the lead role as Django, a pistol wielding slave on the hunt for his stolen wife. Originally the role was meant to be for Will Smith but he ended up declining to work on other projects… the only thing worth him missing this for would be a new series of The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air but maybe next time ey?
Kill Bill Vol. 3 (????)
It’s been announced as is rumored to be centered on the daughter of the murdered Vernita Green who sets out to kill The Bride and level the score with her mother’s killer… sounds pretty good but it will probably never get made…
So that’s Tarantino, love him or hate him the guy his here to stay. He doesn’t win any awards for being beautiful and he’ll never be remembered for changing the way we view films but with his work to date he has garnered a loyal and wanting fan base that time after time return to see his films… if only to see Samuel L. Jackson being a badass…