Coming in at last place is Jackie Brown, Tarantino’s only film that is an adaption of someone else’s work (which says something). The film is based on Elmore Leonards novel Rum Punch and is a homage to the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. There are some fantastic performances from a strong cast including Pam Grier as a flight attendant turned hustler, Samuel l Jackson as a ruthless arms dealer and an Oscar-nominated Robert Forster as a bail bondsman. It is by no means a bad movie, but it doesn’t quite resemble the classic Tarantino style that we’ve come to know and love. There aren’t many standout scenes and it is probably the most forgettable out of all of Tarantino’s work.
Originally part of the flopped double-bill movie Grindhouse, death proof was re-released as a standalone picture and extended so that it could hold its own. While the movie doesn’t offer much in terms of plot, Kurt Russell is a psychotic stuntman who murders young women in his ‘death proof’ car, it certainly makes up for it in terms of style and charm. The car chase sequences are fantastic and on par with top action blockbusters for entertainment value, which is all the more impressive when you consider that all the stunts were practical with no CGI. The film is a homage to grindhouse-style exploitation films of the 1970s, the first half of the movie has a damaged retro film look to it with one portion completely turning black and white to give it a b movie vibe.
The most recent Tarantino movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a hangout style movie based in a 1969 LA around the time of the Manson murders. It is aesthetically gorgeous, perfectly capturing the essence of the time period. Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio are on top form playing a stunt double and ‘has been’ Hollywood actor, respectively. The run time is a bit excessive and a lot of scenes play out way longer than they should but there is still much to enjoy. The movie is Tarantino’s funniest and most light-hearted with some jokes playing out for minutes on end such as the memorable Pitt vs Bruce Lee scene. The ending 30 minutes is what carries the flick though, which plays out exactly how you want it to and better.
The Hateful Eight is a movie that would be just as good as a play, it’s set in only a few close-quarters environments and it is heavily reliant on its script. This isn’t a bad thing either, the superb cast all bring with them their own intriguing character to make up the ‘hateful eight’ and it’s highly entertaining just to see them interacting with each other. In classic Tarantino fashion, the movie builds tension throughout the movie and then releases it all in a violent outburst.
Kill Bill Vol 2 is undoubtedly the lesser of the two Kill Bill movies, but it still stands up very well on its own. It is a lot slower than its predecessor and gets a bit bogged down during the training sequence with Pai Mei. However, this film’s slower approach lets us learn the background story of the bride and fills in all the gaps very well. The final scene with Bill is a very fitting end to the movie and is more touching than you’d expect since every character got a bit more development this time around.
Tarantino’s first movie set the bar high with this original take on the heist movie in which the heist itself isn’t actually shown. The first scene is a masterclass in how to set up characters using dialogue, each character sits around a café table discussing whether you should tip the waitress. This may seem like a pointless inclusion to the film, but it subtly introduces every character and their personalities by just showing how they commune with each other and what their stances are on tipping. There are great performances all round proving why some of these actors come to be staples throughout these movies. At times you can definitely tell that this is a debut feature, but it’s exceeded by iconic scenes and dialogue that are still well known today.
Part 1 of the iconic revenge story sees Uma Thurman get shot in the head and go on a killing spree in Japan. While it may not sound like the most intelligent story, Kill Bill certainly makes up for it in style. We see scenes with vibrant colour, in black and white, and even an anime-inspired animated sequence. A staple for the movie is the stylised often over the top violence which works great and helps lighten the tone enough to keep it fun, though this may be a turnoff for some viewers. The fight choreography is top class, Tarantino knows when to zoom in to show the characters’ emotions or pan out to focus on the skilled fighting. While the movie may be cheesy, it is a whole lot of fun and executed very well.
This alternate take on history includes a group of Jewish Nazi killers, a cinema owner set out for brutal revenge and a sadistic ss officer who loves his job. The unique characters, creative storyline and clever dialogue all work together to create a hugely original movie in a dying genre. You could take any scene out of context and they’d work on their own due to Tarantino’s great building of tension and the great performances from the entire cast, it’s no surprise that Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for this. The great bar scene or the opening scene are expertly made and will go down in history as examples of how to build tension.
Django Unchained is a western revenge tale epic that manages to recapture the greatness of Inglorious Basterds. This isn’t just your typical revenge flick, it’s full of twists and turns, excellent dialogue and is surprisingly funny at times. The cast were all phenomenal, especially Christoph Waltz who is once again fantastic as dentist/bounty hunter Dr King Shultz, who can talk his way out of pretty much anything. The cinematography in the film is gorgeous with great long tracking shots and landscapes that aren’t usually a part of Tarantino movies.
There couldn’t be any other film in this spot, Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s masterpiece. The nonlinear format jumbles up the story, letting you enjoy all the chaos that ensues by revealing just enough plot details in each scene. The dialogue is exceptional, Tarantino used the aforementioned technique from the tipping scene in Reservoir Dogs and applied it to the entirety of this movie. Every character feels real as they all have everyday conversations rather than just speaking exposition. Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta are both excellent together, putting in some career-best performances. There’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been said, it’s a film that deserves all of its praise and more.