ne of the most recognizable pop cultural icons of his generation, Quentin Tarantino has established himself as a true film auteur with a respected philosophy that places the finished project high above the paycheck. Quoted, mocked and copied to death by almost every media outlet over the last 15 years, no one knows how to operate a Xerox machine better than Tarantino himself. Criticized for allegedly stealing from some of the best in the business, the self-proclaimed film geek certainly knows his movies and doesn't mind paying homage to them. Heck, he's even gone on record as saying that he "[steals] from every movie ever made." But whether or not his actions warrant a slap on the wrist from the film gods, no one can deny his talent for creating some of the best movies of the last 20 years.
Born in 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Quentin's family moved to Los Angeles when he was only two years old. Named after Burt Reynolds's character, Quint, in "Gunsmoke," the future director was immersed into the Hollywood culture at a young age. But despite his intentions of becoming an actor, Quentin skipped out on film school and got a job as a clerk at the video rental store, Video Archives. Spending his days watching and chatting about movies with customers and friends (including future collaborator Roger Avary), Quentin met Lawrence Bender at a party one night and was encouraged to write a screenplay. The result was "Natural Born Killers" and "True Romance," both of which he sold in order to finance his directorial debut, "Reservoir Dogs." The film was an instant hit at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival and opened up a door of opportunities for the young filmmaker including offers to direct big-budget films like "Speed" and "Men in Black."
Instead, Quentin retreated to Amsterdam to work on his next project, and two years later, "Pulp Fiction" opened to critical acclaim, earning him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Cannes Film Festival's highest prize, the Palme D'Or. With everyone in Hollywood now trying to mimic Tarantino's style, critics and fans worried that the director wouldn't be able to live up to the extraordinary expectations that his first two films had set. In 1997, Quentin released "Jackie Brown," an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard crime novel, "Rum Punch," and although critics ate it up, audiences booed it out of theaters. The film's commercial failure may be to blame for Quentin's disappearing act towards the end of the 90s and into the new millennium, but after a long break from the movie business, Quentin returned with a vengeance (quite literally) with the two-part revenge film, "Kill Bill," that reunited him with his "Pulp Fiction" star Uma Thurman and breathed new life into both of their careers.
Those concerned that Quentin would go into hiding yet again were relieved when the director teamed up with his old friend Robert Rodriguez in 2007 to create a double-feature that paid homage to the B-movies and exploitation films that he watched as a kid. "Grindhouse" was a box office flop, but that didn't stop Quentin from showing an extended cut of his segment, "Death Proof," at the Cannes Film Festival later that year. He returned in 2009 to premiere his most recent project, the WWII revenge flick "Inglourious Basterds," and though reception was mostly mixed, the film went on to become his biggest commercial success.
Though he's yet to choose his next project, Tarantino continues to bite off more than he can chew. Along with a proposed third volume of "Kill Bill," the director has also expressed interest in a possible sequel to "Inglourious Basterds" (expanding a subplot from his original script following a unit of African-American soldiers) and remakes of the 1966 martial arts classic "Come Drink with Me" and the Russ Meyer exploitation film, "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" Whatever he decides, you can be sure that it's going to brimming with memorable characters, slick dialogue and, if his last few films are any indication, some wicked action sequences as well. We wouldn't expect anything less.
For a movie made by one of the most identifiable directors in the business, "Inglourious Basterds" is the least Tarantino-esque of all his films. The WWII revenge fantasy is a real movie lover's kind of movie. Not only does it feature some of Tarantino's best writing, but it also boasts a stellar ensemble cast (including award-worthy performances from Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender) and some of the most thrilling sequences of the year. The German bar scene may feature Tarantino at his nostalgic best, but the opening chapter is his magnum opus. That "Inglourious Basterds" can run for an additional 120 minutes and still be just as engaging is a testament to the film's supreme quality.
It's hard to stay mad at someone for taking seven years to make a movie when the end result is as good as this, but while Tarantino certainly took his good old time in releasing the two-part revenge flick, it was business as usual in what is arguably his most mainstream film to date. What's perhaps most interesting about "Kill Bill" is how different the two volumes are from one another. While Volume One is a balls-to-the-wall action film with enough blood and severed limbs to fill several horror movies, Volume Two is more of a slow burn that spends a lot more time on The Bride's backstory. Both films benefit from having great casts (led by Uma Thurman in one of the best roles of her career), well-choreographed fight sequences, and of course, the kind of clever dialogue that only Tarantino can deliver.
It's a subject of discussion that's been talked to death, but had "Pulp Fiction" been released any other year than 1994, there's a good chance it would have walked away with a lot more than just one Academy Award. Though it's hard to argue against the film winning for Best Original Screenplay (Tarantino's crackling, pop culture-infused script has remained just as quotable 16 years later), Samuel L. Jackson was positively robbed of Oscar gold for his career-defining performance as fast-talking hitman, Jules Winnfield. The movie also marked the rebirth of John Travolta's career, featured Tarantino in his best (and funniest) onscreen performance, and set the standard for every like-minded movie that followed – even for Tarantino himself.
Though it used to be his most underrated movie (an honor that now belongs to "Death Proof," see below), "Jackie Brown" is still criminally ignored by a majority of moviegoers because it didn't live up to the expectations set by "Pulp Fiction." Fair enough, but with the exception of "Inglourious Basterds," "Jackie Brown" is Tarantino at his most mature – a multi-layered story about the vulnerability and loneliness of getting older that, ironically, only gets better with age. It's also the only film in Tarantino's catalog adapted from a previous work (Elmore Leonard's crime novel, "Rum Punch"), and it's ripe with tension-filled confrontations and excellent performances from Pam Grier, Robert Forester, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro.
It's funny to think that the movie that put Tarantino on the map is also one of his lesser films, but when almost every one of your movies is an instant classic, that doesn't really mean much. The fact that a then-unknown Tarantino even managed to get the cast that he did was a bit of a coup in itself, even if a lot of the guys were just as unknown as him at the time. But while he was just beginning to find his feet from a visual standpoint, the film is loaded with so many great moments (the entire opening diner scene, the infamous ear scene, and the Mexican standoff, to name a few) that it's easy to see why many regard "Reservoir Dogs" as one of the best heist films around.
"Grindhouse" might have been an unmitigated disaster at the box office, but it was also some of the most fun I've ever had at the movies. Unfortunately, a lot of people felt like Tarantino's portion, "Death Proof," was dialogue-heavy and a bit anticlimactic after Robert Rodriguez's tongue-in-cheek zombie flick, "Planet Terror." And I don't disagree. But try watching the two films individually and it's obvious that "Death Proof" is the far superior film. Without "Planet Terror" to weigh it down, the elaborate stretches of talky dialogue are much easier to enjoy. And let's not forget that it also has a killer villain (no pun intended) in Kurt Russell and one of the coolest car chases in the history of cinema.
After the critical and commercial success of "Pulp Fiction," the Weinsteins probably would have bankrolled anything with Tarantino's name on it, but even they couldn't have imagined it would turn out as bad as this. A 1995 anthology film set in a Los Angeles hotel on New Year's Eve and connected by a hapless new bellboy played by Tim Roth, Tarantino's segment (titled "The Man from Hollywood") is arguably the best of the bunch, although that's not saying a lot. An adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Man from the South," the segment both succeeds and fails because of Tarantino's involvement. Not many actors deliver his dialogue better than him, but his acting is a bit over the top, and the docudrama shooting style feels uninspired. It may have been fun to make, but it's not nearly as fun to watch.
"Reservoir Dogs" (1992)
"Pulp Fiction" (1994)
"Four Rooms" (1995)
"Jackie Brown" (1997)
"Kill Bill: Volume One" (2003)
"Kill Bill: Volume Two" (2004)
"Inglourious Basterds" (2009)
"So, you guys like to tell jokes, huh? Gigglin' and laughin' like a bunch of young broads sittin' in a schoolyard. Well, let me tell a joke. Five guys, sittin' in a bullpen, in San Quentin. All wondering how the fuck they got there. What should we have done, what didn't we do, whose fault is it, is it my fault, your fault, his fault, all that bullshit. Then one of them says, hey, wait a minute. When we were planning this caper, all we did was sit around tellin' fuckin' jokes!"
Mr. Brown: Let me tell you what "Like a Virgin" is about. It's all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick. The entire song. It's a metaphor for big dicks.
Mr. Blonde: No, no. It's about a girl who is very vulnerable. She's been fucked over a few times. Then she meets some guy who's really sensitive...
Mr. Brown: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa... Time out Green Bay. Tell that fucking bullshit to the tourists.
Mr. Brown: "Like a Virgin" is not about this sensitive girl who meets a nice fella. That's what "True Blue" is about, now, granted, no argument about that.
Mr. Orange: Which one is "True Blue"?
Nice Guy Eddie: 'True Blue' was a big ass hit for Madonna. I don't even follow this Tops In Pops shit, and I've at least heard of "True Blue".
Mr. Orange: Look, asshole, I didn't say I ain't heard of it. All I asked was how does it go? Excuse me for not being the world's biggest Madonna fan.
Mr. Blonde: Personally, I can do without her.
Mr. Blue: I like her early stuff. You know, "Lucky Star," "Borderline" – but once she got into her "Papa Don't Preach" phase, I don't know, I tuned out.
Mr. Brown: Hey, you guys are making me lose my... train of thought here. I was saying something, what was it? What the fuck was I talking about?
Mr. Pink: You said "True Blue" was about a nice girl, a sensitive girl who meets a nice guy, and that "Like a Virgin" was a metaphor for big dicks.
Mr. Brown: Lemme tell you what "Like a Virgin" is about. It's all about this cooze who's a regular fuck machine, I'm talking morning, day, night, afternoon, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.
Mr. Blue: How many dicks is that?
Mr. White: A lot.
Mr. Brown: Then one day she meets this John Holmes motherfucker and it's like, whoa baby, I mean this cat is like Charles Bronson in "The Great Escape," he's digging tunnels. Now, she's gettin' the serious dick action and she's feeling something she ain't felt since forever. Pain. Pain. It hurts her. It shouldn't hurt her, you know, her pussy should be Bubble Yum by now, but when this cat fucks her it hurts. It hurts just like it did the first time. You see the pain is reminding a fuck machine what it once was like to be a virgin. Hence, "Like a Virgin."
Nice Guy Eddie: C'mon, throw in a buck!
Mr. Pink: Uh-uh, I don't tip.
Nice Guy Eddie: You don't tip?
Mr. Pink: Nah, I don't believe in it.
Nice Guy Eddie: You don't believe in tipping?
Mr. Blue: You know what these chicks make? They make shit.
Mr. Pink: Don't give me that. She don't make enough money than she can quit.
Nice Guy Eddie: I don't even know a fucking Jew who'd have the balls to say that. Let me get this straight: you don't ever tip?
Mr. Pink: I don't tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I'll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it's for the birds. As far as I'm concerned, they're just doing their job.
Mr. Blue: Hey, our girl was nice.
Mr. Pink: She was okay. She wasn't anything special.
Mr. Blue: What's special? Take you in the back and suck your dick?
Nice Guy Eddie: I'd go over 12 percent for that.
"Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?"
Jules: I'm sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue, you were saying something about best intentions. What's the matter? Oh, you were finished! Well, allow me to retort. What does Marsellus Wallace look like?
Jules: What country are you from?
Brett: What? What?
Jules: "What" ain't no country I've ever heard of. They speak English in What?
Jules: English, motherfucker, do you speak it?
Brett: Yes! Yes!
Jules: Then you know what I'm sayin'!
Jules: Describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like!
Jules: Say "what" again. Say "what" again, I dare you. I double dare you motherfucker, say "what" one more Goddamn time!
Jules: Good. Looks like me an Vincent caught you boys at breakfast. Sorry about that. Whatcha havin'?
Jules: Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. What kind of hamburgers?
Jules: No, no no, where'd you get 'em? McDonalds? Wendy's? Jack in the Box? Where?
Brett: Big Kahuna Burger.
Jules: Big Kahuna Burger. That's that Hawaiian burger joint. I hear they got some tasty burgers. I ain't never had one myself. How are they?
Brett: They're good.
Jules: Mind if I try one of yours? This is yours here, right?
[Picks up burger and takes a bite]
Jules: Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger. Vincent, ever have a Big Kahuna Burger?
[Vincent shakes his head]
Jules: Wanna bite? They're real tasty.
Vincent: Ain't hungry.
Jules: Well, if you like burgers give 'em a try sometime. I can't usually get 'em myself because my girlfriend's a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
Jules: Tell 'em, Vincent.
Vincent: A Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that?
Brett: Because of the metric system?
Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett! You're a smart motherfucker. That's right. The metric system. What's in this?
Jules: Sprite, good. You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?
Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eat its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well, we'd have to be talkin' about one charming motherfuckin' pig. I mean, he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on "Green Acres," you know what I'm sayin'?
Vincent: [sips the $5 Milkshake] Goddamn, that's a pretty fucking good milkshake!
Mia: Told you.
Vincent: I don't know if it's worth $5, but it's pretty fucking good!
"Is white guilt supposed to make me forget that I run a business?"
"My ass may be dumb, but I ain't no dumbass."
"AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes."
"Now that there is the Tec-9, a crappy spray gun from South Miami. This gun is advertised as the most popular gun in American crime. Do you believe that shit? It actually says that in the little book that comes with it: the most popular gun in American crime. Like they're actually proud of that shit."
KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE
"Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now."
O-Ren Ishii: You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?
The Bride: You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did.
O-Ren Ishii: Silly rabbit.
The Bride: Trix are...
O-Ren Ishii: ...for kids.
"Bitch, you can stop right there. Just because I have no wish to murder you before the eyes of your daughter does not mean parading her around in front of me is going to inspire sympathy. You and I have unfinished business. And not a goddamn fuckin' thing you've done in the past four years, including getting knocked up, is going to change that."
KILL BILL: VOLUME TWO
Bill: Pai Mei taught you the five point palm-exploding heart technique?
The Bride: Of course he did.
Bill: Why didn't you tell me?
The Bride: I don't know... because I'm a bad person.
Bill: No. You're not a bad person. You're a terrific person. You're my favorite person, but every once in a while, you can be a real cunt.
Bill: You hocked a Hattori Hanzo sword?
Bill: It was priceless.
Budd: Well, not in El Paso, it ain't. In El Paso, I got me $250 for it.
Budd: You're telling me she cut through 88 bodyguards before she got to O-Ren?
Bill: Nah, there weren't really 88 of them. They just called themselves "The Crazy 88."
Budd: How come?
Bill: I don't know. I guess they thought it sounded cool.
"Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn't a lie. This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you really need to be sitting in my seat."
Shanna: Okay, mean girl in a high school movie. You through havin' a tantrum?
Jungle Julia: I'm not havin' a tantrum.
Shanna: Yes you are! You've been in the car all of two seconds and you're already cursin' at me.
Jungle Julia: I am not cursin' at you.
Shanna: You said: "Jesus Christ, Shanna." And then before the sentence was over you threw a fuckin' in there to emphasize your irritatedness.
"You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'."
Col. Hans Landa: [giddy] Oooh, that's a bingo! IS that the way you say it? "That's a bingo?"
Lt. Aldo Raine: You just say "bingo".
Col. Hans Landa: Bingo! How fun! But, I digress. Where were we?
Col. Hans Landa: Are you mad? What have you done? I made a deal with your general for that man's life!
Lt. Aldo Raine: Yeah, they made that deal, but they don't give a fuck about him. They need you.
Col. Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Lt. Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.
When I give props to [grindhouse] movies, you have to understand – it's not like they were all good. There's an expression: You have to drink a lot of milk before you can appreciate cream. Well, with exploitation movies, you have to drink a lot of milk-gone-bad before you can even appreciate milk! That's what part of the love of these movies is – going through the rummage bin and finding the jewels.
I don't believe in elitism. I don't think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.
Pop quiz, hotshot: you go to the awards ceremonies all year long; you keep losing to 'Forrest Gump'! It's really annoying the hell out of you – what do you do? You go to the MTV Awards!
Sure, 'Kill Bill' is a violent movie. But it's a Tarantino movie. You don't go to see Metallica and ask the fuckers to turn the music down.
Movies are not about the weekend that they're released, and in the grand scheme of things, that`s probably the most unimportant time of a film's life.
This CGI bullshit is the death knell of cinema. If I'd wanted all that computer game bullshit, I'd have stuck my dick in a Nintendo.
I steal from every movie ever made.
Movies are my religion and God is my patron. I'm lucky enough to be in the position where I don't make movies to pay for my pool. When I make a movie, I want it to be everything to me; like I would die for it.
|Joel & Ethan Coen||Francis Ford Coppola||Stanley Kubrick||John Landis||Quentin Tarantino|
|Tim Burton||James Cameron||Alfred Hitchcock||Martin Scorsese||Steven Spielberg|