After a three year hiatus, legendary film director Quentin Tarantino is back with his latest epic, The Hateful Eight and it’s everything you could want from a classic Tarantino feature. Inspired by grind house films, Blaxplotation dramas and some of the greatest cinema classics of our time, Tarantino is arguably THE auteur director of this generation. His highly stylized, non-linear films are lush and visually extravagant; and the soundtracks make them even better. Think what you want about Tarantino, but for better or for worse, he is a master of his craft. Now is the best time to catch up on all eight of his masterpieces; after all the 52-year old director has always stated that he will retire at 60. Here is a definitive (ish) ranking of Quentin Tarantino’s films.
9. Death Proof
A part of the larger slasher thriller film Grindhouse with director Robert Rodriguez, Tarantino’s ode to badass women got muddled and lost in the gruesome violence of the film. Tarantino has never shied away from violence, however for the first time in Death Proof, it seemed overly horrific. Kurt Russell stars as Stuntman Mike who gets his kicks from picking up women and murdering them, by driving them into head-on collisions. His “death-proof” vintage Charger is his weapon of choice. All is well and good until Mike encounters a trio of women who fight back. It’s a strange film with a rather unsatisfying ending.
Known for his revenge fantasies, Inglorious Bastards is a film that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. There are a ton of fantastic scenes of course, but a great deal of the film is full of sweeping dialogue, that seems to just go on and on. However, what makes this film is Christoph Waltz‘s portrayal of the murderous Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. More than anything it’s the story that we all wish would have happened during World War II.
Films that portray slavery can often be extremely difficult to watch. However, Tarantino’s Django Unchained changes the slave narrative into an epic Western. Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, Django isn’t a perfect film, but it’s certainly a lot of fun. Watching the horrific treatment of slaves as they are whipped and torn apart by dogs is ghastly. However, Django and Dr. King Schultz’s revenge against slaveholders is almost gleeful to watch. Add in Django’s quest to get back to his wife Broomhilda and Rick Ross‘ “100 Black Coffin” as the film is a thrilling ride.
Tarantino’s first feature film Reservoir Dogs, is still called one of the greatest independent films of all time. The tale of a jewel heist gone terribly wrong, this film showed the world who Tarantino was, and what he could do for film and actors. When Tim Roth‘s Mr. Orange, is shot and continues to bleed out for the duration of the film, Reservoir Dogs became a different kind of gangster films. There is garish violence here of course, but it’s not as much fun as Tarantino’s later films.
Oh the tale of The Bride and her revenge. This second installment of Kill Bill is nearly as perfect as the first half. However, Vol. 2 is a much more slow and deliberate Western than Vol. 1. The opening sequence is perfection, with Uma Thurman as The Bride,whose wedding ends in total carnage. Unlike the first film, there is very little violence in the second installment. The Bride’s sole focus is on Bill this go round, and in the end, revenge is quite sweet.
The Hateful Eight is murder mystery with a Western spin. Shot in 70mm the film is not only a feast for the eyes, but stellar performances from veteran Tarantino actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth make it one of the auteur director’s best works. The film boasts all of the stunning dialogue and gory violence of a classic Tarantino film, while getting envelope-pushing performances from first time-Tarantino actors Jennifer Jason Leigh and Channing Tatum. The Hateful Eight is exactly what you want and more from a Tarantino piece. More than anything, its a film that pays reverence to Samuel L. Jackson’s range as an actor
This is the movie that changed the game for revenge fantasies. Though the film begins in the middle and continues in a non-linear fashion, The Bride arises out of a 4-year coma and begins trailblazing a bloody path to Bill. This is Tarantino in full force action as we watch The Bride waver between being a heroine and the most villainous character ever.
2. Pulp Fiction
Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is almost his best film. The film changed people’s understanding of what independent cinema could be in America. Independent film can now stand outside of Hollywood, and still be sexy, flashy and heart-racing. John Travolta‘s Vincent Vega and Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield are straight out of the film noir period of American cinema. These hit-men are murderously cool. It takes a moment to really get settled into the film (Tarantino’s non-linear structure is in full-effect here). Like he would do with Grier in a few years later, Pulp Fiction was Travolta’s resurrection piece. His connection with Uma Thurman is especially iconic. However its the films final scene that brings it to a remarkable close.
1. Jackie Brown
Out of all of Quentin Tarantino’s film, his genius crime thriller Jackie Brown is often overlooked. If you grew up in the 1970s or know anything about Blaxplotation films ,then you know about the legendary Pam Grier. The film is a bit violent (obviously), but it is stuffed full of dialogue; hilarious dialogue. Grier is on a pedestal here, and she reigns perfectly. With Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda all in on the game, Jackie Brown is definitely the best.
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