Quantcast

Dissecting Quentin Tarantino!

QUENTIN TARANTINO!

Wouldn't you say Quentin Tarantino has branded himself quite well over the past 20 years? Dude's namesake alone has as much cache and become as an attractive sway as his films themselves. And while he hasn't helmed an out-and-out horror joint per se, an argument can be made that the sustained high level of violence in his films are rivaled by no other contemporary, irrespective of genre. Flicks he's either wholly or partially responsible for, like RESERVOIR DOGS, TRUE ROMANCE, PULP FICTION, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL, DEATH PROOF, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, DJANGO UNCHAINED and now THE HATEFUL EIGHT - have all been unapologetically stamped with the QT insignia of ultra violence!

So, with that friends, as THE HATEFUL EIGHT saddles up to hit the theaters this holiday weekend, allow us the pleasure of reciprocating such violence with an act long overdue. It's high f*cking time we give Quentin Tarantino the Dissection job!

BEST WORK

GET PULP FICTION HERE

While I personally prefer the unbridled brio and unmatched bravado of RESERVOIR DOGS, there's no denying the multidimensional impact of Tarantino's sophomore directorial effort, PULP FICTION. First off, dude bagged on Oscar for the seamlessly interwoven, non-linear screenplay. Secondly, PULP FICTION propagated, in its giant wake of success, an ungodly spate of pseudo-wannabes and never-ending 90s imitators. Seriously, it seemed like every crime picture post-1994 was littered with a strained, stilted attempt of recreating the ironically pop-laced, break-neck pace of Tarantino speak. And failing miserably at it! Not only that, PULP FICTION was the first independent feature to gross more than $100 million worldwide. It changed the landscape of cinematic style...not just on the screen, but in terms of the economic business model as well. Its influence is immeasurable.

However, let's backtrack a tad. Not only is RESERVOIR DOGS more AITH worthy - bloodier, more of a mysterious whodunit (undercover) - it truly is the QT flick I enjoy watching most. It may not boast the same level of Capital Cool that PULP FICTION does, but so what. It starts with that brilliant cast of multigenerational character actors - Kietel, Buscemi, Roth, Penn, Madsen, Tierney, etc. - that really do, pardon, give shaded color to otherwise nameless petty criminals. The flick is also just as hysterically comedic as it shockingly violent...the two poles never better soldered than in the scene in which Mr. Blonde dances a karaoke-laden jig while slicing an ear off a bound and gagged blue-boy. Shite's both hilarious and revolting at once, utterly marauding your senses and challenging the way you're supposed to feel about what you're seeing. This carries over to PULP FICTION, and all of QT's work really, with one instance of such being the key pawn shop sequence in which Butch comes back to save Marsellus Wallace from that sicko-redneck-perv Zed.

GET RESERVOIR DOGS HERE

The other major link between the two works, aside from certain cast members, is the nonlinear narrative structure. How QT still managed to draw such tension and suspense out of an undercover whodunit that he literally spoils halfway through with the revelatory back-story of Mr. Orange, is truly a feat unto itself. So is the fact that this is a heist flick gone wrong in which we never actually see the heist, and how that really dampens not one iota of the compelling character aftermath and overall entertainment value. Word is THE HATEFUL EIGHT, which brings back two cast members from RESERVOIR DOGS (Roth and Madsen), is quite redolent of QT's first...both being shut-in whodunits with eruptive spouts of violence. Let's kneel and pray that his last is as potent as his first!

WORST WORK

GET DEATH PROOF HERE

While I still enjoy the film immensely - both as a standalone horror B-picture as well as part of the official GRINDHOUSE double feature - when stacked up against QT's prior work, there's little debate over DEATH PROOF falling a bit short. I mean, judging by its own runtime, the flick happens to be Tarantino's skimpiest since RESERVOIR DOGS. By contrast, his three features since, including THE HATEFUL EIGHT, have all pushed the epic 3-hour mark. So, in that regard, I'd argue that DEATH PROOF is less an inferior work than it is simply minor Tarantino. Which is fine. That said, I know that, in typical Grindhouse fashion, the promise of something NOT delivered is what many people had a problem with when the flick came out. The posters and adverts promised one thing, and delivered something diametrically opposite, which was actually by design in order to adhere to the tried and true exploitation marketing ploy. So, when people tuned in to find largely a prolix talkie involving a harem of hotties, they felt cheated if not outright dissatisfied.

Not me however. I just love the hysterically over the top turn of Kurt Russell, and how he gets off on using his own stunt vehicle as a high-speed instrument of death. Moreover, it's precisely the psychosexual pleasure Stuntman Mike derives from his very modalities of murder that make for such wildly entertaining moments. That is, the sick f*ck all but creams his shorts with sexual gratification every time he, pardon the pun, fatally rams a hotrod into a pretty young girl's body. Throw in the scratchy 16mm film-stock of vintage 70s schlock, the eminently listenable pop soundtrack, the cool kickback hangout scenes, the harem of easy on the eyes lookers, not to mention the fact that Tarantino shot the film himself, DEATH PROOF is arguably one of QT's most invested piece of signatory authorship he's ever done. I personally wouldn't go that far, but do believe in my heart of hearts that the flick is far better than its rep may indicate.

TRADEMARKS

GET TRUE ROMANCE HERE

As an avid cinephile and once wide-eyed fan-boy now living the dream, QT has established many idiosyncratic filmmaking markers over the years, chief of them being his reappropriation of obscure B-movies and oft-forgotten low-budget genre material. Pastiche, homage, mash-up, call it what you will. For instance, likely my favorite piece of Tarantino writing comes by way of TRUE ROMANCE, a movie that very clearly echoes Terrence Malick's lyrical crime-spree-romance BADLANDS, right down to the musical score lifted by the late great Tony Scott. I love everything about that movie, consider it among my all time favorites, particularly for the performance of Patricia Arquette as Alabama Whirley. And that scene between Hopper and Walken? Hall of fame worthy. Or how about Marsellus Wallace's dialogue in PULP FICTION, "...a pair of pliers and a blowtorch!" That line was cribbed from the great Don Segel/Walter Matthau crime flick CHARLEY VARRICK. Then of course there's KILL BILL, which manages to both tip the cap to, and shoot holes in the body of, the entire martial arts template. Pulling from so much tradition yet adding such a rich undercurrent of his own personal peccadilloes, the result becomes something new entirely.

Of course, we could elaborate with the mention of other trademarks like recasting a lot of the same actors, or his onscreen foot fetish, or constant use of low-angle trunk-shots, but to us, the major throughline in QT's work, aside from the explosive bouts of violence, is the amount of fun he has while poking fun at, paying homage to and completely flipping the conventions of past moviemaking.

HIDDEN GEMS

GET NATURAL BORN KILLERS HERE

Trying to bite our tongue are we over discussing JACKIE BROWN - QT's lone novel adaptation - as his most unheralded jewel, for it really fits no major AITH checkmark. So we shall refrain. Well, except to say De Niro is hilarious in the film and Pam Grier is fine as f*ck! Okay, now let us we'll call attention to a pair of projects that, much like JACKIE BROWN, might seem less conspicuous due to QT's co-authorship. That's right y'all, we're talking flicks Quentin wrote or conceived of, but did not direct. What do you say, where do NATURAL BORN KILLERS and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN rank among the QT canon?

Helmed by Oliver Stone with a great verve and a hyper-surrealistic sense of style, we shall not forget that NATURAL BORN KILLERS was originally conceived of and scripted by QT, then rewritten by Richard Rutowski and David Veloz. Word is QT hated the final cut of the film, until Johnny Cash, his boyhood idol, complimented his work on the film years later in an elevator. Understandable, right? I mean, I can see how incensed QT might have gotten over having one of his first scripts retooled by other writers. It's just that, as a film fan with nary a stake in the fight, NATURAL BORN KILLERS remains a powerful piece of scathing social commentary, as well as a hyper-kinetic road movie of unparalleled violence. The casting of the film is spot on, with various bit players crossing into the Tarantino universe (Tom Sizemore, Juliette Lewis, Kirk Baltz, Steven Wright, etc.) in way that still somewhat retains the authorial voice QT has had since day one.

GET FROM DUSK TILL DAWN HERE

Speaking of said stamp of authorship, let's not forget how integral QT's role was in the making of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. He not only penned the script, directed a segment and acted in the film, he also served as executive producer as well. Of course, the story originated from longtime FX man Robert Kurtzman, with even longer time friend Robert Rodriguez calling most of the shots behind the camera, but the film really does feel like a tried and true QT experience, especially the first half involving the criminal exploits of Seth and Richard Gecko. And while the zany, almost cartoonish directorial style of the vampiric pinnacle no doubt feels more like a Rodriguez film, it's pretty clear that outside of DEATH PROOF, this is the closest thing to a legit horror flick Tarantino has done.

And one of the things I've always loved about FROM DUSK TILL DAWN is the solid, against-type turn of Harvey Keitel as Jacob the loving father and devout minister. Really, it never fails to impress. Throw in the obvious genre ties to names like Tom Savini, John Saxon, Fred Williamson, not to mention Salma Hayek's fine little ass as Santanico Pandemonium, and there's a reason why FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and all its offshoots continue to cycle over. The thing is, the further the franchise has moved away from the original, the less affiliated with QT it inevitably feels. That said, especially for the younger kids coming up, don't sleep on how much of a key cog QT was in the development of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN.

NEXT PROJECT

There's no secret that for his 8th film, QT has more or less turned a claustrophobic, single-setting Agatha Christie type story into a gloriously shot 70mm film. THE HATEFUL EIGHT opens on Christmas day and expands on New Year's Eve, which you can either see projected digitally (as most theaters will exhibit the film) or partake in the entire 70s style road-show attraction, whereby the film will be shown, as intended, through 70mm projection. This version includes an operatic 5-minute overture and 12-minute intermission. Either way, both versions are sure to showcase the grand vision QT had for telling this particular story, which by all accounts amounts to a closed-room whodunit murder mystery. A subgenre I personally couldn't love more (DEATH ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, CLUE, DEATH BY MURDER, etc). Even more promising is the fact that QT rounded up his usual cast of character actors, most of whom were in mind while he penned the parts, including Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins and James Parks as well as QT newcomers Bruce Dern, Demian Bechir and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Should be a hell of a ride, right? Here's how the story shakes out:

A blizzard forced a bounty hunter, John "The Hangman" Ruth that escorting Daisy "The Prisoner" Domergue, a fugitive and powerful woman that accused for murder- to Red Rock for her judgment; also Marquis "The Bounty Hunter" Warren, and Chris "The Sheriff" Mannix- two another bounty hunters which they just met in their way- to find shelter. They discovered the nearest shelter, a stagecoach passover called "Minnie's Haberdashery", where they met another four strangers- Bob "The Mexican", Oswaldo "The Little Man" Mobray, Joe "The Cow Puncher" Gage, and Sanford "The Confederate" Smithers. All of them have their own background and characteristic- which created an intense situation inside the passover, where their reliance are tested- especially when a plot of betrayal and terrible finesse uncovered between them. Their own ability of survival tested in this dangerous encounter- which possibly change the lives of "The Hateful Eight".

As for the future, QT has long been on the record as wanting to only direct 10 features before moving on to a new aspect of film curation. That leaves only two features left if he makes good on his promise, though as we've seen with A-list filmmakers like Soderbergh, television might not be out of the question (if budgets and scheduling remain favorable). Of course, decades of talk about a potential KILL BILL sequel, with Uma Thurman, that follows the vengeful travails of Vernita Green's daughter, has long been on the back burner. Perhaps that will be the next project QT undergoes after THE HATEFUL EIGHT. You down with that or what? If not, what kind of flick (or genre) would you like to see him do next?

OVERALL

What else is there to say? Quentin Tarantino is as popular a name in modern cinema as there is, and rightly so. Perhaps the most telling thing about the dude's success - his films aggregating north of $1 billion worldwide - is that he hasn't really bent to the whims of anyone but his own filmmaking sensibilities. No comic book movies, no superhero flicks, no graphic novel adaptations, no capitalizing on hugely known preexisting material (JACKIE BROWN the only adaptation) as a means to achieving said success. Granted, liberties have been taken, lines lifted, heartfelt homage paid from the rich annals of film history, but by and large, with flicks like RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, KILL BILL, DEATH PROOF, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, DJANGO UNCHAINED, not to mention TRUE ROMANCE, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, etc...QT's success has been of his own making. We'll say it right now Quentin, we really hope you're bluffing about only making 10 pictures. The state of cinema is far better with you in it!

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite QT film?
Source: AITH

RECOMMENDED MOVIE NEWS

RECOMMENDED MOVIE NEWS

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...