At long last, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is finally hitting the silver screen. For years, I have been a huge fan of the writer/director/movie geek. Not just because he writes and directs movies that are so incredibly cool that define "badass", but the guy is someone I can relate to with his extreme enthusiasm for movies. He also helped bring independent movies to the mainstream.
So I decided with the release of the new flick, I will share my thoughts on the works of Tarantino. And I am going to try to make this as spoiler-free as I can.
I will not be including films he only acted in (like Destiny Turns on the Radio
and Sukiyaki Western Django
) or stuff he only produced (Hostel 1 & 2
or Daltry Calhoun
MY BEST FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY
This was the short film Tarantino made, with the intention of making a low budget feature, that he considers his "film school." It never got a big release but (probably to Quentin's dismay) you can find the film on Google and Youtube.
The film was incomplete but was sort of remade as 1993's True Romance, directed by Tony Scott. I'l compare the two when I get to True Romance.
Originally there was a 70 minute cut, but after a fire, Tarantino could only salvage 36 minutes. So it makes you wonder what could've followed but it's fascinating to look at what we have. It is one of Quentin's more comedic projects, aside from his segment in Four Rooms.
On The Charlie Rose Show, Tarantino called the film "amateurish, and not in a charming way." Having said that, he stated that people will look at it and say it is a Tarantino film. It may not have the look of Tarantino's later films, the dialogue is unmistakably recognizable. If you're a big fan of Tarantino, this is certainly worth a look if you can track it down. Don't expect great cinematography, or great acting. Don't get me wrong: it's not dreadful. However, if you love Tarantino's dialogue, you shan't be disappointed.
The first feature film, and the first Tarantino movie I ever watched. At first, I wasn't too into it but I appreciated what Quentin was doing and I liked the dialogue. After a few hours, the movie was in my head and I felt I needed to give it another chance. After that, I really got into the movie. The acting is outstanding from Keitel and Buscemi (among others, but these two really stand out for me), and the script is even more incredible.
What I liked most about it is it's spin on crime dramas. While most films in the genre depict the prologue to a crime and the crime itself, Dogs shows us more of what we don't see: the post-script. The way the story is told heavily influenced one of my short films (2007's The Lords of the Halls
) with how it showed flashbacks and cutaways. I even did one of the shots in Mr. Orange's back story in one scene in my film. Actually, come to think of it: a lot of my short films have some kind of nod to Tarantino in some way. Just no where near as good as what he does.
Something that I always love about Tarantino's films: the soundtrack. The soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs is a killer one, I must say. It got me more interested in "retro" music, as back then (when I was 13), I was mostly into metal and punk. Personal favorites are "Little Green Bag" and "Stuck in the Middle." Also, how can you not love the flick closing to "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson?
This is not my most favorite of Tarantino's films, but it's still a damn good one that I like to revisit every so often on a rainy day. When I need a compelling crime flick, I usually turn to this one.
Another breakthrough for Quentin, as it was one of his first movie scripts. He sold it to Warner Bros. in the early 90's while preparing Reservoir Dogs. This film is a remake, of sorts, to True Romance; albeit, less comedic and more action-y.
The plot has similarities: we meet Clarence, played by Christian Slater. He is a fan of kung-fu movies, comic books and (most of all) the King of Rock himself, Elvis Presley. He is set up on a date for his birthday with a woman he begins to fall in love with, but finds out she is a hooker (or "call girl", as she prefers).
Clarence marries Alabama and takes her away from her pimp, Drexyl, and leaves with a suitcase of what Clarence thinks is Alabama's clothes. As it turns out, what he grabbed was a suitcase full of cocaine. Insanity ensues.
This flick has some humorous moments, great dialogue, and some intensity. Comparing to Best Friend's Birthday, there are scenes that re-created. Tarantino's "I'd fuck Elvis" speech is done once more my Slater, there's a fight against a pimp, and some of the call girl talk scenes have similarities. But this film has much action and even some sadness. This movie is one to see if you're a fan of Tarantino.
NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Going to make this a short one, as this is less Tarantino-esque. So much so, that Tarantino was displeased with Oliver Stone's re-writes that he disowned it. I have only read some parts of Tarantino's original script a few years ago, and from what I remember, some parts are kept kind of the same. The chronology is different, and Stone turned it more into a look at America's obsession with sensationalizing news stories. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play Mickey and Mallory Knox, a combination of Bonnie and Clyde and the Manson Family. After killing Mallory's abusive father and her mother (who turns a blind eye to her husband's wrongdoings), they go on a road trip leaving behind trails of death and destruction until they are brought down by the police. Enter Wayne Gayle, a rather self-absorbed TV host, driven to drawing huge ratings with a one-on-one interview with Mickey.
This movie is pure anarchy and insanity. From a filmmaking standpoint, I like how Stone employed various techniques to making the film. Stone was clearly on drugs making this picture. However, it's hard to consider it a Tarantino film. His films may be crazy, but not bat shit crazy. Tarantino's films have the touch of crazy and cool, while Stone made a film that was more exploitive than most exploitation films.
That's right. Considered to be Tarantino's best, and my most favorite movie of all time. This movie all that define a Tarantino movie: violence, witty dialogue, humor, cool characters, a bitchin' soundtrack, great performances, and shots of bare-footed women. The film follows a day in the lives of criminals and low-lives one sunny day in Los Angeles. There's the two hitmen (John Travolta and bad motherfucker Samuel L. Jackson), their boss (Ving Rhames), his wife (Uma Thurman) and a boxer (Bruce Willis). While these are the type of usual folk most would want to avoid on the street, we are immersed into their violent world... and goddamn it is it fascinating.
It shows that criminals are people just like us. They have interesting conversations on subjects from Fast Food in other countries to 50's movie stars. They wonder about how they can better their lives. It makes those we usually consider scum to be sympathetic an interesting. It's like spending a day living dangerously. The flick won Tarantino his only Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (with story co-author Roger Avery) in 1995, and rightfully so. The storytelling in the film is genius, as is the dialogue itself. Every fan of movies needs to see this.
Quentin becomes Hollywood's "It Guy".
Part Two is now online. Click Here