Warning: This article may contain very mild spoilers. I have avoided them to the best of my ability.
The first instalment of my Directors series! I thought I should write an article on each of the most influential and talented directors, from the up and coming, the resident finest and those from the earliest days of film. Although we movie buffs are incredibly appreciative of these artists, they can often be overlooked by the general public. Thos behind the camera are just as important as those in front of it! Why not kick things off with one of the most intracate and unique minds in Hollywood filmmaking, Quentin Tarantino.
American filmmaker, actor, screenwriter and producer Quentin Tarantino quickly became a household name almost as quickly as his independent career started. His satirical, violent style, coupled with his phenomenal soundtracks and inclusion of neo-noir proved popular with audiences of all the decades he has been active.
Arguably one of his best films and his first independent film, crime- thriller Reservoir Dogs, came out in 1992. Adopting the neo-noir style, this film stars Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, Tim Roth as Mr Orange, Steve Buscemi as Mr Pink, Chris Penn as Eddie Cabot, Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot, Michael Madsen as Mr Blonde/Vic Vega, Quentin Tarantino as Mr. Brown, Kirk Baltz as Marvin Nash, Randy Brooks as Holdaway and Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue. The plot of the film consists of these characters pulling of a diamond heist. The film quickly became a classic and a cult hit, and was also crowned the 'Greatest Independent Film of All Time' by the British film magazine, Empire.
His next success, a film scoring 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, came in 1994 and was titled Pulp Fiction. Staring John Travolta as Vincent Vega, a role Michael Madsen, who played Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs, was intended to have. However, Travolta received an Academy Award, alongside co-star Samuel L Jackson, as Jules Winnfield, a role Tarantino had written in mind for Jackson, and Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace, of which she secured after her first meeting with Tarantino, despite a lot of competition. Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer and Harvey Keithel also star in the film as well as Tarantino himself as Jimmie Dimmick. The film is iconic; probably due to the dark comedy, violence, eclectic dialogue, and a bunch of pop culture references, which Tarantino includes in many of his other films.
After Pulp Fiction, Tarantino directed the fourth segment of the anthology film Four Rooms, alongside directors Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell and Robert Rodriguez, although critics reviewed the film poorly. Tarantino also starred in Destiny Turns on the Radio and played a role in Robert Rodriguez's film Desperado in 1995.
From Dusk till Dawn
In 1996, Tarantino and Rodriguez collaborated again and produced one of my personal favourites, From Dusk till Dawn. With Rodriguez directing and Tarantino writing the screenplay as well as starring in the film as Richie Gecko, the film received average reviews, despite George Clooney winning a Saturn award for Best Actor and the MTV award for Best Breakthrough Actor. Clooney stars as Seth Gecko, the brother of Richie, and the film follows the brothers as the commit robbery, murder and other crimes. Harvey Keithel again has a major role in the film. Tarantino admits to being a big fan of Keithel, ever since he was 16. The film takes an unexpected twist, one of which I won't spoil. The film also debuts the character of Earl McGraw, a reoccurring character in the works of Tarantino and Rodriguez, and is filled with references.
Tarantino's third feature film and last major success of the 90s was Jackie Brown. Released in 1997, the film is based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch and stars Pam Grier. Interesting, Grier auditioned for Jody, a character in Pulp Fiction, and was not successful. To her surprise, Tarantino asked her to read for Jackie Brown. Reportedly, Tarantino had posters of Grier's previous films in his office, and when asked if he just put them up because she was coming over, he stated he meant to take them down because he wanted to avoid making it look like he was trying to impress her. Robert Forster, Robert De Niro and Samuel L Jackson also star in the film.
In the early 2000s, Tarantino wanted to write Inglourious Basterds. However, it was put on postpone and he began crafting Kill Bill, another personal favourite of mine. The two part film, released in 2003 and 2004, originally suppose to be just one instalment, follows the character of Beatrix Kiddo, played by Uma Thurman. Tarantino has since claimed Thurman is his muse. The masterpiece incorporates martial arts, Japanese animation, neo-noir segments, signature Tarantino violence and pop culture references. Combined, the film grossed $333.1 million at box office.
Tarantino co-wrote and directed "Grave Danger", the 5th season finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2005. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series on the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Tarantino teamed up with Rodriguez again in 2007 for a Grindhouse project titled Death Proof. It began as a take on 1970s slasher films, but changed as the production went on. The film received mostly positive reviews. The same year, he appeared in the Japanese Western film Sukiyaki Western Django as Piringo and had a vocal cameo in Diary of the Dead.
In 2009, Tarantino's much anticipated film Inglourious Basterds was released, although the script was written in 1998. Brad Pitt stars as Lieutenant Aldo "The Apache" Raine, and Christoph Waltz stars as the SS Colonel, Hans Landa. Diane Kruger stars as Bridget von Hammersmark, and other cast members include Eli Roth as Sergeant Donny Donowitz, Daniel Brühl as Fredrick Zoller and Michael Fassbender as Archie Hicox. Adam Sandler was asked to play Roth's role of Donny, but declined due to other projects. Mike Myers also has a part in the film, after expressing his admiration for Tarantino. The film focuses on World War 2, and received a lot of criticism, but won over audiences with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89%. Critic James Berardinelli stated, "With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has made his best movie since Pulp Fiction,". However, author Christopher Hitchens likened the experience of watching the film to "sitting in the dark having a great pot of warm piss emptied very slowly over your head." Christoph Waltz was given a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Festival, and the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
Stemming from Tarantino's wish to make a spaghetti Western film, Tarantino wrote and directed Django Unchained. Production began in 2011 and was released in 2012. Will Smith and Michael K. Williams were considered for the role of Django, but it was ultimately given to Jamie Foxx. Foxx plays Django, a branded black slave who helps a bounty hunter posing as a travelling dentist, Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz. Kerry Washington co-stars as Django's lost wife, and Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Calvin J. Candie, the antagonist of the film and a plantation owner. The film itself is a masterpiece, which is shown by its awards. Tarantino won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA for the screen play, Waltz won a BAFTA, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also is Tarantino's highest grossing film to date, raking in over $425 million at box office.
The Hateful Eight
Tarantino's latest feature film is again a Western. Although nearly cancelled in 2014 after the script leaked, The Hateful Eight hit cinemas in December, 2015, and starred a few of Tarantino's regulars. Samuel L Jackson plays the main character, 'The Bounty Hunter', or Major Marquis Warren. Tim Roth and Michael Madsen also play a part in the film. Kurt Russell plays John Ruth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is cast as Daisy Domergue. The film has been nominated for over 20 awards.
And that concludes my overview of Tarantino's filmography. I highly recommend this director to any fan of action, and fans of gripping story and gritting violence. I also hope I may have inspired movie buffs to perhaps indulge in some of his less popular work. He is a truly talented man.
Which is your favourite Tarantino film?