Ever since his blast into cinemas, Quentin Tarantino has been and continues to be a major figure in the cinematic world. His status as an amazing writer and director is certainly well-earned. This article is meant to introduce people who are unfamiliar with Tarantino's work to his crimson-soaked catalog. Also, I'll be ranking these films so you know which ones to watch first! Without further ado, let's gear up for this list!
#8: Four Rooms (1995)
For the eighth spot, we travel back to 1995. Tarantino had recently released Pulp Fiction (Which we will get to in time) to great critical acclaim, and was ready to tackle something just a little lighter. For this film, he directed one of the four shorts, with this story taking place in the penthouse of a hotel. Quentin had a major role in this short, playing an up-and-coming director who was making a dangerous wager with his friends.
This short was the best of the four in my opinion, blending solid dialogue and a darkly funny concept fairly smoothly. There were a couple moments which I felt were roughly paced, but the majority of the short was quite well done. With that being said, how could we possibly compare a short film to a feature? We still have a long way to go!
#7: Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
Of all his movies, none had such a satisfying ending as the finale to the Kill Bill saga, with The Bride (Played mercilessly by Uma Thurman) finally approaching the end of her kill list with her old mentor, the evil Bill. For many fans of the first volume, expectations were high and questions were raised about how Tarantino would top the ultra-violent excess and excellence of the first entry.
For the second half, we were treated to one of the longest flashbacks I've ever witnessed. The Bride is taken to a martial arts master so that she can become Bill's assassin, and she slowly learns the ways of mortal combat. This movie has some great homages to classic Kung Fu movies, and the training scenes bring all the best cliches to the forefront to nostalgic effect. However, the pacing is slow and the climax just felt underwhelming to me. That being said, there is the typical Tarantino dialogue, which is never bad, and the movie was certainly well-made.
#6: Death Proof (2007)
What do you get when you mix Kurt Russell, a death-proof stunt car, and a touch of murderous insanity? It can only be Tarantino's entry into the annals of exploitation cinema, Death Proof! If you're looking for an action flick, injected with automobile-induced carnage and Tarantino's famous blacker-than-black humor, you've found a winner!
This is one of my favorites of the action-exploitation genre because it blends blisteringly fast car chases with great one-liners and Kurt Russel being a highway terror. I also love this movie because I subscribe to the theory that Death Proof actually takes place a couple decades after Drive, with Ryan Gosling going nuts and becoming Kurt Russell. If the roar of engines and the thrill of the chase get your blood pumping, you'll probably love this movie! My only gripe with this film is the 20 minute bar scene. That beginning throws off this movie's pacing, and I feel it doesn't ever totally recover. Once you get past that, the rest is awesome.
#5: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
For Tarantino's first eruption into the world of cinema, he wrote and directed this movie about a heist in which everything that can possibly go wrong invariably does. Told in non-linear order and featuring great actors like Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel, this film is a shining example of how much tension can be brought to the screen without special effects.
The dialogue is top-tier, the violence is bloody and realistic, and the story is well-paced and not incredibly hard to follow. That doesn't mean the plot is overly simplified by any means, but the large chunks of dialogue never feel tiresome or dull. In addition, we get to see Michael Madsen go a little mad, and we get to try to figure out what went wrong as the characters do. Any aspiring screenwriters would do well to read this script and see the movie a few times, because there are some excellent uses of confined areas and static sets within. Oh, and it also has a killer 70's soundtrack, because Quentin Tarantino never skimps on the great soundtracks. An instant classic to be sure.
#4: Pulp Fiction (1994)
Of all Tarantino's movies, Pulp Fiction is by far the most quoted and recognized. Anyone who puts together a Top X list of American movies invariably includes this anthology of intertwined stories which all revolve around violent acts and their consequences. The ensemble cast does an amazing job with the stellar script, but to be honest, literally anyone could read Tarantino's stories and make them sound awesome. Just watch Tarantino's role in the movie! He's not an actor, but the lines his character says are just gold.
There's a MacGuffin briefcase at the center of all the organized chaos, and some exemplary dialogue in every scene. The cinematography is exceedingly solid, and the soundtrack, as with all Tarantino films, is amazing. Is there anything that shouldn't be loved about this movie? There's a large volume of spilled blood, but that's also par for the course when it comes to Tarantino films. This flick is great, and deserves your attention!
#3: Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Inglorious Basterds is a World War II film set in an alternate universe where Brad Pitt commands an elite team of Nazi-hunters, dubbed "The Basterds", and Christoph Waltz steals every scene as the infamous Colonel Hans Landa of the SS. This movie is the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy, as it sends an all-Jewish squad into Nazi-occupied France to wreck some anti-Semites. The violence is brutal and feels extremely cathartic in the face of the atrocities committed by the Nazi party during the war.
However, the main draw to this film is the acting. Of all the great performances in this movie, and there are a great many, Christoph Waltz's portrayal of the jovial, unabashed "Jew Hunter" makes the movie as great as it is. Waltz's command of three languages (German, English, and French) and his charisma makes for a simultaneously charming and chilling villain. For all the horrors he commits, Landa is a joy to see on the screen, and the absolute highlight of this movie. Unfortunately, the movie suffers slightly from awkward pacing between the pulse-pounding action and long scenes of dialogue. Nonetheless, Inglorious Basterds is a must-see for fans of war movies and action flicks alike.
#2: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
The penultimate pick of Tarantino's films is the first part of his epic revenge saga, Kill Bill Vol. 1! What makes this movie so addictive? Let's break down the key elements. First, we have a heartbreaking betrayal of a woman by her master, resulting in the deaths of her fiancee and her unborn child. Sprinkle in the fact that she is a deadly assassin, and stir in a dozen servings of over-the-top slicing and dicing until the whole pot turns a deep crimson. That is the basic formula for this fighting flick, but there is so much more than meets the eye here!
Personally, the most enjoyable parts of this flick are the constant references to Japanese and Chinese martial arts movies, as well as historical figures and throwbacks to the good old days of the splatter samurai movies. (I'm looking at you, Lone Wolf And Cub!) Even The Bride's jumpsuit is a variation of Bruce Lee's jumpsuit from Game of Death, and the man who makes her sword, Hattori Hanzo, is named after a real-life ancient samurai warrior! The more I watch Kill Bill, the more tidbits I find, and that's simply awesome. Even without those moments, the insanity of the fight scenes, the witty and sharp dialogue, and the pure adrenaline throughout make this movie an absolute joy to watch. However, there's still one Tarantino movie I think is just barely better!
#1: Django Unchained (2012)
Of all the great films Quentin Tarantino has made; of all the masterful dialogue and bloody battles; of all the tales spun by this craftsman; his best, in my mind, is the story entitled Django Unchained! What does Django have that the others don't? Firstly, it's a Western, and good modern Westerns are fewer and farther between than ever before! Secondly, the story is the most engrossing of all the Tarantino yarns to date.
This tale of a freed slave and his bounty hunter comrade attempting to save his wife is well-acted, well-paced, and well-written. Jamie Foxx nails it as Django, and Christoph Waltz is fantastic as Dr. King Schultz. In this ultra-bloody quest for love, however, it i Leonardo DiCaprio who shines brightest as the repulsive Calvin Candie, the owner of Django's wife, Broomhilda. The soundtrack is phenomenal and there is even a reference to the original Django (1966) with the cameo appearance of Franco Nero, the ORIGINAL Django.
There are some other amazing cameos, the climax and payoff are fantastic, Quentin Tarantino's obligatory cameo is actually awesome, and the entire movie just works in terms of aesthetics and cinematic prowess. For these reasons, Django Unchained is the most excellent of Tarantino's works, and is absolutely not to be missed!
That wraps up this article, so thanks for reading, and feel free to leave suggestions for further articles in the comments below! Have a KILLER day!