Monday, March 11, 2013

Five Things I like about Quentin Tarantino Films

If there are books or movies or shows that I really love, why NOT tell the world the few people who stop by this blog about them? Instead of giving a whole drawn-out review, though, I'm just going to list 5 Things I liked. It's more interesting for me to learn why somebody liked someone rather then that they just liked it.

So last time, it was a book. Now, I'm going to share my love for one of my favorite screenwriters, Quentin Tarantino, who recently won his second Oscar for best original screenplay for awesome, rollicking Django Unchained. I love movies that have a distinct voice, ones that only could've been made by this one person. It's crazy to think that Pulp Fiction is almost twenty years old. But since then, Tarantino has continued to turn out great work. There are endless articles about his style and work why it changed cinema. Google it. For now, I'll talk about five things I personally love about this writing, and how it helped me:

(from Wikipedia)

1) Dialogue serves a purpose: His dialogue is pop poetry. Characters speak in this articulate, cooler-than-cool fashion where long stretches of witty banter bounces between them like balls in a pinball machine. Most movies try to have as little dialogue as possible -- more action -- but Tarantino breaks the rules, and yet his films still work. The long conversation Vincent and Jules have in Pulp Fiction isn't just about the Royale with Cheese; it reveals all you need to know about the characters -- Vincent plays by the rules (which will be his downfall), while Jules is starting to question them. There've been SO many imitators (basically 80% of all indie films in the 90s, e.g. this one or this one), but nobody can come close to matching his way with words. And that's because...

2) The simmering tension: What makes QT's long, dialogue-filled scenes so watchable isn't just the dialogue. There's always tension bubbling just under the surface. Characters speak calmly, eloquently, while crap is waiting to hit the fan at any moment. Think of the opening scene in Inglorious Basterds where Nazi Hans Linda is chatting with a farmer. It's a long scene of two men talking at a dinner table, but what makes it so watchable and suspenseful is knowing that just under the floorboards are Jews hiding. What's important is that his scenes are never just two people talking; there's always subtext. 

3) The Images: In such talky films, QT still manages to present images that stick with you. Think the final shot of Basterds or the needle scene in Pulp Fiction or even the costumes worn by Django, the Bride, and Vincent Vega. It's images and moments that stay with you.

4) The over-the-top, humorous violence: QT's movies are violent, but it's all over-the-top and comical. He finds the humor in the bloody, which can be hard to do. Movie violence is a touchy subject currently, but his violence doesn't try to be realistic; it just acknowledges cinema's brutal lineage. He takes what should be serious scenes, and finds a way to turn them on their head. Think of poor Marvin getting shot accidentally in Pulp Fiction, the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs, or the blood-soaked final acts of Kill Bill 1 and Django.

5) How he changed movies: Yes, I did state above that there are plenty of article on this, but I'll join the chorus. Pulp Fiction made indie cinema mainstream, started the trend of movie stars going indie for awards cred, helped usher in irony to the 90s. And if you like your Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games films being split into 2 parts, then thank Kill Bill for that.

What are your thoughts on QT's films?


  1. I know it's already been said a lot, but I'll say it anyway -- he writes some badass lady characters. (Less so in Django Unchained with Brunhilda, but really, that movie only had three characters who even mattered, so oh well.)

  2. For the most part, I found them to be very enjoyable. Plus, he seems to be like the modern version of John Wayne, in that he uses some of the same actors in his movies (example, Harvy Keitel in both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction), and the modern version of Alfred Hitchcock, in which he makes appearances, which are definitely not token) in his movies.