Acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantino has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and a BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Arts) award.
One of his films, “Pulp Fiction,” is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, currently ranked number four on IMDb’s list of the top 250 movies.
Considered somewhat of a “director DJ” due to his mix-and-match of genres and styles, Tarantino effortlessly combines brutal, over-the-top violence, captivating, twisting storylines, memorable characters, refreshingly modern music, a unique sense of humor and wraps it all in a surprisingly stylish package of expletives and blood.
There will be lots and lots of blood.
But that is precisely what makes Tarantino’s work special. What could easily be a cacophony of vulgarity and violence is a symphony of revenge, terror and powerful emotions.
However, take caution if you’ve never watched a Tarantino film before. His films deal with mature content and contain graphic scenes of violence of all kinds. It’s not by accident that they are rated R.
While I encourage you to consider the strength of your stomach beforehand, I also believe that Tarantino’s movies are fantastic pearls of artistic perfection that anyone who can handle a dance with the macabre should not just watch but experience.
So without further ado, I present spoiler-free mini-reviews of some of his best work.
Django Unchained (2012)
“Django Unchained” is the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who accompanies German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Cristoph Waltz) to free his wife from the clutches of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his plantation.
The movie succeeds in presenting the horrific evils of slavery without tiptoeing around the controversy. For some this full-on approach might be a bit much considering the gratuitous violence involved but the end result maintains respect and truthfulness.
Additionally, these scenes serve to create a true disgust for the movie’s antagonists and consequently make the viewer more engrossed in the tense tale of Django’s pursuit of justice.
But the charm of the movie does not lie in its controversy but its story-telling and exhilarating action scenes.
You will laugh, you will cringe and you will probably cheer for Django way too loud and get kicked out of the movie theater.
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Taking place during the events of World War II, “Inglorious Basterds” follows the relentless Nazi-killing squad known as the “Basterds” led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) in their pursuit to kill Adolf Hitler.
Tarantino takes some creative dramatic license with history as we know it, altering the events of World War II somewhat drastically.
The most nefarious of the movie’s Nazis is Col. Hans Landa (Cristoph Waltz). It’s worth noting that Cristoph Waltz has won a lump sum of shiny awards for his role in this movie, as well as for his most recent performance in “Django Unchained” and that’s because he’s a darn good actor.
Like any Tarantino movie, the story is riveting and the whole movie feels like a triumphant “Hoorah!”
You certainly have never seen a World War II movie quite like this one so go ahead, do yourself a favor and watch this bad boy.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Vol. 2 (2004)
To say almost anything about “Kill Bill” would only serve to spoil the vague origins of The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her aggression. But what I can tell you is that it’s a revenge fueled splatter film with lots of katanas and exaggerated battle scenes.
Indeed, at some of the crazier parts of the movie, the gore becomes almost tongue-in-cheek silliness; however, this is also one of the movie’s defining features.
Characterized by violence, mystery, dry humor, bold colors and an equally bold soundtrack, “Kill Bill” is a must-see for anyone into tense moments, over the top action and clever cinematography.
On the other hand, if decapitation makes you queasy, keeping your lunch won’t be easy.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
As noted previously, “Pulp Fiction” is heralded as one of the best movies ever. That’s kind of a big deal.
Shocking, quirky and meandering, it’s a movie that’s hard to define.
“Pulp Fiction” traces the intertwining stories of Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and several others. It’s a tale of fate and of random occurrences
Perhaps Tarantino’s most diverse film, you’ll be laughing one moment, disgusted another and then find yourself suddenly introspective. The fact that Tarantino can make you feel all these emotions is a tribute to his skill as a director in itself.
Once again, I warn you that “Pulp Fiction” is not for the faint of heart. It contains adult themes and somewhat expectedly, lots of violence. Proceed with caution.
However, having become a cult classic, its very presence has become ingrained in the pop-culture of society and the movie itself is a whimsically fun, if at times uncomfortable, joyride down Tarantino alley.
If you’re looking for an interesting and edgy movie still relevant today, look no further; “Pulp Fiction” has aged well.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
“Reservoir Dogs” is Tarantino’s first film.
Following a failed diamond heist, “Reservoir Dogs” shows us the aftermath of what would constitute a typical movie’s action. The result is action-packed in itself, deriving its excitement from tense moments and uncomfortable situations.
The story is shown from several perspectives and this allows for some very unique storytelling.
Once you delve deeper into certain character’s stories, scenes that might seem normal at first glance begin to work at multiple levels. What could easily be just another cops and robbers movie evolves into a complex spider web of intense emotions and a more frightening look at what happens after a crime.
Even 11 years later, it’s a refreshing dynamic and something that’s best understood by watching the movie for oneself.
Not only was “Reservoir Dogs” the debut of Tarantino as a director, but the debut of Tarantino’s distinct style, a breath of fresh air in the movie industry. Empire magazine named it “Greatest Independent Film of all Time.”
A gritty, gripping and nonlinear plotline with visceral violence to boot ingrained its spot as a cult classic for years to come.