Top Five: Quentin Tarantino

Amanda Kirkham

Yesterday it was announced that Quentin Tarantino would not be directing his new film The Hateful Eight due to the script being leaked. Apparently he released it to only a select few people and either one of them leaked it, or somehow allowed it to get leaked. It must be incredibly jarring to have someone close to you, who you trust, betray that trust so it’s understandable why he wouldn’t want to be involved as deeply in the project. However, if the film does end up being made, I hope that Tarantino changes his mind and decides to direct it because he is a creative genius. That is how I decided upon my topic this week. Here are my Top Five Quentin Tarantino Films.

5. Django Unchained (2012)

Quentin Tarantino’s most recent film is also one of his best. It covers a sensitive topic in a very Tarantino-esque fashion. It’s vulgar, bloody, over-the-top, and excellently executed. This is the man who made a film about the Nazis and World War II (which we will get to) so he knows how to tactfully handle historically taboo subjects. He does so by making the bad guys pay big time. Films are supposed to be cathartic and Tarantino delivers unique experiences where his audience gets the opportunity to watch terrible people get what they deserve, and he even sometimes changes history. Django Unchained does just that. Jamie Foxx plays a slave who gets to kick the crap out of some awful human beings, and then ride off into the moonlight with his wife. It’s the ending we all want for the hero. The film also has the added benefit of featuring Walton Goggins (in my opinion, one of Hollywood’s best active actors) in the supporting role of Billy Crash (one of those bad guys who gets exactly what’s coming to him).

4. Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2003/2004)

I included both volumes of the Kill Bill films on the list because they are meant to be viewed together; they are a pair, a set. In terms of style and character development, these are Tarantino’s strongest films. He wanted to make a samurai revenge story and that is exactly what he did. Everything, from the costumes to the music, pays homage to those iconic Japanese films. The narratives of the films are expertly crafted and the characters are each so well defined that their look and mannerisms practically tell their stories. We know that the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are all ruthless killers with specialized talents and that The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) vengeance journey isn’t going to be easy. With each enemy she cuts down, her skill as a fighter shows through and the audience gets more and more anxious for the final showdown with Bill (David Carradine).

3. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Tarantino’s first full-length feature film tells the story of a jewelry heist gone wrong. This was the world’s introduction to his dialogue-driven stories. At 99 minutes, it is one of his shortest films and features very little action. This is a film about a jewelry heist that the audience never actually sees. The action sequences are short and more about filling in the gaps, rather than to showcase intense stunt work. Even the police raid at the end happens off camera. There is one particularly nasty scene with Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) and a captured cop. Tarantino is usually all about the development of characters through long spoken sequences. The fact that he has Mr. Blonde torture the young cop says so much about that character. Mr. Blonde is all about action first, and no discussion later. He acts rather than talks, and he’s the one to be wary of because you never know what he might do in a moment of lunacy. It’s pretty brilliant writing to have each character reveal their personality through speeches and conversations, except one.

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

This is typically referred to as a Tarantino classic, and rightfully so. The film consists of three main stories, and is told in a non-linear fashion. There is Butch (Bruce Willis) the boxer, who didn’t throw his last fight like he was supposed to but instead took Marsellus’ (Ving Rhames) money and bet on himself. He is trying to get out of town before the crime boss finds him. The there are Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta), who have to clean up an unfortunate accident, and later there are Vincent and Mia (Uma Thurman), Marsellus’ wife, who have some slight drug-related issues. Lastly there are Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and Pumpkin (Tim Roth), the couple who rob the diner Jules and Vincent are having breakfast in. The film doesn’t necessarily have flashbacks or flash forwards, it is just told out of sequence but somehow Tarantino makes it work. It’s like watching little vignettes that at the end are revealed to be parts of a larger story, and all of the dialogue is quintessential Tarantino – smart and biting.

1. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

In this Oscar nominated Quentin Tarantino cinematic masterpiece, Brad Pitt plays Lt. Aldo Raine, the leader of a band of Jewish-American soldiers on a special mission in German-occupied France during World War II. His heavy Arkansas accent and no-nonsense attitude are perfectly juxtaposed by Christoph Waltz’s disturbing performance as Colonel Hans Landa, which was horrifyingly dark. From the spot on casting to the liberal retelling of history, everything about this film is perfect. Tarantino’s work is at its best when he gets great actors in scenes together, delivering impeccably constructed dialogue. The opening sequence with Landa interrogating the French farmer is intensely unnerving, as is the famous strudel scene. As I mentioned earlier, Tarantino likes the villains in his films to pay enormously for their sins and aggressions. The villains in this film just so happen to be Nazi soldiers and politicians, and, man, do they get back full force what they have done to their occupied victims.

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One response to “Top Five: Quentin Tarantino

  1. Pingback: If I Had Made That Movie: ‘Pulp Fiction’ |·

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