If anyone asked me what my guiltiest pleasure was, I would have to say Tarantino movies. Being fully aware of the controversial notoriety of both the films and Tarantino himself, I do hesitate to admit my love of these movies, now regarded on TikTok as red flags of a pretentious “film bro”.
It was only a few months ago that I first started watching his movies, though I’ve been aware of his infamous reputation for quite some time. Why does he have so much violence, blend so many genres, choose the music, actors, and angles he does? Because he can; that is his specific vision. Indeed, from interviews with Tarantino, you get the notion that when he has a specific image in mind, that’s the image he will get. Does that make him a visionary or a megalomaniac? Let us say both, for now.
I feel like his movies are very “art for art’s sake.” I enjoy watching them, and yes there is gory violence, racial slurs, and feet abound, making you wonder if the director is a racist sadist with a very specific fetish, but at the end of the day the films are fiction. You are very aware that you are watching a movie because of the cartoonish violence, inventive camera angles, and rambunctious dialogue. Largely, his stories are populated by dubious, twisted, anti-moralist characters that do horrid things because their lives, jobs and characters require it.
I’ve watched all of his movies, bar Death Proof, so I’m going to rate what I have seen. Spoiler alert!
9 – The Hateful Eight
Though the filming is less active than past movies, it has the gimmick of being shot in a 70 mm format that allows a wide view of the snow-covered vistas and intimate close ups of the suspicious characters. The dialogue is amazing, but I didn’t find this as gripping as his other work.
8 – Kill Bill Volume 2
It goes at quite a different pace to the first volume, with less of the action and Japanese cinematic influences. Some might say the death of Bill is anti-climactic, but I find it to bring The Bride’s revenge to a calm close, as she can now rest and be with her daughter.
7 – Reservoir Dogs
The one that started it all. We see non-linear storytelling, ridiculous amounts of blood, and angry white men; all things people probably most associate with Tarantino. But hey, the story was engaging, and I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
6 – Pulp Fiction
The first Tarantino movie I saw, which is likely the same for most. It’s exciting to watch, the conversations veer from philosophical, to funny, to problematic. It is iconic, and the pairing of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson is magnetic.
5 – Kill Bill Volume 1
An old-school action movie, seamlessly blended with anime, film noir, and Hong Kong cinema. Then there’s something I rarely see: A woman action hero fighting other equally skilled women, and compared to say Lara Croft, quite unsexualised. More women action movies please!
4 – Jackie Brown
UNDERRATED! Why isn’t this movie talked about more? Whilst borrowing from 70s blaxploitation movies, the clever plot is largely linear with well-built characters, and a romance that puts cinematically unseen people at the forefront.
3 – Django Unchained
It’s gruesome and hard to watch, but then again, it’s set in a horrific time period and confronts that reality. Jamie Foxx’s Django is great to watch. There are snappy camera shots, tense conversations, and punchy music. In a surprising fairy-tale ending, Django and Hildi ride off into the sunset.
2 – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
I adore the music and sheer nostalgia of this slow-paced look at the dying Golden Age of Hollywood. The ominous presence of the Manson family looms behind this golden fairy-tale and the culminating fight scene packs a whole Tarantino movie’s worth of violence into just a few minutes. I do see this as one of Tarantino’s funniest movies, juxtaposing the light-hearted Sharon Tate character with the desperate Rick Dalton.
1 – Inglourious Basterds
I feel like Tarantino made this with the intent to show Hollywood elites just exactly what he is capable of, by subverting the favoured Academy genre of war period dramas. It’s true to say that the first scene is one of Tarantino’s best and again, Christoph Waltz is captivating and terrifying as the “Jew Hunter”. It’s a fresh, fantastical creation.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr